As today is Gospel Sunday, I thought it fit to publish two adaptions of Rev. Timothy Tow’s devotions found in his book The Gospel of Life: An Applied Commentary on the Gospel of John. May these devotions be of great blessing to you!

Text: John 3

John 3:16, perhaps the most famous verse in the whole Bible, is found in this chapter. If the Gospel of John is called the Gospel of Life, this verse might be called the Verse of Life.

How do we know that a person is alive? When he has breath in his nostrils. How did man become a living soul? When God “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life” (Gen. 2:7). This life that God had imparted to man not only refers to his physical life, but more important to his spiritual life. This raises man far above the apes, for apes and other animals were merely created out of the earth; but man, alone, is made of “the dust of the ground” plus the breath or life God specially breathed into him. Thus, he is said to be made in the image of God.

But the spiritual life man had received from God was lost when man disobeyed Him, “for in the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Gen. 2:17). Hence, for a person to live the life God had given him, above the level of animals, he must be restored. A man who has drowned can be restored by artificial respiration. A man who is dead in trespasses and sins can be resuscitated only by the Breath of Life which the Son of God gives. This is what it means to be born again of the Spirit.

The process of breathing anew into a spiritually dead man is the work of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit must work in a man’s heart to convict him of his sins, of his need of repentance from his sins, and to cause him to look to the crucified Saviour for salvation.

This theology of salvation is discussed by our Lord with Nicodemus, a well-educated “ruler” of the Jews. He belonged to the Jewish Sanhedrin, he was an elder of the Church, but he had the shell of religion, not its kernel or life. Thus he needs to be born again.

All the “churchianity” you might inherit from Christian parents to the third or fourth generation will never get you to heaven, my Reader! Salvation is an individual thing. The question is, are you born again? Do you have the Breath of Life in you? St. Paul says, “Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” (Rom. 8:9)

Text: John 3:14-16

In John 3:1-13, we are taught the work of the Holy Spirit in causing us to be born again, that is, to become spiritually alive again. The Holy Spirit is the agent of our salvation.

Now in John 3:14-16, we are directed to the work of the Son, which is the ground of our salvation. The Holy Spirit does not cause us to be born again, except by leading us to the cross. To the cross of His substituting death, in our place, paying the penalty of our sins, which is everlasting suffering in hell.

This teaching is stressed by none other than the Sufferer Himself. So Jesus refers Nicodemus to the brazen serpent God told Moses to make, to which when a man would look in faith should receive restoration of life. He would be cured of his snake bite, saved from certain death.

A man can never receive the Breath of Life unless he comes humbly like the thief before his dying Saviour, confessing his sins and pleading for mercy.

Hence, when Paul came to Corinth with the Gospel, he did not stress on tongues or mass faith healing, or “miracle rallies” or mass evangelism with all the human efforts thrown in. Paul says this to the Corinthians and to us today, “And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech, or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you save Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” (1 Cor 2:1-2)

Here is the test of a preacher. If he merely preaches ethics, requiring you to do this or that, he can only further burden you. If he talks of the Spirit, but does not exalt Christ, the Spirit will not say amen in your heart. When Christ and His death and resurrection power is preached, it produces results!

In the cross, In the cross,
Be my glory ever.
All my sins are washed away
In the Blood of Jesus
(John Sung)

(Taken from Life BPC Weekly, Vol. XXIII No.11, 25th October 1987)

Lord, would Thou give me increased years of study?
If so, dear Lord, show me the way to the Varsity!

Help me, Lord, to do well in my Final exam.
To meet the stringent requirements set by man.
To secure that coveted place in the NUS!

And when that place is securely mine,
I know, dear Lord, You’ll help me find
The monetary means to meet the spiralling costs
To pay for that trying tertiary course.

Throughout my two years of study,
Many a time, You’ve heard my fervent plea:
“Endow me, dear Lord, with
a keen intellect,
a good memory,
a capacity to assimilate knowledge.”

At this crucial period of “Examination Fever”
Bless, O Lord, each student sitting for ‘O’ or ‘A’ Level with
good health,
clarity of thought,
an analytical mind,
and the ability to do his best.

For, Lord, we know You bend your loving ear to every request,
To him who runs at Your behest.

So hear, Lord, Thy dear children’s supplications,
When after their final examinations
They stand at the cross-roads of life –
To make the right choice in Christ.

An ‘A’ Level student
19 October 1987

Editor’s Note: May all our students work hard for the glory of God. “Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.” (Psalm 37:4)