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Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Why Christianity? What's all the hype?

 I'm glad you asked and I really think I can answer that question for you. But let me begin by asking you a question. If you were to die today (you never know if this is your last day on earth) and stand 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. 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 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."

Acceptance before a holy God is not something we can earn. Entrance into God's heaven is not something we ever deserve. Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us, "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 good deeds or religious effort can earn you a place in heaven. That's because eternal life, like any real gift, is absolutely and totally free.

Imagine your spouse surprises you with an expensive gift. Instead of accepting it with gratitude and joyful thanks, you run to your purse or wallet for a couple of bills and offer to 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 prayed every moment, we would be 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. But 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.

Sadly, because heaven is perfect and no sinners can enter, even one sin keeps us from the perfection required to get into heaven. If God let every sinner enter, 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—including yours—must be punished. So the only way for you to get into heaven is if someone else, who has no sin credited to his account, takes your punishment for you. But who on earth can do this since each has his own sin to bear? Well, God—out of His great love for the world——clothed Himself in human flesh, in the person of Jesus, and lived out a perfect sinless life for one reason: to die on the cross and take the punishment for your sin so that you could enter heaven and live with Him forever.

I love this illustration that I learned years ago. Imagine I'm holding a book in my left hand, and all your sins are written down in that book—every secret thought and 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. But suddenly I lift up my right hand. My right hand is Christ. Now, I take the book and lay it upon Christ. That's what God did for you. He laid all your sins upon Christ, then punished Him on the cross on your behalf. Because Christ died for your sins, you are forgiven and clean.

You don't have to do anything except believe and receive 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. 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. Neither do they do good things to perform for God. No. 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 by living lives that honor Him. But our good works don't in any way secure us 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, and 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. They are filled with great purpose and peace. And that is why some people are so into Jesus.

God is offering you the free gift of eternal life right now. It's yours for the taking. Simply admit to God the truth that you have sinned and aren't good enough to get into heaven by your own deeds. Tell Him you believe Jesus took upon His body the full payment for the sins that would keep you from entering heaven and having relationship with Him. Finally, receive the free gift that God offers you with no strings attached, other than to enjoy it forever.


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