Photo by Chad Runge / Creation Swap

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Salvation: The Good News

The GOOD NEWS! That just brings a smile to my face. I love how God is able to take a really, really bad situation and do something good with it. AND to top it off, to bring Him glory!

Now, if all you know is that there is good news, then you're not going to understand why it's so good. And believe me, it's the kind of news that in human terms it's better than winning the lottery. It's better than getting married. Better than having a baby. Better than anything you could dream up, conjure up, or imagine. In fact, IT IS EVERYTHING!

So why is it good news? Because the alternative is really bad. In my last post I kind of went through that. I mentioned sin and how we're deserving of God's wrath. But what I didn't say is what I believe is the worst part. If one were to die in that sin state, that person would be separated from his/her Creator for all eternity.

That may not sound like such a big deal, but it is. More than you know. Imagine the worst feeling you ever experienced. Think about how you felt. Were you alone and empty? Were you depressed or in anguish? Take that experience and multiply that by a gazillion. That's still not enough to describe what that would be like. The Bible describes it like the weeping and gnashing of teeth. Eternal torment.

But there's good news. God had a plan...from the very beginning! He saw our sin nature and knew we would need a Savior. However, who could fit that bill? Certainly no man or woman in all of history. This person would need to be perfect. And only God is perfect.

So God decided that He Himself would have to save us. And He would have to ensure that everything would happen in the right way. From the beginning God put into motion events that would one day lead to His Son, Jesus Christ (who being fully man in all his humanity and fully God in all His deity), dying on the cross to pay the just penalty for our sins.

There is no way to explain this in detail here in this blog, and I probably wouldn't do it justice anyway. The simple truth is that the Bible lays out the sin problem and through God's promises through many, many prophecies (which all came true) He brought about the incarnation through the virgin birth of His Son Jesus. Which is by the way how Jesus circumvented the sin nature.

Jesus came onto the scene and turned the world upside down. He made claims that He was the Son of God and that He was to fulfill all righteousness. And He did. He lived among us, was perfect and sinless, He taught us about our Heavenly Father and showed us a more perfect way. He looked beyond just mere words and actions and dug deep into the heart. This, in itself, infuriated the religious leaders of that day. It forced them to recognize their own sin, which they weren't willing to do. But when all was said and done, Jesus fulfilled His ultimate purpose and became the sacrifice that would reconcile us to God. Through the cross, His excruciating pain, the torment and anguish, the mocking and scourging, Jesus laid his life down and suffered the most painful death imaginable. The movie, The Passion of the Christ, does an excellent depiction of what Jesus went through for us. And He did this because He loved us.

So if Jesus went through all this for us, then what's the big deal? Aren't we all saved and now we all can go to heaven? There is a hitch. Jesus doesn't force His gift of salvation upon anyone. Think about it. A gift is something you can either accept or refuse. That is what He has done. The Bible says that, "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Okay then, how does one receive this gift? First, it's not something you initiate at all. Surprising? Confusing? Yes. The Bible tells us that God is the author and perfecter of our faith. And it's through faith that you believe. And believing is what you need to do in order to receive God's gift. The question right now is, "Do you feel the conviction of God tugging at your heart trying to get your attention?" My suspicion is that you do. If you're an unbeliever that is. God has a way of putting people at the right place and at the right time so they can believe. And how does that happen? By faith. And faith comes by hearing, and hearing comes by the Word of God. So if you see Scripture, the Bible, then you are being confronted by the Word of God.

If you are being convicted and sense God trying to get your attention, my advise is to pay attention. Because one way or another He's going to get it. The problem is is when? My prayer is that if you are an unbeliever, someone who hasn't made the decision to receive Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, that today would be the day. It really is that simple. "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." John 3:16 THAT'S the Good News!

There is so much more to say on this subject of baptism, but I won't get into that here. The emphasis here is salvation. If for some reason, you hear a pastor or a friend or anyone who is coercing you to make a quick decision to say, "I believe. I want to be saved. I want to be a Christian," then I would strongly encourage you to stop and think about it. It's not a decision to be taken lightly. Even Jesus said that His followers should count the cost. Unless it comes from a sincere heart, and God knows if it is or not, then any declaration you make will be pointless. You must be sincere, you must want to receive God's gift, and then you have to pray. A good resource to understand salvation better and to ensure that you have the heart and intent first and foremost is the Bible. But a website that can help you understand this very important step is the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.  Not that it's the only place, but it's a start. Perhaps a church where the Bible is taught would be an even better place. But if you sense God's conviction on you, above everything else don't ignore it. Ask Him to help you and He will.

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