God LOVES you and offers a wonderful PLAN for your life.
For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16 NLT)
God's love is not self-centered, as human love often is. He is constantly reaching out to you, regardless of your past thoughts or actions. By giving His own Son as a sacrifice, God sets the pattern of real love, the basis for all love relationships. When you love someone totally, you are willing to give even to the point of giving up your own life. God paid dearly by allowing Jesus to die a brutal death for your sake. It was the highest price He could pay.
Jesus accepted upon Himself the punishment that was actually meant for us. He paid the price for our sins, and then offered us the new life that He had bought for us through His action.
If your life seems hopeless and miserable, you may not see any value in living an eternal life. But the eternal life God offers is not an extension of your life (with all its problems) here on earth--eternal life is a joyful experience totally free of any grief, sadness or hardship. It is God's life embodied in Christ and given to all believers. In eternal life there is no disease, enemy, evil, cruelty or sorrow. That may be hard to understand, because when we don't know Christ, we act as if the current life we are living is all we have. When you receive the new life God offers through Jesus, you will begin to evaluate all that happens from an eternal perspective.
It is not enough to believe intellectually that Jesus came to earth as the person of God in human flesh. Believing in Him means to put your trust and confidence in Him that He alone can save you from certain death. To believe means to put Christ in charge of your present plans and eternal destiny. You won't have to change anything in your life. God will do it for you, if you give control of your life over to Him. The result will be freedom, joy, and peace in your heart.
If you have never trusted God, let this promise of everlasting life be yours.
So [Jesus] explained it to them: I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me were thieves and robbers. But the true sheep did not listen to them. Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. (John 10:7-10 NLT)
Christ is our protector, guarding us spiritually from attack, just as shepherds protect their flock by guarding the sheep pen. Many people think Christians are wrong to say that Jesus is the only way to salvation. They seek other ways to bridge the impenetrable chasm between God and man--such as good moral behavior or religious rituals. Yet Jesus Himself said that He is the only way to eternal life. Others have come in the past and will come in the future claiming to be the way to God. Jesus called them thieves and robbers. Only Christ fulfilled all the prophesies concerning the Jewish Messiah written about in the Scriptures.
In contrast to thieves, who are only interested in what they can take, Jesus was only interested in what He could give. He gives life - full of abundance and richness. This life is eternal, yet it begins the moment we give control of our lives to Him.
So why is it that most people are not experiencing the abundant life? Because...
Man is SINFUL and SEPARATED from God. Therefore, he cannot know and experience God's love and plan for his life.
Man is sinful
All of us have sinned and fallen short of God's glory. (Romans 3:23 CEV)
To most people, some things seem less morally wrong than others. For example, you would probably agree that murder is pretty serious, and likely think of it as a worse sin than hatred or theft. And you probably consider theft a worse sin than lying or jealousy.
But this doesn't mean that because some of us do lesser sins we deserve eternal life. All sin makes us sinners. This includes everything from the smallest white lie to lust to murder. All sin makes us sinners, and all sin cuts us off from our perfectly holy God.
All sin, therefore, leads to death, because it disqualifies you from living with God, no matter how good your life seems in every other respect. Fortunately, God gave you a way--through Jesus Christ--to be forgiven from all your sin, regardless of how small or great. Jesus died to take your sins onto Himself and wipe your slate clean. He gave Himself up willingly for your sake because of His great love for you.
Man was created to have fellowship with God; but, because of his stubborn self-will, he chose to go his own independent way and fellowship with God was broken. This self-will, characterized by an attitude of active rebellion or passive indifference, is evidence of what the Bible calls sin.
Man is separated
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23 NLT)
Nobody can live a neutral life spiritually. You may think you can make yourself acceptable to God by living a life of high moral standards. But that isn't neutral. Every person has a master--either God or sin (not recognizing God's authority). You are free to choose between these two masters, but each one comes with a consequence, or "wage." Each of the two masters pays in its own currency.
The currency of sin is death--the end of your natural life followed by eternal separation from God. That's all you can hope for in life without God. The currency of Jesus Christ, on the other hand, is eternal life with God. This is a joyful new life that begins the moment you accept Christ and continues forever. Which would you rather have?
Eternal life is a free gift offered by God because He loves you. All you have to do is gratefully accept it, just as you would accept any gift from a loved one. Our salvation is not the result of any righteousness on our part. Instead, it is given because of God's great mercy. Are you ready to receive God's gift of eternal life?
The diagram below illustrates that God is holy and man is sinful. A great gulf separates the two. The arrows show that man is continually trying to reach God and the abundant life through his own efforts, such as living a good life, following specific philosophies or religions, etc.
Jesus Christ is God's ONLY provision for Man's sin. Through Him you can know and experience God's love and plan for your life.
He died in our place
But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. (Romans 5:8 NLT)
He rose from the dead
I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me. Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said. He was seen by Peter and then by the Twelve. After that, he was seen by more than 500 of his followers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. (I Corinthians 15:3-6 NLT)
He is the only way to God
Jesus told him, I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. (John 14:6 NLT)
Jesus says He is the only way to God the Father. Some people argue that this way is too narrow, and thus "intolerant." In reality, it is wide enough for the whole world, if the world chooses to accept this free gift, which is offered with no strings attached and no price to pay. Instead of worrying about how limited it sounds to have only one way to God, we should be thanking God for providing a sure way to reach Him and receive eternal life!
The diagram below illustrates that God has bridged the gulf which separates us from Him by sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross in our place to pay the penalty for our sins.
We must individually RECEIVE Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord; then we can know and experience God's love and plan for our lives.
We must receive Christ
But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. (John 1:12 NLT)
When you welcome Jesus Christ as Lord of your life, you are reborn spiritually and receive new life from God. Eventually, this new birth changes you from the inside out, by rearranging your attitudes, desires, and motives.
Compare this new life to the process you go through as a human being. When you were born you were made physically alive into your parent's family. But you did not yet have spiritual (eternal) life. Being born of God makes you spiritually alive and puts you in God's family. God is perfect--more loving and sensitive to your needs than any human parent can possibly be. When you ask Christ to make you a new person, you will receive a fresh start in life, as you discover spiritual life for the first time.
We receive Christ through faith
God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. (Ephesians 2:8,9 NLT)
When we receive Christ, we experience a new birth
There was a man named Nicodemus, a Jewish religious leader who was a Pharisee. After dark one evening, he came to speak with Jesus. “Rabbi,” he said, “we all know that God has sent you to teach us. Your miraculous signs are evidence that God is with you.” Jesus replied, I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.” “What do you mean?” exclaimed Nicodemus. “How can an old man go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?” Jesus replied, I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. So don’t be surprised when I say, You must be born again. The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit. (John 3:1-8 NLT)
We receive Christ by personal invitation
Listen! I am standing and knocking at your door. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in and we will eat together. (Revelation 3:20 CEV)
Receiving Christ involves turning to God from self (repentance) and trusting Christ to come into our lives to forgive our sins and to make us the kind of people He wants us to be. Just to agree intellectually that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that He died on the cross for our sins is not enough. Nor is it enough to have an emotional experience. We receive Jesus Christ by faith, as an act of will.
You can receive Christ right now by faith through prayer (prayer is talking with God). God knows your heart and is not so concerned with your words as He is with the attitude of your heart. The following is a suggested prayer:
Lord Jesus, I need you. Thank You for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life and receive You as my Savior and Lord. Thank You for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Take control of the throne of my life. Make me the kind of person You want me to be.
Does this prayer express the desire of your heart? If it does, pray this prayer right now, and Christ will come into your life, just as He promised.