An important conversation about our personal ties with God for now and for eternity
WHAT IS THIS ALL ABOUT ANYWAY?
First, it’s about God. So we are accepting that He exists and is Creator of the universe. People who do not believe He exists have to start somewhere else.
Then it is about how we connect with Him, assuming He is holy, powerful, and a person (which the Bible says a lot).
And we are not holy, which goes without saying. The Letter to Romans says it clearly: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Very short!
WHY IS THIS CONNECTION NOT AUTOMATIC, AS SOME ASSUME?
God is revealed as holy and far above sin. He cannot just embrace us. By virtue of perfect holiness, He cannot just overlook sin.
So we are challenged to face that there is a real problem in life, to believe that our spiritual problems are real. If we agree with that – a constant theme in the Bible – we will look for the way to connect with God, and begin a spiritual journey.
“All we like sheep have gone astray,” is a famous Isaiah statement (53:6).
WHAT DOES THE BIBLE TEACH ABOUT THIS ATTACHMENT TO GOD AND HIS APPROVAL?
God is holy, far above sin. And He really loves the people He created, and He said they ran away from Him.
Because of that love, He plans the way for connection with people that would actually meet His standards for holiness.
It was all His idea.
WHAT IS THAT WAY?
First, God does not change His standards. He remains holy, and cannot just say, “Boys will be boys,” when noticing our sin.His way is clearly defined in the Bible.
He comes to earth in the person of the eternal second person of the Trinity – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. That is Christmas, the incarnation, the Son taking on human nature also.
Mary had a baby.
HOW DOES HIS COMING RELATE TO THE REST OF THE BIBLE?
All through the Bible’s Old Testament, there are prophecies about someone to come as a victor and Messiah, “the anointed one.” As early as Genesis 3, when God stated that someday “the seed of a woman,” a baby, would somehow crush “the snake,” Satan. (A strange prophecy indeed.)
Then there are hundreds of prophecies of a deliverer in the Old Testament, including even that he would be “a child to be born,” and “a son is given” (Isaiah 9:6).
The eternal Son comes to earth and lives a perfectly sinless life as a human person.
He is crucified for other reasons. Actually, as prophesied in Isaiah 53, He dies as a substitute for every one of us.
His judgment-death actually counts as our death or judgment for sin. He dies for us, for our sins. Instead of us.
“For our sake, he (God) made him (Jesus) to be sin.” He took ours on his back, “who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God in him” (II Corinthians 5:21).
That is an extravagant statement. It is quite the opposite of religion by itself, where we see what we can do to get in with God.
So our judgment for sin is already accomplished, should we receive this gift of the Savior by faith. By believing. That is the generous connection – faith in Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord.
IS THERE MORE?
Yes. This is, in one sense, just half the gift. This gives us the penalty-paid-to-our-holy-God stamp. No question. “The Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6).
So that gets coverage or removal of our sin record in front of a holy God. Pure grace.
But how do we get a perfectly righteous standing in front of His holiness?
Enter the gift of righteousness. You have to be perfect to go to heaven, to be with God —and perfect is a gift!
The Bible is very clear that the perfect record of righteousness of Jesus Christ is credited to the person who places his faith in Christ alone — who he is, and what he did in his life and death and resurrection. Christ’s righteousness or perfect record is counted as ours in God’s eyes!
That is the essence of the gospel, the good news.
SAY IT AGAIN.
When we admit we need help, seeking Jesus as Savior, and place our faith in Jesus —who he is, and what he did for us then in God’s eyes — the death and judgment of Jesus actually count for us. His punishment for sins covers us when we trust Him by faith.
What is more, His perfect life record counts as ours. “Our faith is counted as righteousness.”
This is most amazing.
THIS SEEMS SO POSITIVE, ALMOST UNBELIEVABLE. WHY DOESN’T EVERYONE JUMP AT THIS?
It has been buried under a pile of religion and misrepresentation and rules and regulations. It has been forgotten. For some, it has seemed too good to be true, or maybe even too much a gift rather than something we earned.
And of course the Bible is clear, and history verifies, that people or even civilizations lose interest in finer and eternal things when selfishness and sin capture their hearts!
DO PEOPLE REALLY NEED THIS?
If God is Creator and Owner of the universes, and He is perfectly holy, as He says, we are in trouble without His help and forgiveness. And He is clear that He cannot connect with sin. He cannot touch it, or just shrug His shoulders at it.
Jesus Christ, the perfect God-man, is the answer for that. He is the huge theme of the Bible – that God, the Creator, takes care of our need, and makes possible our faith.
Sadly, part of being fallen out of connection with God is that we do not even seek after God. Not many people follow up their emptiness in life with a chasing after God. Most of us have not met many people on a God-search.
That is just the way it is. Other interests capture our hearts.
Augustine, a famous church father centuries ago, wrote. “Thou hast made us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless until we rest in Thee.”
That seems true.
SO WHAT SHALL WE DO ABOUT ALL THIS?
At least be sure you know the facts. So many people never think about God.
In a Gallup poll of people on the street, 75% said they would probably go to heaven by keeping the Ten Commandments. Now think about that! Not one of us has been able to keep the Ten Commandments – they had to make up that answer on the spot! And yet that was their quick go-to hope.
Point is, not many of us search for God, or study the life and claims of Christ, or even the specifics of the gospel gift of forgiveness and righteousness. Or how to be compatible with God’s holiness.
So easily we just avoid the subject, or notice hypocrisy, or try to figure out the evils and unfair twists of life and history.
The answer is the Savior, the only one who really got it right.