FOR GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD, THAT HE GAVE HIS ONLY BEGOTTEN SON, THAT WHOSOEVER BELIEVETH IN HIM SHOULD NOT PERISH, BUT HAVE EVERLASTING LIFE (John 3:16).
You’ve probably heard John 3:16 before, but have you ever read it in its full context? With the verses that follow it? Read the next five verses (John 3:17-21): “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.”
Do you see what this scripture is telling us? Although John 3:16 is a comforting verse in itself, the message doesn’t end there. It leads into a warning of condemnation to those who refuse to repent of their ungodly ways. It warns of the eternal consequences of unbelief. On the other hand, it also teaches that we gain access to everlasting life when we DO receive the Truth and when we DO allow our sins to be exposed to the Light. That Light is Jesus. “I am the Light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the Light of life” (John 8:12).
So, why do we need the “Light of the world”? Why Jesus? The following will explain humanity’s broken relationship to God and, according to His own Word, what we need to do to make it right with Him.
First, the bad news (about us):
Our sins have separated us from a righteous and holy God,
“For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
and (without repentance) our situation is hopeless; meaning, our souls are destined for eternal punishment.
“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
Being a good person (or doing good works) can’t save us. We MUST be spiritually “born again”.
“Jesus answered… Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3).
Now, the good news (about Him):
Our holy Creator God made a way for sin-cursed humanity to be reconciled back to Him by sending His Son to take our punishment for us. Since the consequence of sin is death (and we are all born into sin through the fallen man, Adam), we are helpless to save ourselves from our pending death sentence of eternal punishment. That’s why God sent His Son to us. Jesus stepped out of eternity to die on our behalf; to pay the sin-debt that we owed. He came down from heaven, became one of us, took our sins upon His own sinless body, then paid the death sentence for us on the cross. “For He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Then, three days after His crucifixion, Jesus victoriously arose from the dead…
“…it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day” (Luke 24:46).
and He ascended into Heaven in His physical, nail-scarred, resurrected body to be the “One Mediator between God and men” (1 Timothy 2:5), our Advocate (1 John 2:2), our Intercessor…
“It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us” (Romans 8:34).
until He returns for those who are “in Christ”. This much anticipated, soon-coming event is called “The Rapture of the Church”. The purpose of the Rapture is to remove God’s born again believers “…from the hour of temptation (or testing) which shall come upon all the world…” (Revelation 3:10). We are told that Jesus’ return for us will be as a “thief in the night” (1 Thessalonians 5:2) so we don’t know what day it will occur, but He described many events that would mark the season (or era) of His Second Coming and told us to watch for those signs. He warned us to “…be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh” (Matthew 24:44) and to “Watch… and pray always, that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass…” (Luke 21:36). Today, major prophetic events undeniably point to our generation as being that very generation of which He spoke; hence, the renewed urgency of our “Don’t be left behind” plea. The following verse describes this “Rapture” of Christians, both deceased and living. (Also see: 1 Corinthians 15:49-54):
“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18).
Now, to explain what Jesus’ death on the cross actually accomplished: Our human efforts, however sincere, cannot make us holy, but “without holiness no man shall see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14). The moment that Adam, the first man (Genesis 2:7), willfully disobeyed God, humanity began its descent into physical death and the entire (yet to be born) human race spiritually died. Since all of Adam’s descendants inherited his sin-nature, and one sinner cannot atone for another sinner, humanity’s reconciliation back to God could only have come from outside of Adam’s sin-cursed lineage. Jesus was born of a virgin (Matthew 1:23), so He did not come through Adam’s bloodline. He alone carried the holy, sinless blood of His Heavenly Father. Scripture tells us that the blood not only symbolizes life, but that it actually gives life. “The life of the flesh is in the blood. “..For it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul” (Leviticus 17:11), and “without the shedding of blood is no remission” (Hebrews 9:22). Jesus knew that we could not redeem ourselves. He also knew the cost. Even so, out of His great love for us (Ephesians 2:4) and knowing the joy to come (Hebrews 12:2), He willingly paid the ultimate price by sacrificing His own life-giving blood to redeem our souls from the curse of sin. “You are bought with a price..” (1 Corinthians 6:20). There is no greater love than God’s love for us! …And when we repent of our sins and accept Jesus as our Savior, we are spiritually reborn and become “holy and unblameable in His sight” (Colossians 1:22). One man (Adam) brought sin upon us and one man (Jesus) took it away. “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous” (Romans 5:19). Although we are still condemned to die a physical death, the life-giving blood that Jesus shed on our behalf made a way for us, through Him, to be eternally reconciled back to our Heavenly Father. His holy, sinless blood flowed with selfless mercy and unmerited grace to provide eternal salvation, simply for the asking, to ALL who will call upon Him. “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13).
We cannot earn our way to heaven on our own merits (regardless of our good intentions, efforts or works) because we still carry the sin-nature that we inherited from Adam. It is ONLY through our faith in Jesus that we are saved. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). Everything in God’s plan of redemption has already been done for us, once and for all (Romans 6:10, Hebrews 9:26,28, Hebrews 10:10,12), through Jesus’ death and resurrection. We, however, must ACT on our faith in order to receive this gift of eternal life. To do nothing is to reject Him because “faith without works is dead” (James 2:26). So… if you would like to accept Jesus as your Savior and trust Him for your eternal salvation, this is how to be born again:
Believe that Jesus is the Son of God. “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6), “…for I proceeded forth and came from God; …He sent me” (John 8:42), “I and my Father are one” (John 10:30), and “He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life” (1 John 5:12).
Believe that He paid for your sins on the cross. “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace…” (Ephesians 1:7), “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree…” (1 Peter 2:24), and “…for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation” (Revelation 5:9).
Acknowledge that you are a sinner, then ask Him to forgive your sins. “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:8-9).
Finally, tell someone that you believe in Him! “…If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:9-10).
So, how do we talk to God? What do we do now? Hebrews 4:16 tells us to “Come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy”, meaning that God is approachable. He invites us into a personal relationship with Him. Not only does He promise us an eternity in heaven, but He also gives us a victorious and “more abundant life” while we are still here on earth (John 10:10, 1 Corinthians 15:57). That being said, simply talk to God as you would talk to a friend. That’s what prayer is (Matthew 6:7). Be honest and open. Ask Him to forgive your sins and to start you all over with a new life in Him. You’ll be amazed at how everything changes when you allow Him to become your Lord and Savior. He makes everything new! “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Also, start reading the Bible. Ask God to help you to understand it. The New Testament books of John and Romans are a good place to start. To the believer, reading God’s Word develops a spiritual hunger to learn more and more; and the more we read, the more we grow in the Lord and understand His ways.
A final heartfelt plea… Today is the day of salvation. “Today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts” (Hebrews 3:15). If you die today, your soul will go directly to heaven or hell (Matthew 25:46, Luke 23:43, 2 Corinthians 5:6-9) based upon whether you have accepted Jesus as your Savior or whether you have rejected Him through unbelief. There is no middle ground. Sadly, Jesus told us that the majority will refuse His gift and will spend all of eternity paying their own sin-debt. He said, “…Narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.“ (Matthew 7:14), and “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it” (Matthew 16:25). To say it bluntly, Jesus will either be our Lord now, or He will be our Judge in the future. He paid the price for our souls because He loves us, but the choice to accept or reject Him is ours to make. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8) and His steadfast message is, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life” (John 14:6). There is no other Way (John 10:1). There is no other God (Psalm 96:5), nor Life or Truth (John 17:3). “Neither is there salvation in any other” (Acts 4:12).
That’s the pure, undiluted Gospel of Jesus Christ, and what we do with it determines our eternal destiny.
(Bible verses: King James Version)