So Now What?
Ok, so if you have read several of the articles on Love, Joy, Peace, etc. you may be wondering so what now? Maybe you have learned a thing or two about who God is and what some of these attitudes/behaviors really mean. You might even feel like you have a pretty good grasp of these things or that you are a pretty good person. So isn’t that enough? Maybe you are still asking the question…
Why won't being a good person get me to heaven?
Modified from: https://www.compellingtruth.org/good-person.html
Many believe that if they try hard in this life to do good, that God will accept them into heaven when they die. Yet the Bible makes clear that getting into heaven is not something we can accomplish in our own power. Ephesians 2:8-9 clearly teach, "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast." Being saved from sin and receiving eternal life cannot take place by our works. Getting into heaven requires faith in Jesus Christ.
Why is getting into heaven based on faith? Heaven is a perfect place that is free from sin. Yet every person except Jesus has sinned. Romans 3:23 teaches, "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Ecclesiastes 7:20 adds, "Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins." No matter how hard you may try, even one sin is enough to keep you from heaven unless you have placed your faith in Jesus Christ.
The good news of the Bible is that, "while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8). He knew we would each fail, sin, and lack the ability to enter heaven apart from Him. He died in our place, offering Himself as the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6) that would allow us access to heaven by faith in Him.
Can anyone come to faith in Jesus Christ and receive eternal life? Yes! In John 3:16 Jesus promised, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." This "whoever" includes you.
How can a person place his or her faith in Jesus Christ and receive eternal life in heaven? Romans 10:9 answers, "if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." Salvation is a gift already given by God to all who acknowledge Jesus as Lord and believe He rose again from the dead.
Having a savior who has turned our hearts toward Him and who has already accepted us, we can be confident and rejoice in the words Romans 8:1 which teaches, "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." First John 5:13 adds that we can know for certain that we are saved and will spend eternity with the Lord when we die: "I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life."
Have you been trusting in your own efforts and goodness to receive eternal life? Or perhaps worrying if you have done enough? Today, you can place your faith in Jesus and know for certain you will have eternal life. There is no special prayer you must pray to do so. Remember, salvation is not based on your works, but on God's grace. However, the following prayer is one you can use to respond to God’s precious gift of grace and acknowledge Jesus Christ as your Savior:
"Dear God, I realize I am a sinner and could never reach heaven by my own good deeds. Only you have the power to save me. Right now I place my faith in Jesus Christ as God's Son who died for my sins and rose from the dead to give me eternal life. Please forgive me of my sins and help me to live for you. Thank you for accepting me and giving me eternal life."
What’s next? How do I grow in my relationship with God and attitudes that glorify Him?
First, it's important to be sure you understand what salvation is and what it means to follow Jesus. As a brief review, every human needs salvation because of sin (Romans 3:23). Sin is essentially going against God. Our sin means we are separated from God. Our sin leads only to death (Romans 6:23). There is nothing we can do to make ourselves good enough to be in relationship with God. Romans 3:20 explains, "For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight." Ephesians 2:1 describes people prior to salvation as "dead in the trespasses and sins." But God intervened. He made a way for our sins to be forgiven and for us to be saved and brought to spiritual life! Jesus Christ, who is fully God and fully human, lived a perfect life. He died on the cross as a payment for our sins. He took on the punishment that we deserve. Then He rose back to life proving that He is who He claimed to be and that His sacrifice was enough. He offers forgiveness of sins to all who put their faith in Him (John 3:16–18). Ephesians 2:8–9 explains, "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast." Once we have received forgiveness in Christ, our salvation is secure forever (John 6:37–40; 10:28; Hebrews 7:25).
Not only are we fully forgiven and guaranteed eternity in heaven when we are saved, we are invited into relationship with God now. God gives us the Holy Spirit to live inside us. Ephesians 1:13–14 explains, "In him [Jesus Christ] you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it." The Holy Spirit works in our lives to make us more like Christ (Philippians 2:12–13). He helps us to live the way God would have us live. He produces things in our lives like "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control" (Galatians 5:22–23).
After explaining that salvation is by God's grace through faith, Ephesians 2:10 tells us, "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." Being a follower of Jesus means living in relationship with Him, honoring Him in what we do, and becoming more like Him (Romans 8:29–30). Second Corinthians 5:17 says that "if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation." The Christian life is one in which we live out this new creation.
So how do we get to know God better and become more like Him? The New Testament gives us a lot of information about what this relationship looks like. Primarily the Bible is a book about who God is. It also tells us how we should live as a result. The following are a few of the things the Bible tells us that followers of Jesus Christ should do.
Read the Bible: In the days of the Old Testament, God sent His prophets to tell the people how to live. Now, we have all the necessary teachings together in one book: the Bible. It's the Bible that explains what Jesus is like, why He came, and how we should respond to Him. If anything contradicts the Bible, it isn't right. Second Timothy 3:16–17 says, "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work."
It is good to be in a daily habit of reading the Bible. A helpful place to start would be the gospel of John, followed by the book of Acts, Romans, and another Gospel like Luke. (don’t be afraid if you have questions… Our Pastor or another like him will be happy to help you)
Pray: God knows what you're thinking and what you need before you do. But it's kind of foolish to have a relationship with the Creator of the Universe and not take advantage of that. Talk to Him. He wants to hear what you have to say (1 Thessalonians 5:16–18; Hebrews 4:14–16). Praise Him for who He is. Confess your sins to Him (1 John 1:9). Thank Him for what He's given you—all the good stuff in your life. And ask Him for what you need. Like any good father with his children, God likes to hear what we have to say (James 4:8). If you don't know what to say, try starting with the Lord's Prayer in Matthew 6:9–13.
Join with other believers: Spending time alone with God is vitally important, but so is spending time in fellowship with others who are following God. Those who have been saved in Jesus are the family of God. We're also called the "body of Christ." We're meant to encourage one another and share in life together.
This is why involvement in a local church is so important. Jesus' church is a group of believers who help each other learn about Him and live like Him (1 Corinthians 12:14–26). It's a family that celebrates together, confronts each other, and even apologizes. Church is important because it's hard to follow Jesus alone in a world that wants nothing to do with Him. We need friends to help us on our way (Hebrews 10:24–25).
(If you have not already) Be Baptized: In this special and holy Gift of God, God seals you through the water and His Word, God fills you with His Spirit and marks you as His Child. Contact our pastor to learn more about what Baptism is and how to receive this precious gift