Follow Jesus

In the Bible, which is God’s revelation of Himself to us, Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

All the way back at the beginning of time. . . . not long after God had finished his creation and declared it “Very Good”, the first man and the first woman rebelled against God.  They disobeyed the one simple command God had given them.  And when they did, sin entered the world.  As a result, every person born since then is born with a sinful nature (Romans 5:12-19).  We no longer have a natural desire to please God.  Instead, we are self centered – desiring our own pleasure and ease, and even the good things that we do are usually done with the wrong motives (Isaiah 64:6).  God calls all of these things sin.

Romans 6:23 then tells us:  “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

In other words: what we earn as a result of our sinfulness is the right to die, and be eternally separated from God.  The place of eternal separation from God is called “hell”.  So, essentially, Hell is our “wage”.  It’s what each of us are owed for a life of sin.  And since God is the God of perfect justice, he is obligated to give us our wages.  Worse yet, none of us has anything that God needs, so we have no way to pay a penalty that would get us out of this predicament.

Thankfully however, God is not ONLY the God of perfect justice, but is also the God of perfect love.  Knowing that we could not save ourselves from the wage of death and hell, the God of perfect love sent His only Son, Jesus.  Jesus lived a sinless life, and because He did, He. . . . and ONLY He, was uniquely qualified to die a substitutionary death for us.  He took the wrath of God that you and I deserved for our sin, upon Himself.  His sinless punishment and death on the cross satisfied God’s need for Justice.  Jesus paid our penalty in full (Isaiah 53:4-6; Matthew 27; Romans 5:8; 1 Peter 1:18-19).

But it gets even better!  As we’ve already discussed:  God is the God of perfect justice, and the God of perfect justice could not allow the sinless Jesus to receive the wage of death.  Where would the justice be in THAT?  Therefore, 3 days later, Jesus arose from the grave victorious over both sin and death!  The resurrection of Jesus is the cornerstone of the Christian faith.  It was the proof of His victory!  It’s because of Jesus death and resurrection that we can know for certain that His offer of salvation is real.

Now – the substitutionary death that Jesus died does not automatically apply to everyone.  While it is true that Jesus died to offer      EVERYONE the free gift of eternal life. . . . this gift, like all other gifts, must be received.  I can purchase a gift for anyone I want, but they may choose to reject it. I cannot force someone to receive my gift because it is their right to refuse.  The same is true with God.  Jesus Christ purchased our salvation and offers it to us freely, but we must choose to believe and receive this free gift.

Romans 10:9-10 explains it this way:  that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; 10 for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.

The question now is:  Are you a believer in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and have you confessed it with your mouth?  If you have done so, you can know for certain that your eternal destiny is secure.  You possess eternal life!

But in many ways, the hard work is ahead of you.  Learning to follow Jesus is not easy or popular, and it is a life-long commitment.  None of us ever reach sinless perfection on this side of eternity. 

Instead, we wrestle against our flesh and try to grow every day to be more like Jesus.  And we do this not to secure God’s love.  He already loves us as much as He possibly can.  In fact, Romans 5:8 says this:    “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”  You see. . . God loves you so much that He sent his son to die in your place and secure your salvation – long before you were even born!  The God of perfect Love used the blood of His only Son to purchase your salvation!  He cannot possibly love you more than He already does!

So why, then, do we put so much effort into growing in Christ-likeness?

We do it out of a heart of gratitude!  Because of what God has done for us, we desire to grow in our faith and be pleasing to Him.  Because of what Jesus did for us, we desire to study His word and know more about Him.  We desire to commune with Him in prayer.  We desire to be members of His body – the church.  We desire to conquer sin that entangles us and to live a life of service to others. . . . all because we are thankful for His gift of amazing grace to us!  

In closing – I hope this has been helpful to you and I thank you for taking time to read it.  If you would like to know more, our Pastors would love the chance to sit down and talk with you face to face.  There’s nothing we enjoy more than talking about Jesus!

God bless!