The Good news

God loves you and created you for a purpose. You were not made to just limp through life, constantly struggling with fear, doubt, laziness, and lack of self-control. He wants to empower you to succeed and win the battle over those things.

The Problem 
But all of us find ourselves struggling. Sin is the thing that gets in the way of us experiencing the life God has for us.

According to the Bible, originally we lived in perfect harmony with God- holy (completely unique/perfect), just, and gracious, until that connection was broken by our choice to sin. Many people claim to be good people. But since nobody’s perfect, how good is good enough for God?

In the Bible, we see that God has a standard for what a “good” person looks like. Let’s answer five questions based on the 10 Commandments and see how we both do.

The Good Person Test (Answer yes or no)
Have you ever told a lie? Yes or No
Have you ever stolen anything (no matter how small)? Yes or No
Have you ever disobeyed or disrespected your parents? Yes or No
Have you ever looked at someone with lustful thoughts? Yes or No
Have you ever given something a more important position than God in your life? Yes or No
           
According to the Bible, if you even broke just one of the commands listed, you have failed the test. James 2:10 says, “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.” Life is a pass/fail test. Either you get 100% or 0%.

All of our "good deeds,” like going to church, giving to charity or reading our Bibles, can never make up for the fact that we've broken God's commands. Isaiah 64:6 says, "We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags."  

If you had a glass of water and someone put one drop of poison in it, would you want to drink it? No. God is completely holy and can’t allow even a little bit of sin into his presence. Romans 3:23 says, “ For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

Based on this, if God judged you by his standard, would you be...  Innocent or Guilty?
If you got what you deserved, do you think you would go to... Heaven or Hell? Does that concern you?  

The Solution
Jesus was the only one to never sin. He was fully God and fully human. He lived the life that we should have lived and died the death that we should have died so that we can be forgiven.

Imagine that you are in a courtroom and you are guilty of a serious crime. The judge says, "Pay a fine of 5 million dollars or you will go to prison."  You don’t have anywhere near that amount of money. So, they begin to walk you out of the courtroom. Then, someone you don't even know appears and he runs up to the judge with a check and says, "I'll pay the fine." Now that the fine has been paid, the law no longer has any hold on you. You are free! You are free because that person gave you that gift!

That is what Jesus did for you by dying on the cross. Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.”  The penalty for our sin is death, but because Jesus died for us, we can be forgiven and have eternal life. Jesus came back to life and showed us his power over death itself.

It’s not enough to just understand this intellectually; we must choose to accept it. It’s like a chair. I can look at a chair and believe that it can hold me up, but it’s not until I actually sit in it and put my weight on it that I benefit from it. It’s the same with Jesus.

We must decide to turn away from our sinful, self-centered life and surrender our entire lives to Jesus. Most people think of life like a pie with different slices. You have a slice for school, work, friends, fun, and one for God. But God doesn’t just want a slice of your life; he wants to be involved with every part of it. Romans 10:9 says, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead you will be saved.” We must invite Jesus to be Lord in every part of our lives.

The illustration below shows two types of lives. The left circle has self on the throne and Jesus outside your life. The right circle has Jesus on the throne and the self yielding to what he wants.

Which of these circles best represents your life? Which would you like to represent your life?
Salvation is a free gift. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast.”  If I gave you a gift at Christmas and you tried to pay me back by giving me $20, I’d be offended. There is nothing we can do to earn our salvation, and we can’t come close to paying God back.

Even though we are not saved by works, we are saved for works. The next verse Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”  After being saved, Jesus asks his followers to publicly identify with him through baptism, to connect with other believers, and to seek to obey him. The church is like a body and each believer is a like a body part (1 Cor. 12). A hand without a body can’t survive, and a believer can’t grow alone.

When you surrender to Christ, God gives you a new heart with new desires. Jesus called this being “born again” (John 3:3). The Holy Spirit (who is God) comes to live within you to show you how to obey.

If you have really been “born again”, you will see a difference in your life.
  • You will begin to feel convicted about some of the sinful things you used to enjoy, you will desire to confess them and God will give you power to say no to temptation. (John 16:13, Rom 8, 1 John 1:7-9)
  • You will develop a love for God & a desire to connect with other believers. (1 John 2:9-11, 3:14, 4:7-21)
  • You will grow in your desire to understand and obey the Bible. (1 John 2:4-6, 1 John 5:3-4)
  • You will grow in love, joy, peace & confidence in your salvation. (Gal 5:22-23, Matt 7:20, 1 John 5:11-13)
If you haven’t seen these signs of change in your life, you might not actually be saved.

After seeing this list, can you confidently share that you have been a relationship with God?
If you are not sure, would you like to make sure that you are truly “born again?”

If you would like to turn from your sins and selfishness, to surrender to Jesus today, here’s a sample prayer.

“Jesus, I’m sorry for my sin against you. I want to turn from those sins. Thank you for dying on the cross for me and rising from the dead. Please come into my life and be my Lord. I want to live for you from this day forward. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

Does this prayer express the desire of your heart? Would you like to pray it right now?

If you are not ready, I want to challenge you to explore more about who Jesus is. I believe that the more you learn about Jesus, the more clear it will be that he’s offering us the best deal ever: a forgiven past, a joyful present and a purposeful future. Would you be interested in studying the Bible with me and learning more about how Jesus can make a difference in your life? I want to invite you to the Follow Jesus Course!

Also, one of the best ways to learn about Jesus is by spending time with people who know Him. We want you to know that you can belong to our group even before you surrender to Jesus. We would love for you to be around as long as it takes while you are considering going “all in” with Jesus. Would you like to come to our next event with me?