How Do We Know All This?
This resource makes bold assertions about how God thinks and acts. To a person who doesnʼt understand whatʼs happening here, it sounds like bigotry and arrogance. How can anyone possibly claim to know so much about God?
Whatever view a person holds about God must necessarily arise from two sources:
(1) objective fact and (2) personal experience, our own and/or the testimony of others.
The statements in this site rest upon both sources:
Objective Fact – Topics 18-26 are essential underpinnings for everything stated in this resource. Evidence proves beyond any reasonable doubt that the Bible is our most authoritative source of spiritual information and is in fact Godʼs message to us (see Topic 26). This site simply states what the Bible says and provides references in the margins so that the reader can go direct to the Bible and read Godʼs statements personally.
Experience – This resource incorporates the personal spiritual experiences of thousands of people, particularly their positive testimony regarding a radically changed life after accepting Jesus Christ as personal savior and regarding the way Bible principles have been proven true in their lives.
SIN IS BARRIER TO RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD
The central message of the Bible is that God is more than just a remote, unknowable power in the universe. He’s a divine person – with mind, will and emotion (see Topics 39-49) – who wants to have a personal relationship with us. But our sins get in the way.
He designed us so that our relationship with him and with others is good when we live by principles outlined in the Bible. When we pursue selfish interests, however, we often disregard those principles and offend God and others in the process and the result is blocked relationships. The offenses are called ‘sins’ and our sins separate us from God (see Topics 5-6).
The way to correct a blocked relationship with God is not unlike the way we correct it with other people. If a child disobeys his parent… if a worker contravenes his employer… or if someone wrongs his friend… it isn’t money, penance or ritual the offended party wants, but rather sincere repentance. Repentance means being truly sorry for the offense and determining not to do it again.
God doesn’t demand or expect perfection from us, but he does expect us to acknowledge our offenses, be truly sorry for them, and determine not to repeat them.
The Bible says (I John 1:9):
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.
NO LIFE IS TOO BAD FOR GOD TO TRANSFORM
There is no sin... or combination of sins... or quantity of sins... so bad that they can’t all be forgiven immediately.
WE DONʼT HAVE TO CLEAN UP FIRST
God will accept us just the way we are. We don’t have to clean up our lives to meet him. If we had to clean up first and live a good probationary life before meeting him, then salvation would involve our own good works, but the Bible says clearly that salvation is a free gift and that good works has nothing to do with receiving it.
The criminal who was crucified at the same time as Jesus is an example. Hanging on an adjacent cross, he acknowledged that Jesus was God and asked for eternal life. Jesus answered, ‘I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.’ There was no way the condemned criminal could rectify his life by himself; certainly not in his last moments of life. He simply came to Jesus as a needy sinner and that was enough for him to receive the gift of eternal life in heaven.
God wants us to come to him out of our need, recognizing our great difficulty in living a good life without his Holy Spirit within us. We get his Holy Spirit (see Topic 44 ) when we accept Jesus Christ as personal savior.
Putting good works before salvation is like putting the cart before the horse. Good works (more of them) is a result of salvation, not the cause of it (see Topic 64).
GOD DOESNʼT TELL US TO BECOME RELIGIOUS
Some people mistakenly think that new life in Christ means becoming religious, faithfully attending church meetings, performing rituals, giving money and following many rules.
Nowhere in the Bible does it say that this is a part of salvation. In fact, some of Jesus’ harshest words were for clergymen who make human rules and then tell people this is what God demands.
Being religious means obeying rules and performing rituals in an attempt to impress God with our goodness. But this won’t impress him. In fact, the Bible says that ‘all of our righteous acts are like filthy rags.’
What God wants from us is to humbly acknowledge that we’re sinners and that we need a savior. Such an acknowledgment offends the pride of people holding a humanistic view of life – where prime importance is given to man and human values – because it requires man to bow before God. This this is exactly what God demands.
It’s at this point that many people reject Biblical Christianity and turn instead to cultural Christianity (see Topic 11) where they can practice religion and get a sense of well-being from their own performance.
God doesn’t ask for religious performance, but rather for contrition and acceptance of his offer.
CONTINUAL REJECTION HARDENS THE HEART
God’s offer of new life is a standing offer to every person for his entire earthly life. If the offer is rejected or ignored on one occasion, it may be reconsidered at any other time.
However, this is dangerous business because not only is there risk of unexpected intervening death, but also repeated rejection or procrastination hardens a person’s heart so that it becomes increasingly difficult for him to make the decision to accept Jesus Christ as personal savior. Eventually he will become cynical and calloused and will no longer even hear the message.
This is particularly a problem in ‘Christian’ America where everyone hears so much about salvation through Jesus Christ and where the real message of the Bible is often badly distorted and poorly presented. It’s easy for a person to become inoculated to spiritual talk and to dismiss it as old rhetoric.
Every time a person encounters and ignores God’s offer, he increases the spiritual hardening of his heart and thus increases his probability of spending eternity in hell.
TODAY IS THE BEST TIME TO ACCEPT GODʼS OFFER
God has given us a decision period – our earthly lifetime – for deciding whether or not to accept his offer. Everyone is only one heartbeat away from the end of the period.
Today is the most reasonable day to accept God’s offer because we never know when an unexpected illness or accident will claim our life and terminate the offer.
A reasonable person, aware of the offer but not having yet accepted it, should conclude that the stakes are too high to procrastinate any longer.
Hereʼs a sampling of what the Bible says on this subject.
New life is a free gift from God; good works is a by-product, not a pre-condition
Luke 11:39-52, Matthew 23:1-33
Jesus has harsh words for clergymen who make human rules and then tell people this is what God demands
Our righteous acts are like filthy rags and shriveled leaves before holy God
Jesus says thief on the cross will be in heaven
I John 1:9
God will forgive if we will confess
For help, see Topic 29.