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Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Why do people become Christians? What's all the hype?

If you have ever wondered this, I really think I can answer that question. Let me begin by asking you a question. If you were to die today - and you never know if this really is your last day on earth - and you were standing before God and He asked you, "Why should I let you into MY heaven?" What would you say? What would be the reason He should let you in?

Think about that for a moment and consider your answer before you read anymore. What would your answer be?

Now, let me tell you how I would answer that question. "Lord God, I have never done anything in my life good enough to get into heaven. I could never earn the right to get into heaven even if I tried to be a good person. My sins, no matter how many or few they are - no matter how great or small they are, have disqualified me from ever entering heaven on my own merit. And in fact, because of my sins, I deserve nothing but eternal punishment. But I know that I can enter your heaven with confidence because Jesus took upon His body, His sinless and perfect body, the punishment that I deserved. And because He has taken my sin upon himself. I am now free from sin. I can now enter heaven because I have no sin credited to my account. Jesus paid the full penalty for every sin I ever committed."

You see, heaven is a free gift. Romans 6:23 says, "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Being acceptable before God, and allowed to go into heaven is not something you can earn. Being allowed into God's heaven is not something we ever deserve. Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us that, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith -- and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God -- not by works, so that no one can boast."

No amount of effort to be good and nice, or doing religious things can earn a place in heaven for you. That's because eternal life, like any real gift, is absolutley, totally free.

Imagine your spouse were to surprise you with an expensive gift. And let's imagine your response was that instead of accepting it with gratitude and joyful thanks, you ran to your purse or wallet for a couple of bills to help pay for the gift. What an insult that would be! We must accept gifts freely. If you pay even a penny, it is no longer a gift. It is the same with God's gift of eternal life.

Let me explain why heaven has to be a free gift. First, the Bible tells us that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. When we think of sin, we usually imagine crimes like adultery or murder. The word sin is actually an archery term that means missing the Bull's eye, the perfect mark. Sin is simply not being perfect. A sin is anything we do that's wrong, like losing our temper or getting irritated with another person, or something we don't do, like pray all throughout the day. If we never lost our temper and we prayed every moment throughout the day, we would be considered perfect in those two areas. Even so, there are hundreds of other small ways we can sin, or miss the mark of perfection, throughout the day.

"But, then it's impossible not to sin!" You are probably saying. Exactly. Imagine if you only committed two sins a day, why, you would be almost perfect. Surely you would deserve to go to heaven. And even if you only sinned once or twice a day, you would still die with about 50,000 sins credited to your account if you died at a normal age.

And sadly, because heaven is perfect and no sinners can enter, even one sin ruins us from the perfection required to get into heaven. If God let every sinner into heaven, it wouldn't be very heavenly, would it? If we want to get into heaven because of our deeds, then we have to be perfect. Jesus says, "Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect." This is the only way to get into heaven based on our works.

And since all have sinned, and fallen short of the requirements for entering eternity with God, no person can enter. However, because God is love, He made a way. The only way. You see, because God is just and never forsakes administering justice upon evil, all sin - even your sin - must be punished. Though God is love, He is never unjust, and if one sins, he must be punished - or a sinless person that has no sin credited to their account at all (impossible for a man here on earth) must take your punishment for you. And since there is no man on earth that was without sin (you see a man with sin would need to be punished for his own sin and couldn't take the punishment for your sins) must bear your sins for you. The only way for you to get into heaven is for someone else to take the punishment for your sin. And God - in His great love for the world - clothed himself in human flesh (that's almost like putting on a rags after you've been living in riches, but worse) and lived out a perfect sinless life for one reason - to take the punishment for your sin so that you could get into heaven without sin upon you.

There is only one requirement of you, that you believe that He has given you this free gift, and you receive this free gift.

I love this illustration that I learned years ago. Imagine I'm holding a book in my left hand. In that book is written all your sin, every secret thought, deed, every wrong attitude, every day you didn't do what was right, and instead did what you wanted. The book is totally filled with a record of every single thing you have ever done. My left hand represents you. That entire book of sin is upon you. Now, I lift up my right hand. My right hand is Christ. Now, I take the book and lay it upon Christ. God did that. He laid all your sins upon Christ and then punished him on your behalf. Christ died for your sins.

You don't have to do anything, except believe and recieve this gift from God. Acts 16:31 tells us, "Believe (trust) in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved." You are not required to do any work to earn this gift. You don't have to dig around in the wallet of your good deeds and pay God back with the few dollars to help pay for the gift. It's yours for free.

Christians don't do good things to pay God back. They don't do good things to earn God's favor. They don't do good things because it is the "right" thing to do and they need to be perfect for God now. They do good things out of gratitude to God. We have been given such an amazing gift, total liberation from the guilt and shame our sins had put upon us. We respond to God with gratitude. But my good works don't in any way secure me a place in heaven.

I now stand before God sinless - yes, even though I still sin every day. God has taken all my sins, past present and future and crucified them with Christ. I am blameless before God. Isn't that amazing? I can enter heaven, and even pray and talk to God as His child, with confidence that I'm fully accepted, fully favored, fully loved, fully secure - apart from my sins. In fact, I'm not guilty for my sins anymore. I'm free from the guilt and the shame.

Those who truly believe and understand what God has done for them, are filled with inexpressible joy, and want to bless others. They are so grateful for what Jesus has done that they naturally want to please Him. Further, they know His presence in their lives and can sense His leading them to do what He desires for them to do, and they are filled with joy and peace by Him. And that is why some people are so into Jesus.

If you have never accepted God's free gift of eternal life - it is yours for the asking today. Simply admit to God the truth that you aren't good enough to get into heaven, tell Him that you believe Jesus took upon His body the full payment for the sins that would keep you from a relationship with Him, and from getting into heaven. And receive the free gift that God offers you with no strings attached, only that you receive it.

If you would like to email me with questions, my email is jeannie@jeanniefulbright.com

3 comments:

MBZ said...

hey some deep thinking. good stuff I like it a lot

Serving the King in KY said...

Praise God for His Good News!!!! Thanks for sharing but don't forget one important ingredient...repentance. Jesus, John, the apostles, all told men to REPENT and believe. Repentance is NOT a work because God is the one who grants it. REPENT and believe in the work that Jesus has done for you on the cross. Don't put it off...today is the day of salvation!

garyleemillner said...

Somebody's been through E.E. Awesome program! It really helped me overcome the fear of witnessing.

Blessings,
Gary