Now, the Bible teaches that God is a merciful God and therefore He does not want to punish us with eternal condemnation and the second death. In the First Letter of John, chapter 4, verse 8, the Bible tells us “God is love”. This is an amazing truth, that God loves us even when we sinned against Him. He loves us in spite of what we are – sinners – because of who He is – a kind, loving and merciful God.
But the same Bible that tells us that God is love, tells us that this same God is also a God of justice, and therefore He must punish sin (God said in the Book of Exodus, chapter 47, verse 17: “When people sin, I punish them.”)
So, on one hand, God loves us and He doesn’t want to punish us. But on the other hand, because He is also a God of justice, He must punish the sin in our lives. How then does God resolve this tension between His love and His justice?
At the beginning of the 20th Century, a band of rebels were trying overthrow the Tsar of Russia. The group lived in tents, and together with their families, they had to be constantly on the move to escape the Tsar’s soldiers, and food was not easy to come by. Hence they had to be very careful with food rations. One night the rebel leader discovered that someone had broken into the supply extent and stolen some food. The rebel leader was furious. He summoned all the people and told them that from then on, anyone caught stealing food would be publicly whipped. A few nights later, food was again stolen from the supply tent, but this time the thief was caught. Unfortunately, the thief turned out to be the rebel leader’s own elderly mother.
Talk about a dilemma! If the old woman was whipped, she would surely die. And yet, if the rebel leader did not punish his mother he would undermine his own authority, and lose the respect of his followers. The next morning everyone gathered to see what the rebel leader would do. He ordered his aged mother to be tied up and whipped. But before the guard could whip the old woman, the rebel leader wrapped his arms around his mother so that it was he and not his mother who received the whipping. He took the place of his mother. In that way, both his love for his mother, and the need for justice was satisfied.
In the same way, our sins deserve punishment and the sentence is eternal death. Unfortunately, a wrong doer cannot take the place of another wrong doer for justice to be served. This means that no human being can ever take the punishment for the sins of another human being because, remember, all human beings have sinned and violated God’s law. Only a person who has lived a perfect, sinless life is worthy to take our place for the punishment of our sins. And that Person is Jesus Christ!
Jesus Christ is fully God in that He is the infinitely mighty God who created and sustains all things. Yet Jesus Christ is also fully Man in that He was born as a human Baby some 2,000 years ago. He grew up, faced adversity like you and me, yet lived a perfect and sinless life, healing the sick and teaching the world’s greatest lessons on how to live life on this earth. Finally He came to the end of His earthly life, to the very hour for which He had been born. He died on a cruel Roman cross on our behalf to pay the penalty for our sins. This means that all our sins were laid on Christ, and He assumed our guilt. In this way, both God’s love for us and the need for His justice was satisfied. And to prove that our debt of sin has been fully paid, Jesus Christ rose from the dead. Now the living Christ offers eternal life to you, and to every person, as a free gift.
This gift is received by faith. Faith is not simply knowing in our minds that God and Jesus Christ exist, for the Bible says in the Book of James, chapter 2, verse 19: “You believe that there one God. Good! Even the demons believe that – and shudder.” Nor is faith merely believing in Jesus Christ to help us out in an emergency (for example, when we are sick and need healing, or in financial difficulties and need bailing out, etc.), and when the emergency is over, we stop having faith in Him.
The faith that God requires consists of 3 components:
- Knowledge – understanding who Jesus Christ is and what He did for you.
- Agreement – agreeing with the Bible that Jesus died to pay the penalty for your sins, and so He is in fact your Saviour.
- Trust – trusting in Jesus Christ alone to give you the gift of eternal life. (“Believe [trust] in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved…” – Book of Acts, chapter 16, verse 31)
Now you may be thinking: Why, then should I try to live a good life and do good deeds if the gift of eternal life is received by faith alone?
The reason for living a godly life is simply gratitude to God for His gift of eternal life. It’s our way of saying: “Thank you, Lord”. The motive for godly, Christian living is always gratitude to God for His gift of eternal life to us.
Friend, this is probably the most important question you will ever have to answer in your life:
Would you like to receive God’s gift of eternal life?
If your answer is “yes”, we need to clarify what it involves:
- Confess that you have sinned against God in attitude, word and actions. Ask for, and receive His forgiveness. Repent, that is, turn from sinful attitudes and actions, and follow God’s ways as revealed in the Bible.
- Believe that Jesus Christ alone can save you and that He died and rose again to give you eternal life.
- Receive Jesus Christ into your life as your Savior and also as your Lord. (Receiving Jesus as Lord is like you moving over to the passenger seat and allowing Jesus to be the driver in the vehicle of your life.)
If this is what you really want, please say the following prayer:
Lord Jesus, I confess that I have sinned against You in attitude, actions and words. I repent of my sins and seek Your forgiveness. I believe that You died on the cross to pay the penalty for my sins and rose from the dead to give me eternal life. I receive You as my Savior, and as best as I know how, I give You, Lord Jesus, control of my life, acknowledging You as my Lord. Thank you, Lord, for the gift of eternal life which I now receive. In Your name I pray. AMEN.
The Gift Of Eternal Life series :