HOME Jesus, the only path to God
Picture the horror of being stranded in an ocean with hungry, deadly sharks closing in! Then imagine how grateful and relieved you'd feel to be plucked to safety. The truth is, every person on the planet is lost in an ocean fraught with danger. We urgently need rescue, not from a boat or helicopter, but from our Heavenly Father. God loves you, so much that He sent His Son to save you. You've undoubtedly heard all this before, but are you sure you really understand what it's all about? What does it really mean to you, and can it really change your life? Read on and find out!
1. Does God really care about me?
This is what He says: "Thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee." Isaiah 43:4. "Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love." Jeremiah 31:3.
Answer: God's never-ending love for you and me is far beyond our understanding. He loves you as though you were the only lost soul in the universe. He would have given His life for you or me even if there had been no other sinner to redeem. Try never to forget this fact. You are precious in His sight. He loves you.
2. How has God demonstrated His love for us?
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16. "In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins." 1 John 4:9, 10.
Answer: Because He loved us so deeply, He was willing to see His only Son suffer and die rather than be separated from you and me for eternity. We will not be able to understand it, but He did it--just for you, just for me!
3. How could He love someone like me?
"But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8.
Answer: Certainly not because I earned it or deserved it. Not one of us has earned anything except the wages of sin, which is death (Romans 6:23). But God's love is unconditional. He loves the thieves, adulterers, and murderers. He also loves the selfish, the hypocritical, and the profane blasphemer. But, greatest of all, He loves me! And because He knows that my sins can lead only to misery and death, He wants to save me from my sins. That's why He died.
4. What does His death do for me?
"Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God." 1 John 3:1. "But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name." John 1:12.
Answer: Christ died to satisfy the death penalty against me. He was born as a man so He could suffer the kind of death I deserve. Then He offered to give me the credit for what He did. In other words, His sinless life is credited to my account so I can be counted as righteous. His death is accepted by God as full payment for all my past wrongs, and by accepting what He did, as a gift, I am taken into God's own family as His child. It staggers the mind!
Ponder these simple facts for a moment:
Because of my sins, I am sentenced to death.I cannot pay that penalty without losing eternal life, because if I died for my sins, I could not resurrect myself. I would be dead forever.I owe something I cannot pay! But a friend comes along, in the person of Jesus, and says, "I will pay. I will die in your place and give you credit for it. You will not have to die for your sins."I must accept the offer! Simple, isn't it? I openly acknowledge and accept His death for my sins. The moment I do this, I have become a son or daughter of God!
5. How do I receive Him and pass from death to life?
Just admit three things:
1. I am a sinner. "All have sinned." Romans 3:23.
2. I am doomed to die. "The wages of sin is death." Romans 6:23.
3. I cannot save myself. "Without me ye can do nothing." John 15:5.
Then, believe three things:
1. He died for me. "That he ... should taste death for every man." Hebrews 2:9.
2. He forgives me. "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins." 1 John 1:9.
3. He saves me. "He that believeth on me hath everlasting life." John 6:47.
Answer: By asking for, believing in, and accepting the great gift of God, our Lord Jesus Christ.
6. What must I do in order to obtain this gift of salvation?
"Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus." Romans 3:24. "A man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law." Romans 3:28.
Answer: The only thing I can do is to accept it as a pure gift. My works of obedience will not help me one bit in the justification experience. All who ask for salvation in faith will receive it. The worst reprobate sinner will be accepted on the same basis as the most moral do-gooder. The past does not count. Remember, God loves everyone alike, and forgiveness is for the asking. "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast." Ephesians 2:8, 9.
7. When I join His family through faith, what change does Jesus make in my life?
"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." 2 Corinthians 5:17.
Answer: As Christ is received into my heart, He destroys the old sinful self and actually changes me into a new spiritual creation. The old life of sin now becomes repulsive and undesirable. Joyfully I begin to experience, for the first time, glorious freedom from guilt and condemnation. I begin to see how empty my life has been without Christ. Rather than feeding on husks under the table, I now feast at the banquet of the King. One minute with God provides more happiness than does a lifetime of serving the devil. What an exchange! Why did I wait so long to accept it?
8. Will this changed life really be happier than the pleasures of the old life?
Jesus said: "These things have I spoken unto you ... that your joy might be full." John 15:11. "If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed." John 8:36. "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." John 10:10.
No joy on earth can compare to the happiness and joy of a Christian home.
Many feel that the Christian life will not be a happy one because of restrictions and self-denial. The exact opposite is true. When you accept the love of Jesus, a fantastic exuberance springs up from within. Unbelievable peace and joy permeate your life. Talk about excitement! There is no comparison to the old life of selfishness and failure. Like a bad dream, the painful past fades away, and you experience life "more abundantly," the way God intended it should be.
9. But can I make myself do all the things a Christian should do?
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me." Galatians 2:20. "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." Philippians 4:13.
Answer: Here is where the greatest miracle of the Christian life is revealed. There is no forcing yourself to be good! What you do as a Christian is the spontaneous outflowing of another Person's life within you. Obedience is the natural response of love in your life. Being born of God, as a new creature, you want to obey Him because His life has become a part of your life. To please someone you love is not a burden, but a delight. "I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart." Psalms 40:8.
10. Do you mean that even the Ten Commandments would not be hard to obey?
"If ye love me, keep my commandments." John 14:15. "For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous." 1 John 5:3. "But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected." 1 John 2:5.
Answer: The Bible always ties obedience to a love relationship. Born-again Christians find it no wearying struggle to keep the Ten Commandments. With all past sins covered by His atoning death, my present and future obedience is rooted in His victorious life within me. In fact, because I love Him so deeply for changing my life, I go beyond the requirements of the Ten Commandments. Daily I search the Bible for indications of His will, trying to find more little ways of expressing my love to Him. "And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight." 1 John 3:22, emphasis added.
11. How can I be certain that the commandment-keeping mentioned of God's people in the Bible is not legalism?
"Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus." Revelation 14:12. "And they [the saints] overcame him [Satan] by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death." Revelation 12:11.
Answer: Do not mistake obedience for legalism. Legalism is trying to earn salvation by good works. The saints are identified in the Bible as having four characteristics: (1) keeping the commandments, (2) trusting the blood of the Lamb, (3) sharing their faith with others, and (4) choosing to die rather than to sin. These are the true marks of the person who is in love with Christ and who has made a life commitment to follow Him.
12. What significant act seals the love relationship with Christ, and what does it symbolize?
"Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." "That the body of sin might be destroyed." Romans 6:4, 6. "I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ." 2 Corinthians 11:2.
Baptism symbolizes three significant events in the life of the true believer: (1) death to sin, (2) birth to a new life in Christ, and (3) marriage to Christ for eternity. This spiritual union will grow stronger and sweeter with time, as long as love continues to grow. As in any marriage, the loss of love can turn a paradise into hell. When love disappears, the home is held together only by the mechanical, forced duty of the marriage law. Likewise, when the Christian ceases to love Christ supremely, his religion exists only as restrictive compliance to a set of rules.
13. How can I be certain that the faith and love of my marriage to Christ will continue to increase?
"Search the scriptures." John 5:39. "Pray without ceasing." 1 Thessalonians 5:17. "As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him." Colossians 2:6. "I die daily." 1 Corinthians 15:31.
Answer: No love affair can prosper without communication. Prayer and Bible study are absolutely essential to keep this relationship growing. His Word constitutes a love letter that I must read daily to nourish the spiritual life. Conversing with Him in prayer deepens the devotion and opens my mind to a more thrilling and intimate knowledge of His concern for me. Daily I am amazed to discover details of His incredible provision for my happiness.
God Seals Our Spiritual Marriage
To seal our spiritual marriage for eternity, He has promised never to forsake me (Psalms 55:22; Matthew 28:20; Hebrews 13:5), to take care of me in sickness or in health (Psalms 41:3; Isaiah 41:10), and to provide for every need that could possibly develop in my life (Matthew 6:25-34). Just as I received Him by faith and found His promises all-sufficient, I keep on trusting Him for every future need, and He never lets me down.
14. It is my desire to invite Jesus into my life and experience the new birth.