The good news: peace with God
One of the oldest questions humankind has been asking is, “How can I know God?” The question is a valid one. What is He like? What can we do to please Him? How can we get to Heaven? If we work hard enough to be a good enough person will He accept us then? If we do enough religious activities to get His attention, will that do it?
Fortunately for us, the answer is surprisingly simple. The “Gospel” that the Bible talks about literally means, “the Good News,” and the news is good indeed!
First, we have to start at the beginning. In Genesis 1:26, when God created the first humans, He said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness”, then God blessed them and spent the days walking and talking with the people He had created. In short, life was good.
But why isn’t life like that anymore? What happened to mess everything up? This brings us to the second point: when we (humankind) chose to do the opposite of what God told us, sin poisoned the world. Sin separated us from God, and everything changed. Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” and in Isaiah 59:2 we’re told, “your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you so that he will not hear.”
This is especially bad news because there is no way for us to get across that gap on our own. We (humankind) have tried to find our way back to God and a perfect world on our own ever since then, and without any luck. We try to get there by being good people, or through religion, money, morality, philosophy, education, or any number of other ways, but eventually we find out that none of it works. “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death” (Proverbs 14:12).
There is only one way to find peace with God, and the Bible says it is through Jesus Christ. We were stranded without any way of getting back to our Creator, and we needed a way to pay for our sins and be clean again so that we could be welcomed back to be with Him. Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” So this is the Good News—that even though we were still enemies of God (as one translation says), Jesus came to die on the cross and pay the price for our sins so that we could have a relationship with Him again. John 3:16 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.”
What then should be our reaction to this awesome news? This brings us to the last and most important part. John 5:24 says, “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes Him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.” Jesus Christ himself even says, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10), and Romans 5:1 says, “we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
So how can I have peace with God, life to the full, and be confident of eternal life like these verses say? First, through an honest prayer to God, I have to admit that I’m not perfect—that I can’t escape my sins, and I can’t save myself. I must turn away, or repent of my sins. I follow this admission by believing that Jesus Christ died for me on the cross and rose from the grave, conquering death and sin. I must put my faith in Him. Then I invite Jesus Christ to live in me and be the Lord of my life, accepting His free gift of eternal life with Him.
The prayer can go something like this:
“Dear Jesus, I know that I am a sinner and that I need You to forgive me. I know that You died a painful death so that my sins could be washed clean. Thank you. I want to make You the Lord of my life, and I will trust and follow You. Everything I have is Yours now. In Your name, Lord. Amen.”
There is nothing magical about these words. It’s not the words themselves that make things right between you and God—it’s whether or not your heart really means it. We know this because in 1 Samuel 16:7, the Bible says, “The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
The best part of this whole process is that it doesn’t matter how badly we’ve messed up, Jesus is powerful enough to save anyone from their sins—even the worst of us. Romans 10:13 says, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” That’s fantastic news—no matter how badly we’ve messed up, we can place our complete trust in Jesus, and He will wipe all of our sins off the face of the earth. Jesus is the bridge to life.
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