“Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures . . .” (1 Corinthians 15:1-4 ).
This is the story of an ordinary Christian, maybe a member of Grace Church, maybe you!
The Turning Point of my life began long before I was born. Two thousand years ago, a child was born. Born to a virgin, Jesus--God's one and only Son grew up like anyone else, except... he never thought, said, or did anything wrong. At the age of thirty, Jesus began telling people about God and His relationship with His heavenly Father and how they could have a relationship with God, too, by turning away from sin and believing in Him. He shared God's great kindness by healing the sick, restoring sight, and even bringing dead people back to life. Not everyone was happy with this and falsely accused him of crimes, ultimately persuading their ruler to kill him on a rough wooden cross. With a death that looked like the worst kind of defeat, Jesus defied expectation. Three days later God raised Jesus from the dead! During the next forty days, over 500 people saw Jesus--solid proof that he truly lived! Rising through the skies with many watching, He promised He would return and take His place as King of the universe.
That's an amazing promise, but what does this have to do with me?
Known as the gospel, or "good news," the truth of it changed my life... but not until I first faces the bad news. God created men and women to honor, serve, and enjoy him as He just deserves, but people always choose to live their own way, disobeying the right and just desires and commands of God. That's called sin and no one who sins will see God. Just like Jesus hated anyone or anything that seperated us from God, God hates sin because sin seperates us forever from Himself, which is the ulitmate punishment. Helpless in the shadow of sin, our only hope is Jesus who died in our place, defeating sin forever if we believe. God's sinless Son received the punishment we deserved, so that we might receive the reward He deserved. How can we be sure God accepted his death in our place? By the fact that God raised Jesus from the dead and took Him up into heaven. Jesus is not just another religious leader telling us what to do. He is God. Because He has freed us from the power and punishment of sin, He deserves our total trust and obedience.
Let's get personal.
No one believes themselves perfect, yet today many people don't accept the reality of sin, or they believe as long as their "good" outways their "bad," they'll be "okay." God wants a lot more for us than just "okay" and He is clear that a single sin shatters our hope. I had to believe God that my sin excluded me from His presence and that my only recourse was Jesus. The day I did, the day I asked God to forgive my sins and to help me start living for him was the first day of a new life. God mercifully forgave me on the basis of what Jesus did on the cross. Now, God has turned me around and given me joy in him and power from his Spirit that keeps me growing. Though I'm far from perfect now, God is making me perfect, in the likeness of his Son -- a process he won't be finished with until I see Christ on his return.
What about you? What do you believe about what God says? Do you deny His wisdom? Or do you recognize your desperate condition but give in to depression or anger instead of the hope Christ offers? The salvation that Jesus offers is yours if you would receive it.
What to do?
Embrace salvation! Trust in Jesus' death and resurrection as the only thing that will pay the penalty for your sin. Turn away from your sins and live to enjoy and please God. Then, be amazed that belonging to God is better than anything you could have dreamed.
God is eager to forgive you! He wants to relate to you as your loving Father. And he offers you the power to live the rest of your life honoring, enjoying, and serving him in the context of a local church. There will still be difficulties in this fallen world, but now you will know that life on earth is only the beginning of eternal life in heaven with God.