The Most Important Question
On Being Perfect
Answer honestly: are you perfect? I didn't think so. You just admitted to a truth the Bible teaches: besides God, no one is perfect --Romans 3:23. Each of us has an acute awareness of our faults-our sin. We have a self-awareness of our own sin because we've been created by God with a conscience that has a sense of right and wrong-an innate moral code. For example, in every culture murder is wrong. Why? Because God has written a moral code on our hearts that all human life is sacred.
God has placed that moral code within us so that when it is broken, our conscience will speak to us about the wrong we have done that we might seek to be forgiven and in so doing seek God Himself.
Core Message of Christianity
At the heart of the christian faith is this message: God can and will give each person a fresh start, a new beginning in life.
You've heard people talk about being a "Christian." What does that mean,anyway? Simply put, a Christian is a person who has had all of their sins forgiven by God. Contrary to popular ideas, a Christian is not someone who is perfect. They are not people who have it all together. Christians mess up all of the time. They struggle in the same areas of life everyone else does. The difference is that they have been forgiven. If you've been forgiven by God, the Bible teaches that you will NOT receive His condemnation Romans 8:1.
The most important question we must ask and answer is, "How can I be forgiven?" That is the basic question we want to answer here, and we're going to look at what God says about how we can be forgiven.
Before we answer that most important question, a few other questions should be answered.
Why Do We Need To Be Forgiven?
When the Bible teaches that God is holy--Revelation 4:8 it means that He is absolutely pure without any sin. He is totally unique and different because of His purity and holiness. Because of His holiness, God cannot accept sin-even the smallest of sins.
The Bible also teaches that God is just. Deuteronomy 32:4 clearly says, "He is the Rock, His works are perfect, and all His ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is He."(NIV) God is an impartial judge who must, by His very nature, punish all wrongdoing. Again, the Bible is very clear:
"God is just. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of His power."2 Thessalonians 1:6, 8-9(NIV)
The Bible says God is NOT partial nor does He show favoritism-- Deuteronomy 10:17; 2 Chronicles 19:7. He judges fairly and correctly every single time - no exceptions. That creates a problem for us! Consider the following passages:
Isaiah 59:2 -- "But there is a problem-your sins have cut you off from God. Because of your sin, He has turned away and will not listen."(NLT)
Romans 6:23 -- "The wages of sin is death."(NIV)
You see, we all need to be forgiven. But ...
How is Forgiveness Possible?
I've got good news, the Bible is very clear about this question!
"Friends, understand what we are telling you: You can have forgiveness of your sins through Jesus."(NCV)
You ask, "I can only be forgiven through Jesus?" According to God, yes. Jesus was very clear when He said in
John 14:6, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me."(NLT)
The reason forgiveness can only be offered through Jesus is because He is the only one who has lived a sinless,
"Jesus the Son of God is our great High Priest who has gone to heaven itself to help us; therefore let us cling to him and never stop trusting him. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, since he had the same temptations we do, though he never once gave way to them and sinned."(TLB)
Jesus is the only one who has ever lived the way that is required by God to receive eternal life: he lived a perfect life-he never sinned. Jesus did not deserve to die, but he did. Even though he never sinned, he died the death that all who have sinned deserved. In other words, Jesus died the death I deserved. He absorbed my sin-punishment.
1 Peter 2:22, 24
"Jesus never sinned, and he never deceived anyone. He personally carried away our sins in his own body on the cross so we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. You have been healed by his wounds."(NLT)
1 Peter 3:18
"Christ suffered when he died for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but he died for sinners that he might bring us safely home to God."(NLT)
You see, God has to punish all sin. But he loves us so much that he came in the person of Jesus Christ to pay the penalty for sin so that we wouldn't have to.
And because of his great love, Jesus offers his life for yours.
"For God sent Jesus to take the punishment for our sins and to satisfy God's anger against us. We are made right with God when we believe that Jesus shed his blood, sacrificing his life for us."(NLT)
2 Corinthians 5:21
"For God made Jesus, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ."(NLT)
Imagine that you are walking on a sidewalk and come up to a busy road intersection. Without looking, you step out into the intersection to cross the road. Suddenly someone yells and runs out to you and pushes you down to the side of the road. You look back to see who it was and why they did this and you watch them be struck by a speeding vehicle. They saved your life, and in so doing they lost their own. This is exactly what Jesus Christ has done for us.
"When we were utterly helpless with no way of escape, Christ came at just the right time and died for us."(TLB)
Just at the right moment, Jesus came to our rescue and died in our place.
Now, just because you know about and understand what Jesus has done doesn't mean that you have been forgiven of your sins. There is something else: you must receive him.
Not everyone accepts or receives Jesus into their life. But the Scripture clearly says in John 1:12, "Yet to all who receive him, to those who believe in his name, he gives the right to become Children of God."(NIV)
This is a choice/decision that we all must make personally-either to receive Christ or not. Receiving Christ cannot be done for us. Our parents can't do it for us. A friend can't. A spouse can't. This is your decision alone. It is something that we must decide.
So, how can I receive Christ and be forgiven by God? This is the most important question you will ever ask. And it is a question to which you must personally respond.
How Can I Be Forgiven?
First, you must be willing to admit your need for forgiveness. The Bible says, "If we have we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and refusing to accept the truth. I John 1:8(NLT)
Next you must believe and trust in Jesus Christ to forgive your sin.
"Jesus is the one all the prophets testified about, saying that everyone who believes in him will have their sins forgiven through his name."(NLT)
Romans 3:22 & 25
"We are made right in God's sight when we trust in Jesus Christ to take away our sins. And we all can be saved in this same way, no matter who we are or what we have done. For God sent Jesus to take the punishment for our sins and to satisfy God's anger against us. We are made right with God when we believe that Jesus shed his blood, sacrificing his life for us."(NLT)
You must also turn your life away from sin and towards God.
"Now turn from your sins and turn to God, so you can be cleansed (forgiven) of your sins." (NLT)
This is called "repentance." Repentance does not mean that you are perfect from now on. It just means that there has been a change in your heart and that, with God's help, you are going to walk in God's ways.
Receiving Christ also means that you need to confess him publicly.
"For if you tell others with your own mouth that Jesus Christ is your Lord, and believe in your own heart that God has raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved."(TLB & NLT)
In Matthew 10:32, Jesus said, "If anyone acknowledges me publicly here on earth, I will openly acknowledge that person before my Father in Heaven."(NLT)
Often, when a person is baptized they are asked to repeat the Good Confession before all who witness their baptism.
The Bible also teaches that receiving Christ involves being baptized into Christ. When the very first gospel message was preached, those who heard the message asked the apostles what they needed to do. Peter clearly responded, "Each of you must turn from your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." Acts 2:38(NLT)
Jesus said, "Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved. But anyone who refuses to believe will be condemned." Mark 16:16(NLT)
Another beautiful passage teaches that we are all children"of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ." Galatians 3:26-27(NIV)
Are you forgiven? Have you received God's offer of forgiveness through Christ? He is the only way, you know.
You can be forgiven, but it is your choice to receive Christ. Although God loves you, he won't force you. Consider these scriptures:
"Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, that you . . . might live! Choose to love the Lord your God and to obey him and commit yourself to him, for he is your life."(NLT)
2 Corinthians 6:1-2
"We beg you not to reject this marvelous message of God's great kindness. For God says, 'At just the right time, I heard you. On the day of salvation, I helped you.' Indeed, God is ready to help you right now. Today is the day of salvation."(NLT)
A Prayer of Commitment
If you desire to receive Christ and his offer of forgiveness, we invite you to humbly pray this prayer: "God I admit my need for you and the forgiveness that comes only through Jesus Christ. I believe that Jesus died on the cross and rose again from the dead to forgive my sins. I want to receive your forgiveness and the gift of eternal life. I will follow and obey you by turning from my sin, by confessing Christ before witnesses, and by being baptized into Christ. I give you my heart and life. In Jesus Name, Amen."
Belief and repentance are things that take place in your heart. Confession and baptism are things that require a public demonstration of your commitment to Christ. Therefore, your next steps are to verbalize and demonstrate your faith through confessing Christ and being baptized into him. There is no reason to delay. As Ananias told the apostle Paul at his conversion, "And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name." Acts 22:16(NIV)
If you have made a commitment to Christ, we'd like to celebrate with you! Please let us know about your decision. If you live in the Enid area, we welcome the opportunity to perform your baptism at your first opportunity. If you don't live in the Enid area, we encourage you to find a Bible-teaching church in order to make your public confession and to be baptized into Christ.
Some Awesome Promises from God
Once you accept God's offer of forgiveness, these promises are yours:
"Therefore, since we have been made right in God's sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of highest privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God's glory. So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God-all because of what our Lord Jesus Christ has done for us in making us friends of God."
"So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. For the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you through Christ Jesus from the power of sin that leads to death."
2 Corinthians 5:17
"What this means is that those who become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life has begun!"
"For he has rescued us from the one who rules in the kingdom of darkness, and he has brought us into the Kingdom of his dear Son. God has purchased our freedom with his blood and has forgiven all our sins."
"For you were buried with Christ when you were baptized. And with him you were raised to a new life because you trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead. You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ. He forgave all our sins. He canceled the record that contained the charges against us. He took it and destroyed it by nailing it to Christ's cross."
"But then God our Savior showed us his kindness and love. He saved us, not because of the good things we did, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins and gave us a new life through the Holy Spirit. He generously poured out the Spirit upon us because of what Jesus Christ our Savior did. He declared us not guilty because of his great kindness. And now we know that we will inherit eternal life. These things I have told you are all true. I want you to insist on them so that everyone who trusts in God will be careful to do good deeds all the time. These things are good and beneficial for everyone."
1 John 5:11-12
"God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life: he who does not have the Son of God does not have life."