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    TRUE HAPPINESS(Question 2)

    In Question One we learned that as Christians we do not belong to ourselves. We have been adopted into the family of God by Jesus' death on the cross. On the other hand, those people who do not trust or believe in Jesus have the devil as their father. They stay in the devil's family because they are dead in sin and don't know any better.

    One other thing we will learn today about nonChristians is that they will never truly be happy. Yes, they may have fun and accomplish what they set out to do. They may raise families and provide for their children. But when all is said and done they will still be lacking the ability to understand three basic things that can give them true happiness. Question and Answer Two of the Catechism describe these three things for us.


    2. How many things must we know to live and die happily?
    Three:
    1. That I am a sinner.
    2. That Jesus has set me free from my sin.
    3. That I am to be thankful to God for setting me free.

    Let's look at each one of these three things and see how each one of them will make us truly happy.

    That I am a sinner.

    Believe it or not, the only way you can ever truly be happy is to admit that you are truly rotten! Pretend you went to the doctor for a checkup and after some tests you were told, "Sorry, but you have a very deadly disease. You only have six months to live". How would that make you feel? Probably very sad. Maybe even mad, so mad that you wish the doctor would have never told you that you were sick. But what happened if the doctor found a cure for your disease and was able to make you well? Wouldn't you feel very happy? Yet if you would have never gone to the doctor you would have died unexpectedly within six months.

    You see, before the doctor could make you better, he had to tell you the bad news about your sickness. It is the same way in real life. The only way we can be really and truly happy is to admit to ourselves the bad news that we are sinners. Look what the Bible says about sin:

    For the wages of sin is death.
    (Romans 6:23a, NKJV)

    A wage is something you earn or something you work for. When you sin(by stealing, lying, cussing) you are earning death for your actions. Now you might not like that you are earning death by what you do, but there is nothing you can do to stop it. It is who you are. Just as you are unable to change the color of your skin you are also unable to stop or get rid of your sinful ways.

    Jesus has set me free from my sin.

    Now that we know the "bad news" we can move on to the "good news". Look again at Romans 6:23. But this time look at the last part of the verse:

    ..but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
    (Romans 6:23b, NKJV)

    Yes, sin does earn us death but this verse shows that God has a special gift for us. It is eternal life in Jesus Christ! You see, God is a fair God. If you sin against Him He has to punish you. But Jesus came and took the punishment of sin for us. He freed us the chains of sin and took the sentence of death upon Himself. We will learn more about this later on in the Catechism.

    I am to be thankful to God for setting me free.

    Now this last part can get a little tricky. Just as Question One separated us from unbelievers, this third part of Question Two will show us if we really believe what the first two parts were talking about. Let me explain..

    Imagine you are out playing in the street and a car comes racing down your block. You try to get out of the way but you can't move. Suddenly, your best friend comes out of nowhere and pushes you out of the way. You can only scream as you watch the car hit your friend. Now, let me ask you this-what would your attitude towards your friend be after this? Would you visit him in the hospital? Would you tell him how much you appreciated what he did for you? Of course you would. Because of your gratitude or thankfulness for your friend saving your life, you would do anything possible to repay him.

    Now how much more would you repay someone who not only saved your life but also your soul? That's what Jesus did for you on the cross. If you really believe you are a sinner and that Jesus set you free from that curse you will want to show Him how thankful you are. You can do this in different ways-by going to church, by praying, or by reading your Bible. But what if you feel no desire to thank Jesus? What if it is no big deal to you that He died on the cross for your sins? That probably means that you really don't believe you're a sinner. It's still not real to you.

    Don't make the mistake of calling yourself a Christian when you have no desire to please God. That would be like going to your friend who pushed you out of the way of the car and slapping him in the face. That would be like laughing at him while he lays on the ground bleeding. So check yourself and see if you have any desire to serve God. If you do, praise Him because guess what-He is the One who gave you that desire! But if you don't- pray to Him right now and ask Him to change you. Then and only then will you ever be truly happy.


    QUESTIONS

    1. What is a wage?
    2. What is the gift of God?
    3. If we believe Jesus has set us free, what will we show Him?


    1998 Pomona Youth Chapel/Pastor Tim Shultz