Bay Presbyterian Church
Bonita Springs, Florida
Life: What's it all about?
Is this all there is...
...or is there more to it?
Is there a God and how does He fit in? If there is a God, then ultimate meaning in life has to come from knowing Him. But how does a person get to know God and gain life with Him? How is it possible to be accepted by Him?
Some people assume that they have life with God just because they are alive. Others believe that they will be accepted by God because they are living a good life. They are trying to do the best they can and are hoping that God will accept them on that day when they stand before Him.
Most of us have learned a system which says that the harder we work, the more we will earn or receive. Since this is true in many areas of our lives, we tend to transfer this "works-reward" system to our religious thinking and believe that God will accept us because we are trying to do our best.
But there are two major problems with this approach.
Eternal Life is a Gift
There are Two Reasons eternal life cannot be earned but must be received as a gift.
We Don't Measure Up
The first reason is this: No matter how good we might think we are, we don't measure up to God's standard of perfection. God sets the standards and we all fall short (Romans 3:23). God not only has a problem with our behavior but also our words and thoughts.
If you are objective about yourself, you will conclude that you do not come close to living up to God's standards. None of us live "good" lives according to God's definition of "good". We have transgressed God's laws over and over again. No matter how hard we try we cannot make ourselves perfect. And God, who is righteous and perfect, cannot accept us the way we are because we do not measure up to His standard.
God is Just
The second reason we cannot be accepted by God through living good lives is because God is the ultimate standard in terms of justice. Many think that justice from God means that He will be fair with everyone. By fair they mean that God will weigh our good deeds against our bad deeds. Most conclude that they have done more good than bad and therefore believe that God will accept them on that basis.
But justice, from God's perspective, means that He must punish every transgression of His law. Some people become upset when told this. They envision God as being only loving and don't think that He would punish anyone. But how just is a judge who allows someone who robbed you three times in one year to go free even though there was no doubt about his guilt? You would complain bitterly about a miscarriage of justice because we have laws which prescribe punishment for criminals. You may protest and say, "But I'm not a criminal." Remember though, that you have broken God's laws many times in though, word and deed. You are not perfect as God is perfect.
God is the ultimate standard in terms of justice and He cannot overlook any transgressions of His laws but must punish them. He would not be just if He did not punish sin.
God must punish sin and the punishment is death. God says,"The wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23).
Death means separation
There are three kinds of death:
In summary, eternal life must be a gift because...
Do you now see, because of our sin and death problems, that it is impossible for us to gain life with God through our own good works? No matter how hard we try we cannot live a perfect life. And we cannot make our dead spirits alive to God so that we are in a right relationship with Him.
If we were to stop right here, there would be no hope for us. But God, in His great love, has provided a way for us to receive life with Him as a gift. That way is through Jesus Christ.
Who is Jesus Christ?
Who do you think Jesus Christ is?
Many think highly of Jesus because He was such a good man and taught great truths. It's true. Jesus was a good man and also a great teacher, but He is much more than a man. The Scriptures teach that Jesus Christ is God who became a man.
700 years before the birth of Christ, God had Isaiah the prophet write:
"For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government shall be upon His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, the Eternal Father (Father of Eternity), the Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6).
John, one of the followers of Jesus wrote,
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God - and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us ..." (John 1:1,14).
The writer of the book of Hebrews said,
"But of the Son He says, Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever" (Hebrews 1:8).
Jesus Christ is God who became man. He lived a perfect life. But this perfect man was arrested, tried, convicted and executed by being crucified on a cross.
Why was Jesus crucified?
Why did Jesus die?
Many people have heard that "Jesus died for our sins". But they are not sure what this means. Yet this truth is at the heart of Christianity. Remember, God is righteous and cannot accept us because we are transgressors of His law. God is also just and must punish our sins. If God judges us for our sins it would mean that we would be separated from Him forever in misery and anguish.
But God is also love. Because He loves us and wants us to know Him and belong to Him forever, He provided Jesus to take the punishment for us. The Bible says, "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 4:10).
Jesus became our substitute on the cross. God the Father, who knew all about us and every sin we would commit, placed our sins upon Jesus, God the Son, and punished Him in our place.
The Bible says: "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all." (Isaiah 53:6).
"and He Himself (Jesus) bore our sins in His body on the cross" (1 Peter 2:24).
Jesus was our substitue
Because He was made sin for us (1 Peter 3:18), God the Father poured out His wrath on Jesus so that He took the final judgment for us. The death of Jesus was like no one else's. He died because He was being punished for all of our sins.
Jesus died and His body was placed in the tomb. But death could not hold Him. Once Jesus paid for all of our sins, He took up His life again and lives forevermore.
His resurrection from the dead proves that He paid the complete penalty for all our sins. If He had not paid for all of them, He would still be dead because sin results in death. But once He paid for our sins He came back from the dead. Jesus overcame our problems of sin and death. He is the only One in the universe who has done this and that is why He is the only way to eternal life with God (1 John 4:16).
God through His love and power has made it possible for us to have life with Him, not through our own efforts, but as a gift from Him on the basis of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Gaining eternal life with God:
This gift is received through repentance and faith. Jesus said, "... repent and believe the gospel" (Mark 1:15).
What is repentance?
Repentance involves a basic acknowledgment on your part, that you are not adequate to do that which is pleasing to God, that which would make you acceptable to Him. Repentance involves a confession to God of your sin problem and an attitude of mind which desires to turn away from your sins. Repentance involves a turning to Jesus in faith.
What is faith?
Faith is a common ingredient in our everyday lives and all of us use it. We eat and drink by faith. We make appointments with others by faith. Faith is not something unique. It is the object of your faith which is important. To have life with God you must believe certain truths.
The Bible says: "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved”(Acts 16:31). What does it mean to believe in Jesus? It is not just believing that God exists or that God can help you through some crisis or problem. Many people pray to God and ask for help when things go wrong. But this kind of faith does not cause a person to be accepted by God.
Faith that saves is trusting in Jesus alone as the only one who is able to forgive your sins and give you the gift of eternal life.
Faith that saves means telling Jesus that you trust Him to save you from the condemnation you deserve and save you for a new life lived with and for God.
Your Personal Commitment
You can make your personal commitment to the Lord and express your faith to Him by praying:
"Lord Jesus, I want to become a follower of Yours. I come to You acknowledging that I am a sinner. I know that I cannot make myself acceptable to You through my own efforts. I believe You went to the cross to be judged in my place. I trust You to save me from the judgment I deserve. I trust You to give me a new life. I believe that you are the only One who can give me a life that works. Thank you, Lord Jesus, for your love. Give me the strength and wisdom I need to learn Your ways so that I might follow You as my Lord. Amen."
If you have trusted Christ as your Savior you have just made the most important decision of your life. You now belong to God forever. You have been born again so that your spiritual "sensor" is alive and linked to God. You are in God's family forever. And it's all because God in His love and power made it possible.
What about feelings?
Shouldn't there be some strong emotional feelings when a person enters into life with God? It all depends on the situation. Some people have strong visible emotions when they become Christians and others do not.
Receiving the gift of eternal life with God is the result of:
Faith in Christ alone saves, BUT, the more you understand what Christ has done for you, the more you will experience emotions such as peace and joy. You will be excited about the Lord and have enthusiasm for your Savior. As you study the Bible you will understand more of what Christ has done for you.
The more you understand what you have going for you because you belong to Jesus, the better you will feel about yourself and your life.
Questions often asked
Q Can you lose your eternal life with God?
A The correct answer to this question hinges on how many of your sins Jesus paid for when He went to the cross. If Jesus did not pay for all of your sins at the cross, then there is danger that you will commit some sin for which He did not pay and be lost forever.
Q But, how many of your sins did Jesus pay for on the cross?
A The Bible says He paid for all of them. It says that Jesus, "having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God" >” (Hebrews 10:12).
And, "For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified" >” (Hebrews 10:14).
If Jesus did not pay the penalty for all of our sins, there is no hope for any of us. But Jesus did pay for all of our sins and that is why God is able to give the gift of eternal life to those who trust in Jesus as Savior and Lord, Eternal life is a gift from God based on Christ's death and resurrection and not based on our good works or efforts ”(Ephesians 2:8-9).
Therefore Jesus said, "... the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.” (John 6:37).
And also, "My sheep [Believers] hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them [That's forever!]; and they shall never perish [When? Never!]; and no one shall snatch them out of My hand” [Who can take us away from Him? No one!] (John 10:27-28).
Q Does this mean that, because all his sins are paid for, the Christian can live anyway he chooses? Can he continue to live the same kind of a life which he lived before he came to Christ?
Can he sin and not be concerned about it?
A Any person who claims to be a Christian and does not have a new attitude about life and a new desire to live for the Lord does not understand salvation. Jesus died not only to save us from the penalty our sins deserve but also to free us from the power of sin. Sin hurts us and grieves God. Anytime we transgress one of God's laws or principles, there will be certain consequences for ourselves and others. The person who understands this will be very much concerned about living a life which is pleasing to God. He will have a desire to grow in his ability to trust in God's strength to overcome sinful thoughts, attitudes, words and behavior. Jesus said that those who are true sheep will listen to His voice and follow him (John 10:27-28).
The gift of God is received by faith alone but those who truly receive this gift of life with God will live lives which show it.
The person who has truly trusted in Jesus as Savior and Lord will no longer live for self but will, instead, live for Him who died and rose on his behalf (2 Corinthians 5:15).
Now that you belong to Christ you do not have to serve your sinful tendencies any longer. God will give you the strength you need so that you can live a life which pleases Him and yourself. You are now able to live maximum quality life by doing God's will by God's power for God's glory (1 Corinthians10:31).
What should you do now?
God has maximum quality life for you. Seek Him and His life, which is meaningful, satisfying, and productive for time and eternity.
Bay Presbyterian Church
26911 South Bay Drive Bonita Springs, FL 34134 US
Phone: (239) 498-9055 Website: baypresbonita.org