"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!
LESSONS FROM THE FOOTBALL WORLD CUP
by Peter Baxter
The Football World Cup is one of the biggest sporting events to take place in the world and has been eagerly anticipated by fans from many different countries. The World Cup takes place once every four years, so perhaps we could consider four words that are commonly associated with football and relate each of them to the Bible and see what we can learn.
When a player on the defending side commits a foul inside the goal area, the referee will award a penalty. A clear opportunity is given to one of the attacking side to score a goal from the ‘spot’. In a close game this can be critical point in the game.
The Bible clearly tells us that “… all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). You may not think this is a problem; but, because of our sin, death awaits each one of us. However, because Jesus loves us so much, He came to this earth to take the penalty that was ours - He died on Calvary’s cross and by doing so He took our sin and defeated death: “He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment [penalty] that brought us peace was upon Him and by His wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). This is truly remarkable: Jesus died a cruel death on a cross, bearing the sin of the whole world – including those who hated Him – in order that we all might live.
2. Save (d)
In football, all teams rely on their goalkeeper and defenders to prevent the opposition scoring. Listening to commentary, we will hear the excitement build as the action is described but when the final shot on the goal is taken, the commentator’s voice rises as we wait for the outcome as he shouts ‘Goal!’ or ‘Saved’.
It is wonderful for us that the Lord Jesus has taken the penalty that should have been ours. However, in order for us to enjoy the blessing this can give us, there needs to be a response from us. We must turn to Jesus and be saved from our sin, asking Him to come into our hearts and change us so we can live for Him. The Bible clearly tells us “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved …” (Acts 16:31). Do you truly believe that Jesus died for you? Do you realise the need to be saved from your sin, and that Jesus really is the Saviour of the world? If so, pray to Him. Tell Him that you are sorry for the wrong things you have done in your life and ask Him to come into your life and change you. The World Cup is only for teams who have qualified and have been invited to play. To be saved is not invitation-only or having to meet certain criteria: it is open to every person in this world – “Everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved” (Acts.2:21).
In football, like any game, the object is to win – to gain the victory. Some people would find it strange to describe Jesus’ death as a victory, but that is exactly what it was. On the third day after His death, He rose again and by doing so He defeated sin and death! Anyone who now believes in Jesus is saved and shares in His victory. Whichever country wins the World Cup will have done it through great teamwork and each player will have deserved their victory. The amazing thing about Jesus’ victory is that we have not contributed to it, yet we can share in it – such is His love for us! With victory, comes reward. The winners of the World Cup receive the trophy, but that victory does not last forever: new winners will be named in four years’ time. If we believe and trust in Jesus, accepting Him as our Saviour, then we receive a blessing that lasts for eternity – to live forever with Jesus, in heaven – a place where there is no sin, death, pain or mourning, but a place which is perfect, filled with God’s love and where our attention will be solely on the Lord Jesus. How we can say, “Thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57).
During the World Cup, we will see thousands of people following their chosen team – many of them decked out in the colours of their country. Just as supporters wear the colours of the team they follow, as Christians (followers of Jesus), we ought to be identifiable by our words and actions, which all should be of love. Do people see a difference in us? It would be strange if an England supporter was seen wearing a top representing a different country. Well, the same could be said of us: if we say that we are a Christian (‘Christ-like’) then our lives ought to reflect this in the way we live. Perhaps I could sum this section up by using an additional football-related word: ‘goal’ - as scoring a goal is the ultimate objective of the game. As a follower of Jesus, our ultimate objective must be in every way to “… make it our goal to please Him” (2 Corinthians 5:9).
Have you recognised the penalty that awaits should you ignore God’s offer? Have you come to Jesus and been saved from that penalty? Have you claimed that victory that Jesus won and know you are on your way to heaven? Are you showing that you are a Christian by the way you live? Now is the time to make that decision.
FACING A CHALLENGE
by Ernie Bartlett
Many of us don’t like to face a challenge or undergo a new experience. Some of us remember the day when we started school. We didn’t want to leave our mother and step into a new environment, but looking back, for most of us, it was a good thing. We learnt a lot from that first and subsequent days at school. Most of us can read, write and achieved many other things during our school days. If we had not let go of our mother’s apron strings, we would all be the poorer for it. It was similar when we had to leave school, and go into further education or the world of work. First days are strange and often daunting, but overall we benefited from them.
In the 1950s, some of us had to leave the place of our occupation and serve in his/her Majesty’s Service – this was a shock to the system! Instead of leading our own lives, we were ushered into military discipline. Many of those who went through these experiences said ‘they felt all the better for these experiences’. There are so many challenges that we are forced to face and some that we may choose to avoid. The wish to avoid a challenge is our desire to continue on the way we are going as it seems so much easier.
When going to a church, being spoken to by a Christian friend or reading a leaflet like this one, we can be challenged. What is the challenge? We will be told we are sinners, needing a Saviour. We also are told we need to make a decision here and now. We may prefer to put it off, but the apostle Paul would tell us that “now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2) and we must “… choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve” (Joshua 24:15).
We all must consider the consequences of putting these vital issues off. They are so important: even more important than going to school, going to work, doing national service, as our whole eternal destiny depends on it. For most people, this is a step into the unknown. If you have not yet committed your life to Jesus Christ, you will not know what it will mean to be a Christian. It may, at times, be difficult, even challenging, but those who have made this step would tell you the only regret they have is that they didn’t do it sooner. So face this challenge, it is the challenge of a life time.
by Gordon Smith
It is common place to hear in conversation, such statements as “Hope to see you soon”, or “I hope it turns out alright”. At the start of a sporting competition, we may say to one of those involved, “I hope you win”. In most cases the ‘hope’ is wishful thinking or a dream, without any assurance or certainty.
The parting wish to see a friend or relative again cannot be assured, as we have no guarantee we will be able to fulfil the desire, for a number of reasons. There are so many factors that we have no control over, which can prevent us or others from realising these ‘hopes’. In sport, we are all too aware that to turn a ‘winning hope’ into an actual victory can be fraught with difficulties and upsets.
Today there is hope in so many things, like money and possessions, a political system, religion, friendship, to name but a few. In reality, all will fail or fade. The Bible speaks of hope in a different way. The hope that it speaks of is assured and eternal. This hope is based on the promises of God, who cannot lie (Titus 1:2).
The apostle Peter, who lived in the presence of the Lord Jesus for three years, later wrote of the hope that he had: “In His great mercy He [God] has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3). Peter had seen Jesus live, die on the cross and later saw Him after He rose from the dead. What Peter says here is that Jesus rose from the dead and he is a witness to that. If we believe that Jesus died for our sins and we believe in Him we have ‘new birth’ – we will be changed – and we, like Jesus, will have eternal life. This is the hope that Peter knew. This is the hope that you can know if you put your trust in Jesus.
From the previous issue of Alive!
by Gordon Smith
If you are a driver, or even a cyclist, you cannot fail to notice potholes in the road. In early 2017, the matter became so serious in some regions that it was discussed in parliament. It featured again in the media this year. Some would suggest it was only when a cyclist died after riding into a pothole and was thrown off, sustaining serious injuries which proved to be fatal, that anyone seemed to take real notice. Numerous drivers claimed that the number and size of some potholes resulted in such serious damage to their vehicles that it makes them unroadworthy.
I don’t know whether you have noticed, but it does not take much of a crack or break in the road surface to become significantly larger with the passing of traffic. The local council then have the task of addressing the problem. They have a number of options, which no doubt you have seen: there is the temporary measure of removing the loose debris from the hole and filling it with what they think is appropriate. The second option is where an area is marked off, the area surrounding the hole is also removed and a better patch is laid down. The third choice is to remove a longer section of the road surface, preparing and levelling the underlying layer, before laying a completely new road surface.
We all know that each of the patching techniques is only temporary and before long we are back to where we started and the potholes reappear. The full resurface is by far the best option, but is does have a few drawbacks: it takes longer and the road may be closed for a period of time, inevitable causing a degree of disruption and delay.
It is a lot like life. Problems arise in our lives and we try to patch over the cracks or fill in the holes the best we can but, just like the road surfaces, they reappear and sometimes cause us even more problems. These problems are inherent with all of us. None of us are perfect and by nature we are sinful. In the Old Testament King David wrote “Surely I was sinful at birth” (Psalm 51:5). The apostle Paul also wrote, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Just like the broken road, in God’s sight we are all damaged by sin. We can try to ‘make amends’, as we often say, but it is rarely satisfactory. In the Old Testament, there was a system of sacrifices that the people needed to follow to take account of their sins, but it was just a temporary measure!
Then everything changed! We no longer have to follow the old system of sacrifices, because there was One who made the ultimate sacrifice on our behalf – Jesus Christ, God’s Son. He came into this world as a man and lived a perfect life, without any sin. His disciples testified to His perfection. Peter wrote “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth” (1 Peter 2:22).
Although perfect, He [Jesus] was condemned to death and crucified for you and for me. All we have to do is believe that He did that for us: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Paul, in his letter to the church at Corinth, wrote, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Just like taking up the whole road and relaying it, trusting in Jesus Christ is like this ‘new creation’ that Paul writes about for each of us.
Let us not just try to patch up our own potholes by ourselves, but let Jesus Christ into your life and experience a new start.
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.