jesus_carrying_crossLove is often defined as how we feel about someone or something. Yet, look at this definition of “LOVE”: “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” 1

Some might go so far as to say, “I will die for you!”, yet this was far greater a love and of lasting benefit: “For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that…

…while we were still sinners,
Christ died for us.
2

It really is this simple:

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son

[Jesus, the Christ, of Nazareth]

, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”

“He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.” 3

“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.” 4

cent_jesusDo you doubt?

Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said to him, “We have seen the Lord.”

So he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.”

And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, “Peace to you!” Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.”

And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!”

Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name. 5

jesus_cross“But this is for bad people, not me!” you protest.

Well, are you a “good” person? By whose standard? Before we can presume we are good, we must understand the criteria by which “good” is measured.

First, God’s Word is very clear that “all have fallen short of the glory of God” 6 and that we are “dead in our trespasses and sins” 7 on our own. You might even agree, but still presume that God will let you in heaven based upon your good deeds. your merits, your kindness, and so on. You may have even asked for forgiveness. But what if all of that isn’t enough to get into heaven? What if, after all the good you’ve done, you end up cast into Hell… eternal torment?

You may protest, saying “My God is a loving God and wouldn’t do such a cruel thing!” Yet, then I must tell you that your god is not the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Your god is a figmet of your imagination (which is a form of idolatry), not the God of creation who gives you your life and breath. The God revealed through the Word (the Bible) is both compassionate (with the righteous) and angry (with the wicked). He is a morally just God.

Allow me to illustrate with the following example:

Will rapists go to Heaven?

If someone raped, tortured, and killed your daughter or mother, would you expect that person to have to pay for the crime? Most would agree. Most would actually desire the death sentence. And would you think that God should allow this perverse rapist into Heaven for eternity? Maybe a few too many earthly judges would let the guilty off with a lenient sentence. But God is just and will punish such a person for eternity. The Bible says, “‘Vengance is mine,’ says the Lord! I will repay… It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” 8 What a great relief to know that while there is great injustice on earth, the Lord will make things right in the end (if not sooner).

What about thieves? Agreed. But it might shock you to realize that even liars will be judged and condemned to Hell and the Lake of Fire.9

Have you ever told a lie? Just one makes you guilty. Have you ever murdered? Before you answer “No” so quickly, did you know that according to the God if you have ever been angry and had hatred in your heart, have committed murder? This is the verse: “Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.” 10

soul_thirstsIt becomes evident very quickly that no one is guiltless before God and, if found in those sins, will be judged guilty and condemned to Hell. But there is a Way out of this death sentence. Jesus said “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” 11

You can trust in His promises

“But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” 12

What must you do to be saved?

If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.13

  • jesus_resurrectionBelieve that Jesus is the Son of God… the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”
  • Believe that Jesus died for you on the cross, paid the price for your sins (actually bore the weight of the sin of the world), and by His shed blood has obtained your redemption and remission of sins.
  • Repent (turn from all sin and toward God) and follow Him.
  • Read the Bible and do what it says.
  • Keep a tender conscience.
  • Find other believers who follow the Lord Jesus out of a pure heart and live by the teachings of the Bible, Gods very Word.

How do I pray?

First, becoming a follower of Jesus is NOT about a one-time prayer. However, it is important to pour your heart out to God about your sin. But you don’t have to sound religious. Just speak simply from the heart. However, if you’re having trouble finding the words, Psalm 51 is a wonderful example (right side bar).

You are free to pray directly to God in the name of Jesus, His Son, and receive foregiveness and the gift of eternal life. No priest, pastor, nun, monk, shaman or any other spiritual person is needed. The Lord Jesus IS the Way!

Those who are new creations in God (born again) will also receive the gift of the Holy Spirit — the Spirit of Christ in you (Gal 2:20)! This power from on high releases you to live a godly, holy, and righteous life. You can be FREE from the power of sin!

Stay away from… hypocrits (those professing one thing, yet living another) and false teachers: any man’s teaching that doesn’t align itself with the revealed Word, Christ’s teachings (doctrine).

1. John 15:13; 2. Romans 5:6-7; 3. John 3:16–21; 4. John 3:36; 5. John 20:24–31; 6. Romans 3:23; 7. Ephesians 2:4-9; 8. Hebrews 10:30-31; 9. Revelation 21:8; 10. 1 John 3:15; 11. John 14:6; 12. Ephesians 2:4–9; 13: Romans 10:9–13

Photographs © Charlie Tobler. Use with permission.


John 3:16-17

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son [Jesus, the Christ, of Nazareth], that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

Psalm 51

Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your loving kindness, according to the multitude of Your tender mercies, Blot out my transgressions.

Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.

Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight—that You may be found just when You speak, And blameless when You judge. Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me.

You desire truth in the inward parts, and in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom.

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me hear joy and gladness, that the bones You have broken may rejoice. Hide Your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.

Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me by Your generous Spirit. …Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, the God of my salvation, and my tongue shall sing aloud of Your righteousness.

O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall show forth Your praise. For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering.

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart—These, O God, You will not despise.