Friday, June 24, 2011

Jesus Christ, Provider of Eternal Life, Our Judge

When God made us in His image, He created us to live forever. So, though our earthly body will perish, our spirit will never die. The question about eternal life is important, as we'll spend eternity either with God in heaven or in an insufferable state, separated permanently from Him (Matthew 25:34, 41).

Scripture tells us that we have inherited a sinful nature from the first man (Romans 5:12). Ever since that time, humanity has been in rebellion against the Lord and under His judgment. There is nothing we can do to pay for our sin. If this were the end of the story, we would be a people without hope for today or the future. But the good news is that the heavenly Father recognized our plight and mercifully provided the way to heaven (John 14:6)

Sin, according to the Bible, is any action that violates the law given by God in the Ten Commandments. The law was given by God to show us what it means to live a life deserving of God's love. It was also given to show us that none of us can live that kind of life. God knew that in advance, and that is why He sent His Son Jesus to be that perfect life for us. Jesus, God in human flesh, voluntarily laid aside His God-hood to connect with us, to show us He understands us and to give us a way to be reconciled to the Father, since none of us can keep the law to its letter. "For all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23).

1. Sinner's Prayer - Become a Sinner Saved by Grace!

What's the key to the Sinner's Prayer? As long as we are content to live in sin, the Bible says we are separated from God. That condition may seem fine for a while, but it ultimately leads to misery and then to eternal separation from God. "There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death." (Proverbs 16:25). The good news is that God Himself has made a way for us to be reconciled to Him, and He has done this through His Son, Jesus Christ (Romans 5:6-15). “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23)

A healthy fear of God will hold us in awe and do much to deter us from sin. When we have a proper fear of the living Lord, we live a cleaner life. Any born-again person who sins willfully has momentarily blocked out any fear of God. You and I can do that. When we actively engage in sin, we consciously put aside what we know to be the truth about God. We deliberately suppress the knowledge of Him in our hearts and minds. We lie to ourselves by saying, "We'll get by. God won't mind so much." Yet God used Moses to reveal to His people a reverential and healthy fear of the Almighty.

When you come to that understanding, and God's light breaks into your life like the pure whitewater of a rushing river, you learn to thoroughly hate and dread those actions that will plunge you again into darkness. The psalmist expressed that thought with these words: "How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path. Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path" (Psalm 119:103–105 NIV)

What about you? Are you content to live for yourself, get the most good things in this lifetime, and die anyway? Or do you want a life of purpose and hope? God, the One who created you, has a purpose for your life and wants to give you a new beginning. If you are ready to admit your need for a clean slate in life, the God of second chances is waiting to give it to you. All you have to do is start with the Sinner's Prayer.

2. Sinner's Prayer - Recognizing the Need

The "Sinner's Prayer" is a term that describes the words spoken by a person when he or she has recognized their sin and their need for a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. It goes something like this:

“Father, I know that I have broken your laws and my sins have separated me from you. I am truly sorry, and now I want to turn away from my past sinful life toward you. Please forgive me, and help me avoid sinning again. I believe that your son, Jesus Christ died for my sins, was resurrected from the dead, is alive, and hears my prayer. I invite Jesus to become the Lord of my life, to rule and reign in my heart from this day forward. Please send your Holy Spirit to help me obey You, and to do Your will for the rest of my life. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.”

3. Jesus Christ will judge every person who has ever lived…

Scripture reveals that Jesus Christ will judge every person who has ever lived (Acts 10:42). Those who refuse His offer of salvation face the white throne judgment—the unbelievers’ last stop before an eternity of exile from God’s presence. Believers will also stand before Jesus, at which time they’ll finally come to full comprehension of His extravagant grace.

Jesus will reveal the true nature of a believer’s heart to him or her. Every rebellious act, wrong attitude, and cutting word will be reviewed. When the Bible says that Jesus will wipe the tears from our eyes, it is referring to this time (Isa. 25:8). We’ll be standing in the holy Savior’s presence, grieving over how undeserving we are of His sacrifice. But the sorrow will last only a moment. On its heels comes the tremendous joy of having received forgiveness and lived a life pleasing to Him. Christ’s judgment is not a punishment; it is a reminder that we are pardoned. At last, we will fully realize the depth and breadth of His grace.

Believers need not cower or hang their heads during the judgment. Nor are we to repent—the time for that is past. We will stand before the Lord, clothed in Christ’s righteousness and forgiven of every single sin. And we will at last comprehend how great is the love of our God for us. How wonderful it is when we find relationships with no strings attached. Our relationship with God is like that: no conditions, no strings. He loves us even when we are unlovable. We can misbehave, and we can be bad, but God welcomes us back whenever we return to Him. He doesn't ever withhold His favor from those who reach out to Him.

We mustn't doubt our salvation once we have truly received Christ as Lord. We can know with abiding assurance that we're saved. But we do want to make sure we have truly received Christ as Savior and Lord. If that isn't settled in your life, kneel down today and give yourself fully and finally to Him in true repentance and faith. I'm not always as good as I know I should be. I act terrible at times. Please forgive and accept me, Lord. I love You, and I want to make You proud of me. Amen.

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