IntroductionNo doubt you've heard that Jesus died for your sins. Maybe you even believe that, but do you understand it?
The Character of God & The Depravity of ManIt works like this. God is holy, righteous, just, love, faithful, and perfect. You?...well you aren't. God's moral law, The Ten Commandments will reveal this to you.
- How many times have you looked at someone with lust? Jesus said, "whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (Matthew 5:28 NKJV)
- How many times have you used God's name to curse? (OMG, etc) That's called blasphemy. "The LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name." (Exodus 20:7 NIV)
- How many times have you told a lie? "all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone" (Revelation 21:8 KJV)
There's more... Would not God find this out? For He knows the secrets of the heart. (Psalm 44:21 ESV) That's your private thought life.
And more... "For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it." (James 2:10 ESV)
Your conscience bears witness to your life-long rebellion against God. You'll have to answer for every sin on judgment day, when "every one of us shall give account of himself to God." (Romans 14:12 KJV)
The Divine DilemmaIf you can believe it, there's an even bigger problem here. Not only do we fall hopelessly short of God's standards...He must remain a righteous judge. He can't just forgive you.
- Acquitting the guilty and condemning the innocent — the LORD detests them both. (Proverbs 17:15 NIV)
- Far be it from You to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous and the wicked are treated alike. Far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly? (Genesis 18:25 NASB)
- The LORD is slow to anger and great in power, and the LORD will by no means clear the guilty. (Nahum 1:3 ESV)
"without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins" Hebrews (9:22 ESV)
God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. (1 John 4:8-10 NIV)
The GospelTwo thousand years ago God became flesh in the man, Jesus Christ, who was born of a virgin, led a sinless life and then suffered and died under the wrath of God on the cross to pay in full the penalty for all your sins. Then He rose again in triumph over all the powers of death and darkness, so that in Him we can have eternal life. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." (John 3:16 NKJV)
That is the gospel. The good news. Does it make more sense to hear about Jesus dying for you after you realize that you truly deserve God's holy and righteous wrath?
Man's ResponseBut it's not enough to merely believe "intellectually" in order to be forgiven by God. The Bible says that even the demons believe intellectually! (see James 2:19) If you truly believe, you will repent from sinning. As Jesus Himself said: "unless you repent, you will all likewise perish." (Luke 13:3 NASB)
What does "repent" actually mean? First you have to understand that before God saves you, He convicts you. This means that the Holy Spirit shows you exactly how unfit for heaven you are. You will be broken in Godly sorrow over your habitual offenses to Him. If you have been brought to the place where sin is your greatest plague, where offending God is your greatest grief and where your deepest desire is now to please and honor Him; then there is hope for you.
- To repent is to change your lifestyle. To turn away from your self-pleasing ways and turn fully to God. It is not continuing in sin by adding in some "sorry bout that" prayers to God.
- To believe is to have faith, not in your good deeds, but in Jesus. Give Him the throne of your heart. Turn over to Him the regulation of your life. Trust in His atoning death. Love Him with all your soul. Obey Him with all your might and He will conduct you to heaven.
Born AgainJesus answered him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God." (John 3:3 ESV)
Many people have no concept of what this means. When God truly saves a person, He transforms their heart so they begin to hate the things that God hates and love the things that God loves. Amazingly your desires actually change.
From: The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? (Jeremiah 17:9 KJV)
To: And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. (Ezekiel 36:26 ESV)
If the cross hasn't radically disrupted the very center of your life from self to Christ...you are not born again.
AssuranceOne final thing. This is very important! Your profession of faith in Jesus Christ is worth absolutely nothing. Asking Jesus into your heart means nothing. Praying a "sinner's prayer" means nothing. Having the day you were converted or baptized written in your Bible means nothing.
This may shock and even anger you, but first listen to Jesus, “Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?' And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.'’ (Matthew 7:21-23 ESV)
Can you see this? There will be people who believe that they believe but will perish!
Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test? (2 Corinthians 13:5 NIV)
Here are some of the tests: (This must be why the book of 1 John is called the new believer's handbook)
- 1 John 1:5-7 (Walking in the Light)
- 1 John 1:8-10 (Are You Sensitive to Sin?)
- 1 John 2:3-4 (Obedience)
- 1 John 2:9-11 (Love from the Brethren)
- 1 John 2:15-17 (Hatred for the World)
- 1 John 3:10 (Righteousness)
- 1 John 4:13 (Spirit's Testimony)
- Hebrews 12:5-8 (Discipline)
The evidence of salvation is the working of God in our lives that causes us to grow in conformity to his character and conformity to his will.
Videos to help illustrateThe Gospel by Living Waters (Animated) - 6 minutes 18 seconds
Open Air Gospel in Lima by Paul Washer (subtitled but very good) - 12 minutes 42 seconds
Come to Christ, He is Mighty to Save - Paul Washer - 3 minutes 40 seconds
The True Cost of Following Jesus - 11 minutes.