Salvation

Who is Jesus & Why Does He Matter?

Many People have their own answers to these two important questions. Some say that he was simply a wise teacher whom we should learn from. Others believe that he was a social reformer whom we should listen to. Despite the overwhelming historical record and evidence, some even say that he never existed - that he was made up by a group of people wanting to control the masses.

While people may have their own answers and opinions, Jesus' answer to that question is the only one that truly matters. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me."(John 14:6) Jesus also said, "I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?" (John 11:25-26) Jesus was clear - He did not come as a teacher, social reformer, political leader, or even as a founder of a major religion. He came to be a Savior, Apart from Him, man has no hope of coming to God.

Sin

Most people would honestly say that they are not perfect. We can see our imperfections in ourselves and in others. We can even see it in a group of toddlers as they play/fight with each other. While we may call it imperfection, wrong choices, mistakes, hangups, immaturity, or even ignorance, the Bible calls it sin. Injustice, violence, corruption, atrocities, conflict, and all that is wrong in the world begins within us. The Bible asks, "From whence come wars and fightings among you? Come they not hence, even of you lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not." (James 4:1-2) The Bible simply tells us, "...all are under sin; As it is written, there is none righteous, no, not one..." (Romans 3:9-10) We connot help it. We sin because we are sinners by nature. We can try hard to do our best, but even then we still see how imperfect we are. And that is the problem. The Bible tells us to "...be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." (Matthew 5:48) As hard as we may try, we will always fall short of perfect. As the Bible tells us, "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God..." (Romans 3:23)

Justice & Mercy

So what does being a sinner have to do with Jesus coming to be mankind's Savior? Let me use an analogy from our human experience: When a person commits a crime, he is a criminal. Under the law, he is guilty. Justice demands that he be punished. Sometimes, the offender pleads for mercy. He recognizes his guilt and understands that he deserves to be punished; but, he asks that the judge would be lenient or forgiving. He is asking that the judge spare him from suffering.

However, mercy and justice are often in conflict. If a criminal is spared from receiving the punishment that he deserves, has justice truly been served? As sinners, we deserve to be punished. The Bible tells us, "For the wages of sin is death..." (Romans 6:23) It continues to explain that "to be carnally [sinfully] minded is death...Because the carnel mind is enmity [at war] against God: for it is not subject [obidient] to the law of God, neither indeed can be. so then they that are in the flesh [sinners] cannot please God." (Romans 8:6-8) The Bible explains that because we are sinners by nature, rebels to God's laws, God's justice requires that we receive what we deserve - death.

But...

God is also merciful. He desires to forgive and to pardon sin. The Bible tells us that God "is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy... For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us." (Psalm 103:8, 11-12) How can God be merciful and just at the same time? How can he pardon and forgive, yet also do what is just and right?

Grace

Grace is the bridge that connects God's justice and His mercy. Without it, we are without hope. Where can we find this grace? We find it in the person of Jesus Christ. The Bible tells us, "But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened [made alive] us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved)... That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works lest any man should boast." (Ephesians 2:4-9) God showed His grace through...

Jesus Christ

Christ took our punishment for our sins on Himself. He died on the cross in our place. The Bible tells us, "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation [satisfactory sacrifice] for our sins." (1John 4:10) Furthermore, the Bible tells us, "... his [Jesus] own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed." (1 Peter 2:24) Jesus did what we could not. Because He is sinless, He satisfied God's justice through His death and made it possible for us to receive mercy. The Bible tells us that Christ."..did no sin, neither was guile [deceit] found in his mouth." (1 Peter 2:22) Jesus is the perfect Savior, because He is the perfect Sacrifice.

Faith

How can I receive grace? How do i receive eternal life? Many would say that you need to earn grace by helping people, going to church, giving to charity, and doing good things in general. Others would say that it's by believing in God and being a good person too. Others state that it is simply by faith - not works.

The Bible tells us that "...by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9) Furthermore, the Bible states: "Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law [good works]." (Romans 3:28) The Bible is clear. Salvation comes through faith - not works. Grace is received by faith - not works. You cannot earn what God gives freely.

What Do I Do know?

Luke 23: 39-43

And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise." This passage in the Gospels gives us a wonderful example of the simplicity of faith and salvation. While Christ was dying on the cross for the sins of the world, one of the thieves mocked him. The thief knew that the Christ who would come into the world would save people. The thief was challenging Jesus to prove that he was that Chist Who would come by rescuing them. He would only believe if Jesus would free them from the cross. However, the other thief did not mock. In his final moments, he turned to Jesus by faith. He knew that he was a sinner deserving of punishment: "Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou comest into thy kingdom." What was Jesus' response to the thief's plea for mercy? "Verily [truthfully] I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise." Notice, Jesus did not tell the thief that he had to try to live a good life to be with Jesus in paradise. Jesus did not tell the thief to go to church or give money to the poor. The thief was not baptized or made a member of a church, in that very moment, Jesus gave that man eternal life.

The Choice

The choice is simple: (1) Believe or (2) do not believe.. One thief believed that Jesus is the Christ, the Savior of Mankind. The other did not.. One thief believed he deserved to be punished for his sins. The other was looking for a way out. One thief cried out in faith to be forgiven.  The other remained silent. If you desire to be saved, cry out to God in faith to be forgiven. "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation... For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." (Romans 10:9, 10, 13)

If you have just made that decision, we would love to hear from you [lafebaptistchurch@gmail.com]. Please feel free to contact us or even come to Lafe Baptist Church for a visit. If you already made that decision and you are looking for a church that will help you to grow in your relationship with Him, we invite you to learn more about Lafe Baptist Church.

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