Saturday, September 01, 2007

transforming america, step 1--salvation

If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved. As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.”[a] Jew and Gentile[b] are the same in this respect. They have the same Lord, who gives generously to all who call on him. For “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”[c]--- (Romans 10:9-13)

"The transformation of a nation begins on a personal level. There are millions of Americans who are religious but have never experienced a personal relationship with God."----
Arthur S. DeMoss

Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ? Are you a Christian? Will you go to heaven when you die? How can we be sure? These are questions that a large number of really nice, polite, kind, generous, compassionate, church-going people don’t have a firm answer for. Why is that? As a Christian, I can’t think of a more important, fundamental question than whether or not I will go to heaven. I have participated in various Bible study classes and Sunday School classes over the years and I have heard lots of different answers to the above questions. See if anything on the following list sounds familiar.

1. I will go to heaven if:
2. I go to church.
3. I tithe/donate to charity.
4. I’m nice to people/I love my fellow man.
5. I believe in God.
6. I have been baptized/confirmed.
7. I live according to the teachings of the Ten Commandments.
8. I wear a WWJD bracelet and I saw Mel Gibson’s movie 3 times.

This is a real nice list of good things we can do in this life, but can we earn our way into heaven by doing all of these things? The Bible is crystal clear in answering that question. Let’s break it down step by step.

First, we must understand that God created us, He loves us, and He wants us to have peace and an abundant life. John 10:10 says, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full". The notes in my Life Application Study Bible by Zondervan say that Jesus gives life that is abundantly rich, and, although that life is eternal, it starts immediately. Life in Christ is lived on a higher plane because of His overflowing forgiveness, love, and guidance. There is one significant problem, however.

The problem is that God created us with free will and we can choose to follow God or we can follow our own path. If we follow our own path we have fallen short of God’s perfect standard, and that is the definition of "sin". Sin creates a gap between God and us because God can’t tolerate sin in His presence. That’s why Romans 6:23 says, "the wages of sin is death". If we die and we haven’t bridged that gap created by sin, the penalty is eternal death/eternal separation from God. The Bible is very clear about how we have scored on the sin scale. Romans 3:10-11 says, "…There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God." You could be the most wonderful person on the face of the earth, give all your money to the poor, and not have an enemy in the world, and you still won’t get to heaven. What is the solution?

John 3:16 gives us the answer. "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." When Jesus died on the cross and then was resurrected on the third day He took with Him every sin we ever committed or ever will commit and He erased those sins from the heavenly record. Jesus paid the penalty for our sins so that we may have eternal life!

What do we have to do to receive this wonderful gift? Romans 10:9-13 spells it out—"That 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…Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."

The beautiful simplicity of God’s salvation plan is best illustrated for us in Luke 23:38-43— "There was a written notice above Him, which read: THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS. One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at Him: "Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!" But the other criminal rebuked him. "Don’t you fear God," he said, "since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong." Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." Jesus answered him, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise."
Do you want to make Jesus the Lord and Master of your life? Are you willing to confess to Jesus all of your sins and all of the ways you have fallen short of the glory of God? Your eternal salvation will not be assured unless you open the door and give your life to Jesus. If you want to take this crucial step and accept God’s gift of eternal life, I invite you to pray out loud something like this (feel free to put this in your own words):

God, I am a sinner. Please have mercy on me. I confess that I have fallen short of your perfect standard for my life so many times, and I am ashamed. Please forgive me. Father, I believe with all my heart that Jesus is Your Son. I believe that You sent Him to die on the cross and that You raised Him from the dead so that I could have eternal life. God, right here and right now I accept Your Son Jesus as the Lord of my life and my personal Savior. Please claim my heart and my soul for You so that I can spend eternity with You. Thank you God! In your Son Jesus’ holy and precious name I pray. Amen.

If you don’t feel, for whatever reason, that you could sincerely say that prayer, I invite you to sit down and read the book of John in the Bible. My prayer is that the Holy Spirit will speak to you and touch your heart as you read John’s account of Jesus’ life on Earth so that you could receive this wonderful gift that God is freely offering you.

"But now a righteousness from God, apart from the law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in His blood. He did this to demonstrate His justice, because in His forbearance He had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—He did it to demonstrate His justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus."----(Romans 3:21-26)


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