In order to really know someone (instead of just knowing about them) you have to have a personal relationship with them — God is no exception. To really know God means sharing a personal relationship with him. However, all of us have a problem that keeps us separated from a just and righteous God (skip to) but because God loves us, he took the initiative to provide a way to resolve the problem (skip to). However, that solution requires each of us to decide whether we really want a relationship with God or would rather continue to live our lives independently of God (skip to).
Because Man has Chosen to Live Independently of God,
We are Spiritually Dead and Separated from God
God created man and has always desired to live in a genuinely loving relationship with man. For that to be possible, man had to be given the freedom to reject God because without that freedom, a genuine love relationship was not possible — genuine love cannot be required; it must be chosen. Consequently, God sovereignly chose to create man with the freedom to either willingly submit to his authority and live in a loving relationship with him or rebel against his authority and live independently of him. Unfortunately, the first human beings God created (Adam and Eve) made the choice to rebel against God’s authority and live independently of God. Sin entered the world and every man born since then has rebelled against God’s sovereign authority and chosen to live independently of God. Our active rebellion and passive indifference towards our sovereign Creator is the essence of what the Bible calls sin. The inescapable consequence of sin is separation from God — spiritual death (Romans 6:23; Ephesians 2:1-5).
Even though sin separates us from God, we know God exists because he has revealed himself to us. Romans 1:20 says: “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities — his eternal power and divine nature — have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”
Some of us ignore the evidence of God’s existence choosing to believe God does not exist (Psalm 14:1). We want to live our lives the way we see fit and want to believe there is no God to whom we will be held ultimately accountable (John 3:19-21; Romans 1:18-25).
Others of us acknowledge that God exists but mold and shape God into what we want Him to be (e.g., a God who will turn a blind eye to sin or a God who will negotiate away his righteous standards by not requiring us to bear the just consequences of sin). Others of us define God in a way that permits us to “make up for” our sin and rebellion by “doing good deeds”.
These approaches disregard an important teaching in Scripture — no matter how insignificant we think our sin is, all sin results in death; all sin separates us from God (Romans 6:23; Ephesians 2:1-5). We are all spiritually dead in our sin and there is nothing we can do to save ourselves from having to face that consequence. Our “good deeds” (which Isaiah 64:6 says are like dirty rags before a holy God) cannot “make up for” or “wash away” our sin and rebellion. No matter how many good deeds we do or how moral we try to live our lives, neither of those things have the power to breathe life into spiritually dead people.
Many of us assure ourselves that even if a holy, righteous and just God exists, he will not require us to pay the just consequence for our sin and rebellion but there are two problems with this kind of thinking:
- It is impossible for God to still be God and compromise away the very essence of what makes him God. Because God’s very nature is to be righteous and just, it is impossible for God to ignore sin. To assume God can ignore our sin and rebellion is to expect him to deny the very essence of who he is which he cannot logically do and be God.
- Although we may minimize the seriousness of our sin (e.g., by comparing ourselves to others we consider “more sinful” or taking an “everybody does it” approach), as discussed below, the price God required his own son to pay for sin (crucifixion on a cross) demonstrates just how serious all sin really is — all sin has deadly consequences.
If God’s very nature demands justice and the only just punishment for our sin and rebellion against God is death, then man seems to be in a hopeless predicament. Jesus’ disciples recognized the hopeless of this kind of predicament and asked Jesus, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus responded, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:16-26).
A Way to Be Made Spiritually Alive
and Live in Relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ
But, if God cannot negotiate away his perfect justice by disregarding our sin, how can God’s love be extended to us to save us from dying in our sin? There is only one way out of that predicament. That way is not in a list of “dos” and “don’ts” and doesn’t involve a process of weighing our good deeds against our bad deeds. Neither of those approaches preserves both the justice of God and the love of God. There is only one way that preserves the justice of God and the love of God and that way is found in one unique person — Jesus Christ, God’s only son. John 3:16 says that “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.”
God demonstrated his love for us by sending his son, Jesus Christ, into the world (John 3:16; 1 John 4:10). Because Jesus came in human form (Philippians 2:5-8), he fully identified with us as human beings; he was tempted just as we are tempted (Hebrews 4:15), yet, he did not sin (1 Peter 2:22; 1 Peter 1:18-19). Then, Jesus freely offered his sinless life on the cross to pay the just penalty of death that we owe for our rebellion and sin against God (Hebrews 7:26-28; Hebrews 9:14-15, Hebrews 10:11-12). Some theologians put it this way: Jesus voluntarily paid a debt he did not owe because we owe a debt we cannot pay.
All of us have a sin problem (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8) and Jesus sacrificial death on the cross offers us a way to resolve that problem — our sin is imputed to Jesus and his righteousness is imputed to us (2 Corinthians 5:21). The Bible says that those who put their trust in Jesus’ work of atonement on the cross are “born again” they are made spiritually alive in Christ (John 3:1-6; Romans 6:35; Romans 8:10-11; Ephesians 2:3-5; Colossians 2:13-14; 1 Peter 1:3). You see, Jesus didn’t come to make bad people good; he came to offer life to spiritually dead people (John 3:36; John 6:40).
Jesus’ death on the cross was the only way for God to remain true to his essential nature, which is both just and loving. God’s justice was preserved, yet, man was lovingly offered a way to be forgiven and saved from the consequences of rebelling against a holy, righteous and sovereign Creator (Ephesians 2:3-5). When we accept Jesus as our Savior, we become one with him and his death on the cross covers our sin (Ephesians 1:7). We don’t have to die because Jesus died for us and we stand before God clothed in the righteousness of Christ (Romans 3:21-22; 1 Corinthians 1:30; 2 Corinthians 5:21).
Because Jesus never sinned or rebelled against God, death had no claim on him and could not hold him (Acts 2:24). Jesus’ resurrection verifies he was everything he claimed to be — the way, the truth and the life and the only way to God (John 14:6; John 11:25). Jesus’ resurrection also demonstrates his power over death which allows those who believe in him to have confidence that their eternal future is secure because they live in him (Romans 6:5; 2 Timothy 1:10). Those who believe in Jesus live because he lives (John 11:25-26; John 14:20; 1 John 5:11-12; Romans 8:10-11). [To consider the evidence of Jesus’ resurrection, go here]
The unique person of Jesus Christ distinguishes Christianity from other religions in the world. Other religions are based on the teachings or revelations of a person — Buddhism is based on the teachings of Buddha, Islam is based on the teachings and revelations of Mohammad, Scientology is based on the teachings of L. Ron Hubbard, etc. But, even if none of those men had ever lived, those religions could still exist because someone else could have passed on those same teachings or revelations. Contrarily, Christianity is not foundationally based on the teachings and revelations of Jesus Christ; rather, Christianity is based on Jesus’ very life, death and resurrection. Without Jesus’ sinless life, which he freely sacrificed on the cross to pay the penalty for sin, no man could be spared from having to face the just consequence of sin — death and eternal separation from God. No one else could do what Jesus did because no one else has lived or will live a sinless life that could be freely sacrificed to pay the debt we owe for our rebellion against God. Acts 4:12 says that “[s]alvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” There are many religions in the world but only one righteous savior. That is why Jesus said he was “the way, the truth and the life.” (John 14:6).
Some people think Jesus’ claim of being “the way” is too exclusive. However, by their very nature, all truth claims are exclusive and Jesus’ truth claim that he is “the way” logically excludes the teachings of all other religions which say there is a different way. Still, the essential question that each of us must answer is whether Jesus claim of being “the way” is true. Is Jesus really the only way to God? Jesus said he was (John 14:6) and he made that statement knowing it would require him to sacrifice his very life.
Jesus knew that he had come to die for the sins of the world and he knew he would be crucified on a cross as prophesied in Psalm 22:14, 16-17 and Isaiah 53:1-12. Knowing that his enemies were planning to have him killed (Mark 3:6; 8:31, 9:31, 10:34), Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray. As he prayed, the horror of what he knew he was going to face on the cross was so agonizing that he literally began sweating drops of blood. In that moment, Jesus prayed that if there was any other way, that God would take the “cup” from him [referring to his crucifixion]. But, there was no other way and that is why Jesus chose to go to the cross.
Jesus came to earth to do the one thing that only he could do — be a righteous Savior (Matthew 20:28; John 12:27). On the cross, God’s justice and love were preserved, his undeserved mercy was extended and his amazing grace was freely offered to everyone willing to accept the free gift of salvation made available through the death of his son (Ephesians 2:4-10). Hebrews 2:3 asks: How can you escape the judgment of God if you neglect so great a salvation?
If you want to accept that gift, enter into a relationship with God and know God personally, all you have to do is to communicate that desire to God. A sincere and simple prayer such as the following will do:
|God, I am a sinner and I need a Savior. Jesus, I believe you are the son of God, who died on the cross to pay for my sin and that God raised you from the dead. By faith, I put my trust in you to be my Savior. I ask you to forgive my sin, come into my heart and be the Lord of my life.|
If you have genuinely made a decision to accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you have just begun an amazing and exciting new life. You have been “born again” and you now have eternal life through Jesus Christ. Your sins have been covered with the blood of Jesus and you are forgiven (Romans 4:6-8; Ephesians 1:7-8, 1 John 1:9). In Christ, you are a new creature (2 Corinthians 5:17). Old things are passed away and all things are new (2 Corinthians 5:17). You are no longer separated from God. Instead, God has adopted you into his family. God is your Father and you are an heir to his kingdom (Galatians 4:4-6; Romans 8:14-16; 1 John 3:1). Because of who you are in Christ, you are able to approach God without fear of judgment (Ephesians 3:12; Hebrews 10:19-20). God loves you and nothing can ever separate you from that love (Romans 8:34-39).
Now that you are a part of God’s family he has sent his Spirit to live in you and work with you to transform your heart (Ezekiel 36:26-27; John 14:16-17). As that transformation occurs, your love for God and others will grow and you will find that your desires have changed. You will develop the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control) (Galatians 5:22-23). You will want to do “good deeds” and exhibit moral behavior, not to try to earn God’s approval (you already have that in Christ), but out of love and respect for God and others. Although this transformation is a process that will likely involve many peaks and valleys, you can be confident of this very thing: God has begun a new work in you and He will be faithful to complete that work (Philippians 1:6).
What a God!
He doesn’t condone our sin, nor does he compromise his standard.
He doesn’t ignore our rebellion, nor does he relax his demands.
Rather than dismiss our sin, he assumes our sin and, incredibly, sentences himself.
God’s holiness is honored. Our sin is punished … and we are redeemed.
God does what we cannot do so we can be what we dare not dream: perfect before God.
— Max Lucado
If you have prayed and asked Jesus to be the Lord of your life, please email us and let us know about your decision.
© 2012 by Andrina G. Hanson
Posted: June 1, 2013 / Last Updated: July 19, 2017
IMAGE CREDITS & LICENSING
Slideshow Photo: Photo of the Helix Nebula aka NGC 7293 and the “Eye of God”. The Helix nebula is located in the constellation Aquarius about 700 light years from Earth. The image was roduced by NASA, NOAO, ESA, the Helix Nebula Team, M. Meixner (STSci) and T.A. Rector and was downloaded from wikimedia.org which states the file is in the public domain because it was created by NASA and ESA. NASA Hubble material (and ESA Hubble material prior to 2009) is copyright-free and may be freely used as in the public domain without fee, on the condition that only NASA, STScI, and/or ESA is credited as the source of the material.