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I would like to ask you the following question.
If you were to die right now and stand before God and He were to ask you,
"Why should I let you into heaven?" or
"On what basis should you be allowed to enter into heaven?"
what would your answer to him be?
To many people, this is not an easy question to answer. I mean, think about it. Why should God let you into heaven?
Most people have a variety of answers to this question.
Your answer may be that you are basically a good person with good morals, perhaps you would say that you try to keep the Ten Commandments, that you have not killed or hurt anyone, or that you try to do good to others.
These are all interesting points, however the scriptures say in Rom 3:23, "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Rom 3:20 states, "Therefore no one will be declared righteous in His (God's) sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin."
The Bible teaches that no one is completely free of sin. It also teaches that while doing good deeds, trying to help others, and following the Ten Commandments are all good things, they will not get you into heaven, nor will they make you 'good' in God's eyes.
You cannot earn your way into heaven, nor are you worthy of entrance on your own merit.
So, how do you get into heaven?
Heaven is a free gift
God is willing and able to give us the gift of eternal life with Him in heaven. He desires for us to have this gift but, there is nothing we can do to earn it and He does not give it to us based on how much "good" we do.
The Bible says in Eph 2:8-9, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--not by works, so that no one can boast." Rom 6:23 says, "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."
This gift is the result of having a relationship with God. Anyone can receive the gift of eternal life.
At this point you might ask, "this gift sounds great, how can I receive this gift? How can I form a relationship with God?"
I will definately tell you, but first it is good to understand a few things about what is true concerning God and mankind and why we need this gift in the first place.
Everyone is a Sinner
One of the first things to understand is that the Bible teaches that every person is a sinner.
According to the Bible, sin is breaking any of the commands of God as revealed in the Bible. It can be anything from lying, to murder, to coveting something that is not ours, to unkindness, a lack of gentleness, or anything that God commands us in the Bible not to do. The Bible teaches that we are all guilty of sin.
Eccl 7:20 says, "There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins." Romans 3:23 states, "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Psalm 14:2-3 says, "The Lord looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. All have turned aside, they have together become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one."
From this definition of sin, you can see that we are all guilty of sin. Thus, we are all imperfect. Yet, we are called to be perfect because God is perfect.
The Standard is Perfection
Matthew 5:48 - "Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect."
James 2:10 - "For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it."
It is rather obvious that this is a very difficult standard to keep. There are none that are sin-free and yet God tells us that to be saved and get into heaven we must be without sin. (Remember this point for it will be expounded upon at a later time.)
The result of our sin is a separation between ourselves and God.
Isaiah 59:2 - "But your iniquities (sins) have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear."
Through our sin, we have separated ourselves from God and there is nothing that we can do (in ourselves) that will be able to bridge the gap we have created and bring us back into a right relationship with God. The gap between God and humanity, simply cannot be crossed on our own efforts. The Bible also tells us that our sin makes us.
Hostile toward God
Romans 8:7-8 - "The sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God."
You may believe that although you are a sinner, you are not hostile to God. The Scriptures teach that this is not the case because, sin is not a neutral act. It is actually saying "no" to God and His rule in your life. Even if you are not consciously thinking about God when you sin, it is still wrong because the Bible teaches His rule/authority is always over us.
So in summary, not only is every person a sinner but, we each fail to meet the standard of perfection that is necessary to get into heaven. Furthermore, our sin has resulted in us being separated from God and hostile toward Him as well.
As you can plainly see, mankind has a major problem here.
God is Perfectly Holy and Just
The problem of man's sinfulness seems even worse when we observe it in light of the holiness of God.
The Bible teaches that God is perfectly Holy and incapable of having any hint of sin or darkness. God cannot sin. Does this mean that He is not all-powerful because there is something that He cannot do? Quite the contrary. God cannot sin because it is against His nature to do so. His very essence is perfect goodness.
God is certainly perfectly Holy yet, He is also perfectly just. Because God is perfectly good, He abhors sin and cannot tolerate it.
Habakkuk 1:13 - "Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrong. . ."
1 John 1:5 - "this is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all."
God cannot simply "overlook" someone's sin. If He did so He would compromise His perfect justice and thus, cease to be God (which, of course, is impossible.)
God Must Punish Sin
Because God is holy, without sin, and completely just, He must punish sin. This is the nature of justice. If God overlooked sin, He would be unjust - like a judge who did not punish wrongdoers.
Romans 2:5-6 "But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God's wrath, when His righteous judgment will be revealed. God will give to each person according to what he has done."
What will the ultimate punishment be for continuing in sin?
Eternal wrath and Separation from God
The Bible teaches that all those who are not reconciled to God (saved) and are still in their sin will be subject to the eternal wrath of God in a place called Hell. They will be completely cut off and separated from God in this place and they will reap punishment for their evil forever and ever.
2 Thes 1:6-10, "God is just. . . This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with His powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of His power. . ."
In light of God's holiness, you can see that sin is a very serious issue. Not only are you not going to heaven according to the Bible at this point in our discussion but, you are presently separated from God because of your sin; and the more you sin, the more wrath you are storing up for yourself. Furthermore, if you continue in your sin you are subject to suffering the ultimate penalty for your sin which is eternal separation from God in a place called Hell.
Here is what we have discussed so far in a simplified manner
1. Man is sinful and does wrong
2. God is perfectly Holy and Just
3. God cannot have anything to do with anyone who is sinful.
4. Mankind cannot do anything in himself to bridge the gap and make himself holy.
So, at this point you might ask, what do you do? How do you hope to overcome this problem, and be restored in relationship to God and ultimately spend eternity with Him in heaven?
Did you know that the Bible is actually God's story of how he has solved this problem that you share with every person who has ever lived. The Bible gives us the answer and tells us how God overcame this problem. This is what the Bible tells us.
The Bible teaches that the problem of man's sinfulness was overcome by Jesus Christ.
Because of God's incredible love for us, He did what we could not do by sending His own Son, who was fully God, to become a man.
Jesus lived on the earth for 33 years and did not fall prey to sin (He completely kept the law.) At the end of His life He died a horrible death on the cross, receiving the wrath we deserved and paying the penalty we incurred from God.
Jesus thereby made it possible for us to receive the free gift of eternal life.
If we accept what Jesus did for us on the cross, we can be seen by God as "free from sin." This is because the debt that we owe for our guilt is not being "overlooked" (which would compromise God's justice and thus His holiness,) the debt is being paid for--by another : Jesus.
If we accept what Jesus did for us on the cross, God will look on His holy, pure Son and attribute that perfection to us, saving us from the outpouring of His wrath. Then, His wrath is satisfied and He can be in fellowship with us.
II Corinthians 5:21 - "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."
Romans 3:25-26, "God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished--
he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus."
Romans 4:25, "He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification."
Isaiah 53:6, "We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all."
Jesus, who was pure and innocent, was killed on the cross. However, the story does not end there. On the third day after His death, He was risen from the dead and appeared to many witnesses. He later ascended into heaven where He now sits at the right hand of God the Father awaiting the day when He will return.
Now that you understand the severity of your condition AND the magnificence of God's provision for Salvation, here is what you must do to be saved from God's wrath and receive the gift of eternal life.
Repentance and Faith
So the question becomes, "How do we receive what Jesus did for us?"
The first step is to repent of your sins. The Bible teaches in Acts 20:21 that you must "turn to God in Repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus Christ."
True Repentance as explained here indicates that :
1. You must change your mind about sin. Those things that you used to do (and maybe you are doing right now) without feeling bad, you must recognize them as wrong if the Word of god says they are wrong.
2. You must turn away from everything God calls sin.
3. You must turn to Jesus. If you just keep turning, you would just turn around and come back to your sin. You must (as scripture indicates) turn to Jesus and receive all his life, death, and resurrection provide.
Repenting for your sins and turning to Jesus is not an option, it is a command.
Acts 17:30-31, "In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent.
For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead."
You must change your mind about your sin, and turn to God aware that what you have done is to rebel against him and his ways. You must surrender yourself to his terms, the terms of the cross and receive what Jesus has done for you in Faith.
The second step is to have faith. This means to believe in the truths that we have discussed thus far, that He is God, that He paid for the sins which you and I have committed, and as a result of what he has done, we can now come and receive eternal life, right now, and begin a relationship with God through Jesus Christ.
Look at the invitations of the Bible.
Come to Jesus : "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." - Matt 11:28-30
Receive Jesus : "Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God." - John 1:12
Believe in Jesus : "16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." - John 3:16-17
Believe in what he accomplished : "All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name."
It is that Simple!!
If you will turn away from your sin and trust in Jesus alone as the means of taking care of the debt you owe God. You can receive eternal life through a relationship with God.
This is what the Bible calls being born again, because when you repent and believe, the Holy Spirit comes to live inside of you and changes your heart, so that you begin to desire the things of God. As you follow him you will have a lessening desire to do anything that displeases Him. You will actually experience a change in heart. If you truly repent and believe.
If you desire to repent and believe, it means surrendering your life completely to God. You are no longer free to do as you wish, but must live according with God's Word and God's ways in all things. This is not burdensome or depressing for his commands are wonderful and lead to life and joy; but it means a total change of direction in your life.
It means you can no longer look to your own good deeds as the basis for your relationship to God or for the hope of eternal life in heaven, but you must trust in the finished work of Jesus on the cross.
It means you will now begin a relationship with God through his son and the receiving of the Holy Spirit. When you repent and believe, a new way of living will begin. And the power of sin will be broken in your life (but its presence will not be eliminated.)
You will no longer be living for yourself, but you will begin to live for God's eternal kingdom: "You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your body." - 1 Cor 6:19-20.
This is a complete change of life. II Cor 5:17 says, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" You will be a "new creation," you will be "born again."
The God of the Bible will have to be the Lord of your life now, and the Bible teaches that you need to count the cost.
The Sinner's Prayer
If you seriously desire to repent and believe in Jesus Christ, you can make that decision right now. I am going to give you a prayer that you can pray. If you have agreed with what we have talked about and you are ready to commit yourself to God by accepting the finished work of Jesus Christ for your sins, pray this prayer.
Note : There is nothing "magical" about this prayer that saves you. What saves you is your belief that the words that you are speaking to God are true and that these words represent what you are truly believing in your heart."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. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved" - Romans 10:9-10
"Lord, I recognize that I have not served you with my life. I have not submitted to your Word or your ways. In fact, I have gone my own way, in rebellion to you and your word, and as a result I have experienced separation from you and many other consequences because of my sin.
I recognize I have been wrong to rebel against you and your ways. I have sinned against you and your ways. I have sinned against you and before you and I acknowledge my wrong and turn away from my sin and selfish desires right now.
And I turn to the cross, the blood of Jesus that was freely shed for me and the life of Jesus. He has paid for my sins and received the wrath I deserved, for no reason, other than as a labor of love. Thank you for loving me when I was in rebellion toward you. I believe that Jesus died as payment for my sins and a means of having a restored relationship with you now. I receive him as my friend, I receive your Spirit as my guide and God. Come now and restore unto me the joy of my salvation. I love you God and will seek to serve you the rest of my life. Amen"
If you prayed this prayer sincerely, then you have been saved!
You are now a new creation.
Now that you are saved, you are ready to begin living the Christian life.
Here are some important facets of the Christian life that will get you started on the right track.
1. The Bible : Read the Bible frequently. The book of John is a good place to start. Find a quiet place, where you can have privacy and read a chapter or two a day.
2. Prayer : Prayer is talking to God. To have a relationship with anyone you must communicate with them, right? So make sure that your relationship with God is no different. "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things." Phill 4:6-8
Also read 1 Thessaloneans chapters 16-18.
3. Church Involvement : This is critical for growth in God and fellowship with other Christians. "Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another. . . " - Hebrews 10:25
4. Evangelism : Tell others about what Jesus has done for you. Learn to help others know about Jesus.
5. Satan : Know that Satan is defeated in your life and He has no power over you. You are now Satan's enemy and he will try to attack your faith. "Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms" - Ephesians 6:11-12
"Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast." - 1 Peter 5:8-10
Lastly, if I can be of any service to you, do not hesitate to call upon me. If you would like some things explained in greater detail or need clarification on some points presented here, please send me an e-mail and I will be more than willing to serve you in any way I can.
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