The following is a sermon transcription that will explain to you what we meant when we say
“Do we need a Savior?” We may agree that there are people around us that needed religion but do I need one myself? We like to share with you why we still need a savior although we do not have any problems in life.
Do we need a Savior?
(adapted from a sermon by Pr. Chin Aun Quek)
What kind of Savior do I need?
If I were to contract a severe illness, I need a doctor to save me by healing my sickness. If I were to sink into poverty, I need a good Samaritan to help me by giving me money. But if I am neither sick nor poor, would I still need a savior? My family life is blissful; we are a loving couple and our kids are filial. Even if it were to rain, we have plenty of umbrellas. We do not have any problems in life, so it stands to reason that I don’t need any savior.
I might agree with you. If one is living comfortably and peacefully with no major concerns to be addressed, why would one need a savior? However, this is only true if one can live forever. Have we met anyone who can live forever? No matter how hated this topic is, it is a fact that death comes upon all. Regardless of one’s wealth and status, death strikes. Even good health doesn’t stop it from coming; there are cases where healthy people just suddenly die.
Since death is inevitable, how do we face up to God’s judgment after death? This is the topic that we’re concerned with and would like to address today.
“And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.” (Hebrews 9:27-28)
“And as it is appointed to men to die once” – we believe in this because we know it to be a fact. What about judgment after death? I may believe in it because it is recorded in the Bible, but you may not trust the Bible. So instead of looking at judgment as the Bible sees it, let’s look at what other people have to say for now.
What Other People Say…
We’ve probably heard the saying, “What goes around comes around”. We believe it because we’ve seen it happen around us. So we are afraid of doing evil deeds, knowing that there is a chance of bad retribution. Instead, we attempt to do good deeds and help those in need, expecting good retribution to come in the future. However, we’re likely also seen good men die terrible deaths while the evildoers seem to go unpunished. When this happens, it throws our understanding of good and bad retribution off track. We start to question to point of continuing good deeds. Yet, we may continue doing good deeds because other people tell us, “Surely retribution will come one day. If it hasn’t happened, it is just because the time has yet to come.”
What if the evildoer were to die before punishment arrives? How do the evil receive their retribution? How long do we have to wait before such retribution happens? The time that has yet to come refers to the time after death, where judgment yields retribution. We believe that there is judgment after death. Some people may think that death is the end of all things and so there is nothing to fear. If this were true, we should all enjoy ourselves to the fullest. Yet, you’ll find that we are hesitant about doing evil because of our conscience. Our conscience tells us that one day, judgment will come after death. This is what other people, consistent with the Bible, say.
We need a Saviour to help us. This Saviour is our Lord Jesus. Why do we say that He is our Saviour? According to the Bible, He is the one and only true God, who will come and judge this world righteously in the future. Being the judge, He has the right to forgive men’s sins. As Hebrews 9:28 records, “Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.”
God loves men; He does not wish for people to face judgment and hence, is willing to forgive sins. He suffered death on the cross for all mankind, and bore the sins of men so that anyone who believes in Him shall receive the forgiveness of sins. This is the way God has taken to forgive our sins. If we believe in Him, we should repent, baptise in His name, and follow Him, so that our sins can be pardoned and there is no fear of judgment after death. If there are sins, there will be judgment. But if sins are pardoned, there is no more need for judgment. This is the greatest blessing God has given to mankind. For this reason, we need Jesus as our Saviour.
How is it that many who’ve listened to this gospel still do not believe?
Many people believe that they are not sinful. They have not committed anything evil such as robbery, womanising, or murder. They have also not done anything against their conscience. They believe that since they have done nothing wrong in the eyes of the law, nor mistreated anyone, they are able to stand tall and say that they are good men. What kinds of sin might a good man have? By this reasoning, they believe that they are without sin.
This argument is only correct to a certain extent. People who are good and respectable in the eyes of many, who have kept the laws of society, are only good in the eyes of men. It is more important to seek to be good and sinless in the eyes of God, because it is God who judges us in the future, not other men. Perhaps it will be easier if we were all judged by men instead; we are sure to do well because it is clear we have not broken any laws. However, since judgment is by God, the standard of judgment will be set by neither men nor countries; God sets the standards for judgment. It is clear then, that we should also check whether we are blameless in the eyes of God.
What are the standards set by God?
Jesus demonstrates this through an example:
“For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’” (Matthew 5:20-21).
It is clearly stated in the Bible, and as is consistent with our common understanding, that murderers will face judgment. Legally, if we did not kill anyone but were merely furious with someone, we cannot be punished by law; even infants throw tantrums from time to time, because anger is a way to channel unhappiness. So to men, anger is not a crime. But in the eyes of God, even being angry is a sin.
Many people find it hard to accept, much less abide by. Yet, if you were to consider the reason why men kill another, it is usually out of anger. Joyful people are less likely to kill because they are able to ignore provocations. On the other hand, angry people are easily provoked and drawn into quarrels and fights, which may end up in violence or even murder. Some may argue that it is not anger, which leads to murder. Then, at a trial for murder, can we claim that a person kills because he or she was possessed by the demon? Who would accept this? A need for justice lies in the heart of all men. Nonetheless, because one is judged based on one’s actions, people are only punished for crimes that have happened. But the true God judges people based on their sinful intentions as well as their actions.
How does one escape from the judgment of God?
Jesus gives us another example in Matthew 5:27-28 of how having lustful thoughts of a person other than your spouse is as good as committing adultery. How many claim to be faithful to their spouses, yet thought lustfully of another? What exactly is the source of family problems and divorces? Many of us can confidently deny going to bed with another person after the initial contact. But it all begins with a thought. The inability to contain this lustful thought ultimately leads one to committing the sin.
These two examples Jesus spoke of are very real issues we face in life. Through them, we see God’s standards. James concludes, “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.” (James 4:17). This is perhaps something most of us have ignored. We judge our sins by the sinful deeds we have committed but we may not judge ourselves by the actions we failed to do. If it is a sin to know what is good but not do it, then everyone is sinful.
In the future, God will not only judge the evil, but also the good. It is easy to conclude how the evil will be judged, but how will He judge the good?
“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all. For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14).
It is clearly stated that all the works of men, be it known or secret, will be judged by God. We may all be able to proudly tell God that we have not done anything evil. But will we be equally proud and able to tell Him that we have done what is good?
Even Confucius, the one whom everyone proclaims as virtuous, can be considered sinful. How so? In one of his writings, he says that “When I know of a good thing to do but am unable to do it, and/or when I know of evil and am unable to change it, these are my biggest concerns.” He was likely aware of what is in his heart; he admitted to having difficulty controlling himself when he had sinful thoughts. He also had sinful actions, which he found difficult to correct, or knew of right things which he failed to do. Given his admission, we might observe that he was honest and to the eyes of many, he may be a perfect man. But how is he before the eyes of God. Confucius admits that he, too, is sinful in the eyes of heaven. We are sinful, even though we have not done anything evil, if we know of things we need to do but do not do it.
To conclude, according to God’s standards, everyone is a sinner and all men need a Saviour to forgive their sins. There is no other way. We may think of our own ways to reduce our sins or make them disappear but it is in vain. There are people who do nothing evil; they do not kill, not even animals, and are vegetarians. These people have good hearts. However, even if we were able to avoid taking lives, what about other sins that need to be forgiven? How do we gain forgiveness for those sins? Do we donate huge sums of money to the needy, such as the victims of earthquakes and tsunami? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could pay to make up for our wrongdoings? If this were so, money can be lauded as our Saviour. We could use ruthless means to gain money and compensate by donating some of the wealth gained through such means.
Yet, even without referring to the Bible, our conscience will tell us what is right from wrong. For example, money cannot erase the guilt of the killer in the eyes of the victim’s family. Indeed, there is no way to make up for our sins simply by our own deeds. We need to accept the one and only way, which is to gain the forgiveness of sins from God. In order to do so, one needs to repent, come before God and worship Him, accept baptism in His name to wash away sins. Only by doing so, can we face the judgment of God in the future. Our Lord Jesus is the only Saviour and we truly need Him.