In the year 2000 I was a true unbeliever. A scoffer.
I made fun of Christians, as well as people of other faiths, for believing in such non-sense.
I had thoroughly convinced myself that if there was a heaven and hell after we die I would be fine because, I reasoned, I was a good person.
September 11, 2001
Then, on the morning of September 11, 2001 some religious fanatics murdered thousands of people so they could earn entrance into “heaven”.
This prompted me to study the worlds religions, and what I learned is that they all required “earning” favor in some way by keeping some religious rules. They were all about striving to reach up to heaven.
All except for one.
When I studied the Bible I learned that:
1. It had so much historical evidence of it’s truth. There are over 25,000 original manuscript copies of the new testament, and beyond belief, they are all the same. Furthermore, many of the eyewitnesses to Jesus’ ministry were executed for their faith. All they had to do to go free was admit that what they had seen and heard was a lie, but they couldn’t, because they had seen the miracles, they had seen Jesus of Nazareth raised from the dead!
2. So I read the whole Bible, and learned that even though it was written by 40 different authors over 1600 years, it was one consistent story from beginning to end. Even the prophecies written in the old testament were revealed to be true in the new.
3. And after reading it, there was now no doubt it was true because of the change it made in my heart.
I was a sinner and could never be good enough to earn heaven.
I learned that God is a good and just God, and that He couldn’t let any violation of His law go unpunished.
But, I thought, I was a good person, right? Wrong, I learned that God is so good and so just that even the intentions of our hearts are judged.
Matthew 5:21-28 (HCSB)
Murder Begins in the Heart
21 “You have heard that it was said to our ancestors, Do not murder, and whoever murders will be subject to judgment. 22 But I tell you, everyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment…
Adultery in the Heart
27 “You have heard that it was said, Do not commit adultery. 28 But I tell you, everyone who looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
Matthew 15:19 (HCSB)
19 For from the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, sexual immoralities, thefts, false testimonies, blasphemies.
I’ve stolen things, so I am a thief.
I’ve lied, so I am a liar.
I’ve lusted, so I am an adulterer.
And I’ve mocked God, so I am an blasphemer.
I learned, that if I were to die and stand in judgement, I would be found guilty and sentenced for eternity. A punishment I justly deserved.
The Good News!
But, there is good news. I also learned that God is loving and merciful, and that from the very beginning, in Genesis, He had a plan to safe sinners like me.
Unlike all the other religions, the message and work of Jesus Christ is that God came down the mountain to save us because we couldn’t save ourselves.
God’s free gift is that He sent His Son, Jesus, to pay the price the law demanded. Jesus took our penalty upon Himself so that we might be forgiven.
You might think, like I did, that you’ve made some mistakes, but never really hurt anyone and are basically a good person, but you can never measure up to God’s standard.
Or you might think that you’ve messed up so bad that God could never accept you the way you are.
Don’t wait! You can’t clean yourself up, you first need to accept God’s free gift, and He will change your heart like He did mine.
John 3:16 (ESV)
For God So Loved the World
16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
Romans 10:9 (ESV)
9… 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.
In case you need proof that even you can be saved, consider the thief hanging on the cross…
Luke 23:35-43 (ESV)
35 And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!” 36 The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine 37 and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” 38 There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.”
39 One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” 40 But the other [thief] rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 And [Jesus] said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
I love this quote by Charles Spurgeon…
“No sin, whatever it is, shall ruin any man if he shall come to Christ for mercy. Though you are black as hell’s midnight through iniquity, yet if you will come to Christ, He is ready to cleanse you. It is sin, after all, that lies at the door and blocks your way to the Savior.”–1895, Sermon 2411
A pastor friend of mine says…
Repentance doesn’t mean you decide to clean up your life, it means you just realized your inability to clean it up with out Jesus.
– Caleb Suko, 2015
Don’t wait. Take hold of God’s gift through faith in Jesus Christ!