Getting to know God on my own terms.

Getting to know God on my own terms.

It Doesn’t Work That Way

What prevents me from getting to know God on my own terms?

God will not force you to accept his plan for receiving eternal life. But, the truth remains; he has done all the heavy lifting himself. He sent his only Son to earth, gave him up to a horrific death to take the punishment for every wrong thing you’ve ever done or could ever do, then raised him from the dead, and inspired the witnesses to record His Word to you so YOU would know His plan. And all you have to do is say yes or no to His plan.

Answers To Your Questions

If God Loves Me, Why Doesn’t He Just Make It Easy...

Finding God’s Way

If God loves me, why doesn’t he just make it easy for me to get to know him on my own terms?

The question itself reveals the answer. As a people group, humans generally want to do things on their own terms. They want to know they have control over their lives—and their destiny.

We can order a hamburger at Burger King and have it our way. We can choose dial-up or broadband Internet connections. We can watch broadcast, cable, or satellite TV. We can pump regular unleaded, premium, or ultra-premium gas into our car. We can even buy a car that runs on both fossil fuel and electricity!

With so much control and so many choices, it’s natural, at least according to some, to want to exercise that sense of control in our relationship with God. Unfortunately, this leads to a buffet-style faith where one picks and chooses only the things—the TRUTHS—they like and reject those truths they don’t. And why shouldn’t we be able to come to God on our terms?

The answer of course is that you are not God. God is God. And it is HE who dictates how things are to work. Like a child who thinks he knows better than his dad, many of us think we know better than God to this God responds, “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?” (Job 38:4)

The irony of it all is that the plan God has prepared is so incredibly simple even a child can understand it. In fact, its simplicity is what makes it difficult for many to understand! Coming to God and receiving eternal life all happen through Jesus Christ. This was God’s plan and neither you nor I have any say in it. We can spend the rest of our lives wishing it weren’t so and insisting that God should have done it some other way, but that won’t alter God’s plan. In fact, God is a lot more generous to us and respect- ful of us than we have given him credit for because ultimately the choice still remains ours—yours and mine—to accept or reject His plan.

God will not force you to accept his plan for receiving eternal life. But, the truth remains; he has done all the heavy lifting himself. He sent his only Son to earth, gave him up to a horrific death to take the punishment for every wrong thing you’ve ever done or could ever do, then raised him from the dead, and inspired the witnesses to record His Word to you so YOU would know His plan. And all you have to do is say yes or no to His plan.

That may not be the terms you would have chosen, but it’s still the best deal in the world.

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If God Is All-Powerful, Why Doesn’t He Just Forgive...

Understanding God’s Forgiveness

If God is all-powerful, why doesn’t He just forgive us all and make us good?

“We are told that Christ was killed for us, that His death has washed out our sins, and that by dying He disabled death itself. That is the formula. That is Christianity. That is what has to be believed…On the face of it, that is a very silly theory. If God was prepared to let us off, why on earth did He not do so?” (C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity)

The short answer to C.S. Lewis’ question is justice.

The slightly longer answer is because God is holy and cannot therefore tolerate sin; the Bible says, “[His] eyes are too pure to look on evil; [He] cannot tolerate wrong” (Habakkuk 1:13, NIV). Because God is just, he cannot excuse sin; the Bible says, “[H]e never lets the guilty go unpunished” (Nahum 1:3, NLT). And because God is love, he cares what happens to us; the Bible says, “The Lord…does not want anyone to perish, so he is giving more time for everyone to repent” (2 Peter 3:9, NLT).

If God were to let all humanity’s sin slide, that would contradict his holiness. He would be like the parent who watches his kid slowly destroy himself with drugs and never says a word. Think about it, who would want that guy to be God?

If God were to just shrug at our sin and say, “Ah, it’s okay; I’m sure you didn’t mean it,” that would contradict his justice. He would be like the judge who lets criminals off the hook and sets them free to victimize someone else.

But, if God were to do nothing to rescue us, that would contradict his love and mercy. He would be like the uncaring driver who sees a poor soul broken down on the side of the road in the pouring rain and keeps driving. Worse, he would be like a parent who let his child die rather than lift a finger to help. God loves each of us too much to respond to our needs that way, which is why “he gave his only Son so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16, NLT).

Jesus is the only means by which our loving Father God could provide a cure for our sin in a way that didn’t compromise his holiness, justice, love, or mercy.

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Why In The World Do I Need A Savior?

Asking The Real Question

Aaron was a child of five when he saw his first television commercial for a 900-number. The announcer informed Aaron that if he called that number, he could talk directly to Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, or Goofy. That sounded like fun, so Aaron called the number. Several times a day, every day, for several weeks. Aaron didn’t know that every call cost money. He didn’t know that he wasn’t supposed to make those calls without his parents’ permission. He didn’t know that someone would have to pay the bill. And he didn’t know that there were consequences to his newfound addiction.

That’s a bit like our situation as human beings. We have all done wrong things. The Bible says, “All have sinned; all fall short of God’s glorious standard” (Romans 3:23, NLT). Are you as bad as you could possibly be? Of course not. But that’s not the point. The point is, even the best among us has done enough wrong things that we would shudder to have them broadcast in living color on the Times Square JumboTron. And the point is, whether we know it or not, our behaviors have consequences. Yet we are no more able to pay the bill when it comes due than five-year-old Aaron could pay hun- dreds of dollars in telephone charges. That’s why we need a Savior.

Another consequence of our wrong actions is bondage. The Bible says that those who have not ex- perienced new life through Jesus Christ are “full of sin, obeying Satan, the mighty prince of the power of the air. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God” (Ephesians 2:2, NLT). You may choose what to wear each day, what to eat, what color your hair is going to be this week, but as hard as you try, you cannot be the kind of person you long to be. Your actions and attitudes reflect the words of Paul who once said, “I am sold into slavery, with sin as my master. I don’t understand myself at all, for I really want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do the very thing I hate. I know perfectly well that what I am doing is wrong…But I can’t help myself” (Romans 7:14b-17a, NLT). That’s another reason why we need a Savior.

A third consequence of our sins is death. The Bible says, “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23, NLT). That means not only that physical death originally entered this world because of sin, but it also includes what the Bible calls the “second death,”—eternal separation from the life that is in God for all eternity. It even refers to the daily death your spirit feels from being separated from God. “Your sins have cut you off from God” (Isaiah 59:2, NLT) and therefore, spiritually speaking, “you [are] dead, doomed forever because of your many sins” (Ephesians 2:1, NLT). This is serious stuff. That’s also why we need a Savior.

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I’m Very Spiritual; Won’t I Go To Heaven?

Spirituality and God’s Plan

Back in the days when Jesus walked on earth, he and his closest followers saw a rest stop by the road through Samaria. His followers left him there by a well while they went into town to buy lunch. As Je- sus waited there, a woman came to the well to draw water. Jesus engaged her in conversation, which surprised her because he was obviously a Jew, and most Jews refused to acknowledge Samaritans. But the woman talked to him, and when she learned that he was something special (a “prophet,” she thought at first), she said, “You Jews insist that Jerusalem is the only place of worship, while we Sa- maritans claim it is here at Mount Gerizim, where our ancestors worshiped” (John 4:20, NLT). In other words, “We’re just as spiritual as you Jews, so what’s the big deal?”

Jesus told her, basically, that spirituality alone doesn’t cut it. “Those who worship God,” he said, “must worship in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24, NLT). He made it clear to her that the way to heaven isn’t by being spiritual; it’s through faith in Jesus Christ, the one who said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me” (John 14:6, NLT).

The woman at the well found truth that day, which gave new height to her spirituality. The Bible says, “The woman left her water jar beside the well and went back to the village and told everyone, ‘Come and meet a man who told me everything I ever did! Can this be the Messiah?’ So the people came streaming from the village to see him…And many Samaritans from the village believed in Jesus” (John 4:28-30, 39, NLT).

Trusting Jesus Christ will take you to new heights of spirituality, too, if, like that woman, you open your mind and heart to “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6, NLT).

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Won’t I Go To Heaven As Long As I Do More Good Than Bad?

Good Works and Heaven

Many people figure that coming to God and getting to heaven are a lot like a presidential election—that 50.00001% is good enough to win. As long as your good deeds outweigh your bad, you’re home free.

The main problem with this notion is that it makes Jesus a liar. Jesus, talking to God the Father, said, “And this is the way to have eternal life—to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth” (John 17:3, NLT). He also said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me” (John 14:6, NLT). The Apostle Peter wrote, “There is salvation in no one else! There is no other name in all of heaven for people to call on to save them” (Acts 4:12, NLT). No one said anything about more good than bad.

That’s good news, though, because most of us haven’t kept really good records of our good and evil deeds since birth. And for some of us, our junior high years alone were enough to sentence us to eternal torture and suffering. But faith in Jesus allows us to wipe the slate clean and accept eternal life not be- cause of how good we’ve been, but based on the righteousness of Jesus, which is a rock-solid foundation.

The Bible says this about those who have found eternal life by entering into a relationship with God through Jesus Christ: “It is only by God’s special favor that you have been saved!…And so God can always point to us as examples of the incredible wealth of his favor and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us through Christ Jesus. God saved you by his special favor when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things he planned for us long ago” (Ephesians 2:4,7-10, NLT).

You can try to earn your ticket to heaven by doing good deeds, but that’s not how it happens. Salvation is a gift. Free. And forever.

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