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Alive! magazine No. 169"Alive!" magazine

"Alive!" is a bi-monthly topical evangelistic tract, which has been published since the 1960s. The present editor is Gordon Smith from Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Copies are available at £8.00 per 100 (plus postage). Generous discounts are available for quantity, and the tract can be personalised at £1.00 extra per 100. Christmas and Easter editions are produced, but otherwise the tracts are undated and can be used at any time of the year. To order Alive!, send us an e-mail via the Contact Us page to take out your subscription.

A follow-up booklet for enquirers is available from STP, and a similar booklet can be read online at the "Alive!" web site.

"Alive!" is undated, and back issues are available at £1.00 per 50 (plus postage).

From the current issue of Alive!

No Escape!No Escape!

by David Anderson

Recently, my wife and I visited a kitchen supplier with the intention of revamping our kitchen. We chose the units, fittings, etc. and enlisted the services of the kitchen designer to plan the renovation. After a home visit and kitchen survey, he invited us to review his computer-aided design in his office located in the corner of the supplier’s warehouse. I was impressed with the operating safety standards. For example, there are restricted areas for ‘Employees only’ with properly painted pedestrian walkways. However, it was the safety sign on the designer’s office door which caught my attention. It read, ‘No Escape’! It’s shorthand and means that in the case of an emergency, such as a fire in the warehouse, there is no way out of the warehouse via that office, but to me, with my sense of humour, it meant that we would not get out of the designer’s office unless we placed the kitchen-order with him! We would be trapped in there forever!

An important part of the Gospel message that Alive! writers want to convey to its readers is the warning that there is ‘No Escape’ if this message is either rejected or neglected. In fact, the Gospel is a safety message – it is about being saved from God’s judgment. It’s called, “The message of truth, the gospel of … salvation” (Ephesians 1:13). In other words, it informs each one of us what we must do to be saved from the consequences of our sins. Everyone must “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved!” (Acts 16:31). And just like any safety notice on how to avoid dangers or hazards, it’s of the utmost importance that you understand the Gospel. In fact, it’s the most important message in the whole history of mankind. “I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).

God gave Lot and his family a clear message of how they could escape His judgment upon Sodom and Gomorrah. “With the coming of dawn, the angels urged Lot, saying, ‘Hurry! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away when the city is punished.’ When he hesitated, the men grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city, for the LORD was merciful to them. As soon as they had brought them out, one of them said, ‘Flee for your lives! Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you wil] be swept away!’” (Genesis 19:15-17). S W Martin used this idea in a hymn:

The Gospel bells give warning, as they sound from day to day,
Of the fate which does await them who for ever will delay.
“Escape thou for thy life. Tarry not in all the plain;
Nor behind thee look, oh, never, lest thou be consumed in pain.”

Yes, as the apostle Paul asked: “Mere human being … do you think that you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realising that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance” (Romans 2:3-4). “How shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation … which was first announced by the Lord?” (Hebrews 2:3).

Religion or Relationship?

by George Stevens

“I had thought to come over and give you one!”, said a burly fellow to an open-air preacher in Norwich, “… because I can’t stand people who preach religion.” He went on to say that in listening he had come to realise that it was a personal relationship with God and not a religion that was being preached. Hence, he felt compelled to tell the preacher this. So both entered into conversation and, later, parted amicably.

It should, therefore, be realised that religion depends on the works of people to make them suitable for the presence of God. An impossible situation, for their sins separate them from God. However, God, in His love for us, has moved in a remarkable way to bring us back to Himself as those who are cleansed from all sin. How did He do this? He gave His only-begotten Son to bear the judgment that we deserved. This He did at Calvary’s cross where the soul of His Son was made a sacrifice for sin. Scripture puts it this way: “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). As a result, the only things that we, as sinners, have to do is to come to God in repentance (acknowledging our unworthiness) and turn to His way of salvation by trusting in His Son and His work. These two things were preached by the apostle Paul: “I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus” (Acts 20:21).

Once we have sincerely committed our lives to God, we are classed not only as saved, but as His children. This is the wonder of the intimate relationship we have with God. With this relationship comes an inheritance: “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory” (Romans 8:16-17).

There are two things to consider here. First, God is the perfect Father. His nature demands that He seeks the best for His children. Second, as His children we depend upon Him and seek to honour Him. May we do so until Christ comes to take us to glory!

Humpty Dumpty

by Ernie Bartlett

Humpty DumptyAs children we all used to recite the nursery rhyme ‘Humpty Dumpty’:

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall;
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the king’s horses and all the king’s men
Couldn’t put Humpty together again.

Few of us might know that Humpty Dumpty was based on real events. There are two possible origins for the rhyme, both from the 17th century. One was of a sharp shooter during the English Civil War who served with the Cavaliers (Royalists) against Cromwell’s Roundheads. In about 1648, he would to sit on the wall of St. Mary’s church in Colchester and snipe at the opposing soldiers, but he himself was shot, and fell from the wall. All attempts to save his life failed. The second suggested origin related to a large cannon, dubbed Humpty Dumpty, which was mounted on the church wall. Unfortunately the weight of the cannon and the vibration when it was fired weakened its mountings and it fell from the wall. No matter what was attempted they couldn’t raise it.

Mankind as a whole has had a more serious fall. Our first parents, Adam & Eve, were living in harmony with God until the day they disobeyed their creator, by partaking of the forbidden fruit. By this act of disobedience, sin came into the world and death by sin (Romans 5:12). No one could rectify the situation by themselves. There have been many good men and women in the world since then, but they all had one thing in common – they were sinners like us, and had come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). The Psalmist put it like this: “No one can redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for them” (Psalm 49:7).

Thankfully, a ransom has been found in the person and sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ. He lived a perfect life and, by going to the cross, paid the price of our redemption. By His death we are not only put right, but each of us can become a “… new creation …” (2 Corinthians 5:17) or as the Gospel of John describes it being “… born again” (John 3:7).

But there is something we must do: that is to believe on the work of the Lord Jesus Christ, and thank Him for dying for us, living for Him, with His help in doing this, we must submit to Him.

From the previous issue of Alive!

WallsWALLS

by Gordon Smith

In his presidential campaign, Donald Trump spoke of building a wall along the border between the United States of America and Mexico. The latest news indicates that this project has commenced. His argument for this proposal was based on national security and protecting the people of America.

About 60 years previously, Winston Churchill gave a speech in St Louis and referred to “… an Iron Curtain which has descended across Europe.” This was a reference to a situation which had arisen in Europe after World War 2, where some countries, later known as the Eastern Bloc, were adopting a very different political position to those in Western Europe. In some cases, an actual barrier was erected, such as that which was erected between East and West Germany. It later resulted in a division of the city of Berlin, where one night in 1961 a wall, almost 4m high was constructed across the city, even though the whole city was within East Germany.

In the third century, a wall was ordered by the Emperor Qin Shi Huang to be built across the country we now know as China – the Great Wall. In reality it linked various earlier fortifications, with the intent of protecting a unified China from attacks from the north.

In the second century AD, the Romans spent 5 years building a 6m high wall, over 70 miles long across Britain, between the occupied country of Anglia [England] and Caledonia [Scotland], known as Hadrian’s Wall.

For years, man has been building barriers that may be walls, fences or earthworks. We like to think they will protect us from our enemies and keep us safe. Some historians would comment that they only serve to reinforce or raise the animosity between the different parties.

The Bible speaks of a number of barriers, most of which allude to our separation from God. In the Garden of Eden there was initially no barrier between God and man, as we read that He walked with Adam and talked with him (Genesis 3:8). After Adam & Eve sinned they were banished from the Garden and an angel with a flaming sword was sent to prevent them re-entering the Garden – the first barrier!

In the days of the Children of Israel as they wandered through the desert God instructed Moses to construct the Tabernacle – a special tent – which was administered by the priests. Inside there was a curtain that separated the outer parts of the Tabernacle from the innermost part – the Holy of Holies – where God was present. No one was allowed into this area, with the exception of the High Priest who, on behalf of all the people entered once a year to make an offering to God for their sins.

This continued when the Temple was built, but when Jesus died on the cross, Matthew records in his Gospel, “… the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom” (Matthew 27:51). You may ask, ‘So what? What does this mean?’

When that happened, it was an announcement by God that the barrier between Him and man was being removed. When Jesus died on the cross, He took away our sins – your sins and my sins. All you have to do is believe that He died for you. We all die because we have sinned, but He had no sin and He died on our behalf.

That was not the end of the story: three days later He rose from the dead and is alive today, as a Man in heaven. The apostle Paul, in his letter to the church in Rome, wrote, “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).

The walls that man builds tend to fall into disrepair and ruin, but it needed the death of the Lord Jesus on the cross to remove completely and for ever the barrier between God and man, created by sin.

THE LADDER TO HEAVEN

by Ernie Bartlett

The following appeared in an Oxford newspaper:

“An Oxford man, who had a pet cat, lived in a first floor flat. The only means his cat had to enter the flat was through the cat-flap in the front door. The owner of the building, who lived on the ground floor, wouldn’t permit the cat to enter through the cat-flap. The cat’s owner was a handyman and made a ‘ladder’ from the first floor to the ground beneath, a drop of some 18 feet. The ladder was not a normal one with rungs but was several solid pieces of wood, joined together, that the cat could use to climb up to its owner’s flat.”

Knowing how to get to heaven can, for some people, prove difficult. It was a problem for a man called Nicodemus, who was a ruler of the Jews (John 3:1). Jesus told him that in order to get to heaven, “You must be born again” (John 3:7). This may also appear strange to us and difficult for us to understand. The message that Jesus was trying to explain to Nicodemus was that his route to heaven was not by what he did but what he believed. He [Nicodemus] needed to believe that his sins could be forgiven by believing in the work that Jesus Himself would do on the cross. A few years later, Nicodemus saw Jesus on the cross and all of Jesus’ words fell into place and he then understood.

On another occasion, Jesus told His disciples He was going away to prepare a place for them. Thomas, one of Jesus’ disciples said, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” Jesus’ reply was “I am the way … No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:1-6). These verses outline that there is only one way to Heaven.

Solomon, the wise king, said “There is a way that seems to be right [to man], but in the end it leads to death” (Proverbs 16:25). The only way to Heaven is not based on what we can do but has been made available for us by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross. He has paid the penalty for our sins. We won’t have to pay the price! Our only responsibility is to believe and invite Jesus Christ into our hearts and lives and thank Him for what He has done for us. It is so simple. We don’t even have to get into a flap. Just come by the way that He has provided for us.

AN ACROSTIC POEM FOR EASTER

G. E. Stevens (November 2014)

Earth in its anger shook and gaped;
   Rocks tore themselves apart.
The sun was veiled with darkness deep;
   Creation lost its heart.

Anguish filled the Son of God
   As He a curse was made.
Forsaken by our God above,
   True love He still displayed.

Sin was judged upon the cross
   Where Christ our judgment bore.
The Lamb of God who gave Himself
   Could not have suffered more.

Three days He lay within a tomb;
   For God had so decreed.
But soon, within the will of God,
   He would from death be freed.

Eternal life was His to hold;
   The mighty God was He.
He rose up from amid the dead.
   His was the victory.

Redemption’s work was then complete.
   Salvation’s work was done.
All praise and glory be to God
   And His beloved Son.

Scripture quotations on this page taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION (Anglicised edition) Copyright© 1979, 1984, 2011 by Biblica (formerly International Bible Society). Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, an Hachette UK company. All rights reserved. ‘NIV’ is a registered trademark of Biblica (formerly International Bible Society). UK trademark number 1448790.

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