It’s not about me, but the One who is Life and worth living for.
I don’t know the exact date, but sometime in my past I saw who I was without Jesus Christ. I allowed the Bible to illuminate divine perspective into my self-centered human viewpoint. The Bible, like a mirror exposed who I really was. I saw myself as a hell-bound sinner deserving of God’s wrath. The Bible says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23; ESV). I had sinned, not only once, but too many times to remember.
We all fall short of God’s perfect, Holy standard. He is Holy, Righteous, Perfect and Just. God is 100% perfect, 100% of the time. He is so Holy that all it took was one sin to cast Adam and Eve out of the garden of Eden (They disobeyed God and ate of the forbidden fruit). God is a light who shares no fellowship with darkness. Our sin creates a barrier separating us from a Perfect/Holy God. The Bible says, “But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousness are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away” (Isaiah 64:6). All my supposed good deeds were really “filthy rags“, in the nostrils of a Holy, Just, and Perfect GOD.
God’s Holy character demands a just punishment for man’s sin. Just as we would not expect a good judge to set free a guilty criminal, God’s says, “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23a). Man is a guilty sinner condemned to die. The Bible says, “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). There is a great, white throne judgment someday. This is the place where all the “dead” will have their day in court. The Bible illustrates this future event vividly:
“And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire” (Rev 20:12-15).
Those who live the wages of sin, have no ongoing pardon from Christ; they will be there. But God, who invented love and grace came up with a brilliant plan, whereby we may escape. Now to the good news!
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Jesus Christ paid the penalty of our sin on the cross. As the songwriter pinned so well, “He paid a debt He did not owe, I owed a debt I could not pay, I needed someone to wash my sins away“
Christ left heaven where He shared fellowship with the Father forever. He humbled Himself and took on human flesh to die for our sins. “For He [God] made Him [Jesus Christ] who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
God offers pardon for our sins. This forgiveness is received by believing (trusting, depending and relying on) on His Son Jesus Christ –who died for our sins and rose from the dead on the third day according to the scriptures.
This gift of God (His payment on the cross for our sins) has to be received by faith to be valid. God does not force Himself on us; we choose to live in belief or unbelief. For this gift to be activated it must be received in this life with a genuine faith that believes in Jesus Christ.
HOW TO RECEIVE THIS GIFT
A sovereign God sets the conditions for receipt of this gift. Man cannot receive it “their way”, but must receive it “God’s way” to be valid.
1. You must believe (trust, depend and rely on) in Jesus Christ by faith.
The most famous verse in the Bible says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes [ongoing belief] in him should not perish but have [present tense; right now] eternal life” (John 3:16). This verse begins with God and ends with everlasting life. It is conditional on “believing” in Jesus Christ. Belief here means to trust and rely on Jesus Christ in the present. The word “believe” is in the present tense in the Greek language where we get our Bibles. Most Bible versions use the word “believe” to accurately portray a present tense, ongoing, continuous belief in Christ. This belief is not a one-time belief in Christ so one can optionally live the wages of sin. It is not a one-time intellectual belief, but ongoing faith in Jesus Christ who died and rose again for our sins. Jesus is called “Savior” because he saves people who are lost, unable to save themselves.
There are many who claim a one-time, intellectual faith will get one to heaven. The Bible says’ “Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless?” (James 2:20). My works for Jesus Christ do not save me. But my works for Jesus Christ come from a saving, believing faith.
Paul wrote to those with ongoing faith in Christ: “he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness [since saved], but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5). The works these believers performed in their ongoing faith (“not because of works done by us in righteousness“) were not saving them.
Jesus said, “My sheep [describes Christians] hear [present tense] my voice, and I know [present tense] them, and they follow [present tense] me. I give them [the present tense followers of Christ in the preceding verse] eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand” (John 10:28-29).
Real sheep hear the voice of God and respond. Do you? Jesus knows His sheep. Does He know you? Real sheep will follow Jesus Christ because they believe. The words “hear“, “know“, “follow” and “give” are in the Greek present tense. This describes true believers in Jesus Christ who have “eternal life.” If you don’t know Jesus Christ, you can change this today by believing in Him with a faith that follows Him.
The Apostle Paul wrote, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes [present tense; ongoing belief], to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous [us who believe] shall live by faith” (Romans 1:16-17).
According to the verse above, the righteousness of Christ is attained by those who “believe” (present tense). This belief is described in action: “the righteous shall live by faith” (vs 17).
“Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if [conditional] you hold fast to the word I preached to you unless you believed in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:1-2). Those who believe in Jesus Christ by faith are “being saved.” Sadly, those who formerly believed, did so in vain.
“But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been revealed, as attested by the law and the prophets, that is, the righteousness of God through faith in Christ Jesus to all who believe [Greek, ongoing present tense]. For there is no distinction, for all have sinned and lack the glory of God. They are justified [Greek, ongoing present tense] as a gift by his grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:21-24). Salvation is found in only Jesus Christ. It is not found in any religion; Jesus is eternal life. Justification (describes a judge in a court room of law declaring on righteous) (salvation) comes to those who trust in Christ by faith in the present.
2. You must repent before a Holy, almighty GOD.
Satan wants people to think that they can have Jesus and their sin too. Jesus, when speaking of salvation stated, “to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me” (Acts 26:18).
The Apostle Paul describes how he had delivered this very message a few verses later, “but declared first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all the region of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance” (Acts 26:20).
You must believe in Jesus Christ, “Turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God.” Satan is the great deceiver who distorts the gospel message of the grace of God. In the garden of Eden, he stated, “you will not surely die.” Many today proclaim a false sensual gospel of intellectual faith. People are promised they won’t die. They may say, “Jesus paid it all, just exercise a one-time belief (they mean intellectual) in Christ to be saved“. Just like Satan mixed the truth with lies, they present a false hope. But Paul message was that, “…they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance.”
The price for our ransom was paid by Christ in full. Our obedience of the faith does not pay for our sins, but reflects a genuine, ongoing, daily trust in Christ. A young son growing up in the family does not work for his father to gain son ship. The works that stem from our faith cannot and does not contribute to the price paid by Christ for our salvation. See Ephesians 2:8-9.
3. Be Baptized
Those who believed in Christ in the early church were immediately baptized by immersion. Baptism has no value unless belief in Jesus Christ precedes it. This is the model found in the book of Acts which covers approximately 30 years of church history. If you are trusting in Christ for salvation, but have not been baptized, what is holding you back?
Many sincere people are quick to point out that baptism doesn’t save. While water baptism alone would just make one wet, Jesus commanded this activity in the Great Commission. Real belief involves obedience. How we live each day is a reflection of our underlying faith. If someone really believes in Jesus Christ as their Lord, they should be honored to be lowered into the water and be identified with His death and resurrection (Romans 6).
Here are some verses:
“And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). “So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls” (Acts 2:41).
“But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women” (Acts 8:12).
“And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name” (Acts 22:16).
“He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5).
To be baptized is a passive activity in the scripture. It is something that is done to someone by someone else. A new believer is lowering into the water and raised back up (they cannot do this themselves). This pictures their death with Christ and their new life of faith in Him. Please read Romans 6:3-7.
You can be saved, starting today by trusting in Jesus Christ by faith. No one can keep the law, nor does it save (Romans 3:20-22). Works done to merit heaven do not save (Romans 4:4-5). Christ, at Calvary paid all the works required to cleanse our sins. He offers salvation to those who repent, trust in Christ (ongoing faith) and are baptized into Jesus Christ.
If you have any questions about how to have a relationship with Jesus Christ and how you can know you are forgiven of your sins, please contact me.
Beware of false teachers who declare a message of “faith alone.” Ironically, these people do not live the message that they proclaim. The “faith alone” message is empty. Faith that is not on Christ is “alone“. Faith that has no repentance is alone. The only time “faith alone” is found in the Bible it is declared to be dead (James 2:17). For a look at real faith, check out the hall of faith (Hebrews 11) where no one is commended for “faith alone.” I type this message because my faith is not alone. My faith is in Christ who loves me and gave Himself for me. He is my hope, my life, and my Savior. Is He your Savior?
“And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his son. Whoever has the Son [present tense, right now] has life; whoever does not have the Son of God [right now] does not have life” (1 John 5:11-12).
God gives mankind what they want. “He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury” (Romans 2:6-8).
(Servant of Jesus Christ)
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