The Central Message of the Bible
How can I know that things are right between me and God? How can I know that when I die I will live forever in a place that is secure and happy?
Before we can answer that question, it is needful to recognize some things about God and ourselves.
1. First of all we need to understand that the Lord God is a holy God. He exists in all His majesty, being the Creator-Owner of the Universe. He is a loving, caring God, but equally He is also a holy lawgiver. His holiness demands that His law be kept perfectly. He can have nothing to do with any lawbreaker. It is right to say that only perfect people can live with a perfect God.
"Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord." (Hebrews 12:14)
2. On the other hand, we are helpless sinners. We were born into the world lawbreakers, alienated from God. We are far from perfect; we are sinners. God’s law says that all sin demands a “death” penalty.
" For the wages of sin is death . . .” (Romans 6:23)
This “death” penalty is not just physical death, but also something the Bible calls the second death—an eternity of suffering in the Lake of Fire.
The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire." (Revelation 20:14-15)
Because we are sinners, we are destined to pay this “death” penalty for eternity. We are helpless to save ourselves from these awful consequences of sin. Needless to say, this is not very good news. We need a way whereby our names are written in the “book of life.”
But God has not left us in a lurch. He made a way to restore our relationship with Him—a way to escape the second death.
3. God provided a substitute. God Himself came to earth to live as a man. His name was Jesus. Jesus was perfect—sinless. Because He had no sin of his own to die for, He could die for someone else’s sin. In His love, He died in our place—taking the eternal consequences of our sin on Himself. Being an infinite God, His sacrifice was an infinite payment. He took care of all sin for all time in one brief moment on a Roman cross 2000 years ago.
"For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God." (1 Peter 3:18)
Jesus died in our place, as our substitute. But Jesus did not remain dead. His resurrection was evidence that the “death” payment had been made in full.
"But now is Christ risen from the dead. . ." (1 Corinthians 15:20)
As a living Savior, He now offers us eternal life with Him in an eternal home, a place the Bible calls “Heaven". We can have our names written in the “book of life.”
That is good news. Now the question is this, “What must we do for God so that he will give us this eternal life? Does God require penance, confession, prayer, church attendance, baptism, giving to charity, attending mass? If we promise to change our behavior, will this please God?”
The answer is, “No. Absolutely NOT!” Indeed the Bible tells us that . . .
"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 2:8-9)
"Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us..." (Titus 3:5)
“Well, what if I work real hard at keeping the Ten Commandments? Will God give me eternal life then?”
Once again the answer is, “No He won’t.” The Bible says . . .
" Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight. . ." (Romans 3:20)
" For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all." (James 2:10)
We may live good lives, but God’s standard for conduct is absolute perfection. Only perfect people can live with a perfect God. As sinners we fall far short of what God requires for a person to live in His holy presence.
"For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God," (Romans 3:23)
So then, to receive this gift of eternal life, just what does God require? How do we get our names written in the “book of life?”
4. Here is the answer. “God requires us to trust Him.”
That’s all, nothing more. He just wants us to have faith in Him and His promise. Specifically, God wants us to believe that when Jesus died on the cross, He was dying in our place, paying the “death” penalty for our sin. If we believe that, then the Bible says God gives us eternal life with Him in Heaven. He has promised.
"Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life." (John 6:47)
God wants us to rest in the fact that He alone has saved us from the second death.
Not only did Jesus pay our sin penalty, but the moment we believe, God clothes us in His perfection, a righteousness that is not our own, but is counted as ours because we trust Him.
"But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead." (Romans 4:24)
"Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe." (Romans 3:22)
Clothed in His righteousness, we are equipped with all the perfection we need to live in the presence of a perfect, sinless God.
When we trust Him, we can honestly say that we know that we will enjoy life with God, both now and forever in Heaven.
" . . . the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 6:23)
"And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life" (1 John 5:11-13)
In summary, these are the questions you face:
1. Do you understand that only perfect people can live with a perfect God?
2. Do you understand that you cannot do anything to make yourself good enough to live with a holy God?
3. As a sinner, do you recognize that you are helpless to save yourself from that eternal second death in the Lake of Fire?
4. Do you understand that Jesus—the eternal God—died on the cross in your place, paying your sin-debt once for all—in one moment of time?
5. If you understand these things, then do you believe that Jesus died in your place?
6. If you have truly and honestly said, “Yes,” to all of the above, then on the basis of your trust in Him, God has counted His perfection as yours. You are now one of those of whom it can be said . . .
" Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin." (Romans 4:8)
Truly you can say. . .
" . . . I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever." (Psalm 23:6)
If this has helped you, please let us know. If you so desire, we can put you in contact with someone who will answer your questions and pray for you.
Bible verses appear in italics and are taken from The Holy Bible: King James Version.