Dear brothers and sisters, dear family and friends, peace. I want first
to thank Gi-Kong Church and Pastor Tin-
for giving me this honor to
preach here today.
I can remember many of my visits to Gikong Church over the past few years. I will sometimes bring foreign visitors here to tell them the story of Judy’s family and Taiwan’s history. And all our friends at Gikong Church always give us a big welcome.
And there is always something special happening here. When we stop by, we might see Bible studies or choir practices or art shows. And it is so nice that the church is open to the community. And this makes the community open its heart to the church.
I can remember listening to sermons preached at this church. Judy would always get out some paper and write down notes to translate what was being said. I did not understand much, but I love to hear Taiwanese. Taiwanese is such a beautiful language.
And today, I know that my Taiwanese might not sound so good, but just think of me as a little child just starting to learn to speak.
On this resurrection Sunday, I want to preach to you today about an important topic. Today I would like to speak about life and death and redemption and freedom. It relates to this church and the story of this place and the story of all of our lives. I want to talk about God’s plan of redemption.
1 Corinthians 15:21-22 “For since by man came death, by man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.”
The whole redemption story, the whole story of the Gospel, can be explained through the two men mentioned in this verse: Adam and Christ.
Now as you go about your daily lives, you might not think that the your life has much relation to these two men.
But actually, not just your own life, but the whole world is affected by these two men.
The world was good when God first created it. And then one man, Adam, brought death and a curse to all who are under him. And then a second man, Jesus Christ, came to redeem the world and he earned a blessing for all who belong to him.
Many men before Buddha asked the question “Why is there suffering?” and many men after Buddha have asked the same question, “Why is there suffering?”. People have invented different religions in trying to answer that question.
We all have a sense that this world is not right, that is used to be better than it is now, and that we lost something, that we lost Paradise.
Have you ever asked that question, “Why is there suffering?” God is giving an answer to you today in His Word. Death came through one man: Adam. All the sickness, all people getting old and dying, all the wrongs in this world -- they all came through Adam.
How can this be? Well, Adam was our first ancestor and what he did affected us.
There is an expression in almost every language in the world. In Taiwanese we say " U- chit~e^ lau~pe- chiu- u- chit~e^ kia*/ " In English, “Like father like son.”
Children look like their parents. They inherit their natures.
Judy and I often take the girls for walks in Tai-An Park. And we notice people staring at us. They look at the children, and they debate: which parent do the girls look like. Almost everyone here says that the girls look like me. But when we are in America, most people say the girls look like Judy. I always joke that the girls look like each other. But those who know Judy’s family well say that Faith looks very much like Judy when Judy was little. They have inherited features that from both of us.
Like father, like son.
We all are descended from Adam. And so we inherited his nature. Unfortunately, Adam’s nature changed. He started good and beautiful and perfect, but he sinned and disobeyed God.
The saying “like father like son” has a special significance with Adam.
You can read about it in Genesis chapters 2 and 3, but I will just tell you the story.
After God created the world, He gave a special place to our first father Adam. God made Adam the head over the creation and over all his descendants. And God gave Adam a command. If he obeyed the command, he would continue to have eternal life and blessings and a relationship with God. If he disobeyed the command, he would face death. His nature would be changed. And not just him, but all his descendents after him, and the whole world would be cursed.
When the heads of families do something, everyone in the family is affected. When the heads of governments do something, everyone in the nation is affected.
It is much more serious with our first ancestor. For as in Adam, all die. Adam sinned. We were affected by Adam's actions. And we also received Adam’s changed sinful nature.
That is the meaning of the verse we read today: “death came through one man; for as in Adam all die.” Everyone under Adam was affected by Adam’s actions and inherited his nature. We were all born under Adam.
All the bad things in the world, all the murders and injustice it all comes from that day that our first ancestor sinned. This is the truth about this world. But it is bad news.
But God stilled loves people even in their sin, just like you still love your children even when they are bad. So he made a plan to save people.
You hear it in the second part of the verse we read today. “Just as death came though a man, the resurrection of the dead also came through a man; for as in Adam all die, even so in Christ may all be made alive.” The only way to get out from under the curse of Adam, is to belong to Jesus.
Something Jesus Christ did changed things, redeemed things for the better.
The place where Gikong Church meets tells a story that gives us a little picture of the redemption that Jesus accomplished. What happened here at this place, what the church is named, the day the church was founded -- it all speaks about redemption.
There used to be something good and beautiful here: a family lived here, and there was love. I’m sure that every person who visited this house could experience that love. My wife has shared with me so many good memories of her childhood in this place.
And then the tragedy happened. A family was torn apart by injustice, murder and death. And after that, what could be thought about this place? Would anyone want to live here? Would anyone think there was anything beautiful or good here? They would think in their superstition: this place is unlucky; they would not want to be here.
Do you see? It is like chains of darkness had bound this house. When could it have love again in it? Who would want to buy it to live in? When could it be filled with happy voices, and the warmth of friends and family? It needed to be set free from darkness. It needed to be redeemed.
And on Easter of 1982, this place began to be redeemed. That day brought the place into a state even better than before the tragedy. What was once the place of sharing the love of one family, now became the place where many families and friends came together and shared their love for each other, and experience the love of God for them.
And all of you meeting here today are still taking part in this story.
Now that is how this place was redeemed from the past tragedy.
But what about the whole world that was cursed from Adam? How can we get out of this curse? We are all born into it. We are part of this cursed world. We cannot help ourselves. We need outside help. Another man had to come. “Through man came also the resurrection of the dead.” The Bible calls Jesus Christ the Second Adam. He has a special position as representative of all of those under him. And so like Adam, Christ’s actions affect everyone under him and Christ’s nature is inherited by everyone under him.
Jesus was not an example for us to follow so we can learn to save ourselves. We cannot save ourselves. Salvation is not something we do, but it is something Jesus did for us.
Jesus had to pay a cost. If you go to the weekend flower market on JianGuo S. Rd. near this church meeting place, you cannot just go pick up flowers and walk away. You might be able to bargain and get the price down, but you always have to pay. It costs something.
To wash away sins costs something. Justice requires a cost. God cannot simply ignore sin. He cannot simply say, “Oh, never mind, your sins are not important.” It would violate God’s perfect justice.
Justice must be satisfied.
There is a lot of talk about transitional justice in relation to the 228 Incident. So many people have not yet seen justice done. And some people say, “Oh, just forget about it.” But we know, for the sake of people and for the sake of the nation of Taiwan, we cannot just let it go. We can as individuals forgive other people, but we cannot just pretend that it did not happen.
It is the same with sin in each heart. Justice must be satisfied. God cannot just let things go or pretend sin did not happen. You and I are sinners.
Your whole life if full of sin and you have to face justice, unless someone takes your place.
Someone did take the place of sinners; in Christ, we have redemption.
This church’s name reminds us that Jesus is the Light of Righteousness.
Jesus is the Light of Righteousness because his own righteousness destroys the darkness in our hearts. This is the darkness that started with Adam’s sin. God made a new covenant with Jesus the the Last Adam.
Jesus Christ, God the Son, took human nature. And he became the new head of a new covenant. He had to face more temptations than Adam. Adam just had one thing to obey -- one tree’s fruit to not eat from. Jesus had laws in every area of every day of his life to obey. And he pefectly obeyed all the laws. There was not one time that he sinned. He had no sin. He was righteous. And he died on the cross and experienced God’s wrath and justice for our sin. He bore our sin on the cross.
How do you get this righteousness. How do you come out from under Adam’s headship and become one who belongs to Christ? Through faith.
If you walk down to Da An Park, you can see a sign on a building south of the park. A lot of Christian churches put up this sign. I even can see it when I drive on the JianGuo Upper Level Expressway.
The signs all say, “For God so loved the World.” They come from the verse in John 3:16. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
All those who are under Jesus will receive the eternal life that Jesus earned by his righteous life.
Remember our Scripture verse, “For since by man came death, by man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.”
By man also came the resurrection of the dead. Because of his righteousness, Jesus was resurrected from the dead with a new immortal body. So when we celebrate Easter, we are not only celebrating the fact that Jesus got a new immortal body. But we also are celebrating the fact that we will one day also get a new immortal body when Jesus returns to earth.
So whenever you come to this place, the Gikong Church: Think about the ultimate redemption it points to. One day there will be no more death. No more sin. There will be a New Heavens and New Earth. And it will be perfect. And we will have a new relationship with God and fellowship with each other. And we will live forever.
Jesus has dealt with every aspect of this world’s need for redemption. The Son of God has set you free.
So the question for all of us is this: are we still in Adam or in Christ?
I hope each of you will come to believe in Jesus. He will set you free from sin.
John 8:36 “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”