The Gospel


The clock is ticking- whether we want it to or not

 

Dear one, if you do not know for certain, with 100% assurance that you belong to Christ, I would be horribly remiss by not showing you how to ensure your salvation.

If you are feeling the Holy Spirit stirring inside you, that feeling deep in your bones that will not let up and keeps calling you to submit, then please read further. The MOST pressing thing on my heart, is my hope that none should perish (2 Peter 3:9), that you are transformed by the blood of Jesus that was shed for you! I invite you today, this moment, to enter into the most fantastic journey you will ever venture on. If you feel those stirrings please do not ignore them. God the Father is calling you by name to come join Him as a friend, servant, warrior, daughter, sister, and fellow heir to heaven (Romans 8:17). He wants a relationship with YOU! He desires YOU to do this thing called life together! He is passionately seeking and pursuing YOU! Do not ignore this amazing opportunity my friend.

(The following has a ton of scripture. I encourage you to follow along with me in your Bible, however if you do not have ready access to one I have written out the most important verses for you to read. The rest of the scripture texts are for reference only, you can certainly check those out at a later time.)

 

“So what do I do? Where do I start?”

I thought you’d never ask! First off, I do want to tell you that this is a decision not to be taken lightly. Unlike many “conversion experiences” I want you to know what you are getting into. God promises to walk with us through thick and thin, to uphold us and never leave us, to run with us and alongside us in this journey of life. He ensures us His protection, His comfort, His shelter, His presence, His peace, His wisdom and discernment (Psalm 91 among others). But being a Christian does not guarantee that everything will go perfectly in your life forevermore. Contrary to popular belief, nowhere in the Bible does it state that Christians have it made in the shade when it comes to an easy life. In fact, many times the opposite is true.  BUT (and as our pastor likes to say, “That’s a big but!”) all things are ours in Christ Jesus! And with God on our side, how can we lose? Amen?

Our salvation comes at no small price-  not only was it purchased by no less than Jesus’ sacrifice and blood on the cross, but it comes with the sacrifice of our very selves as well. “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me, the life I live in the body I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20 NIV). It is a hard road to walk with Jesus, potentially fraught with peril and persecution from outside and from within. It is a constant pursuit of seeking the Savior and obedience to Him. This “thing” we call Christianity is not for the faint of heart, and not everyone will make it. Again, it is just the cold, hard truth. “You can enter God’s kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it” (Matthew 7:13-14 NLT). Did you catch that? Not all will enter! And yet, the door is open to everyone who seeks to enter it. It is closed to no one! “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened” (Matthew 7:7-8 ESV). Will you knock today? God promises to open the door and usher you in, with grinning face, tears of joy streaming down, arms open wide, and joy in His heart to meet you. He’s been waiting for you!

So, let’s do this! First off, dear one let us acknowledge the fact that we are sinners, plain and simple. There is nothing good in us, we are not “born good”, we are not infallible, we are just old-fashioned, fallen people. And we always have been. Romans 3:23 (NIV) tells us, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Our spiritual genetics inherited all the way back from Adam are burned into our very DNA. We are helplessly and hopelessly sinful with no redeeming qualities. Any attempt at “goodness” looks like filthy mud when compared to God’s surpassing glory and perfection (Isaiah 64:6). In short, we cannot get into heaven on our own volition. There is no amount of praying, doing good things, being a good person, working hard, giving enough, or even sitting in enough church services to gain entry in heaven. Period. No ifs, ands, or buts.

And the real rub here is that God, by His very nature, is perfect. He cannot be imperfect, He cannot be around anything that is less than perfect. So it leaves us in a bit of a bind… He wants and desires us to be with Him. After all, when He first created us, His invitation included that we would basically be best friends with Him for eternity. Remember back to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, God’s desire was that we would be without sin so that we could hang with Him forever. At least that was the original plan… But sin entered the world and forever altered the landscape of heavenly possibilities. Eve’s decision to eat the fruit (if you are not familiar with this story see Genesis 2:15-3:1-24) ultimately tore asunder the link that had been forged by God between Himself and us. Which, for obvious reasons, pretty much screwed mankind for all eternity (#thanksalotEve).

 

But there is such HOPE!

“The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” Romans 6:23 (NIV). God is good and in His infinite love and desire for continued communion with us, He put in place a series of events leading up to the ultimate redemption of His plan. His son Jesus Christ. Jesus came to this earth, both fully God and fully man. He lived a life of complete perfection and was without sin. Catch that again- Jesus was without sin! He was a man… who was sinless. Let that sink in a minute. Can you imagine what that even looks like? He came to us for one purpose and one only, to be the ultimate and final answer to that pesky sin issue that had plagued man since the dawn of humanity. “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this, while we were still sinners, Christ died for usRomans 5:8 (NIV emphasis mine).  In Christ Jesus we finally see the period on the end of a long, sinful sentence. At the ripe age of 33, Jesus was ultimately crucified on a cross; ironically because He claimed to be the Messiah (the Jewish long-awaiting Savior. Which is exactly what He was! They just did not believe Him- super ironic right?!). But by doing so, His willing sacrifice through death, Jesus covered over our sins and became the ultimate scapegoat for our own fallen-ness. “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16 NIV). Jesus (as God) allowed Himself (as a sinless man) to be killed. He was a willing sacrifice that He offered to God (His Father) in our place. And His death on that cross two centuries ago, finally and fully opened the heavenly venues for entry. All we have to do is to accept our ticket to gain entry to the heavenly show!

But we must actually, physically (or spiritually depending on how you look at it), grab the ticket. It takes an act of will to take it. This gift of eternal life is free… but it must be accepted… the present must actually be opened by us. The opening of the gift is an act of faith on our part. As I mentioned, just as we cannot get into heaven of our own volition, so also is accepting Christ something we cannot work our way towards. “God saved you by His grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it” (Ephesians 2:8-9 NLT). The word faith is a big word, it can be a wriggly word too to nail down the meaning of, but put simply “…faith is the confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1 NIV). Our salvation is based on our faith in the One who offers it to us- that He is Who He says He is, that He has done what He says He did, that He will do what He promises to. It cannot be won, attained, fought for, worked towards, or otherwise earned. It is already purchased for us because of God’s great grace, accepted through our faith in Him.

I must also warn you that we cannot take advantage of this free gift. Many doctrines or speakers out there will say that in the end God is so good and so loving that He couldn’t possibly allow anyone to go to hell- He just loves us so much. Wrong! God is perfectly loving and He is also perfectly just. And what that means is that the rules He has set in place in the annals of eternity will not change! God Almighty is perfect… He cannot go against His own nature. All this bogus spiritual “Love Wins” nonsense is simply wrong. It belies a basic misunderstanding of what love actually is. As we know, all parents love their children desperately, but that does not mean that they let their kids do and act like anything they want. There are rules they must follow, there are fences they cannot go past, and there are guidelines that must be obeyed. Those of us who are parents knows these rules are in place to keep them safe right? To set them up for success, to place them on a safe and ultimately prosperous path. We put the rules in place for their own good… because parents know better than children do.

Why, then would we expect God’s parenting style to be different? For as often as we fail as parents, thankfully He does not. He is the perfect parent. Therefore, expectantly, we as His children, have rules set in place for us, instructions that He in His perfect sovereignty put up as eternal guidelines to be followed. He wants us to be safe, protected, successful, happy, whole, etc. etc. etc. You get the idea. He wants the very best for us! But just as we set rules for our kids, so also has God set boundaries for us. These are there because He loves us, and ultimately He knows better than we do.  And He won’t be changing these rules ever… I guarantee it… better yet, He guarantees it (see Hebrews 10:23, 13:8, James 1:17). Because after all, why would we want to give our hearts to One who changes the rules all the time, who is prone to wishy-washiness (is that a word?) and one with whom we would constantly be wondering what the boundaries were day to day. God is resolute, unfailing, and unchanging in His ways. We can stand firm on His foundation! Let us not be foolish in our expectations or discernment of who and what He actually is.

 

So we’ve acknowledged that:

We are sinners.

God wants to be with us forever but cannot hang with sinners, so

He sent His son Jesus to be a perfect sacrifice in our place.

 

But the story does not end there. It would be have been a nice end to the story if Jesus died for us by sacrificing Himself. But none of that would have mattered. Death still had to be defeated. I imagine even in those moments after Jesus took His last breaths and committed His spirit to God, that Satan was doing a happy dance. In his mind, I am sure, he had won. Jesus was dead. The final answer had fallen short. But no! Scripture tells us that three days later, Jesus rose from the dead (Matthew 28, Mark 16). He lived! He arose! He overcame even death! The avenue to defeating death once and for all had to be paved for us. We as humans could not do this ourselves (for obvious reasons), and yet, Christ being fully God, could. And He did. So the story ends not with His death, but with His resurrection. He lives dear friend! Even death could not slow Him down. And today, even this day, He is seated at the right hand of God (Mark 16:19)… awaiting our acceptance of the gift He so graciously offers us.

Romans 10:13 (NIV) says, for “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Do you hear how wonderful that is? Whoever calls on God will be saved! And let me tell you- if you read my testimony page, you know my own list of fallen-ness and sins cannot be outdone. I have the corner on sinning for sure! But there is nothing that can separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:38-39). He desperately desires for us to be reconciled to Him and all it takes is opening this gift! “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1 NIV emphasis mine). Without Christ we are most certainly condemned to death, we are condemned to hell, from total and eternal separation from God. But with Jesus, our sentence has been pardoned by His blood. We are free! I beg you to not let His present just sit in front of you without being unwrapped.

So what now? Let’s unwrap the gift! Grab that shield of faith (Ephesians 6:16). If you are feeling like today is the day, now is the time, the moment has arrived to accept Christ into your life then we have some praying to do. “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9 NIV).  We need confession and repentance of our sins, acknowledgment of our fallen-ness and how it stops far short of what God requires, belief that Jesus was both God and man and He lived a perfect life, died on the cross for us, and overcame death by His resurrection. Search your heart, listen to the Holy Spirit speaking to you, and let’s pray…

Heavenly Father, I know that I am a sinner and totally unworthy of You. You are perfect, good, and holy. I confess that I am riddled with sin, and apart from You there is nothing good in me. There is nothing I can do by myself to make me worthy of you. I repent of my sins. I acknowledge that Jesus came to die for me and that His death on the cross was to cover my transgressions totally and completely. I believe that He rose from the dead overcoming death once and for all. I accept this free gift of salvation that You offer me. I am still and always will be a sinner, but with Your help I will learn to walk in Your ways and grow closer to You. I deeply desire to have you be the Lord of my Life. I give my heart to you and ask that You draw me close to Yourself. Show me how to learn about You and fall in love with You. God, thank you for the gift of Your son Jesus, thank you for this gift of salvation. Amen.

 

 

Whew! Wow, I am thrilled to the bone that this just happened. Can you believe it?!

I hope your smile right now is as big as mine is! I am awestruck by the work of God in your life already. What an amazing thing! If you just prayed that prayer, dear one you just made not only the most important and eternal decision of your life, but one that you will never regret. It will not always be easy, but it will be worth it. I am so very proud of you and can now officially call you family in Christ. Welcome to the Body of Christ! Find yourself a Bible, find yourself a church to start attending, proclaim the amazing thing that you just did to everyone! Let me know too. I cannot wait to hear from you! ~B

 

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