One more critically important life question:
- “What is the absolute worst thing that could happen to me or someone I care about?”
Whether your loss involves material things, emotional security, illness, 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 a personal relationship, and the saving grace of Jesus Christ.
So, if you were to die today and stand before God and He were to ask you, “Why should I let you into My heaven?” What would you say? What do you think you could possibly have done 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 of eternity through acceptance and belief.
Why do we need God?
So often, our concept of God and His expectations are muddled because we do not think as God thinks. We tend to believe that if we do more “good” things than “bad” things, God is obliged to accept us, but this is not an accurate understanding of God. In His Word, the Bible, He tells us exactly what He thinks and expects. A very important question is, how do we know the Bible is true and actually God’s message to us?
If we choose to study and research, we learn 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 non-believers 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 any are interested in checking into 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). We suggest you will have an eye-opening experience by what they discovered when they challenged the Bible from their respective professional backgrounds.
Assuming for the moment that the Bible is in fact true (and it is), what does it really say about our relationship with God? It tells us that God loves us and wants to have a relationship with us—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 simply rebellion from God. Sin is every willful choice and action that says, “I know best what I want and need, and I will pursue it on my own, no matter what you say, God.”
The first man and woman chose to rebel against God by choosing to do 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, and, ever since man has been contaminated with sin, that is, rebellion against God, which separates us from God. The Bible tells us 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 most of us have heard, John 3:16, tells us how to know God in a personal way and receive His gift of eternal life. “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 embodied in flesh. Jesus is God in a physical body, and He loved us enough to come and live among us on earth. He knows our needs, our weaknesses, our pain, our hopes and dreams. Since the penalty for our sin is death, Jesus came to pay that price: to live and die, and be resurrected. He did this by living the perfect life, even though He was tempted. He came to earth for the sole purpose of dying for us–in our place.
Yes, that may seem hard to grasp, but God loved us that much. And our salvation . . . this is our eternal security which is based on whether we accept or reject Him. 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, instead giving us free will to choose Him over death.
Once we truly understand that God’s holiness and our imperfection are incompatible, we begin to appreciate why Christ came and died so we may be forgiven. In Romans 3:23 we are told, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” One of the most common sins of all is self-sufficiency. We don’t think we need God. He says in Romans 6:23 that “the price that must be paid for sin is death.” That is eternal separation from God, unless we have received Jesus.
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, and that sacrifice is Christ. If we accept Christ’s death as the payment for our sin—past, present and future—we are cleansed and made holy. Christ not only died, but rose from the dead to new life. When one believes, one experiences a spiritual birth and is reborn as a child of God, hence the term, “born again Christian.” Jesus tells us in John 3:3, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Through faith in Christ, we experience a fundamental change in our nature so that we 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 don’t have to “clean up your act” first either. God doesn’t require you to do anything except 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 are certain that day will come. Heaven is most simply defined as where God is, and 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 us from Hell motivated Him to die an excruciating death for all. The precise moment we place our faith and trust in the work and person of Jesus Christ is when we are born again and begin an intimate relationship with God through Christ for all eternity!
A simple prayer:
One of the wonderful gifts about believing in Christ is that it gives us direct access to God through prayer. We can be assured He hears every word. Prayer communicates our hearts to God and helps confirm our belief that Jesus Christ died for our sins and secured eternal life for us. We can tell God what is on our hearts 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 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 am 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.