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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).

PotholesFrom the current issue of Alive!

Potholes

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.

PotholesWe 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.

A Close Encounter

by Ernie Bartlett

Have you ever faced death and survived? Joy Bartlett did. She was driving down the M25 in the slow lane when a lorry on her outside started to veer into her lane. She accelerated to try to get in front of it; but the lorry caught the back of her car which was then flipped over three lanes (in front of other traffic) and ended up in the fast lane.

Miraculously, Joy escaped with only a cut elbow. Furthermore, it just so happened that a medical supplies van had stopped nearby. The driver kindly treated her wound and placed her arm in a sling.

Joy thanked God for this narrow escape. However, there was a sequel to the story. Two days later, she received a phone call from a lady whose car had been knocked slightly in the incident. She told Joy that her car had been hurtling towards the windscreen of her own car when it suddenly veered away in the opposite direction. These two people had faced death. Eternity had momentarily stretched out before them. Where would they have spent it?

The Bible tells us that we are all sinners (Romans 3:23) and that “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). It tells us “Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). However, it also tells us that God is gracious. He has provided a way of escape for us by sending His own beloved Son to die on a cross. In so doing, He, the sinless One, took the punishment from God that we deserved. God has approved His sacrifice by raising Him from the dead and exalting Him in Glory. The Bible tells us: “when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God” (Hebrews 10:12). It also says, “He [Christ] was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification” (Romans 4:25).

So how can we get His sacrifice to work for us? The answer is found in the verse “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Oh, how we plead with you to believe sincerely in the Son of the living God and be saved. Death will then become the gateway to Glory rather than being the tunnel to hell.

Where Do The Tracks Lead?

Author unknown

The 8.10 from Aldcburgh had pulled into the station at Woodbridge to find a fellow called Ivan preaching by the fish-shop. As the people passed by, Ivan was speaking on the subject of Hell-fire. Little did he know that one man (whom we shall call ‘Jim’) was among them and heading towards the railway line. Jim was in a depressed state having been rejected by his wife whom he loved dearly. That Wednesday evening, he was intent on lying across the railway tracks in order to kill himself

Tracks The words of the preacher came to his ears. Jim had never really given much thought to religion, but that evening the airborne words from the Bible struck his soul. He knew he was a sinner! Who isn’t? But when he heard of this eternal punishment for sin, he was convicted in his heart. If the Bible was true and he was to die that night, then surely this everlasting torment would be his destiny.

He turned about and approached the preacher saying, “I want to be saved!” Ivan was only too pleased to lead him to the Saviour, who loved him and had died for him.

Some while later, Ivan heard that Jim had been attending a Salvation Army church. Furthermore, he had been reconciled to his wife and both she and the rest of the family had also been converted.

This true story shows that it is not always the love of God that leads a soul to repentance and faith; but that strange work of God – His judgment – may do so also. The Son of God Himself said, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28). Jesus calls upon us to fear God because He is able to “destroy” both soul and body in Hell. Additionally, the Saviour’s words indicate that unbelievers receive new bodies at the time of resurrection. Their souls will be reunited with these bodies and as one will suffer this everlasting judgment.

Hell is also called the “second death”. This is an eternal separation from God and His goodness. Moreover, it is called “the fiery lake of burning sulphur” where there are torments for evermore (Revelation 21:8).

God is light and God is love. Being light, He must judge our sin. Being love He must seek our blessing. Hence, He sent His only begotten Son, the sinless One, to bear the punishment for our sin upon the cross. Those who implicitly trust in the Son of God and His work of salvation, are granted eternal life and shall experience heaven not hell. Albert Midlane, the hymn-writer put it this way:

God could not pass the sinner by, justice demands that he should die;
But in the cross of Christ we see how God can save, yet righteous be.
The judgment fell on Jesus’ head, ’twas in His blood sin’s debt was paid;
Stern justice can demand no more, and Mercy can dispense her store.

From the previous issue of Alive!

Easter Moons

by David Anderson

There was much interest in the fact that there were two Full Moons in January 2018. The second Full Moon was described as a Blue Moon because, as a super Moon, it has the appearance of being blue. Such a phenomenon does not happen very often, hence the expression, “Once in a Blue Moon”. Moon-watcher interest also increased in the Blue Moon because there was also a solar eclipse, which was visible in some parts of the world.

But do you know about the annual ‘Easter Full Moon’, which is the first Full Moon after the Spring Equinox? It is a very important day for Israelis because it is the date of the start of their Passover Festival. And it also occurs in the month in which their religious year commences. This month was established by God Himself, when He delivered the Children of Israel from their bondage as slaves in Egypt. “The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in Egypt, ‘This month is to be for you the first month, the first month of your year’” (Exodus 12:1). You can read the fascinating story of this event, which essentially kick-started their national identity, in Exodus chapters 12-13. The preceding chapters describe the events leading up to this intervention by God on behalf of His earthly people. The succeeding chapters, up to Exodus chapter 15, tell how they escaped the Egyptians; and how Moses led them across/through the Red Sea.

In Leviticus chapter 23, God appointed seven festivals for Israel’s religious life. The first was the Passover Festival and it is still celebrated by Jews today. “These are the LORD’s appointed festivals, the sacred assemblies you are to proclaim at their appointed times: The LORD’s Passover begins at twilight on the fourteenth day of the first month” (Leviticus 23:4-5). You will notice that the Passover was to commence mid-month (for the Jewish month is a lunar month of 28 days), that is, at the Full Moon.

But what has this to do with Easter Moons? Well, from the Gospel records we discover that Jesus died on the Cross on Passover day (Matthew 26:17; Mark 14:12; Luke .22:1; John 19:14-16) and the relevance to the Gospel message, which we give in this magazine, is that Passover is a picture of God’s deliverance from sin and its consequences. In the Bible this is called Redemption, a setting free by full payment. The following Bible verses give the Christian Gospel message:

“Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed” (1 Corinthians 5:7).

“Look,the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).

“The righteousness of God … is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith” (Romans 3:21-25).

So the Easter Moon is important, not because it exhibits any special astronomical phenomenon, but rather because it heralds the day on which the Lord Jesus Christ died for us — Good Friday [ as Christians traditionally call it]. What does it mean to you?

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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