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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!

We must leave Earth“We must leave Earth within 100 years”

by Gordon Smith

These are the words of the late Stephen Hawking. The reasoning behind this statement was based on his theories and expectations as an astrophysicist. He had previously cited asteroid strikes on earth and overpopulation, to which he added threats of nuclear war, genetically engineered viruses and global warming. All of these are issues that are of concern to many and we are all aware of the way in which they are covered in the media. Attempts are made to reduce climate change, international summits are organised to diplomatically offset the likelihood of warfare and governments try to introduce legislation to address many of the other issues of concern.

Whether we are concerned or worried about these matters or not, is Stephen Hawking’s statement something we should be thinking about? There have been a number of science fiction films based on the idea of global disasters, some of which follow the line Professor Hawking alluded to: that is, searching for a ‘new earth’ somewhere in the galaxy, like our earth, that can be colonised.

In another sense, the statement may not be so far from a real future! Individually, it is unlikely that many of us will live another hundred years, even if we are now just infants. On a global scale, there is another scenario in which we will have left earth that is described in the Bible.

Christians believe that when we die we will go to heaven. According to Paul’s letter to the church at Thessalonica, we may not die but be taken to heaven when the Lord Jesus comes back to take the believers there: “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord for ever” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). To believers, this is wonderful news, because regardless of what happens on earth, there is a future in heaven without all of the worries and concerns we have here.

There is, however, a condition to this promise of God: the people who are described as ‘dead in Christ’ are those who have trusted in the Lord Jesus as their Saviour, before they died. Those who are described as ‘we who are still alive and remain’ are also believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. This event that is described will be instantaneous. There will not be time to make a last minute or snap decision. There is another issue which many fail to consider: no-one knows when this event will take place; only God knows that! In other words, it could happen at any time!

The other question that needs an answer is ‘What about those millions of people who are left behind?’ To this, there is a very sobering answer. The same person who died on a cross to take away your sins and mine – the Lord Jesus Christ – will be their judge. There will be no mistakes, no miscarriage of justice, no appeal and no retrial, because He has an accurate record of all the things we have done in our life. The only true verdict He can give is ‘guilty’ and condemn them to hell. Now is when we can make the decision to trust the Lord Jesus as our Saviour, believe He died to take away our sins and be assured of a place in heaven. Whether we die and He raises us from the grave or we are caught up to heaven with Him on that wonderful day, the choice is yours to make, now!

The Gospel in a nutshell

by Ernie Bartlett

Religious people often talk about ‘the Gospel’, but what does it really mean? We could go through the four Gospels, in the Bible, which would take some time. Even then we might not understand what the term ‘Gospel’ means. Let’s simplify it, by looking at one verse from the New Testament, in the Gospel of John (chapter 3 verse 16).

I want to divide this verse into 3 parts. The first part I will refer to as the greatest fact: “For God so loved the world …” the second part, I will call the greatest act “… that He gave His one and only Son …”, and the third part I will call the greatest pact “… that whoever believes on Him should not perish but have eternal life.”

1. “God” – whatever faith you have, you must acknowledge one Supreme Being. Even if you say you have no faith, you may also have to think carefully, as to whether you believe there is a supreme being. So often when people deny the existence of God, they change their tune when disaster comes. The verse quoted above says “For God so loved, the world …” There are 2 matters here – ‘love’ and ‘the world’. You may ask the question, “Does God love me?” It is evident that He does, in providing for you in the way of food and shelter. While it is true some people are denied the necessities of life, most of us benefit from the hand of God. God allows the weather in most places so that our food supply can continue. Regarding the word “world”, this word has different meanings. The word can mean ‘the way of the world’, which is typically an uncaring selfish and greedy attitude (everyone for himself). It could mean the world in its geographical sense – the physical world in which we all live. Finally it has the meaning of the inhabited world, comprising of everyone in it – you, me and everyone else. It is this last one that is meant in this verse. How then has God loved me? God cares for our eternal welfare; He doesn’t want anyone to perish. We all have an immortal (undying) soul which will spend eternity either in heaven or hell. Sin and its consequences will be punished. We see it all around us; if we break the laws of the land and are caught we will have to suffer a penalty. The penalty that God imposes for our sins is more severe.

2. He [God] “… gave His One and only Son …”. This shows how God demonstrates His love towards us. We have all sinned. “None [of us] can by any means redeem his brother or give to God a ransom for him” (Psalm 49:7). So God’s Son, Jesus, came in human form, born in Bethlehem and died about 33 years later in a most cruel way – by crucifixion. Not only did He demonstrate His love to us in that way, but He became the sacrifice, instead of us, so that none of us need to suffer the penalty of sin. The dying repentant thief illustrates this when he said to Jesus, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:42-43)

3. “… that whoever believes on Him should not perish but have eternal life”. To have eternal life it is essential to believe that Jesus died, not just for people in general, but for you and me personally. It’s a contract between God and you. God will keep his side; it’s up to you and me to keep our side by putting our faith in Jesus!

Bees in Danger

Anon

Bees in DangerConsumption of honey is good for health. “Learn from the bee” is a counsel for the lazy. We will be surprised if we observe how the bees work. When the morning sun rises, they begin their work. The queen bee lays eggs and soon they hatch and a new generation is born. It is a pleasure to observe a honeycomb. The bees suck nectar from flowers and fill the cells in the honeycomb. The bees work together. But every bee has its own work. How beautifully they make a house for 5,000 bees without consulting an architect!

But does anyone know that there is a danger hidden in the honeycomb? A small germ enters the body of one bee. Gradually all the bees get infected by this. Thus, just because of one germ, the entire colony of bees dies. In the same way, sin entered mankind (Romans 5:12). Satan deceived Man, who was made in the image of God, and tempted him to sin. Eve saw that the fruit of the tree in the centre of Eden garden was beautiful and tasty. She forgot about God’s command and ate it and gave it to Adam also. With that, sin entered human life. They violated God’s commandment and came under the curse of the law.

Nevertheless, the merciful God sent His only-begotten Son to this earth to save man from the curse. Not sparing His Son, He gave Him to suffer death on the cross. He rose from the dead and ascended to heaven and sat on the right side of the throne of God. Like a germ killed the entire colony of bees, when sin entered man began his journey to hell. Jesus’ death on the cross was the plan of salvation prepared by God.

Those who believe in Jesus Christ as this plan for human redemption shall be saved and delivered from the slavery of sin. Whatever religion you may believe, or community that you may belong to, Jesus Christ died for your sins. Confess that Jesus died for you, He has forgiven my sins and He lives for you today and your sins shall be forgiven. God gives you the right to be called a child of God. Thus the sin that separated us from God has been removed by Jesus.

Dear friend, as you read this, have you received Jesus as your Saviour? If not, the germ of sin has been eating you up. It will finally lead you to hell. Receive Jesus now and confess it.

It is God’s will that you should have eternal life through Jesus Christ. Remember what He has done for you! Today He is merciful and ready to forgive your sins and cleanse you. But the day shall come when He will be revealed as a judge. Then there won’t be any chance to be saved. This is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2). Receive Jesus as your Saviour and Lord today.

From the previous 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.

1. Penalty

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).

3. Victory

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).

4. Followers

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.

HOPE

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.

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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