We are very grateful to be given this opportunity to get baptized today. After coming to Canada in August ’97, my host family took me to the Victoria Japanese Church. This was the first time for me to go to the church in my life.
It was a different experience. People in the church seemed to enjoy life and things differently from what I used to know back in Japan; instead of drinking beers they had tea and coffee, instead of making fun of each other they were kind to each other. Since I had a desire to belong to somewhere and make friends, I soon joined the bible study. On one July day in ’98, I prayed a sinner’s prayer to accept Jesus Christ as my Savior during the Bible study without much understanding what it meant to repent and trust Christ as my Lord and Savior. Main reason I wanted to be a Christian was to have a better life, to be accepted by others and to depend on someone who could look after my life. It was a man centered gospel, which was no gospel at all.
Over the next few years, I just did what good Christians were supposed to do; going to the church, giving tithe, reading the Bible and praying to God, yet always wondering if I was really a Christian. One day, one of my Church friends mentioned to me that one could not be a Christian while holding on to the theory of evolution. Since I believed the theory as the proven scientific facts, I did not believe in the creation account in the Bible. I thought bible had lots of errors and contradictions because it’s written by people long time ago.
Also, becoming a part of visible church, I started noticing hypocrisy in the lives of other Christians. Instead of showing they had struggles at home, they pretended everything were perfect and they were kind to strangers while hating each other.
In addition, I was confused by the hard sayings of Jesus, such as “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me“. It was not what I anticipated to hear since I thought I was the one who accepted and invited him to be my savior. I used these reasons as excuses to leave Christianity because I wanted to live my own life. I stopped going to the church all together while doing whatever my sinful hearts desired. Neither Christ was precious to me nor I was his disciple. I was just a hypocrite.
Somehow, I kept listening to Praise 106.5 over the radio while working. Through Grace to You program, the preaching by pastor MacArthur convinced me that I was not a Christian at all but just a false convert saying “Lord, Lord!” as in Matthew 7 heading toward eternal damnation without knowing. I realized that accepting Jesus as savior, making decision for him, and praying sinner’s prayer do not make anyone Christian. I didn’t like what the pastor preached at first, but it made sense because it was straight out of the scripture.
One hot summer day in 2004, when I was watering plants and flowers, I realized that the time was fleeing away and my life was short like those flowers. I spent few years of sinful life and, I was quite miserable.
Sin was pleasurable only for a season. I was wasting away like these plants going nowhere but to wither. By the work of the Holy Spirit through His word, He convicted me of my sins. I had told countless lies, stolen many things even from the store, used God’s name in vain as a cuss word, disrespected my parents and authorities, hated others, which is considered as murder in my heart and lusted after women. I also made God in my image by believing in God who could suite my needs. My god allowed me to keep sin of my choice as long as I tried to follow other rules. Not only I was not thankful to God who gave me life and many blessings to enjoy, but also I was hater and blasphemer of God. God was not first in my life and I was too selfish to love others. The list of sin was very long and there was no sin that I did not commit against God in either mind, words and deeds. I knew if I kept living this way, I would surely receive the wrath of God when I would die. Since God is good, he cannot look over my sin or simply ignore them. He had to punish guilty sinner like me in place of eternal torment. Later I found out even one lie was serious enough to cast me into the lake of fire. I even can’t live for five minutes without sinning. Only reason I still breathed was mere pleasure of God. There was no reason for God to sustain my life nor keep me from his wrath. I had enough knowledge to understand if God exists, it had to be God of the bible. My conscience also condemned me that I broke God’s law. It caused in me the fear of God because of my due punishment that I deserved. I understood why I needed savior. It led me to the cross of Jesus Christ.
God opened my eyes to see that I personally offended holy God by breaking His law and His righteousness demanded justice to punish me eternity in hell. But God is not willing anyone to perish. He does not delight in the death of the wicked even like me. He is rich in mercy, Jesus demonstrated his love toward me by dying on the cross for my sin as a substitute while I was still sinner and enemy of God. By the grace of God, He gave me a new life and a new heart so that I could repent my sins and trust Christ as my Lord and Savior for the first time. He forgave my sin and He imputed His righteousness to me through His perfect life. He removed my filthy rags of sin and clothed me in His perfect garb of His righteousness. He made me a new person. When I first came to church in 97, I wanted to belong and to be accepted by someone. I received far more than what I expected, it is Jesus Christ himself. He is my portion.
Shortly after, through a book called The case for a Creator by Lee Strobel, my folly in believing in evolution tumbled down by realizing the bible could not contradict with the true science.
I’m forever thankful to this loving God who poured out such an amazing grace over a wretched sinner like me. “One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” His grace causes my heart to be filled with joy and thirst for his word. I long for a day to see Jesus Christ face to face and worship Him before the throne with my family.
With this in my mind, there is one thing I cannot do in heaven. It is to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ. Now God has put in my heart the desire to share the Gospel to my people. I’m by nature shy and often afraid of what others think of me. Talking to strangers and sharing the gospel, even giving out tracts often make me very fearful. I found myself making excuses by saying if I talk about God I would scare them and make them loose the interests in the gospel. I even wonder if it’s God’s will to share the gospel with others. But it dawned on me. If I come across someone who just got injured in front of me, should I ask God whether it’s his will to help him? Of course not. If it’s in my power to help, it is my duty to help him. Will of God is already revealed in the scripture. I am to love my neighbors as myself and we are to preach the gospel to every creature. It is clear that our eternal soul is far more precious than out temporal physical body.
Jesus said for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. People are heading toward hell because of their sin against holy God. I was too occupied with myself and not compassionate enough. As the one who was saved by the grace of God, I have moral responsibilities to warn people and share the good news that can save them from the wrath to come. And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? I know there are still people whose sin Christ died for. If I just say to them, “be peace” and not to share the remedy that can save them, where is the love of God in me?
I remember the story of four starving lepers found in 2 king 7. People were starving to death because of the famine and war. Those lepers found the foods in the abandoned camp by Assyrians. It was enough to save all the starving people. At first, out of selfishness, they ate and drunk to their full. Then, they hid all the treasures they could carry. But they realized later it was not right thing to be silent in the day of good news. Basically, they told the people about this good news out of fear of punishment. I was like these lepers. I don’t want to keep the good news of Jesus Christ for myself while people are perishing nor I want to share the good news out of fear of punishment or as duty. But rather out of gratitude to God who saved a wretched sinner like me, I want to proclaim this wonderful news. I pray, by the power of the Holy Spirit, God will give me the grace to preach the gospel faithfully to the lost people till the last day of my life. Thank you very much for listening.