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All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all. (Is. 53:6 KJV)
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. (Jn. 3:16 KJV)
Moreover, brethren I declare unto you the gospel...how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; And that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures... (1 Cor. 15:1-4 KJV)
If you believe what you read in polls and surveys, you’d think it’s rather popular to be called a Christian nowadays, or at least to believe in God. Some of these polls say the overwhelming majority of Americans consider themselves to be Christian! However, as we take a look around it seems all too rare to actually find those who are interested in living like one. The fact is, though, that it’s not possible to be saved from your sins while deliberately continuing to live in them and refusing to repent and live.
The Bible tells us that, like sheep, we have all strayed from God, our Good Shepherd, and have become lost. No matter how good any of us may be, there’s not a single one who has not fallen woefully short of God’s requirements. “There is none righteous, no not one” (Rom. 3:10). When Adam and Eve disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden, sin then entered into the world in general and into the human race in particular. And this sin has been passed down to each and every one of us and is embedded in our very nature. Granted, some are worse than others are, and then some seem to be so good when compared to the rest of us; but none are absolutely sinless and perfect before God--not one.
So there’s no such thing as being “good enough” to get into Heaven. We’ve all missed the boat and we’re all drowning in our sins. We need to be saved from our sins, which is why Jesus Christ came to earth. He came to save us from our sins (Mat. 1:21). And once we’ve been forgiven and saved, we are then a part of God’s family, and we will live forever with Him when we die.
Because God loves us so much, He gave His only Son to become as one of us, and being that He was “God manifested in the flesh” (1 Tim. 3:16), He lived a perfect life. And all our sins were placed upon this spotless “Lamb of God” who then willingly went to the cross to suffer and die in our place. He died so that we don’t have to die. He paid the price for our sins so that we don’t have to pay it. He has given us a second chance, if we truly want it.
Christ became sin for us so that we might freely receive His righteousness by faith in Him. “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 Cor. 5:21 KJV). If we believe on Him and repent of our sins, He will save us from them and also from the penalty that comes with them. But He has to be both our Lord and our Savior. We must make a turn in our lives and live for Him who died for us.
We are only human (and fallen humans, at that) and so we need His Spirit to fill us so that we may live for Him from day to day. We are too weak to do it on our own. But He has promised to help us.
So, What Must I Do To Be Saved?
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 Jn. 1:9). The first step is to realize that you are a sinner and that you have sinned against God. You have broken His commandments and are, therefore, already condemned; and there is nothing you can do about it.
With all our talk of God’s goodness and love, we mustn’t lose sight of the fact that God is also a God of wrath and He will thoroughly punish sin wherever it is found. And if sin is found to be in you, then you are still under condemnation with the wrath of God abiding upon you. “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (Jn. 3:36).
And, being in this sinful state, you can never make yourself good enough to go to Heaven.
Secondly, you need to understand that God, in the person of Jesus Christ, loves you so much that He came to this earth, and after living a perfect life in your place, He took all of your sins upon Himself to the cross where He was crucified for you. He took our sins and offers us His own perfect righteousness in their place. Then, after dying in our place, He conquered death by being raised from the dead; and He ascended to Heaven where He is now at the right hand of God the Father.
Thirdly, you must be ready for a whole new life. You must be willing to turn from a life of sin and live for God. However, it’s important to note that as long as you live on this earth you will never be perfect in any practical way. But in a “legal” sense, as a believer in Christ, you are considered perfect in the eyes of God, for you have received His righteousness by your faith in Him. You are “justified” in His eyes, as though you’d never sinned. You’ve been forgiven.
Still, you’ll fall every day for it is still in our nature to sin. Actually, it’s more precise to say that sin is still in our flesh. “But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me” (Rom. 7:17). But we can begin to overcome these sins and to live for God through the power of His Holy Spirit who comes to live within us when we surrender our lives unto Him.
It’s also important to realize something else. Many hesitate to come to Jesus because they think they will never be able to live a perfectly godly life; they’re afraid they will constantly fall, and they’re right. They will. We all do. But they have it all backwards. What is so important to know is that we do not live good lives in order to be saved, for none can live a good enough life. Instead, it’s the other way around. We are saved in order to live good lives before God. The only thing we can do is to put our faith in Jesus Christ and in what HE has done for us.
The Bible says it’s through faith in Him and by His grace 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. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:8-10 KJV).
Notice, again, that we are saved by faith and not by our good works. It is a gift from God--a free gift. We’re also told here that we are saved “unto good works” and not the other way around. Our good works are not unto salvation; our salvation is unto good works.
So, we need to understand these things and then apply them to our lives. The final thing to do is pray to God, confessing you’re a sinner and that you do now turn from your sins. Ask Him to forgive you and to help you to live for Him from now on. He will not turn you down. Ask Him to fill you with His Holy Spirit and to guide you and strengthen you as you begin to live for Him. If you do these things, sincerely, you are a child of God and you have been forgiven of all your sins, no matter how vile they may have been. He accepts you into His family and you now have eternal life. Get a Bible and read it every day and always pray to Him.
Jesus said, “[He] that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out” (Jn. 6:37 KJV).
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thanked God for that verse over the course of my life. Although I may be assaulted often by doubts and despair, I can always thank Him for those words. But remember, it’s a daily walk with Him. It’s not a one-time shot. We must die to our own selves daily (1 Cor. 15:31), for Jesus has also said that:
“If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever will lose his life for My sake, the same shall save it” (Lk. 9:23-24 KJV).
Taken from Appendix 1 in the book, "Will I See Him Again? (A Look At Pets In Heaven)" by Tom Waldron.
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