Have you ever pondered any of these questions?
• If I died today, do I know for certain that I would go to heaven?
• Who is Jesus?
• Why did Jesus have to be crucified?
Let’s take a look at what the Bible tells us about these things.
The Problem: Sin
The Bible tells us that we were created by God to be in a perfect, loving relationship with Him. But it is a relationship based on free will. We can choose to love God, or reject Him. We can choose to follow God’s laws, or reject them. God didn’t create us as robots, but as individuals who can freely love or reject.
The problem is that we are all guilty of breaking God’s law. This is called sin. The Bible says that, “There is none righteous, no not one” (Romans 3:10). Additionally, it says, “For all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Therefore, our relationship with Him is broken.
The Consequence of Sin: Hell
God’s law is really a gift to us. He created life. Shouldn’t He know what it’s for? How it should be lived? His law shows us what is best for us. You see, God is holy and perfectly just. He knows what is right and wrong and He can’t allow wrongdoing to go unpunished. If he did then He would no longer be a just God. Think about it, should wrongdoing go unpunished? Do you not think that those who practice evil should be held accountable? Don’t we see the consequences of evil actions every single day in this world, large and small? Or what if you look at it like this: Would you allow your child to do anything they wanted without correction?
The Bible teaches that sin is not only things that you do like lying, cheating, and stealing but it’s even thinking about doing those things. This is how holy and perfect God is. He is perfect and He wants us to be perfect as well.
Considering this, I would think, if I’m honest with myself, that I’m doing pretty well if I only sinned three times a day. Don’t you agree? Actually, I would think I was doing great! But after just one year I would have sinned over 1,000 times. Over an 80 year life I would have sinned more than 80,000 times! If a man in court had committed over 80,000 crimes and infractions do you think the judge would allow him to go free? Or to enter back into society? I think the answer would be “No.” Now, how can we expect God to be less just than a fallible human judge? We can’t. And God doesn’t just punish the Adolf Hitlers of the world but all who commit such crimes; all who sin.
The Bible tells us that EVERY man and woman will appear before the judgment seat of God to give an account of themselves. How can we ever bear the punishment of what is likely far more than 80,000 sins?
Hell is a place where we pay for our sins. God doesn’t want us to have to pay for our sins but He knows the true effects of sin. The Bible says that our good deeds are like filthy rags before a perfectly holy God. We can’t work our way into heaven and we can’t bear the punishment of hell. We need someone to save us.
The Solution: Jesus Christ
Here is the Good News: God loves us and doesn’t want us to suffer the consequences of our sins. He knows that we cannot bear it. So, how do we make sense of this if God is perfectly just, and must punish all sins, but at the same time loves us and doesn’t want to punish us? That is where Jesus comes in! God the Father sent God the Son (Jesus) to die for your sins, specifically. You see, He loves you so much that He left the riches and worship of heaven to come down to earth, take on the form of a man, and be executed so you don’t have to pay the penalty of your sins. He was mocked, spat upon, beaten, flogged, crucified, and even bore the wrath of God so that you and I could go free. That is the grace and love of our great God. We don’t deserve it but He wanted to give it to us. Romans 5:8 tells us, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” The just died for the unjust. That is, Jesus switched places with us. He got the death we deserved and we get the life we don’t deserve.
You might be wondering how it is that Jesus could pay this price. How is it that His death on the cross can bear the burden of your sin? You and I are imperfect, sinful beings but Jesus lived a perfect life here on earth. His life was literally a life without a hint of sin. Only someone without a debt can pay someone else’s debt. If you and I are both sinking under crushing debt (our sin) then how could we help each other out? We couldn’t. We would need someone who not only had zero debt but a superabundance to give to us. Additionally, because God is an eternal being, His wrath is infinite. How can we, as finite beings, every hope to pay an infinite penalty? We can’t. Only Jesus could because, since He is fully God, He is an eternal being and therefore could absorb the eternal wrath that we deserve.
Our Response: Trust Him
Now the question is, “What should we do?” Well, the Bible says, “That if you confess with your mouth ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).
What that means is that salvation involves two steps:
1. First, “Confess with your mouth ‘Jesus is Lord’” means to make Jesus the Lord and Master of your life.
2. Second, “Believe in your heart...” means to put all of your faith, or trust, in Jesus’ payment for your sins and His victory over death. That’s really all God wants us to do! Make Jesus our Lord and believe what He has done for us. It’s so simple! However, people make it really complicated and difficult. A lot of people think that they have to be good to go to heaven, but the Bible clearly teaches that, “...by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). Eternal life is a gift – a gift that a person cannot earn. It’s not by works!
Let me give you an example to explain what I’m talking about. Let’s say that it’s your birthday and a friend of yours comes to you with a big excited smile and hands you a gift. You open it, thank your friend, but then you reach into your pocket, pull out some cash, and offer to pay for it. Do you think that would be strange?
But we do the same thing with God. God has offered everyone the free gift of a relationship with Him and eternal life, but if we insist on ignoring it or paying for it by trying to be good, it is no longer a gift and we won’t receive it. Worst of all, God’s gift is so costly that to think that we can pay Him back is crazy! Our efforts to be good cannot pay for the cost of our sin in order to gain access into heaven. We need to accept the gift and trust Him.
Putting our trust in Him means living like we trust Him. Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15). You see, many people simply pay Jesus lip service and then continue on with their lives as though nothing has changed. When you love someone your life revolves around them. And when you put your trust in someone it shows with your actions.
You Must Be Born Again
The Bible tells us that if we make Jesus our Lord and believe what He has done for us, we will be born again. Jesus said that “...unless you are born again, you cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3).
Every person has a physical birth when they are born from their mother’s womb. But the Bible says that when we come into the world, we are spiritually dead. That’s why Jesus said we must be born a second time, or born again. A person is born again by making Jesus their Lord. At that point, the Bible says that they –
• Become spiritually alive
• Receive a new heart
• Receive a new desire to know God and to be with other Christians
Has something like that ever happened to you? Have you been born again like Jesus said? If the answer is “No,” or “I don’t know,” then we encourage you to call or come by the church to pray with us. You can also pray right now. With sincerity, you can speak the following to the Lord:
“Father, I confess my sin and ask for your forgiveness. I thank You, Lord, for You have promised that if I will confess my sins, You will be faithful to forgive and cleanse me from all unrighteousness. I turn from my sins and want to live in a way that will please You. I thank You that Jesus Christ died on the cross, paying the penalty for my sins, and then rose from the dead. I accept Him now as my Savior,
my Lord, and my Master. Thank you for giving me new life in Christ. I choose now to follow You. Fill me with Your Holy Spirit that I might now live for You. Amen.”