In the Bible, there are many references to times where God personally interacted with humans. A few of the examples were Adam, Abraham, Jeremiah, and Moses. God still speaks to us today in many different ways. The most common way now is by reading His inspired Word, the Bible. It’s often said, if you want to ‘hear’ God speak, read the Bible out loud, especially the quoted words of Jesus.(Red Letter Editions)
From the New Testament we know that for 3 ½ years Jesus spoke to us words given to him directly from God. He said,” I only say what the Father has given me to say.” We must realize that Jesus Christ, Emanuel, was and is God with us then, now and for all eternity. So, in addition to the above ways, there is still another way that God speaks to us now.
If a person is a Christian and has accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, they receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. This Spirit of God, if one is listening, speaks directly into one’s mind and reaches into our hearts. In personal quiet times of meditation and reflection on God’s Word we actually are able to engage in a conversation with Him. The secret is to just be silent and listen for God to speak. Finally, yes, we can say with confidence that God still speaks to us.
Maybe you’ve gone to church when you were younger, but never took that step to become a Christian. Maybe you’ve been living your life your own way and not taking into account what it takes to live life differently, one with meaning and purpose. Man looks on the outside but it’s really our hearts and our character that God is concerned about. Becoming a Christian requires a decision. The Bible says in Romans 10:8-11, “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord and believe in your heart that He was raised from the dead, you will be saved.” Jesus waits patiently for our decision and our heart to be open to receive Him and His love. The fact is that God responds to genuine humility and sincere acknowledgment that one is a sinner in need of a Savior and seeks God’s forgiveness and acceptance. God is loving and merciful and doesn’t want anyone to be lost.
If becoming a Christian is the desire of your heart, all you need to do is to pray a sincere and simple prayer. In your own words, just say to Jesus that you admit you are sinner in need of a Savior. Then say that you will repent, turn from your old way of living and thinking, invite Jesus into your life and promise to follow Him for the rest of your days.
At that very moment, God’s Holy Spirit will enter your eternal soul, you will receive eternal life and forgiveness of your sins and become a child of God. In effect, you become ‘born again’, a new creation in Christ and enter into a personal relationship with Him. The old life will have passed away and a totally new life will begin. Giving your life to Jesus is the most important decision one can ever make. Eternity hangs in the balance; heaven or hell. Today is the day of decision.
Sanctification is a very important concept or process to understand in the life of a Christian. It’s much more than just a fancy word of the Christian faith. Sanctification simply means “to be set apart” for God’s exclusive possession as a reminder to us of God’s redeeming Grace made for our salvation. That gift of grace of course was the gift of his Son Jesus Christ who paid the price for our sins on the Cross so that we could be forgiven and restored to a right relationship with God our Creator.
Sanctification is the on-going process by which a person becomes holy in God’s sight by yielding his or her life daily to Jesus. It is a life long experience for the believer. We are reminded over and over again in the Bible that God never leaves us as we were before we experienced salvation in Jesus Christ. It is in fact a lifelong pursuit guided by God’s Holy Spirit and God’s inspired Word. Like an athlete training for a marathon, sanctification is an endeavor that takes discipline, time, sacrifice, commitment, faithfulness, and a desire to please and follow Jesus and bring honor and glory to God.
Finally, sanctification requires getting into God’s Word on a consistent basis, participating in Bible studies, having a regular quiet time with Jesus, attending and participating in worship services and treasuring God’s Word in one’s heart by memorizing Scripture. The goal of sanctification is to, over time, make a believer more and more like Jesus Christ (Rom. 6:1-18). As that happens, others will see Christ in the believer and he or she will be able to tell them about Him and God’s love for them.
Justification is an important event that takes place when a person becomes a believer in Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, justification is often misunderstood by well-meaning Christians who think that it is defined by the phrase, “Just as if I had never sinned.” In other words, they assume when a person trusts or puts their faith in Jesus as Savior and Lord, then God sees them as being sinless. That idea or concept is not actually Biblically accurate. God always sees a person as they really are, a sinner in need of a Savior. This is where true justification enters into the picture. It is a one-time act of God!
The essence of justification is a declaration of a positional relationship by and with God, himself. Justification occurs only once! When an individual places his or her belief and trust in the finished work of Jesus on the cross, then God declares that person righteous. God doesn’t make a person righteous; that’s what Sanctification is all about. The Sanctification process will be discussed in next week’s Great New Question posting.
Finally, Justification is how a person achieves legal/adopted standing before God as sons/daughters and how God brings individuals into a loving family relationship with Him in the present and for all eternity. In fact, the really good news is that being justified by God makes us ‘Kids of God’s Kingdom’ and joint heirs with Christ. It doesn’t get any better than that.
The short answer is no, they don’t. There is no path to God as other religions propose. The world’s religions suggest that through self-sacrifice, good works and performing a variety of religious rites or rituals that a person can gain eternal life and know God. Jesus, who is fully God and fully man, Emmanuel, God with us, said,” I am the Way, the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father (God) except by me.” (John 14:6) Jesus is also the source of all truth, so what He said can be trusted.
The only way to a present and eternal relationship with God is to commit one’s life to Jesus as Savior and Lord, follow Him and obey His Commandments. He said,” The greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind and your neighbor as yourself.” He also said, “Go and make disciples of all nations.”
Salvation is a gift of God, not something to be earned by human acts. The apostle Paul said in Romans 10:9-10,”If you confess with your mouth Jesus Christ is Lord and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” This is the only way to God and to eternal life.
Finally, keep this in mind regarding all other religions. Religion can make a person think that they are better than others because they are ‘religious’ and self-righteous. Jesus called out the Pharisees for their hypocrisy because they had the outward appearance of being religious but their hearts were far from God. They trusted in the religion of the Law. However it only pointed out their sinfulness and hard-heartedness and was never intended to lead anyone to salvation. Christianity is the only way that leads to God.
Life is about choices. Decisions we make have outcomes that impact our lives, influence our behaviors, our beliefs and our relationships with others. We can choose to continue with business as usual, enjoying success based on the standards defined by our secular culture. Or, we can take an honest look at Jesus of the Bible and dare to ask what the consequences might be if we really believed, trusted and obeyed Him. Would following Jesus really bring life meaning and purpose, joy and peace and eternal life?
The fact is that each and everyday, for over 2000 years, people around the world from every nation choose to follow Jesus who gave His life and was raised from the dead so that all who follow Him can enjoy God’s kingdom, peace with God and everlasting life.
Jesus proved that He was God by signs, miracles, profound wisdom, and overcoming death and the grave. Jesus confirmed (John 14:6) that He is the only way to heaven and eternal life. So the question really is, “Why wouldn’t everyone want to follow Jesus?” Life is a gift from God. It can only be lived to the fullest in a relationship with Jesus. Remember happiness depends on happenings, which are temporary, but real joy and fulfillment, which are eternal, are only found in Jesus. That is why untold millions have chosen to follow Him.