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If I had but known the Gospel

An old lady who had suffered for many years lay dying in her son’s home. Of those gathered around her, none were Christians, but various religious sects were represented with the hope that they might be able to do something for the old lady, to bring comfort and assurance in her final hours.

As is customary on such occasions, many people had gathered, and relatives from distant parts had been allowed to travel to show their respects to the dying woman. She came from a rich landowning family and had seen her possessions whittled away or taken directly from her, and always these things brought sadness and desperation. It could be said that she was without God and without hope in the world.

Into this situation came a fresh young schoolgirl who had come from Hong Kong to see her grandmother. “Lin” brought with her a copy of the Bible and in all the din of clashing cymbals, the beating of gongs and dismal wailing, she managed to read the Gospel story into the almost deaf ears of the dying woman.

“Lin” pleaded and prayed but the whole atmosphere was heathen and offered no encouragement for the Truth of God’s Word. In desperation she turned to the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31). In the lurid flames of paper money being burned and of burning candles and incense, it was not difficult to picture the horrors from which the rich man sought to escape. “Lin”, however, stressed the loving welcome of the Lord Jesus Christ. The last words of the old grandmother were, “If I had but known the Gospel and paid heed to the teachings of the Lord Jesus, I could have died a happy death.” Will she go to heaven or Hades? “Lin” is no man’s judge. Her grandmother had left things until it was too late.

(Adapted from God still lives in China – August 1974)

The resurrected Lord Jesus gave the Great Commission to His followers, asking them to make disciples of all nations through preaching and proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. He gave them faith, and action for their faith at the same time. They were not the ‘super saints’ of all time. They too, like us, had fears and doubts. However, when they finally recognised Jesus after His ascension, they were transformed from a confused and fearful lot into courageous witnesses who were willing to die for their faith and mission. Jesus’ teaching and commission are not just for the disciples, pastors or ministry staff, but are for you and me. We, who seek to obey Jesus as Lord and Master, will proclaim God’s saving grace to all nations, including our own. That’s our call.

The eternal destiny of every human being hinges solely on a person’s relationship to Jesus and His work on the cross. Think deeply about the crucifixion of Jesus and its significance. What does the cross mean to my neighbours, friends, family members, fellow colleagues, etc.? Are we sure each of them has come to the foot of the cross in faith and received the salvation which only Jesus can provide? If not, how can we be instrumental in leading one person one step closer to Calvary today?

The simplest way for us to start is by impacting the lives of the people we are closest to, both in proximity and in relation. This may involve a phone call, a WhatsApp text, a lunch invite, an evening get-together, etc. Ask God for a prepared heart, a door for opportunity and a boldness as we share the life-changing message of the Gospel. That’s our privilege!

This is what we can do locally — what about the nations? In cosmopolitan Singapore, God has brought the nations to our doorstep. However, we are thankful to God for the partnership with our Missions Partners and the opportunities for us to experience and meet people in nations like Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar, and Vietnam. We also had an opportunity to visit and work with a missionary in Cambodia. We may not be able to do much due to language barriers unless we have an interpreter with us, but we can still be instrumental in leading people to Calvary through the work of our Missions Partners. We can participate in the Commission by supporting them financially so that they can continue to preach, teach and do visitations, where they reach out to their neighbours, friends and family members in various practical ways. That’s our duty.

Why is it that so many of us who have tasted the goodness of salvation and hold the key to the very message that could save someone from an eternity in hell and lead them to an eternal relationship with a loving Father, choose not to share it with others? Could it be that we do not see the importance of this command? Could it be that we are so occupied with our own lives and too busy to listen when the Holy Spirit prompts us to share?

Every Christian is commanded to reach the lost for Jesus. Every one of us has an important God-given role to play in fulfilling the Commission. Jesus did not just give us the Commission, He also promised to be with us always, even to the end of the age. So why are we sitting here and enjoying God’s grace? Let’s get up go to the ‘nations’ and play our role.

May we never hear the words, “If I had but known the Gospel and paid heed to the teachings of the Lord Jesus, I could have died a happy death.” May Jesus heal spiritual blindness and open minds to the truth of His Word so that they will not reject Him but repent instead. That’s our prayer.

- Dns Tang Lai Kin

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