“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).
You’ve probably heard John 3:16 before, but have you ever read it in its full context? With the verses that follow it? Read the next five verses (John 3:17-21): “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.”
Do you see what this scripture is telling us? Although John 3:16 is a comforting verse in itself, the message doesn’t end there. It leads into a warning of condemnation to those who refuse to repent of their ungodly ways. Then it teaches that, although we are condemned (to eternal punishment) in our initial state of unbelief, we don’t have to remain that way. It promises that everlasting life will be given to those who receive the Truth and allow their sins to be exposed to the Light. That light is Jesus. “I am the Light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the Light of life” (John 8:12).
So, why do we need this “Light of the world”? Why Jesus?
The following explains humanity’s broken relationship to God and, according to His own Word, what we each need to do to restore our individual right standing (or righteousness) with Him.
First, the bad news (about us):
Our sins (or wrongdoings) have separated us from our righteous and holy God. “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
And except for repentance, we are destined for eternal death and punishment. “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
Being a good person (or doing good works) won’t get us into Heaven. We MUST be spiritually “born again.” “Jesus answered… Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3).
Now, the Gospel – the Good News (about Him):
Our holy Creator God made a way for sin-cursed humanity to be reconciled back to Him by sending His Son to take our punishment for us. Since the consequence of sin is death (and we are all born into sin through the fallen man, Adam), we are helpless to save ourselves from our pending death sentence of eternal punishment. That’s why God sent His Son to us. Jesus stepped out of eternity to die on our behalf, to pay the sin debt that we owed. He came down from heaven, became one of us, took our sins upon His own sinless body, then paid our death sentence for us on the cross. “For He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Then, three days after His crucifixion, Jesus victoriously arose from the dead…
“…it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day” (Luke 24:46).
And He ascended into Heaven in His physical, nail-scarred, resurrected body to be the “One Mediator between God and men” (1 Timothy 2:5), our Advocate (1 John 2:1), our Intercessor…
“It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us” (Romans 8:34) until He returns for those who are “in Christ.”
This much anticipated, soon-coming event is called “The Rapture of the Church.” The purpose of the Rapture is to remove God’s “born-again” believers “…from the hour of temptation [or testing] which shall come upon all the world…” (Revelation 3:10). We are told that Jesus’ return for us will be as a “thief in the night” (1 Thessalonians 5:2), so we don’t know what day it will occur, but He described many events that would mark the season (or era) of His Second Coming and told us to watch for those signs. He warned us to “…be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh” (Matthew 24:44) and to “Watch… and pray always, that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass…” (Luke 21:36).
Today, major prophetic events undeniably point to our generation as being that very generation of which He spoke, hence the renewed urgency of our “Don’t be left behind” plea. The following verses describe this “Rapture” of Christians, both deceased and living. (Also 1 Corinthians 15:49-54.)
“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18).
Now, to explain what Jesus’ death on the cross actually accomplished:
Human efforts cannot make us holy, but the Bible tells us that “without holiness no man shall see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14). So, if holiness is mandatory, how do we get there? What makes us acceptable to God?
Our initial separation from God occurred when the very first man, Adam (Genesis 2:7), willfully disobeyed God. Because of his actions, humanity began its descent into physical death, and the entire yet-to-be-born human race spiritually died. All were cursed with Adam’s sin nature. All were conceived in sin (Psalms 51:5). Then, since one sinner could not atone for another sinner, the curse could not be broken. “There is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10).
Jesus was born of a virgin (Matthew 1:23). He did not come through Adam’s bloodline. He alone carried the holy, sinless blood of His Heavenly Father. Scripture tells us that the blood not only symbolizes life but that it actually gives life. “The life of the flesh is in the blood. “…For it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul” (Leviticus 17:11), and “without the shedding of blood is no remission (forgiveness of sin)” (Hebrews 9:22).
Jesus knew that we could not redeem ourselves. He also knew the cost. Even so, out of His great love for us (Ephesians 2:4) and knowing the joy to come (Hebrews 12:2), He willingly paid the ultimate price by sacrificing His own life-giving blood to redeem our souls from the curse of sin. “You are bought with a price…” (1 Corinthians 6:20). There is no greater love than our Savior’s love for us, and when we repent of our sins and submit to His authority, we are spiritually reborn and become “holy and unblameable in His sight” (Colossians 1:22).
The one man, Adam, brought sin upon us, and the Holy One, Jesus, took it away. “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous” (Romans 5:19). Although we are still condemned to die a physical death, the life-giving blood that Jesus shed on our behalf made a way for us, through Him, to be fully reconciled back to our Heavenly Father. Our redemption was paid in full on the cross and the gift of eternal life was made free to all, simply for the asking. “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13).
We cannot earn our way to Heaven by being good or doing good works. Spirituality, meditation, religious rituals, sincerity, or reverence won’t get us there either. That’s because humanity carries the unrighteousness of Adam, and “all unrighteousness is sin” (1 John 5:17). It is ONLY through our faith in Jesus that we are saved. “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).
Everything in God’s plan of redemption has already been done for us, once and for all, through Jesus’ death and resurrection (Romans 6:10, Hebrews 9:26,28). We, however, must ACT on our faith in Him in order to receive this gift of eternal life. To do nothing is to reject Him, but belief and confession lead to righteousness and salvation. “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:9-10).
So… If you would like to accept Jesus as your Savior and trust Him for your eternal salvation, this is how to be spiritually “born again”:
- Believe that Jesus is the Son of God. “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6), “…for I proceeded forth and came from God; …He sent me” (John 8:42), “I and my Father are one” (John 10:30), “He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life” (1 John 5:12), and “…for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins” (John 8:24).
- Believe that He paid for your sins on the cross. “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace…” (Ephesians 1:7), “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree” (1 Peter 2:24), and “…for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation” (Revelation 5:9).
- Acknowledge that you have sinned against Him, then ask Him to forgive you. “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:8-9).
So, how do we talk to God? What do we do now?
Hebrews 4:16 tells us to “Come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy,” meaning that God is approachable. He invites us into a personal relationship with Him. He takes our fear of death away (Hebrews 2:14-15), promises us an eternity in Heaven with Him (John 14:2-3), and gives us a spiritually victorious, “more abundant life” while we are still here on earth (John 10:10).
That being said, simply talk to Him as you would talk to a friend. Be honest and open. Ask Jesus to forgive your sins and invite Him to come into your life. He makes everything new! “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Then, start reading the Bible. The New Testament book of John is a good place to start. To the believer, reading God’s Word develops a spiritual hunger to learn more and more, and the more we read, the more the Holy Spirit grows and matures our understanding of His ways.
A final heartfelt plea… Today is the day of salvation. “Today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts” (Hebrews 3:15). Please take this very seriously! If you die today, your soul will go directly to Heaven or Hell based upon whether you have accepted Jesus as your Savior or whether you have rejected Him through unbelief. There is no middle ground. Sadly, most will refuse His gift of salvation, choosing instead the deadly and eternal consequences of paying for their own sins.
Jesus said, “…Narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matthew 7:14), and “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it” (Matthew 16:25). To say it bluntly, Jesus will either be our Savior now, or He will be our Judge in the future (2 Corinthians 5:10). He paid the price for our souls because He loves us, but the choice to accept or reject Him is ours to make.
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8) and His steadfast message is, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life” (John 14:6). There is no other Way. There is no other God. There is no other Truth. There is no other Light. “Neither is there salvation in any other” (Acts 4:12).
That’s the pure, undiluted Gospel of Jesus Christ, and what we do with it determines our eternal destination.
(Bible verses: King James Version)
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