As we remember the death and resurrection of Jesus this weekend, let's remember why He died and rose again:
Do you ever wonder why you were created? God created you to have a personal relationship with Him, to glorify Him, and to live forever with Him in Heaven when you die. Apart from this relationship with God, you cannot find the joy, fulfillment, and peace that you were meant to have.
We all have a problem. There is darkness in our hearts. We have all sinned and disobeyed God. We have thought, said, and done wrong things. We have lied, cheated, been selfish, etc. God sees everything. Because God is holy and just, He cannot allow sin in His presence. Our sin separates us from God, and causes us to deserve His punishment, including being separated from Him eternally in hell when we die. Romans 3:23 says, "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." Trying to do good things ("...and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags..." Is. 64:6), going to church, not sinning "really badly", etc. will not save you, or earn you a place in Heaven. God is loving and merciful, but He is also holy and just. Even one little sin cannot be allowed before God. Otherwise, God would not be holy and just.
Because God is also loving and merciful, He made a way for us to be forgiven for our sins and be right with Him. God sent His son, Jesus Christ, to earth. Jesus lived a perfect life free from any sin, died on the cross to take the punishment that we deserved for our sins, and rose again victorious over sin to live forever. In doing this, God made a way for us to be right with Him. Romans 5:8 says, "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." John 3:16 says, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life."
When you believe in, trust, and receive Christ as your Savior from your sins, repent and turn from your sins, and surrender to Him as Lord (the one in charge of your life), He will wash you from your sins, bring you into a right relationship with God, and bring you to heaven to be with Him when you die. Romans 6:23 says, "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." You must personally respond to God’s grace and receive and put your faith and trust in Christ as your Savior and Lord. It is between you and God. No one else can submit to Jesus in faith and surrender for your personal salvation – only you can. It is the most critical thing in your life – it determines your standing with God and your eternal destiny in heaven or hell!
Believing in and surrendering to Christ is not something that takes place only in your mind. It is something that must take place in your heart and come out in your actions. Just like I can say that I believe that a chair will hold me up, I am not truly believing and placing my faith in the chair until I actually sit on it! It is the same way with believing in Jesus to save you. It is when you fully lean on Him to save you and give your life to Him that you truly are believing in Him as Savior and surrendering to Him as Lord. It will be evidenced through how you live your life. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, "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."
If you confess your sins to God, ask His forgiveness, and turn from them - and instead trust and believe in Jesus as your Savior from your sins and surrender your life to Him as your Lord (which means you put Him in charge), you will then be saved and will be a child of God." John 1:12 says, "...as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name." Then Christ will come into your life, wash away your sins, help you to live for Him, and bring you to heaven to be with Him when you die. Then when God looks at you, He no longer sees your sins, but Jesus. Because of this, you can be in a right relationship with God, live for His glory by His strength, and spend eternity in Heaven with Him when you die. This is the most important thing in life, is what you were created for, is where you will find true peace, and determines your eternal destiny.
In order to be right with God, you must:
1. Admit to God your sinful heart and your need for His forgiveness.
2. Believe that Jesus died on the cross for your sins and put your trust in Him to save you.
3. Ask for and receive His forgiveness, and turn from your sins to follow Him.
4. Surrender your life to Jesus Christ and invite Him to come in and control your life as your Lord and Savior.
In your own words, you can pray something like the following prayer:
"Dear Lord, I know that I have sinned and need Your forgiveness. I believe that You died on the cross to pay the penalty for my sins and I trust You to save me. Please forgive me for my sins, come into my life as my Lord and Savior, and help me to live for You. I choose to turn from my sins, trust You as my Lord and Savior, surrender my life to You, and to follow You from now on. Thank you for dying in my place so that I can be right with You and spend eternity with You in heaven when I die. In Jesus' name, Amen."
Romans 10:9-11 tells us, "…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. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.”’ (ESV)
Once you have received salvation through Jesus Christ, your new life in Him has just begun. John 5:24 says, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.” "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
To grow in your relationship with the Lord you should:
1. Read the Bible (God's word to you) every day. (The book of John is a good place to start.)
2. Spend time daily talking to God in prayer.
3. Worship the Lord, fellowship, and serve with other Christians in a church where God’s Word is preached.
4. Live for Christ and tell others about Him.
The Lord will never leave you. He will make Himself more real to you as you seek Him and will satisfy the longings of your heart. The Lord will help you to live for Him! As His child, you have the joy of walking with Him in this life and the joy of knowing that you will spend eternity with Him in Heaven!