We must first understand why are we sitting here today. Other people may be at the beach today. Some are at home. But why is it we come here to church to worship God. What is the main purpose of us as Christians? There are many people with different reasons and goals in coming to church.

I remember one of my relatives in Taiwan came to believe in Christ because his daughter cried too much. And so his mother-in-law suggested to him that if you bring her to church she'll cry less. We all know that when the child is young, they tend to cry a lot. But as the child grew up and no longer cries anymore, he no longer comes to church.

There are also some brothers who came to church to find a wife. There was a sister of ours that met her boyfriend. The boyfriend asked her for marriage. The sister said the requirement is you come to church and be baptized. So he replied sure he'll come to church. He was baptized. But after he got married he stopped coming to church.

So we all must have a firm understanding of what is the purpose of coming to church. One of the most important reasons to come to church is for the sake of our salvation. From the bible we can see what is the reason why we need to pursue our salvation.

Adam and Eve committed sin against God and disobeyed God in eating the forbidden fruit. God said a very important verse in the bible. Genesis 2:17 “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” Here God gave only one command to Adam and Eve. The tree of knowledge of good and evil you should not eat, for the day you eat of it you will surely die.

Unfortunately, our ancestors did not listen to God. God said the day you eat of it you will surely die. Adam and Eve did not die right away. If you look into Genesis, Adam lived 900+ years. What does it mean they will surely die? We have the spirit that comes from God. Each of us has a soul. Paul calls it the inner self. There is the outer self that is our physical body. According to the bible, our physical body is made from dust. In the bible, only two people did not go through death. The rest died. Our physical body will return back to earth. We have an earthly body and also an inner self. So when God said “the day we eat of it you will surely die” he is referring to the soul.

One time Jesus said to someone, “You come follow me.” So the man reply to Lord Jesus, “Let me go back and bury the dead.” What did Jesus say? Jesus said, “let the dead bury the dead.” Here Jesus refers to two dead people. The dead people to be buried is the one that’s physically died.

So let us first realize if we have not yet been baptized through the blood of Jesus Christ you are still a dead man. There are only two destinations for the soul. Soul does not die. Soul only returns to two places. One is heaven and the other is hell. So when we talk about salvation, it is in reference to our soul going to heaven and not hell. Revelation 20: 11-15 “Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books.  The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done . Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”

Here says that in the end day there is great judgment. According to the bible, the universe will be destroyed. Everyone will stand before the throne of God and be judged. As we have mentioned before, our physical body may be destroyed but our spiritual soul will be judged. This soul will stand before the throne of God to be judged. No matter how you die or whether you die in the sea. Here the scripture said the sea will throw out the dead. No matter how you die, you will still have to stand before God. Your soul will stand before God to be judged.

There are two books. One book contains your conduct while you live in this world. The other is the book of life. Verse 15 said clearly anyone not found in book of life is cast into lake of fire. That means if our name is not found in the book of life we cannot enter the heavenly kingdom of God. The only place for us to go is the lake of fire -- hell. So why is it we need to work out our salvation? Simply put, for the sole purpose to have our name included in the book of life. Main purpose of our belief is so our name can be included in the book of life. Only if our name is recorded in the book of life can we enter the heavenly kingdom. This is what we need to strive toward.

Now let us look into why we must work at our salvation with fear and trembling. Have you ever seen someone fear and tremble before? When I was a teenager during the time of World War II. There was a time when the American fighter planes were going to bomb Taiwan. At the time I was growing up in a village. Because we were quite poor I went to work instead of school. Then while I was working the emergency siren turned on and we hid ourselves in the shelter. As I was sitting down I felt someone tapping. I look over and there was this man in his 20’s trembling and shaking in his body. That was when I first realize someone who was afraid would tremble. Fear to the point that you shiver.

So why is it that we need to work our salvation with fear and trembling? Two reasons. One is to be saved, which is not easy. This is the words from Jesus Christ. Luke 13:23-24 Someone asked him, “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?” He said to them, “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to.”

You need to strive to enter through the narrow gate. For there are many who try to enter but are unable to enter. So from this we can understand it is difficult to enter the heaven of God. Matthew 7:13-14, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

Here are Jesus own personal words. We hear people say in my church we have congregation with thousands of members. I would point them to this verse. Broad is the way that leads to destruction. Those who find it are few. Do not be discouraged by few members, because there are few that are saved. So from these few verses from Lord Jesus Christ it is very difficult to enter the kingdom of God. Because it is very difficult therefore we must work at it with fear and trembling.

Second, why must we work with fear and trembling? We know that Satan is the enemy of God. He initially was the archangel but he became proud and wanted to be equal with God. So God cast him down to the earth, and so he became an enemy of God. Thus he tries his very best to stop those who will receive salvation. He knows he will one day be kept in everlasting fire. But he is unwilling to see others receive salvation. Therefore Satan uses many tactics to make us fall.

1 Peter 5:8 “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” Here states Satan walks about looking to devour the people of God. He uses whatever ways he can to tempt us to sin against God.

There are three weapons he uses most often. One is wealth. He knows there is greed in the heart of men and use material things to tempt us away from God. Have we not seen fellow brothers and sisters who have fallen? They had earned a lot of money but not enough so they work even more. Because of wealth they stumbled into the pit.

Other people my have started business and get too busy to come to church. They devoted all their own time into business until something terrible happens. This happened to a brother who was a millionaire whose son died. When he was a millionaire, although he was a member of our church he never came to church service. Only when his only son died that he suddenly awoke, but it was too late because his son has already died. Let us not be tempted by the pursuit of wealth.

Second weapon is that of the relationship between man and woman. Even pastors have stumbled in this matter, so we must be even more careful. Satan may very well use  women to tempt you. There is an Asian saying that brave warriors cannot overcome female seduction. It is true. It’s hard for me to resist temptation of women. Therefore, we must be very careful in relationships. This is one of those greatest weapons Satan uses.

The third is the pursuit of fame and status. All these tricks are ones that Satan use to make us stumble. We must be aware that Satan constantly wants to take us away, so we must be careful. Therefore, Paul himself said 1 Cor. 9:27 “No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.”

Here even though Paul was very careful with his actions and plainly said “I discipline my body so not to be disqualified for the prize.” He warned us to be even more careful.

1 Peter 4:7 “The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear-minded and self-controlled so that you can pray.” We have come to realize that we are at the end of the last days. Whether it be famine, pestilence, earthquake. These are all signs of the last day and it is becoming more serious.

Many years ago we talk about bird flu, but now recently we have swine flu. Back then we remember bird flu. People were worried it would become pandemic, but now we see swine flu becoming widespread. So we do not know what will happen next day. Therefore, Peter says here the end of all things is at hand. Thus we need to be serious and be watchful in our prayers.

So why must we work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. If we are not saved and end up in hell, it is very fearful. Let's look at one thing Jesus said to us. Mark 9:43-48, “If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, where “ ' their worms does not die and the fire is not quenched.'”

Here Jesus tells the difference between heaven and hell. Jesus tells us we must strive hard to enter the kingdom of heaven. To the point Jesus put into an analogy if your hand sins, cut it off. For it is better to go to heaven with one arm than with two arms and in hell. Of course this is a parable. What Jesus said is whatever matter that causes us to sin we must cut it off. It is better to have one eye and in heaven than two in hell.

Why is it so fearful to be in hell? Verse 48 There the warm does not die and the fire is not quenched. Here’s a testimony from a deaconess in China. When she was 82 years old she had severe illness and was sick for 12 days. Every night while she was sick around 6 to 7 pm, she would lose consciousness and wake up around 3 in the morning the next day. During those times she saw heaven and hell. First 12 days she saw heaven. On the 13 day the angel took her to see hell. She said in hell there is this great pit. In this great pit there's great fire. Within the great lake of fire there's another pit. In another pit there's filled with worms. Those who sin against God were thrown into the fire and after burning in the lake of fire then put into lake of worms.

She said the gnashing and crying were very horrifying. Someone who was thrown into pit of worms was trying to kill the worm in his hand. Here the worm does not die when he smash that one worm it becomes ten. So what she saw was exactly as Lord Jesus described. Here Jesus said in hell the worm does not die and the fire does not go out.

This deaconess Wang saw this vision had seen the worm and unquenchable fire. So this is why we need to tremble and fear. Because if we do not enter the kingdom of God we will be in hell fire and worms. And this is not just for a period of time but for an infinite amount of time. So while we are still living and breathing we have this opportunity to make sure we enter the kingdom of God. We must work out our salvation with fear and trembling.

We must be aware that if we are not saved, our end result will be in hell. Therefore we must try our very best to enter the kingdom of God. Hence everyday we must work hard to ensure our salvation. This afternoon we will study further how will we work out to ensure our salvation. From the four gospel, Jesus Christ give us eight requirements.

When I talk about the 20 year old youth in San Diego that caught the swine flu. In the morning she started to cough, the night she died. Our body does not have the defenses for it. The body does not know how to react today. There is no medication for it. One day she has the illness and she died. How feeble and weak is our life. I remember the words of my father in law. The coffin is not for the old, but for those who died. In other words, it is not for certain our time of death. Therefore, it is very important for us to take hold of every opportunity to work on salvation. You and I do not know how long we'll live. Even though Acts 17:26 “And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation.”

God knows the life span we have and not ourselves. One month, 85 years? No one knows, so we must prepare because that last day can be tomorrow. We do not know if tomorrow will belong to you. Bible said you do not know what will happen tomorrow. Therefore we should say if God is willing, let me do this. We must know our lives are in the hands of God. So while we still have this chance we must work and make sure our name is in the book of life. Let us pray for this in our prayers.