I hesitate to call this a story because I do not believe for a minute that it is just a story that you would find in any book. This story, this one transforming story, is true. I believe that with every part of my being and I want to share it with you. I want to share it in a way that is understandable and easy to read, but not in a way that is watered down. I have not included all parts to this story, but they can be found in the one book that does matter, the bible. I have included lots of scripture references for you to click to, or go and read further for yourself. I ask that you read this slowly and take it in. I also ask that you share it with someone you know needs to hear the transforming story.
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. This very same God, that formed the vast mountains and expansive sea, created you because of His great love for you
. He loves you and He desires to have a relationship with you. Psalm 139:13-14 says, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”
God created Adam and Eve in His image. (Genesis 2) While in the Garden of Eden, they were able to walk and talk with God. This perfect relationship with God was ruined when Adam and Eve made the decision to sin and disobey God. (Genesis 3) Death, disease, and the decay of this earth all have root in this original sin. We are given free choice to decide to believe, obey, and love God. Just like Adam and Eve. Sadly,“ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Sin has a price. Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Sin separates us from God. Romans 5:12 says “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people because all sinned.” God is Holy and cannot be near sin. Sin’s price is death. If we die in our sin we are lost, without hope, and face eternal damnation. But God has had a plan since before creation to save us. “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. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” John 3:16-17 His Son was fully man and yet fully God. He came as a baby, born in a manager. (Luke 2) He was sinless (2 Corinthians 5:21) and perfect. Jesus came to seek and save the lost. (Luke 19:10) We are all lost without Jesus.
The payment for sin is death. Jesus bore the punishment for my sin, and your sin on the cross when he was beaten and hung to die on the cross. All of God’s wrath toward sin was poured out on Him. As Jesus hung on the cross he cried out, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46) God had to turn his back on his only Son, who became the sacrifice for our sin. That is love. That is God’s transforming love that he has for you and me. 1 John 4:10 says, “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” When Christ came to die for our sins, the cross bridged the gap that was created by sin and separated us from God. The cross became our way to a relationship with God and eternal life.
If the story ended there, with Christ’s death on the cross, we would still be without hope. But Christ overcame death. He was put in a tomb for three days, on the third day he returned back to life and overcome the grave. (Matthew 28) 1 Corinthians 15:55-57 says, “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” We have victory over death and sin.
Jesus appeared to more than 500 people before he ascended to heaven. Eleven of those he appeared to were his disciples. He told them to go preach the gospel and spread the good news. In the book of Acts, we see what the apostles did, who they preached to, and how they responded. This gives us a picture of what we should do in response to hearing how much God loves us.
Believe it, or not.
What now? What do we do with what you have now read? You are faced with the choice, to believe it, or not. Some, or most of you may already believe it. If that is the case, then share it. Others reading this may be torn and grappling with questions of doubt and belief. My father-in-law always says, “I believe that if you believe that you were lost and Jesus had the power to save you, I believe that you would believe in Jesus.” I ask you the age old questions if you were to die tonight, where would you go? What is your fate? If this message about Jesus is true and you choose not to believe it what do you lose? Everything. If this message about Jesus is true and you choose to believe it, what do you gain? Everything.
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. Romans 5:12-13
Repent and be baptized
37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”
38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:37-18
When we repent of our sins, we turn away from our sins. We are asking forgiveness for the sins we have committed and we commit to move forward away from our sin. Does this mean we will always be without sin? No. However, we will not continually choose to live in sin and willfully commit sin.
What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?2 By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? 3 Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 For we know that our old self, was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— 7 because anyone who has died has been set free from sin. Romans 6:1-7
The Great Commission given to the disciples before Christ ascended into heaven becomes our calling. Matthew 28: 18-20 says, “18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 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, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” When we are transformed and made new in Christ, we cannot help but share what he has done for us.