The earthly ministry of Jesus only lasted about three and a half years, yet the impact of His life on the history of mankind has been far greater than that of anyone else who ever lived. Why did Jesus have such an influence? He was God come to Earth in the form of a human being.
One of the problems people have in becoming a genuine Christian is they don’t believe they can possibly be good enough. And they’re right! No one ever is. We are all sinners, born into the kingdom of the world. We can’t pile up good deeds and hope they will make us acceptable in God’s sight. That is not the way to gain favor with God. Our salvation is not based on our being good enough, but on the righteousness of Jesus Christ. This is why “salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
Jesus is the only one who was ever good enough to qualify for Heaven. He lived a sinless life! It is through Him that people like you and me are made right with God—that is where we get the righteousness we need to be saved. That is why “salvation is found in no one else” as the verse states. The righteousness of Jesus Christ is credited to our account in the eyes of God when we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior.
“But now a righteousness from God, apart from law (our keeping all of God’s commandments and never sinning) has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe [accept Him as Lord and Savior; emphasis added]. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace [our salvation is a free gift] through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood” (Romans 3:21-25).
God can’t pretend sin doesn’t exist. Yet because of His love for mankind, He sent His Son to break sin’s condemning power over us and redeem us from the kingdom of the world. When Jesus shed His blood on the cross to pay the price for man’s sins, He became the Savior of mankind and allowed us to escape from Satan’s spiritual kingdom of the world. If we accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, God will apply the righteousness of Jesus Christ to our own record. That is how our relationship with God is changed. It is how we fit His standards and qualify for spiritual rebirth into the Kingdom of Heaven. It is not because of our goodness, but because of Jesus Christ’s sinless life, death and resurrection. “Know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ … because by observing the law [never sinning but keeping all of God’s commandments] no one will be justified” (Galatians 2:16).
Do we deserve this? No, it is because of God’s grace. His great love for mankind made this marvelous provision of salvation from the world’s kingdom and Hell available to us. It is a free gift from God. And best of all, it assures us of an eternity in Heaven. We should respond to such a gift by receiving it thankfully and with a repentant heart.
For all of those who know Jesus as their Savior, the grave has been transformed from a foe to a friend. With the backing of the Bible we can say, “We need to have no fear of death.” Our last breath here will result in instantaneous, complete healing and exquisite joy on the other side in a better world. Jesus and Heaven are ours! In a word, sunset here is sunrise there! As Paul said, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).
To the natural person, death is the final pauperizing blow; to die is loss. Nothing bankrupts humans so completely as death. What a contrast is Paul’s statement, “To die is gain.” Only a Christian like Paul could say this with confidence based on certified guarantees. He knew, as we can know, how soundly factual the basis of the Christian faith really is.
What Heaven represents is unmistakable. To be there will be the highest fulfillment of all hopes. Gone forever will be the burdens of mortal flesh. There will be no more weakness, pain, temptation, grief, limitations or frustrations. Heaven is a place where there is no unholy thought, desire, fear, doubt or anxiety. No more hungering and thirsting; every tear wiped away; drinking “living waters” of immortality. Peter describes it as “an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade” (1 Peter 1:4).
All around us will be those “clouds of witnesses”—the redeemed of all the centuries. The saints of the Old and New Testament will gather. Added to that will be a reunion with our departed loved ones. Every blemish, every disfigurement, every mark of age or weakness will be gone forever. There will be no fading of identity nor blurring of personality. You will always be you. I shall always be me.
No words can properly communicate all the riches God has in store for those who put their faith in His Son. We all have to choose between Heaven and Hell. Whichever one we decide on will be for eternity. Many people do not want to hear such a statement, or they ignore the reality that they ultimately have to make a choice. But if there is even a possibility of a Heaven and a Hell, it is far too critical a decision for anyone to pass off lightly, or to not try to find out all that it involves. That is poor judgment.
You do not want to miss Heaven.
God does not want you to miss Heaven.
I do not want you to miss Heaven.
You do not have to miss Heaven.
Is God’s plan fair? It is more than fair! It required a great sacrifice on the part of both God the Father and the Son. Remember that it is mankind who turned his back on God; God never turned against mankind. We are the guilty party. God didn’t have to save us! We should be thankful that He loved us enough to provide a plan so we might be saved from spending eternity in Hell, despite the fact that we often live contrary to His standards. The reason God’s plan of salvation is a just one is that He took the burden upon Himself through His Son Jesus. Who can argue with that? What authority does mankind have to alter God’s plan with one that is humanly-developed or created?
A portion of Scripture I find meaningful is in Romans 5:12-20. In essence what God’s Word is saying is that because of one man, Adam’s sin, all mankind inherited a sinful nature and therefore spiritual death or separation from God. The Bible also says therefore it is a right and just plan that mankind can be saved, reunited with God, by one man’s righteousness, which was accomplished by Jesus Christ. “Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous” (Romans 5:18-19).
A common question is what happens to children who die. Although all are born sin-infected and into the kingdom of the world, young children are not guilty. There is no such thing as inherited guilt. Those who die as children are not saved by their innocence but because of it. I believe the Bible teaches that we are not accountable for our transgressions until we reach a responsible age where we knowingly commit wrong. That, and only that, makes us transgressors and consequently guilty.
WATCH FOR PART 4 of “Why You Must Be Born Again” on March 15th, 2010Tags: born again, Christ, death, God, heaven, Jesus, kingdom, Lord, ministry, redemption, resurrection, righteousness, salvation, Savior, sinner