Do you know for certain where you will spend eternity?
The Bible records Jesus as saying, "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." (John 3:16 NIV) . . . but what does that mean?
God's Plan is that we spend eternity with Him. We receive eternal life as a free gift from a loving God. "The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 6:23)
If you have a Bible, you can look up these verses for yourself. Sometimes it helps to read them in context, that is, in and among their surrounding text. We don't have to wait until we die to enjoy eternal life, though. We can live a full and meaningful life right now. Jesus said: "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." (John 10:10) When we do finally die, we have a place waiting for us. Jesus said:
"I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. (John 14:2-3)
The prospect of eternal life gives meaning to this temporary life. . . . yet, our sinful nature keeps us from fulfilling God's purpose for our life. "Ah, Houston . . . we have a problem."
Our Need is to understand our problem... "I got bad news and I got good news . . ." Let's look at this concept of Sin a little more closely.
The BAD news:
We are all sinners by nature and by choice.
"All have sinned and come short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23)
We cannot save ourselves.
". . . not of works, lest any man should boast." (Ephesians 2:9)
We deserve death and hell.
"The wages of sin is death . . ." (Romans 6:23)
The GOOD news:
God is holy and just and must punish sin, yet he loves us and provided forgiveness for our sin. Jesus said, "I am the way the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."(John 14:10)
God provided a way for us to escape the penalty of our sin. His provision was Jesus Christ. God's Provision is Jesus Christ.
Jesus is God and yet became a man.
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God . . . The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us." (John 1:1 & 14)
Jesus died for us on the cross.
"Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God." (I Peter 3:18)
Jesus was resurrected from the dead.
"He was delivered over to death for our sins, and was raised to life for our justification."(Romans 4:25)
"He bore the sin of many & made intercession for the transgressors." (Isaiah 53)
That is good news!
But the only way Jesus can affect our lives is for us to receive Him. The Bible says: "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)
The choice is ours. We must choose to respond to what God has done on our behalf. It is not a passive award. Our Response is to Receive Jesus.
We must repent of our sin.
"Repent then and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out."(Acts 3:19)
Repentance is not just feeling sorry for our sin.
". . .that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds." (Acts 26:20)
Repentance is turning TO God through Jesus and AWAY from our sin. . . . It's like making a U-turn. We must place our faith in Jesus.
"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."(Ephesians 2:8)
Faith is not just believing facts about Jesus.
"You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that -- and shudder." (James 2:19)
Faith is trusting in Jesus. It's like taking a trip on an airplane. You will never make the trip until you trust the plane enough to get onboard. To trust Jesus means to surrender to him as Lord. Let's look at this concept of Lord a little more closely.
"...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)
Surrendering to Jesus as Lord is not just saying we give our lives to Jesus.
"Not everyone who says to me, "Lord,Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father in heaven."(Matthew 7:21)
Surrendering to Jesus as Lord means giving Jesus control of our lives.
That is, we must give all we know of ourselves to all we know of God. To give Jesus control of our lives is like driving down the highway with another person. As long as you are driving, you are in control. If you realize you don't know the way, but the other person does, you might say," You take the wheel and drive." Then the other person is in control and the two of you take the route he or she chooses. As evidence of giving Jesus control, you will want to identify with him. The New Testament way of identification is to confess Jesus publicly (Matthew 10:32) and to follow him in baptism and church membership (Acts 2:41).
Three Important Questions:
Does what you have been reading make sense to you?
Is there any reason you would not be willing to receive God's gift of eternal life?
Are you willing to turn from your sin and place your faith in Jesus right now?
The Bible says, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." You need to ask the Lord Jesus to save you.
Three Important Things:
All of heaven rejoices when one of God's lost children comes home! Pray to God, asking him to forgive your sin and acknowledging Christ as Lord of your life. Accept God's promise that when you repent and turn to Christ he will not abandon you.
Make an appointment with a minister at a church in your community. (I would recommend a Southern Baptist church, because that's where I attend.) Tell the minister what you have done. They will be excited to hear from you about this important step.
Welcome to God's family!