But what does that really mean? Am I a religious nut? A self-righteous jerk with a political agenda?
I like to think in simple terms and sometimes we (church people) complicate the Gospel (also known as the Good News) more than it needs to be. I am hoping I can present it in such a way that brings clarity.
If you want to skip the long version below, here’s a short video that might help, however, I’m hoping you will take 5-10 minutes and read this as it could be one of the most important things you have ever read.
A little history lesson
Many many years ago God created the earth. I believe it was about 6000-ish years ago. You can disagree with me on this, but hear me out. There are many Christians on both sides of the young earth or old earth debate so I’m going with 6000 years. I guess we’ll find out someday for sure.
Why do I believe this? Because God has revealed Himself to us in the Bible and that’s what it says in the first few pages, so I’m going with that.
Don’t get hung up on this, but hear me out. Don’t judge me. (haha)
The story starts with God
God created the earth and he created people. People who could choose to either serve and love the Creator or choose to do their own thing and go against His instructions.
God asked a few simple things of the first people on earth, and they were not able to comply because they wanted to do what they wanted to do.
Just like a toddler, as soon as you tell them not to do something, they do the thing you asked them not to. It’s called rebellion, but because people have free will to do what they want, bad stuff happens.
Do you have to teach little kids to be bad? Nope. They seem to figure it out on their own pretty early! It’s because we’re ALL born with an ability and willingness to do bad things.
We’re all in the same boat. God says one thing, we do another. You don’t have to look too deeply into your own life to see some things that don’t look too good.
There’s stuff in your past that you don’t want people to know that you did.
There’s stuff that you’re thinking today that you know isn’t right – and you don’t want people to know.
There are actions you did and words you said in your past (or even today) that you can’t take back. They bother you.
The Bible calls this Sin. Not a term we like to talk about these days.
We were born into that position, stemming back to when the first people on earth decided to rebel against God. You’re a rebel – like it or not – and picking a fight with God isn’t wise. You will not win that one no matter how hard you try. 🙂
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, – Romans 3:23
Bottom line – God is God. You are not. He is Holy – He sets the rules.
How do you pay for the bad things you have done?
You can try to be nice to people. You can volunteer at the homeless shelter. You can donate money to good causes. You can do lots of good things…
But the good things don’t erase the bad things. The bad stuff doesn’t just go away, even if you do a lot of really nice things.
Your good deeds are not sufficient payment for your sin.
Can’t my sin just go away?
Because God is perfect and just, he can’t overlook sin – no matter how trivial or great. Everyone who sins needs a way to pay for that sin – and those good deeds we talked about aren’t going to cut it. This affects 100% of the population.
God would not be a good God if he just sat back, watched people sin and then gave them a free pass. Sin makes God angry because He is so holy, so perfect, and so just, He can’t even look at it. The standard is high.
Can you imagine a judge that just let people go no matter what they did? We would all agree that this judge is a bad judge. But what about when you’re the bad person?
You’re in a real predicament here.
There is a place called Hell. No one wants to talk about it and you definitely don’t want to go there.
And God doesn’t want to punish you in this way either and that’s why He also created the rescue plan!
Basically, we need a “get out of hell” card – but this isn’t something that we can come up with on our own. God would have to be the one to provide the solution because He set the rules to begin with. You don’t have that kind of power!
…but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. – Romans 5:8
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. – Ephesians 2: 8 u0026amp; 9.
Here’s what happened next!
About 2000 years ago, God sent His own son to earth – God in the flesh but in the form of a little baby named Jesus. It was a miraculous birth because His mom Mary was a virgin. God had put the baby in her womb.
Prior to Jesus’ birth, Mary was visited by an angel who gave her some of the details on what was to come.
Mary gave birth to Jesus – out behind the hotel where they kept the animals.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6
This verse above was written well over 500 years before Jesus was born. In fact, there are about 400 things written about Jesus, hundreds and thousands of years before He was born.
It has been calculated that the probability of one person, fulfilling even a handful of these prophecies would be mathematically impossible to predict, so how did Jesus fulfill them all? Think about that for a minute.
Jesus lived a perfect life – never sinning once. He was a carpenter and around age 30, he started to teach people about why He came.
He taught people using stories and recruited some regular guys to learn from him and carry on His teachings after He had died. These were the 12 disciples.
Jesus had a real love for people who were poor and sick – people who were overlooked in society but most of all, He knew the greatest need of mankind was to come up with a plan to deal with sin once and for all.
How could people get to God, if their sin was too great and prevented them? The answer was not found in something any human could do.
Jesus wasn’t popular with everyone
Back then, God had given His people a whole bunch of rules to follow and had instituted a system where people had to do animal sacrifices (one of their rules was that blood had to be shed), give money, and do a bunch of other stuff in order to receive a pardon for their sin.
Unfortunately, corruption took its course and these religious people started to pervert what God had said, for their own benefit.
It gave these religious leaders both political and spiritual power and influence and at the same time, left people powerless to find forgiveness of their sins.
Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. Hebrews 9:22
There were over 600 rules in total. Clearly, it was impossible to meet these demands – and that was the point.
God wanted to show people that they did not have the ability to follow all the rules and thereby obtain salvation – and they had to trust that He would provide a solution. They were never going to be good enough, They were never going to be able to “do” enough. They were powerless.
Jesus was this solution!
Jesus challenged religious folks – and He even claimed to be God, which was a pretty shocking statement! He told people that the only way they could get to God was through Him. Not through these other religious priests and their rules.
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6
Jesus died for you
You may have heard that Jesus died on the cross for you. Maybe you saw it on a billboard, or you heard it from someone. We see crosses all over the place, but what does it really mean?
Here’s what happened.
Jesus, having lived a perfect life was betrayed by one of His own disciples, given a short trial and then was condemned to death on a cross – which was a terrible way to die.
He was beaten and mocked and his hands and feet were nailed to a wooden cross where He died a painful death between 2 criminals.
Today we remember this day on “Good Friday” if you’re wondering why you get a day off work.
But here’s the Good News!
Jesus took upon himself the full wrath of God on YOUR behalf. He paid for our past, present, and future sins when he died on the cross, through the shedding of blood. This was the ultimate sacrifice when Jesus shed His own blood for mankind.
The penalty that you were facing was taken by Jesus in your place.
Imagine being in court, for a crime you committed and someone who you don’t know comes forward, offers to take the punishment (the death penalty) in your place. He doesn’t ask you to pay Him back and you go free as a bird.
Wouldn’t you gladly take this offer? Of course, you would.
This is what Jesus did for YOU
That single act changed the world. In fact, it was such a big deal that the earth went dark and there was an earthquake. It was clear that something big happened. You can find this out in recorded history written by people who were alive at the time.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. – John 3:16-17
But it didn’t end there!
After Jesus died – they buried him in a tomb and put a heavy stone in front of the entrance. For His followers, it seemed that it was over.
Then 3 days later his disciples went to check on His body and it was GONE! Today, we celebrate this as Easter Sunday.
No one stole the body of Jesus if that’s what you were thinking. Jesus rose from the dead and He went on to be seen by over 500 people.
If there was only one witness, we could chalk it up to a fable or a daydream. But no – over 500 people saw Jesus, on 12 different occasions after He died and came back to life.
Here’s how we know it’s true. All the disciples went on to die for their beliefs – for the things they saw and the information they were passing along.
Who would be willing to die, for something that wasn’t true?
Jesus disciples and other followers knew what they saw. They went on to tell the story of Jesus birth, death and resurrection, which put them in danger due to the threat to the existing religious system.
Not only had He provided a solution for sin – but He provided a means to have eternal life with God. Jesus lives today – in heaven with His Father – God. It’s a pretty big concept to grasp, but He’s there! When He left the earth for heaven, He left us someone called The Holy Spirit. Maybe a term you’ve heard before – Father, Son u0026amp; Holy Spirit.
“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God;believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. – John 14: 1-3
By taking YOUR sin upon Himself on the cross, God can now look at you as if you have never sinned. You’ve been forgiven – your sin is gone, never to be brought against you. Talk about freedom!
How do you get in on this deal?
It’s so easy, yet so hard for so many. Many people can’t believe it’s as simple as it is – so they try to pay for their own sins – which is never going to work. Ever.
Trying to pay for your own sins by doing good things is like trying to pay for a new Lamborghini with your dirty socks! It’s just not going to work. It’s the wrong currency and not an acceptable form of payment!
If you look at every other religious system in the world, the overarching theme is that you have to “DO” something to obtain salvation or favour.
Jesus offers a solution that’s already “DONE” based on what He did for you.
I know that Jesus died for me; Now what?
Talk to God – maybe for the first time ever. He knows who you are, so no introduction required.
Recognize that you are a sinner and that you know that you are helpless to do anything about it on your own. Recognize you’re stuck and you need Him to forgive you.
Turn to Him – Apologize to Him and ask Him to help you.
Trust that what Jesus did by dying on the cross was enough to pay for your sin. You are free. You are free from sin, but you are free from trying to pay for your sins too!
Put all your eggs in one basket. Maybe you’ve been dabbling with various beliefs you have picked up over the years from different sources. Trust Jesus.
Stop doing the bad things you have been doing. This isn’t to say you will never do something bad again – because you will – but you recognize that those sins are covered by this single act and you live your life with this in mind. When you mess up, ask Him to forgive you.
You don’t need to say any special words or recite anything weird.
Maybe it’s not even a prayer – but the profound realization that Jesus died for you. Like I said before – there’s no magic formula.
I guarantee that God will hear you and He will help you. I’ve never been more certain of anything.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. – 1 John 1:9
Jesus said, The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. – John 10:10
The Bible is the best place to go to learn more. If you don’t own one, let me know. I can get you one but you can read it online too!
There are many different translations of the Bible – Basically, they took the Greek and Hebrew of the old original texts found and translated it into readable English. The ones I recommend most would be the English Standard Version (ESV), New International Version (NIV) or New King James Version (NKJV).
The Bible is big – there are lots of books and chapters and it can be confusing. Here’s where I would start:
Click here to read the Book of John – there are 21 chapters. This will give you the story of Jesus and is a great spot to start.
If you want more info on any of this, send me a message through my contact page. I’d love to chat with you further.