Have you ever asked any of these questions?
- Why do I even exist?
- Does my life have any major purpose?
- Does God really know and care about me as an individual?
- Does He have a plan for my life?
- What will happen to me when I die?
- Is there more to my existence than simply these years on earth?
These are profound and compelling questions. They are questions we often choose to avoid – that is until life forces us to face them directly. But, asking these questions and getting real answers can give us both peace and hope. The key is to seek absolute truth. A counterfeit “feel good” answer will not suffice.
Here’s another really important life question:
- “What is the absolute worst thing that could happen to me or someone I care about?”
Whether the loss involves material things, emotional security, your death or that of a loved one, there is only one permanent and devastating loss to truly fear. That would be for you or someone you know to die without knowing God in a personal way.
So, if you were to die today and stand before God and He were to ask you, “Why should I let you in to my heaven?” What would you say? What do you think you could possibly do to earn favor with God? The answer is: Absolutely NOTHING. He has already done all the work to secure a personal and intimate relationship with Him now and for eternity through Jesus Christ. Your part is simply to receive His free gift through belief.
Why do you need God?
So often, our concept of God and His expectations is muddled because we do not think as God thinks. We tend to believe that life is graded on a curve and if you do more “good” things than “bad” things, God is obliged to accept you. This is not an accurate understanding of God. In His Word, the Bible, He tells us exactly what He thinks and expects. Yet, how do you know the Bible is true and actually God’s message to us? That is an incredibly important question.
If you choose to study and research, you will find out that God proves His Word (the Bible) to be true over and over through the fulfilled prophecies that were foretold thousands of years ago. In fact, there have been many previous atheists who set out to prove the Bible to be false. And, guess what? In the process, they became incredible believers. Why? Because, in exploring the historical evidence, they realized the Bible proves itself to be true and infallible again and again.
If you doubt this, we encourage you to read books such as, “More than a Carpenter” by Josh McDowell (an attorney) or “The Case for Christ” by Lee Strobel (an investigative reporter). You will be absolutely blown away by what they discovered when they challenged the Bible from their respective professional backgrounds.
So, assuming for the moment that the Bible is in fact true (and it is)…what does it really say about your relationship with God? It tells you that God loves you and wants to have a relationship with you—a personal, intimate, life-changing relationship both now and for all eternity. God has known you and loved you far before He created you. He has ordained each and every day of your life.
The Consequences of Rebellion
We need to understand that God, the Creator of the universe is perfect and holy. When He first created us, we were perfect and without “sin”. Sin is basically rebellion from God. It is every willful choice and action that says, “I know what I want and need and I will pursue it no matter what you say, God.”
The first man and woman chose to rebel against God by choosing the one and only thing that God asked them NOT to do…that is eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. But, they chose to rebel and eat anyway. And, ever since…man has been contaminated with sin…that is rebellion against God. That rebellion separates us from God. It says in the Bible that the price for rebelling against God is “death”. That death is both literal and spiritual. BUT…God so loves us, He desires to have a personal relationship with us and give us eternal life with Him after our physical bodies die.
The familiar verse you so often see held up at ball games, John 3:16, tells us how to know God in a personal way and receive His gift of eternal life. It says, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” Jesus Christ, the Son of God is actually God incarnate. He is God in a physical body. He loved us enough to come and live among us in a physical body. He knows our needs, our weaknesses and our pain. Since the penalty for our sin is death, Jesus came to pay that price. He did this by living the perfect life. He came to our earth for the sole purpose of dying for us…in our place.
Yes, that may sound bizarre, but God loved us that much. And our salvation…that is our eternal security is based on whether we accept or reject that fact. It’s that simple. Believe in the Son, Jesus Christ.
Later in the same book of John, chapter 14, verse 6, Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father but through me.” God never refuses to save anyone who believes. Yet, He does not force anyone to accept.
Once we truly understand that God’s holiness and our imperfection are incompatible, we begin to appreciate why Christ came and died. In Romans 3:23, the Bible says, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” That means everyone to include those we think are extremely spiritual like Billy Graham or Mother Theresa. And the most common sin of all is self-sufficiency. We don’t think we need God. He also says in Romans 6:23 that “the price that must be paid for sin is death”. That is eternal separation from God.
The rules governing who goes to heaven or hell are established by God’s nature and are unchangeable. He is the judge and jury. A perfect sacrifice for sin is required. That sacrifice is Christ. If you accept Christ’s death as the payment for your sin—past, present and future—you are cleansed and made holy. Christ not only died, but rose from the dead to new life. When you believe, you experience a spiritual birth and are reborn as a child of God; hence the term, “born again Christian”. In John 3:3, Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Through faith in Christ, you experience a fundamental change in your nature so that you can now coexist with a holy God.
How do you accept Christ as your Savior?
You don’t have to pray a formal prayer, walk down an aisle or perform a ritual. You don’t have to be in church. You can be driving in your car, sitting at work or in the comfort of your home. You don’t have to “clean up your act” first, either. Believe me, you can never be good enough! God doesn’t require you to do anything. Just recognize and believe in your heart that the work is already done through the sacrifice of Christ. When you have heard the truth, it is time to make a decision. The apostle Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 6:2 that God has said, “At the acceptable time I listened to you, and on the day of salvation I helped you. Behold, now is ‘the acceptable time’, behold, now is ‘the day of salvation.’”
None of us know when our time will be up, but we do know that day will come. Heaven is most simply defined as where God is. It is a place of rest, glory, purity, fellowship and joy in the presence of God. Hell is a place of eternal separation from God and all that is good forever. Hell is a place reserved for people who have been judged and found guilty of unbelief—those who die without trusting Christ as Savior. Christ’s desire to rescue you from Hell motivated Him to die an excruciating death for you. The precise moment you place your faith and trust in the work and person of Jesus Christ is when you are born again and begin an intimate relationship with God through Christ for all eternity!
A simple prayer:
One of the wonderful things about believing in Christ is that it gives you direct access to God through prayer. You can be assured He hears every word. While a prayer does not “save” you…it does communicate your heart to God and help you confirm your belief that Jesus Christ died for your sins and secured eternal life for you. You can tell God what is on your heart with a simple prayer such as this:
Heavenly Father, thank you for drawing me to you and showing me the way to have a personal and intimate relationship with you. I confess I am a sinner and accept that you sent your Son, Jesus Christ to pay the penalty for my sin. I believe it is by His blood alone that I can be saved and receive your free gift of eternal life. Thank you for dying for me and forgiving me of all my sins – past, present and future. Help me to follow you and learn more about your plan for my life by studying your Word in the Bible. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.