Where Is America Headed, pt. 4
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God wants to redeem lost man from hell -- to keep him from going there. That means you.
Since man fell in the garden of Eden, God's purpose with man is to redeem man. To save him. To have man join Him for eternity. But save him from what? Sin. John 3: 16 -- "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, and that whoever believes in Him shall not die, but have everlasting life." The New Testament was written in Greek, and many Greek words for "believe" are stronger than what we usually express in English. The Greek words for "belief" often meant a continuing belief and trust, and a belief based on personal experience. For people who met Jesus, to believe in Him was to have a life-changing experience. God will only become real in your life when you have a life-changing experience with Him. In other words, being born again.
God not only wants to save man from sin in his earthly life but also so that man will avoid hell. Hell wasn't originally made for man but for Satan and his demons. Jesus taught us more about love than anyone but also more about hell than anyone. Jesus believed in and taught that hell is a real, literal place.
Jesus taught that once one is in hell they never leave. We see this truth in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16. Also, Psalm 49:7 tells us, "No man can by any means redeem his brother or give to God a ransom for him." Once one is on his way to hell, after having rejected Christ as Savior during his or her life, nothing will keep him away from hell or change his destination. Thus there is no place or condition such as purgatory; the word itself or the concept neither appear in the Bible nor are taught by Jesus.
Every action has a consequence. If one has never taken Christ as Savior and given his life to Him, then when that person dies he goes to hell. Forever. Romans 3: 23, "For the wages (like the payoff, the outcome) of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord." So salvation is a true gift. Completely free (but a price was still paid), and absolutely nothing you can do can enhance or improve the gift. You have absolutely nothing to do with qualifying for the gift.
The solution is to let Jesus pay the price by offering Himself as a sacrifice. Only He would be acceptable, because since He was God, He was without sin. We read in Romans 5:8, "For God proved His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." 2,000 years ago He knew your sins of today, last year, and all your life, but He still died that you would be free and have eternal life. Again, God made our way to Him so simple that salvation comes through Christ alone. Jesus told us in John 14:6, "I am the way, the truth, and the life, and no one comes to the Father but through Me." That's just like God, making the gift simple because He loves us. But again, He does it all.
A sacrifice has to be made for sin to be forgiven.
The Bible says for sin to be forgiven a price has to be paid. Since nothing has life without blood, blood has to be shed for sin to be forgiven (Hebrews 9: 22). So someone or something has to pay for your sin to be forgiven. Either you pay or someone else pays. If you try to pay God won't accept your sacrifice, for God demands a perfect sacrifice. So if you pay, or try to pay, you lose.
Not only would offering ourselves as a sacrifice for our sins to be forgiven be inadequate, but God also won't accept our good deeds to get us into heaven. Isaiah 64: 6 tells us "All our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment." Ephesians 2: 8, 9 say "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and (that faith) not of yourselves, lest any man should boast." So not only is salvation itself a gift, but also the faith to believe one can be saved is also a gift! So by letting Jesus pay, and only He can, you win!
You can start over in life today. You can receive eternal life today. No matter how terrible your sin, God's mercy and love are bigger. You can pray now in your own words telling God you're a sinner, you want to be forgiven, you want Jesus to be Lord of your life, and that right now you are giving Him your life.
A new life must be nurtured. Once you have given your life to Christ get an accurate translation of the Bible, what is called a formal version, where it's translated word for word. Some popular formal translations are the New King James or New American Standard. Begin reading it. Try reading it all the way through; if you read four chapters a day you can finish in one year. Next, find a church that upholds the Bible as the authority. Join and get involved in ministry. You will learn sometimes more by serving than any other way. Make prayer in your own words, at a regular time every day when you can be alone, a habit. Grow in Him and remember, He will never leave you.
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