Since I have come to a personal relationship with Christ, I have peace, hope, and assurance that I never had before. Spiritual matters make sense like never before. I understand scripture like never before. I feel more valued than ever before. I have a growing awareness of the limitless power and love of God. I still have a laundry list of sins and shortcomings but my relationship with God is restored. The following is the reason for all of the changes in my life; it is the Gospel, in my own words: In the beginning, God and humans lived in perfect harmony and peace, and man’s destiny was eternal life with God. When humans chose to sin (meaning miss the mark) they became separated from God. Since that time people have tried a multitude of ways to restore that relationship. That separation is evidenced by the emptiness people feel that no amount of money, fame, or acclaim can fill. It is also evidenced by the desire we all have to know the meaning of life, to know why we are here and what will happen when this life ends.
People try a multitude of ways to get right with God or to fill that emptiness. They perform good deeds and generally behave as ‘good’ people. They think that will surely do it. They practice ‘religion’ by following a lot of laws and rules in the name of God. Oh, yea, that must be it. They draw on philosophy, using deep thinking to convince themselves that everything is alright just as it is or that there is no reason we are here, it is all coincidence. Don’t you feel better? Or maybe they use education, thinking that with enough book knowledge they will be able to make it on their own and won’t need the crutch of faith. I contend that none of that works nearly as well as folks tell themselves it does.
God knows it is impossible for us to get ourselves out of this mess. We can’t share eternal life with Him unless He does something. But He wants it to be our choice. He won’t force Himself on us. So, how to do it? God can’t lower His standards. If He allows imperfection (sin) into His presence, He will no longer be pure, just as you can’t add even 1 drop of black paint to pure white without tainting it.
He conceived a genius plan that allows us to be cleansed of our sin, restored in our relationship with Him, have that emptiness filled and share eternity with Him as He intended all by our own choice. Since death ultimately means separation from God and that separation is a consequence of sin, His plan was to suffer the penalty for our sin Himself.
Jesus came to earth humbly, serving others, teaching and illustrating the ideal way to live. He never sinned. As His following grew, the local authorities felt threatened by Him and wanted Him out of the picture. They arrested Him for claiming to be God and executed Him in a manner regarded as the most cruel and horrifying, saved for only the worst offenders. They crucified Him. He could have spared Himself at any point, but He willingly suffered and died. He paid the price of a sinner, yet never sinned.
He did it as a sacrificial offering so that whoever would accept it would have their relationship with God restored. How often do we willingly take the blame or pay debts incurred due to other peoples’ mistakes? Rarely if ever, and His offer has eternal significance!
But wait, there’s more!
The story doesn’t end with the crucifixion and death of Jesus. He overcame death. He was resurrected after 3 days. This was no quick appearance without witnesses. He appeared before hundreds of witnesses over a 40 day period. After 40 days He ascended into heaven where He lives and rules today as Lord and Savior.
This is the story the Bible is referring to in John 3:16 (the sign you see waving in the stands at sporting events) when it says ~ “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.”
Archeologists, historians, scholars and religious leaders don’t question whether or not Jesus lived and walked the earth. Everyone seems to agree that He did. If we accept that he lived, then quite simply we are left with 2 beliefs from which to choose. Either you believe he was a nut case to claim that he was God or you believe he was who he claimed to be.
Jesus Christ is the only leader of a spiritual movement who came back from the dead and is alive today.
He is the only leader of a spiritual movement who claimed to be the son of God.
He is the only leader of a spiritual movement who offered His own life to save others’.
He is the only leader of a spiritual movement whose book of scripture was written by 40 different authors over about 1,600 years and still came together as one consistent, cohesive volume.
The evidence is overwhelming yet people still feel threatened and don’t want to hear it.
If you are considering pursuing a relationship with Jesus, please don’t let church history (a human institution racked with sin) or organized religion (more humans racked with sin) or hypocritical Christians (still racked with sin) stand in your way. Rather, build a relationship directly with Christ. He will not disappoint you.
A good church can help you develop your relationship, but don’t start there. Seek Christ directly; ask Him to reveal Himself to you and He will. If you want to begin reading the Bible, start with John in the New Testament, don’t try to go from front to back, you’re likely to give up by the 3rd book. Think of the Bible as a library of books intended to be read in any order; you can jump around.
Finally, don’t be fooled by all the worldly philosophy about finding your own way. If Jesus is only one way of getting to heaven as so many people insist, then why did He bother suffering so horribly and dying so painfully, if we had other options?
Thanks for reading, Marcia