THAT WILL CHANGE
As humans, we all share the same underlying concerns: the desire for meaningful relationships and knowledge of what happens to us after we die. Throughout history, people have realized there is more to life than just the material world we see. We have deliberated, examined and reasoned with others and ourselves about the supernatural and the existence of a Higher Power. It is deep within our human nature to long for more.
Do you know for sure you have a personal relationship with God? Are you certain you will live for forever in heaven after you die (eternal life)?
Life is way too short to miss out on a rewarding relationship with God! It is important you know the answers to these questions. God’s Word, the Bible, says you can be sure of these: “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life (1 John 5:13).”
Contrary to some people’s beliefs, it is actually possible to know for certain you have eternal life.
Consider another question: suppose you were standing before God and He asked you, “Why should I let you into my heaven?” What do you think you would say?
Now, let’s see what the Bible says about this pivotal question.
Here are 4 truths that show us how we can experience a personal relationship with God:
God wants to have a personal relationship with us.
Let’s face it; all other relationships will eventually let us down or disappoint us in some way. We all have experienced this, whether it is by circumstances, choices, or sadly, death. However, a personal relationship with God is guaranteed to be permanent and one we can always count on.
But how do we really know that God wants a relationship with us?
God loves us and wants to relate with us.
The Bible says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).” Jesus Christ is God’s Son. He is also fully God and became a man. The Bible calls Jesus “the Word” in these verses, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us (John 1:1, 14a).”
Eternal life is offered to us as a free gift.
The Bible says, “…the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23b).”
God wants to give us a fulfilled life.
Jesus said, “…I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full (John 10:10b).”
When you have a personal relationship with God, it will last forever in heaven after you die.
Jesus said, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am (John 14:3).”
But, why can’t we automatically have this relationship with God? What initially keeps us from experiencing this amazing relationship with Him?
Our wrongdoing separates us from God.
No one is perfect.
When we choose to go our own way instead of God’s way, the Bible calls our wrongdoing sin. The Bible says, “…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God… (Romans 3:23).”
Sin automatically separates us from God.
Because God is perfectly good, He cannot be with sin and because He is a fair God, He must punish sin. The Bible says, “For the wages of sin is death… (Romans 6:23a).” If we are still separated from God on the day we die, we will be separated from Him in eternal suffering. The Bible calls this hell.
We cannot rescue ourselves from this separation from God.
There is nothing we can do by ourselves to work our way into a relationship with God. No one can say “I did it on my own.” The Bible says eternal life with God is “…not by works, so that no one can boast (Ephesians 2:9).”
We are all sinners and our sin separates us from God. If we stay this way when we die, we will be forever separated from God forever in hell. But there’s hope! The Good News is, God the Father loved us so much that He provided a way to pay this penalty for our sin.
The Bible explains this important truth:
Jesus Christ provides the only way we can have a personal relationship with God.
Let’s illustrate it this way: If you were stranded in the middle of the ocean and could no longer keep yourself afloat, you would begin to drown. There is absolutely nothing you could do to save yourself. You would need someone with a boat to rescue you. When he arrives and reaches out to you, you would grab on to him as your only hope. You would trust him to get you safely out of the water. In the same way, this is how you place all your hope in Jesus Christ to save you from your sin.
But what does “receiving” Jesus Christ into your life look like? Here’s the truth from the Bible that addresses this:
To receive Jesus Christ we must turn to Him, place our faith in Him, and let Him take charge of our lives.
Let’s see how Scripture breaks this down.
What does it mean to turn to Him?
A radical change occurs when we turn to follow God instead of following our own sinful desires. The Bible uses the word “repent” to refer to this change of direction: “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out… (Acts 3:19a).” Repenting is more than just feeling sorry for our sins. Repentance involves action. The Bible says, “…repent and turn to God, and prove… repentance by… deeds (Acts 26:20b).” We repent by turning away from our sin and turning to God through Jesus Christ. A simple example is like walking down the road while traveling north and you realize that you’re going the wrong way. So, you make a U-turn to go south instead. Turning from our sin is a complete change in direction.
What does it mean to place our faith in Him?
We can only receive eternal life by trusting in what Jesus has done for us. We cannot rely on our own efforts to earn heaven by being good enough. The Bible says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast (Ephesians 2:8-9). ”Faith is more than just believing facts about Jesus. The Bible says, “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder (James 2:19).” So, it’s not enough to just believe facts about God to get into heaven.Here’s the kind of faith you need: Trust only in what Jesus Christ did for you on the cross to pay the penalty for your sin. Let’s illustrate once again with an example. It is like trusting that a chair will actually hold you. Trusting in the chair is more than just saying that you believe the chair will support your body weight. If you really trust the chair, you will actually sit down on it, and trust it with your life.
What does it mean to let Him take charge of our lives?
Letting Jesus have control as our Lord is not just saying we give our lives to Jesus. Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven (Matthew 7:21).” When Jesus is Lord of our lives, we obey Him. Jesus said, “If you love me, you will obey what I command (John 14:15).” The Bible says this about receiving Jesus Christ, “… if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved (Romans 10:9-10).”
Again, to start a personal relationship with God, you must receive His Son, Jesus Christ, into your life by repenting of your sin, by placing your faith in Jesus and letting Him take charge of your life.
Take a moment to think to yourself, is there any reason why you would not be willing to receive God’s free gift of eternal life? Ask God to soften your heart and remove anything holding you back from giving your life completely over to Him.
Are you willing to turn from your sin and trust in Jesus Christ right now to receive eternal life?
If you are willing to accept God’s gift of eternal life and begin a personal relationship with Him, the next step is to tell Him. Tell God that you repent of your sins, that you are putting your trust in Jesus’ sacrifice for your sin and that you want Jesus to take charge of your life.
If this is the decision you want to make, here is a prayer that you can use to talk to God right now:
I admit that I have gone my own way and have sinned against You. I realize this sin separates me from You. But I am willing now to stop going my own way and turn to follow You. Please forgive me. I am placing all my trust in what Jesus Christ did for me when He died on the cross to pay the penalty for my sin. Thank you for raising Jesus back to life again. I invite Jesus to be in charge of my life from now on. Amen.
If you just prayed this prayer or a prayer like this, welcome to the family of God! You have just made the most important decision of your life. According to God’s message to us in the Bible, now you can be sure you have eternal life, and that you will enjoy a personal relationship with God that will last forever in heaven.
As proof of giving Jesus control, we will want others to know that we belong to Him. To show others that you are following Jesus, the Bible tells us to be baptized and to worship God together with other believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. And Jesus commands us to tell others the Good News about how to receive God’s gift of eternal life! Jesus said, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age (Matthew 28:19-20).”
Scripture quotations are from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.®
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