It was April 2018 and I found myself sitting inside a Filipino Prison. Not incarcerated for committing a crime, but awaiting my opportunity to give hope to the men who found themselves incarcerated. I recall listening to the man who addressed the inmates before me. I listened as an appeal was made to them to reconsider the direction of their lives. And I listened, my mind was taken back to the time when I had been in a similar situation to these inmates almost a decade before.
Then it was my opportunity to speak… I recalled the journey of my own life. I described the experience of my last incarceration in the Grafton correctional centre NSW, where I read for the first time the 27 fundamental doctrines of the seventh-day adventist church. I preached on the story of redemption that I myself had experienced from inside that prison. The peace that I had experienced in those four walls, when I for the first time in my life opened my heart to Jesus Christ.I shared the passages of scripture with these men, that radically and powerfully changed my life.
It was from the chapter in the 27 fundamentals on Jesus Christ. Here a picture of a judgement is etched into the mind of the reader, a setting these men must have known all too well. I spoke of the final court proceedings that will take place in the history of humanity, and how the bible describes in 2 Corinthians 5:10 that we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ. But this final judgement is one different from anything you have ever seen before. The final judgement was one that was already determined. And what determines the outcome of that final verdict is the decisions that we make here today, I explained.
In this final judgement Jesus is more than just the presiding magistrate. He is also described in Revelation 3:14 as being the true and faithful witness. But what is the substance of his witness? What is it that he is called to testify about? To help them understand His work of witness, I invited them to consider the often spoken of passage in 1 John 1:9, If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness…. But don’t stop there, read the next verse. 1 John 2:1, My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.
The bible tells us that in this final judgement, the work of Christ is the work of Judge, Witness and Legal Representative. He is our Advocate, our Barrister who testifies of our penitent heart. As our Witness he testifies of the day he stood knocking on the door of our hearts and we opened the door and invited him in. As our Judge he hears the voice of the prosecutor who is described in Revelation 12:10 as none other than the devil and satan. As our Judge he passed that final decision based on the decision we make today. With that, I appealed to these men with tears falling from my eyes as I was overwhelmed by the opportunity God had so richly blessed me with. I appealed to these men to open the door of their heart and secure their standing in that final judgment. I invited them to stand where they were as a sign to heaven that they wanted God to forgive them and transform them as they invited Jesus into their heart. Before me stood more than 70 men, making a stand in that prison for Jesus Christ.
I had the opportunity on that mission trip to make a number of other visits to that prison with Pr Lito Malabanan during the day’s I spent conducting an evangelistic crusade at the Novaliches Seventh-day Adventist Church. I had the privilege of witnessing more than 60 additional souls make decisions for Jesus Christ after attending that evangelistic crusade we were running each night. No words can describe the overwhelming joy experienced as I witnessed the work of Christ through me, this broken vessel in the hands of the almighty.
On the final sabbath at that Church in Novaliches, I appealed to the Adventist Youth to commit their life to the working of Christ in full-time ministry. That day nine Adventist Christians made a commitment to God to dedicate their life to full-time ministry. This was my third year of Pastoral ministry. To think that it was only October of 2011, that I had invited Christ to come into my heart while sitting in a prison cell in Grafton correctional centre. In 2018 I had the opportunity of witnessing more than 100 souls commit their life to Jesus Christ as I allowed Him to continue His work in me.
What about you? Where are you in your walk with Jesus Christ? Have you yet made the final verdict of your life sure by inviting Christ to come into your heart? Maybe you have some years ago, but your christian journey has become stagnant, or maybe you have fallen away a little? Is God calling you today to recommit your life to Him? I appeal to you, kneel where you are today and invite Jesus Christ to take full control of your life. How I look forward to hearing your story as Jesus does a great work in and through you!
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