“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
We were created to know and glorify God. We were designed with the wonderful ability to have fellowship with God, to be His children, and to obey Him with abundant joy and satisfaction.
No one has lived up to this standard. Adam, the first man (along with his wife, Eve), sinned and rebelled against God by eating the fruit that God had commanded them not to eat. As Adam’s descendants, we can all relate to the fact that we have a “sin nature,” a natural inclination to go against God’s rules. The Bible says that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Even just failing in one point of God’s law – lying, envying, stealing, for example – stains our record. We inherently know that these things are wrong in our conscience, and God’s Word teaches us this as well. Our sin separates us from God (Isaiah 59:2), and since God is the source of all life, this separation brings not only physical but also spiritual death, which is the just penalty for our sins (Romans 6:23).
There is nothing that we can do on our own to fix this terrible problem, to cross the divide and return to God. All the good works that we could do, all the religious paths that we could pursue, nothing can make up for the way we have sinned and rebelled against God. No matter how good we may be, we can’t erase our past errors; by following our own will rather than God, we condemn ourselves to an eternity in hell under God’s wrath.
Yet, when there was no hope and no one that could bring us back to Him, God brought us salvation Himself (Isaiah 59:16). He is “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin” (Exodus 32:6-7a).
How did God accomplish this reconciliation? “God sent His only Son into the world, so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we have loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation [payment] for our sins” (1 John 4:9b-10). Jesus, God’s only Son, came to us, becoming a Man, and lived a perfect, sinless life. He willingly gave up His life when He died on the cross, taking all our sins upon Himself and paying the penalty of death for us. He was buried, and on the third day, He rose from the dead, declaring His victory and power over death. He appeared to many people after His resurrection and ascended to heaven.
We “are justified [made right with God] by His grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24). There is nothing more that we need to do in order to be reconciled to God than to trust Jesus to be our Savior. This means that we believe that Jesus is God’s Son, that He died to take the punishment for our sins, and that He rose again to life. We realize our own sin and ask for forgiveness on the basis of Jesus’ gift to us (1 John 1:9), trusting in Him and only Him to be our Savior (John 14:6). We acknowledge that God is rightfully Lord in our lives and commit to turn from our old way of life to follow Him.
If we choose to come to God by faith in Jesus, we are born again to everlasting life, and even when we die, we will live forever with God in His kingdom. We become God’s adopted children, and He gives us Himself in the form of the Holy Spirit to guide, teach, comfort, and be with us always. We follow Jesus as we get to know Him better and learn to walk according to His ways. We become Jesus’ witnesses to others, telling them about the gift of forgiveness and life He has given us, wanting them to receive it as well.
Maybe you are reading this today and have never trusted Jesus to be your personal Savior. If that is the case, you can pray right now. Acknowledge that you have sinned against God, and ask for forgiveness, believing that Jesus is God’s Son who died to pay the penalty for your sins and rose again. Thank Him for His gift of eternal life and tell Him that you want to follow Him from now on.
The Bible says that “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” (Romans 10:9). Rejoice in God’s plan of salvation and His amazing love for you!