Picture the horror of being stranded in an ocean with hungry, deadly sharks closing in! Then imagine how grateful and relieved you'd feel to be plucked to safety. The truth is, every person on the planet is lost in an ocean fraught with danger. We urgently need rescue, not from a boat or helicopter, but from our Heavenly Father. God loves you, so much that He sent His Son to save you. You've undoubtedly heard all this before, but are you sure you really understand what it's all about? What does it really mean to you, and can it really change your life? Read on and find out!
God cares about you personally. What a fantastic cause for rejoicing!
1. Does God really care about me?
This is what He says: "Thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee." Isaiah 43:4. "Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love." Jeremiah 31:3.
Answer: God's never-ending love for you and me is far beyond our understanding. He loves you as though you were the only lost soul in the universe. He would have given His life for you or me even if there had been no other sinner to redeem. Try never to forget this fact. You are precious in His sight. He loves you.
Never has there been another demonstration of love so great as the cross.
2. How has God demonstrated His love for us?
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16. "In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins." 1 John 4:9, 10.
Answer: Because He loved us so deeply, He was willing to see His only Son suffer and die rather than be separated from you and me for eternity. We will not be able to understand it, but He did it--just for you, just for me!
No one has ever lived whom Jesus did not love.
3. How could He love someone like me?
"But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8.
Answer: Certainly not because I earned it or deserved it. Not one of us has earned anything except the wages of sin, which is death (Romans 6:23). But God's love is unconditional. He loves the thieves, adulterers, and murderers. He also loves the selfish, the hypocritical, and the profane blasphemer. But, greatest of all, He loves me! And because He knows that my sins can lead only to misery and death, He wants to save me from my sins. That's why He died.
Jesus' death was payment in full for every sin you could ever commit. When you accept this fabulous gift, you become part of Jesus' personal family.
4. What does His death do for me?
"Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God." 1 John 3:1. "But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name." John 1:12.
Answer: Christ died to satisfy the death penalty against me. He was born as a man so He could suffer the kind of death I deserve. Then He offered to give me the credit for what He did. In other words, His sinless life is credited to my account so I can be counted as righteous. His death is accepted by God as full payment for all my past wrongs, and by accepting what He did, as a gift, I am taken into God's own family as His child. It staggers the mind!
Ponder these simple facts for a moment:
- Because of my sins, I am sentenced to death.
- I cannot pay that penalty without losing eternal life, because if I died for my sins, I could not resurrect myself. I would be dead forever.
- I owe something I cannot pay! But a friend comes along, in the person of Jesus, and says, "I will pay. I will die in your place and give you credit for it. You will not have to die for your sins."
- I must accept the offer! Simple, isn't it? I openly acknowledge and accept His death for my sins. The moment I do this, I have become a son or daughter of God!
Jesus gave His life to settle the debt you cannot pay.
5. How do I receive Him and pass from death to life?
Just admit three things:
1. I am a sinner. "All have sinned." Romans 3:23.
2. I am doomed to die. "The wages of sin is death." Romans 6:23.
3. I cannot save myself. "Without me ye can do nothing." John 15:5.
Then, believe three things:
1. He died for me. "That he ... should taste death for every man." Hebrews 2:9.
2. He forgives me. "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins." 1 John 1:9.
3. He saves me. "He that believeth on me hath everlasting life." John 6:47.
Answer: By asking for, believing in, and accepting the great gift of God, our Lord Jesus Christ.
Are you drowning in sin? Jesus will rescue you at once if you will ask Him.
6. What must I do in order to obtain this gift of salvation?
"Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus." Romans 3:24. "A man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law." Romans 3:28.
Answer: The only thing I can do is to accept it as a pure gift. My works of obedience will not help me one bit in the justification experience. All who ask for salvation in faith will receive it. The worst reprobate sinner will be accepted on the same basis as the most moral do-gooder. The past does not count. Remember, God loves everyone alike, and forgiveness is for the asking. "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast." Ephesians 2:8, 9.
Jesus' power changes a repulsive sinner into a loving saint.
7. When I join His family through faith, what change does Jesus make in my life?
"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." 2 Corinthians 5:17.
Answer: As Christ is received into my heart, He destroys the old sinful self and actually changes me into a new spiritual creation. The old life of sin now becomes repulsive and undesirable. Joyfully I begin to experience, for the first time, glorious freedom from guilt and condemnation. I begin to see how empty my life has been without Christ. Rather than feeding on husks under the table, I now feast at the banquet of the King. One minute with God provides more happiness than does a lifetime of serving the devil. What an exchange! Why did I wait so long to accept it?
The most valuable gift parents can give their children is to become Christians.
8. Will this changed life really be happier than the pleasures of the old life?
Jesus said: "These things have I spoken unto you ... that your joy might be full." John 15:11. "If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed." John 8:36. "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." John 10:10.
Answer: Many feel that the Christian life will not be a happy one because of restrictions and self-denial. The exact opposite is true. When you accept the love of Jesus, a fantastic exuberance springs up from within. Unbelievable peace and joy permeate your life. Talk about excitement! There is no comparison to the old life of selfishness and failure. Like a bad dream, the painful past fades away, and you experience life "more abundantly," the way God intended it should be.
When Jesus enters your life, His miraculous power transforms obedience from a burden to a supreme joy.
9. But can I make myself do all the things a Christian should do?
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me." Galatians 2:20. "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." Philippians 4:13.
Answer: Here is where the greatest miracle of the Christian life is revealed. There is no forcing yourself to be good! What you do as a Christian is the spontaneous outflowing of another Person's life within you. Obedience is the natural response of love in your life. Being born of God, as a new creature, you want to obey Him because His life has become a part of your life. To please someone you love is not a burden, but a delight. "I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart." Psalms 40:8.
It is not hard to please someone you truly love.
10. Do you mean that even the Ten Commandments would not be hard to obey?
"If ye love me, keep my commandments." John 14:15. "For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous." 1 John 5:3. "But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected." 1 John 2:5.
Answer: The Bible always ties obedience to a love relationship. Born-again Christians find it no wearying struggle to keep the Ten Commandments. With all past sins covered by His atoning death, my present and future obedience is rooted in His victorious life within me. In fact, because I love Him so deeply for changing my life, I go beyond the requirements of the Ten Commandments. Daily I search the Bible for indications of His will, trying to find more little ways of expressing my love to Him. "And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight." 1 John 3:22, emphasis added.
Keeping the Ten Commandments in an attempt to earn salvation will result only in sorrow and despair. But the person who has experienced the gift of salvation delights in walking the path of obedience to God's laws.
11. How can I be certain that the commandment-keeping mentioned of God's people in the Bible is not legalism?
"Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus." Revelation 14:12. "And they [the saints] overcame him [Satan] by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death." Revelation 12:11.
Answer: Do not mistake obedience for legalism. Legalism is trying to earn salvation by good works. The saints are identified in the Bible as having four characteristics: (1) keeping the commandments, (2) trusting the blood of the Lamb, (3) sharing their faith with others, and (4) choosing to die rather than to sin. These are the true marks of the person who is in love with Christ and who has made a life commitment to follow Him.
Baptism is the marriage ceremony that weds me to Christ.
12. What significant act seals the love relationship with Christ, and what does it symbolize?
"Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." "That the body of sin might be destroyed." Romans 6:4, 6. "I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ." 2 Corinthians 11:2.
Answer: Baptism symbolizes three significant events in the life of the true believer: (1) death to sin, (2) birth to a new life in Christ, and (3) marriage to Christ for eternity. This spiritual union will grow stronger and sweeter with time, as long as love continues to grow. As in any marriage, the loss of love can turn a paradise into hell. When love disappears, the home is held together only by the mechanical, forced duty of the marriage law. Likewise, when the Christian ceases to love Christ supremely, his religion exists only as restrictive compliance to a set of rules.
My love for Jesus deepens as I share it with others.
13. How can I be certain that the faith and love of my marriage to Christ will continue to increase?
"Search the scriptures." John 5:39. "Pray without ceasing." 1 Thessalonians 5:17. "As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him." Colossians 2:6. "I die daily." 1 Corinthians 15:31.
Answer: No love affair can prosper without communication. Prayer and Bible study are absolutely essential to keep this relationship growing. His Word constitutes a love letter that I must read daily to nourish the spiritual life. Conversing with Him in prayer deepens the devotion and opens my mind to a more thrilling and intimate knowledge of His concern for me. Daily I am amazed to discover details of His incredible provision for my happiness.
God Seals Our Spiritual Marriage To seal our spiritual marriage for eternity, He has promised never to forsake me (Psalms 55:22Matthew 28:20Hebrews 13:5), to take care of me in sickness or in health (Psalms 41:3Isaiah 41:10), and to provide for every need that could possibly develop in my life (Matthew 6:25-34). Just as I received Him by faith and found His promises all-sufficient, I keep on trusting Him for every future need, and He never lets me down.
14. It is my desire to invite Jesus into my life and experience the new birth.
1. How could one Man's death pay the penalty for the sins of all mankind? I have lived a terrible life of sin. I am afraid God would have to do something very special to atone for someone so evil. Romans 3:23 tells us that "all have sinned." Because "the wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23) and since "all have sinned," therefore "something special" is required for every person who has been born. Only One whose life is equal to all mankind could die for the sins of the race. Because Jesus is the Creator and Author of all life, the life He laid down was equivalent to the lives of all people who would ever live. Not only did atonement have to be made by One whose life could stand for all other created beings, but the One who died the atoning death had to be able to rise from that death. Why? In order to administer the benefits of the atonement to all who would apply for it in faith. "Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them." Hebrews 7:25.
2. If I accept Christ and His forgiveness and then fall again, will He forgive me again? We can trust God to forgive us again if we are sorry for our sin and confess it. "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." 1 John 1:9.
3. How can I approach God in my sinful condition? Wouldn't it be better for me to have a priest or minister pray for me? Since Jesus Christ lived in the flesh and was "tempted like as we are" (Hebrews 4:15), we have a God who can understand and who desires to be merciful to us. Hebrews 4:16 tells us we can "come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy." We may approach God directly through Jesus Christ, without an intermediary; and trusting in His mercy, we may "boldly" come to Him in Jesus' name (John 14:14). 1 Timothy 2:5 reads: "For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus."
4. Is there anything I can do to help God save me? No. His plan is wholly of grace (Romans 3:24; 4:5); it is "the gift of God." Ephesians 2:8. It is true that as God grants us grace through faith, He also gives us the desire and strength to obey Him. This results in compliance with His laws. So, even this obedience results from God's free grace. Obedience--the service and allegiance of love--is the true test of discipleship and a natural fruit of faith in Jesus Christ.
5. If God forgives my sin and restores me to His family, will that eliminate any future punishment for my sins, or will I still be required to do some kind of penance? The Scriptures say, "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus." Romans 8:1. Christ paid the full penalty for our transgressions, and those who accept Him in faith owe no works of penance for cleansing, but are already considered "washed" in the blood of the Lamb! Isaiah 43:25 contains a beautiful promise of forgiveness: "I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins." Micah 7:18, 19 shows the beautiful attitude of the Redeemer-God toward His people: "Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy. He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea."
1. God poured out all heaven in what great gift to man? (1) _____ The Bible. _____ His church. _____ Jesus Christ. _____ The law.
2. The greatest demonstration of love the world has ever seen was (1) _____ The loaves and fishes. _____ Jesus' death on the cross. _____ Pentecost. _____ Peter's confession.
3. Christ's sacrifice on the cross was for (1) _____ Everyone. _____ Only the righteous. _____ Only the evil. _____ Those predestined for salvation.
4. What kind of person does God love the most? (1) _____ Church members. _____ Prostitutes and thieves. _____ Everybody alike. _____ Born-again Christians.
5. Christ was born into the human family in order to (1) _____ Pay the penalty for sin. _____ Know how weak we are. _____ Become a good carpenter.
6. In order to obtain salvation, a person must (1) _____ Take a Bible course. _____ Belong to the church. _____ Speak in tongues. _____ Accept it as a gift.
7. We are saved by (1) _____ Good works. _____ Grace. _____ Desire.
8. Forgiveness and acceptance lead us to feel (2) _____ That we can begin to sin again. _____ Regret for pleasures denied. _____ Joy and peace. _____ Assurance of eternal life.
9. Obedience should be based upon (1) _____ Fear of hell. _____ Desire for approval of friends. _____ Love for Jesus.
10. Christian conduct, or keeping the commandments, is (1) _____ Legalism. _____ One of the fruits of true conversion. _____ Unimportant.
11. Marriage to Christ is symbolized by (1) _____ Joining a convent or monastery. _____ Baptism. _____ A wedding ring worn on the right hand. _____ Making a vow of celibacy.
12. The two greatest ways to stay in love with Christ are (2) _____ Daily Bible study. _____ Giving a liberal offering. _____ Abstaining from pork. _____ Constant attitude of prayer.