A Very Important Decision

By Mario Velez, Th.M.

 

Have you asked yourself what is life?  There is no doubt that all of us have, or will, ask this question at some point in our lives.  Is it simply the beating of the heart in our bodies or a vapor, which comes for a short time and then suddenly disappears again?  What exactly is the purpose of life?  Is it simply to be born, to spend a few years of happiness or unhappiness on this earth and then simply to pass away?  The epistle of James in the fourteenth verse of the fourth chapter tells us that our life is but a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.”  Although life may seem long, in comparison to eternity our life span is but a split second.  We begin with infancy and grow into adulthood, and soon must accept our inevitable mortality.  We are reminded every day of our mortality by seeing love ones pass away as well as, co-workers, the rich, the famous, the powerful, as well as the not so rich and not so famous or not so powerful, absolutely no one is immune.

 

Our circumstances in life are always changing and we are also changing, but is there really something constant that we can cling to?  Is there something solid that you can depend on, something real, which doesn’t disintegrate eventually; something pure that doesn’t get tainted? Is there really a hope which doesn’t end in disappointment?  Is there a life which is true, full and completely satisfying, that transcends even our mortality?  Well, yes there is.  It is to be found in Jesus Christ. Do you know Him?  Many have heard of Him, but the question is do you really understand who He is and what He has accomplished on your behalf. Even if you don’t know Him, He certainly does know you.  He loves you and it is He and He alone who can satisfy you fully and give you the kind of life your heart is longing for.

 

Listen to His words from the Gospel of John 14:6 where He states, “I am the way, the truth and the life; no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me.”  With these words, Jesus excluded everyone except Himself as the means of coming unto the Father.  According to the Lord’s words we don’t come unto the Father by the Virgin Mary, nor by Buddha or Mohammad, or even by any types of good works, only by Him and Him alone!  The Bible states that outside of Him you are on the wrong road, condemned to death and eternal punishment.

 

Again, in the Gospel of John, in the third chapter we have some verses which declare how we will avoid the condemnation that keeps us from being joined with God the Father forever.  In John 3:15-18 we read that Jesus states, “15) That whosoever believeth in Him (Jesus) should not perish, but have eternal life. 16) For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son (Jesus), that whosoever believeth in Him (Jesus) should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17) For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved. 18) He that believeth on Him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”

 

Therefore, Jesus offers true life without exception to everyone who will accept it.  He offers it to you and to me, to all of us.  If you accept it, you will find the real purpose of life with an eternal destiny. You will not be living in vain but instead life will have an infinite value for you because God has a plan for your life, a plan of peace and security, and it is worth everything to discover that plan. Yet there are many people who refuse to discover it because they have not understood that the apparent losses do not compare with the present and future gains that are only found in Him.

 

In the Gospel of Matthew chapter 7:13-14 we read that, “heaven can be entered only through the narrow gate.”  In light of the sermon that the Lord was giving, we see that He was comparing the wide gate to the outward righteousness of the Pharisees.  The Pharisees sought the path of righteousness through their self-righteous external system of good works.  If those that were listening to Jesus’ words followed the Pharisees’ teaching, their path would also lead to destruction.  The narrow gate and road discussed here, was a reference to Jesus’ teaching, which emphasizes not external requirements but an internal transformation.  Even the Lord in Matthew 7:14 acknowledged that few would find the true way, the way that leads to eternal life, which is a reference to heaven as appose to hell.  The Pharisees and Scribes had fooled themselves into believing that they were righteous and others were sinful.  Yet, the fact is, as Romans 3:23 tells us, “…ALL have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”

 

            We have all come short of God’s glory because His glory is perfect and none of us can claim perfection.  You may ask, “If perfection is required, then who can be saved?  This is the very question that the Lord’s disciples asked Him in Matthew 19:25. I give you the same answer that He gave them in the next verse, “With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.”  This is why God sent His Son into the world, not to condemn it but to save it.  Jesus Christ alone is the only person who can claim to be perfect.  Hebrew 4:15, speaking of Jesus Christ as our High Priest, states that He was “in all points tempted like we are, yet without sin.” This is why in Romans 3:24-25 Paul continues by stating that we are “24)…justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus; 25) Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood…”

 

It was the sacrificial death of the Lord Jesus Christ that paid the price for all sins and secures the release of the condemnation that the apostle John wrote about in John 3:18.  The word “propitiation” in Romans 3:25 literally means, means of forgiveness,” once again, letting us know that Jesus Christ’s sacrificial death is the means of us being forgiven before a holy and perfect God.  We are made righteous enough to be joined with God when we confidently accept this great message of salvation.  This is the faith of which the Bible is speaking. Since it is Christ, and not we, who accomplished this great work, there is absolutely no room for boasting on our part, and the reason that Ephesians 2:8-9 states, “8) For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9) Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

 

My friend, do you attach any importance to your soul?  What value do you give to this part of yourself, which will live beyond the grave?  Our stay on this earth is very short compared to the endless eternal state that will follow.  Do you know that after death your soul will continue to live forever, either in heaven or in the lake of fire?  What is your choice?  Do you choose to go through the narrow door known as Jesus Christ and find real life, new eternal life that can begin today? Jesus has accomplished everything for us and you simply need to believe in what He has done, and that He has done it for you personally.  You have to believe that by dying on the cross He took the load of your sins and that by shedding His blood He carried the punishment, which those sins deserved.

 

Yes, Jesus has accomplished everything and there is nothing left for you to do but to accept this gift.  Therefore, you can come to God by passing through Jesus Christ, who is the only way.  If you humbly recognize that you are a poor helpless sinner who has nothing to offer and ask Him to forgive you on behalf of the Lord’s substitutionary death on the cross, He will do it.  He will give you His Holy Spirit to purify you and live in you.  Then you will find that you are on the narrow road of true life; this is real Christianity.  Day by day as you follow Jesus your heart will be at rest and He will give you strength to face the rigors of life.  Death itself will not hold any fear for you because for you it will simply be the gateway to heaven.  As a believer in the saving work of Jesus Christ you can be assured that death will simply mean that you will be, as 2 Corinthians 5:8 tells us, “absent from the body and present with the Lord.”

 

Have you ever thought about the fact that the sky seems to go on forever?  We can look upward and, even with the aid of the most powerful telescope, not see the end of the universe.  There is a mystery about the universe that has puzzled mankind since the beginning of time. Mankind has always asked the question of where the universe came from and where it ends.  So likewise, there is a mystery about man as well. You look within yourself and ask, “where did I come from, where am I going, why am I here, what is it in me that thinks and feels and dreams?” “Why do I feel joy when I see the beauty of creation or hear the heartbeat of life, why do I feel sad because it’s going to fade and die?”  “What is it in me that wants to love and reach out to communicate, that tells me there is a difference between right and wrong?  Why do I search for meaning in life and why do I fear death?”

 

You and I are part of this physical universe and yet we hunger for something more.  There is a longing in us for something real and sure and eternal, a longing for God Himself. With our five senses we can explore this natural universe and yet we come to the end of what our senses can discover when we come to the end of the physical creation.  If we want to make contact with spiritual reality then we must make an experiment in another realm, an experiment of faith.

 

In the area of science man takes the initiative, but in spiritual matters it is God who takes the first step.  In fact, He is already reaching out to you right now through the words that you are reading this very second.  You can come to know Him by taking some profound, yet simple steps:

 

STEP 1. Realize that God loves you and He has a plan for you.  In Genesis 1:26 the Creator said, “…let Us make man in Our Image,” and that means God has made you to find fulfillment in a personal relationship with Him.  He is a God of love, and yet His love isn’t soft or sentimental, it is strong and holy and just.  God is absolute perfect purity. He is brighter than a thousand suns and there is absolutely no darkness in Him.  This perfect and holy God has made man to live in peace with love and with a real sense of purpose.  Well, you may ask, if that is so, why the agony, the violence, and the despair in the world and why this emptiness and searching that is within me? 

 

STEP 2. Step two gives us the answer to that question. It tells us that man has sin and because of his sin he is separated from God.  Spiritual rebellion is the most basic cause of our human problem.  The Bible states in Isaiah 53:6 that, “All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned every one to his own way…”  Sin is more than just a bad habit.  Sin is false pride, it is egotism, it means that we deny the true God or we ignore Him and try to play God ourselves, as did the religious leaders of Jesus’ day.  They tried to achieve entrance into heaven by their own means rather than by God’s required means.  To strive for heaven by another way other than the saving work of Jesus Christ is the epitome of the same prideful self-righteous arrogance of the religious leaders in the Lord’s day.

 

            The Bible tells us in Romans 6:23 that “…the wages of sin is death, but the Gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”  You see, you may be alive mentally and socially and physically and yet be dead spiritually.  You’re like a flower that has been cut off from its roots, you are not really living, but instead, you’re just existing. Your contact with your maker has been broken and that’s why you are born restless, lonely, guilty, afraid, and without hope.  The end result is an eternal banishment from a just and holy God.

 

STEP 3. The third step is to realize that God loves us in spite of our rebellion, and in Jesus Christ He has made a provision for our sin. The Bible tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:19 that God was in Christ “reconciling the world unto himself.”  Two thousand years ago He gave us a personal demonstration of what He is like.  He did this in the life of a man by the name of Jesus Christ, who was God in human form. Jesus tells us in John 14:9 that, “…he that hath seen me hath seen the Father.”  Jesus came into the world to bring us back to God, even at the cost of His own life.  He states in Matthew 20:28 that He came, “…to give His life as a ransom for many.”  He committed no sin, yet He carried our sins in His own person on the cross, and because of this Jesus Christ is the bridge by which we can come back into a personal contact with God.  This is the reason He said, “I am the way…no man comes to the Father but by Me.”

 

            You see, to restore that broken contact, to come to know true liberty and have that personal relationship with God, we have to receive Him personally.  Just as it is not enough for me to know and believe that a bridge exist, but I also have to commit myself to stand and walk on that bridge in order to exercise faith in it.  So likewise, it’s not enough for you to know what Christ offers.  You must do something about it.

 

God’s offer of forgiveness and a new life still stands.  But tomorrow that opportunity may be gone, since, for you tomorrow may be too late.  This is the very reason that the Bible continually challenges and warns in 2 Corinthians 6:2 that “…now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”  There might not be a tomorrow to do this. Therefore, by accepting the living Christ into your life right now you can take that final step.  You acknowledge that you are a helpless sinner in need of the salvation that only Jesus Christ offers.  Upon exercising faith or confidence in this message of salvation you are credited God’s forgiveness, God’s eternal life, God’s perfect righteousness and a new destiny to heaven.

 

The Gospel of John tells us in the third chapter that one day Jesus was talking to people about the kingdom of God and there was a man by the name of Nicodemus who heard Him.  He was a great man in that he was a Pharisee and one of the religious leaders of the Jews.  He thought that he was already in the kingdom of God.  Yet, he wanted to learn more about it.  After it was dark he went to see Jesus secretly and tells Him in John 3:2, “Rabbi, we know that Thou art a teacher come from God…”  But Jesus knew that Nicodemus had never entered God’s kingdom and He simply answered him in the next verse by saying, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Jesus was telling Nicodemus that unless a man is born a second time spiritually, not physically, he cannot and will not see the kingdom of God.  Unless he is born from the Spirit of God from heaven he cannot enter God’s family.  Of course, Nicodemus was puzzled and asked in John 3:4, “…How can a man be born when he is old?  Can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?”  Jesus answered him by telling him not to be surprised, since whatever is born from the body is only body, but whatever is born by the spirit is spirit.  Therefore, the Lord tells Nicodemus in John 3:7, “…Ye must be born again.”

 

Today, many people are like Nicodemus.  They do good deeds, they carefully follow religious customs, even Christian customs.  They forget that God’s kingdom is spiritual and the door to His kingdom is spiritual truth.  There is only one way to enter the family of mankind, which is by being born of earthly parents.  Likewise, there is only one way to enter the family of God, which is by being born again spiritually. If we do not enter God’s family we abide in spiritual darkness and when we die we go to the place were sin is punished.

 

No one can enter God’s presence in his once-born condition because God’s Word says, “No man can see God and live.”  It requires another kind of life, God’s life, which is eternal life.  Otherwise, a once-born person, if by some chance could get into heaven, would be like the proverbial fish out of water.  He would not have the kind of life needed to live in God’s presence.  You need God’s eternal life for His eternal home and you become a citizen of heaven when you receive His son Jesus Christ as Savoir.  John 1:12-13 tells us that “…as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God even to them that believe on His name: 13) Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” This brings you into God’s family and eternal life.  Without this new birth your soul will not have the eternal life and perfect righteousness God requires.

 

Do not refuse the Savior who invites you today, will you receive Him today?  There might not be another tomorrow?  As a result, you can have the assurance that you are once again joined to your Creator with the right to even call Him Father.  Paul rejoiced in his unchangeable union with the Lord and so can you when you embrace God’s incredible message of salvation in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:38-39).

 

            Romans 8:38-39, “38) For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor             principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39) Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which   is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

 

 

The Gift of Eternal Life

 

            If you have never accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior, now is your opportunity to do so.  Scripture states that Jesus died for the sins of the whole world (1John 2:2).  These sins would include not only our past, present, but all future sins that we will ever commit.  God the Father placed all our sins on Jesus Christ and judged them while He was on the cross.  As a result of the Lord’s finished work (John 19:30), we do not have to endure the judgment of God for our own personal sins, but can be “made the righteousness of God in Him.”

 

2Cor. 5:21, “For He [God] hath made Him [Christ] to be sin for us [as a substitute for us], Who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.”

 

            To benefit from the Lord’s sacrificial death on the cross, the Bible requires you to exercise faith.  This means that you must use your freewill to accept this message of salvation.  The Bible assures you that when you exercise faith in Jesus Christ and what He accomplished on the cross on your behalf from the love He has for you personally, you are guaranteed eternal life.

 

John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that         whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting [eternal] life.”

 

            Therefore, wherever you may find yourself right now, whether on the job, in your car, in your home, you are free to exercise faith in this message for eternal life.  The Bible is clear on what the basis for our salvation is, Jesus Christ and Him alone.  He has all the merit and we simply benefit from His meritorious work.

 

John 3:36, “He that believeth on the Son [Jesus Christ] hath everlasting [eternal]         life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God  abideth         on him.”

 

            According to John 3:36, our attitude toward Jesus Christ determines where we will spend our eternal future.  Simply put, belief on the Lord’s sacrificial death results in you having eternal life with God forever, but rejecting Him means eternal condemnation in the Lake of Fire.  You can determine your destiny this very moment from your own freewill.

 

            You can exercise faith in Jesus Christ by telling God the Father that you understand that Jesus Christ is the basis for eternal life and that you accept this gift of salvation. 

 

Eph. 2:8-9, “8) For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it   is the gift of God: 9) Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

 

            Please, do not neglect making this most important decision of your life since you might not ever get another opportunity to do so again.  The decision to exercise faith in Jesus Christ is effective while you are yet breathing.  Upon physical death, this opportunity will no longer be valid.  Please do not wait.  Decide today to receive the free gift of eternal life.

 

2Cor. 6:2, “For he saith, ‘I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of           salvation have I succoured [helped] thee:’    behold, now is the accepted time; behold,    now is the day of salvation.”

 

 

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