Many people know about God, but few have had a life-changing encounter with Him. Having a personal relationship with the true living God involves understanding and accepting five basic principles. You may have understood these five principles when you made your decision that day, but just in case there is any doubt at all or if you haven't accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior, let's clear that up now. The goal for today is that you would be able to answer the following question with a resounding "YES": If you were to die today do you know where you would spend eternity? If yes, what do you base that "Yes" on? If your answer was "no" or even if you were unsure...today is for YOU!!!
Principle #1: God loves you and offers an incredible plan for your life. All throughout the Bible there is passage after passage that talks about how much God loves us. The greatest example of this was when He sent His only Son into the world to die for our sins. But even today, he watches over you and pursues you to have a relationship with you.
Principle #2: Man is sinful and separated from God. It is so common in today's culture to believe that there must be many paths to God. There are so many religions, each with very nice, good people in them. There are also so many good people...it can seem so natural to assume that each of these "good" people or religions have a lock on heaven because they have done so many wonderful things.
But the truth is that all of us have blown it...all of us have sinned, and all it takes is one sin to separate us from our God, because he is perfect.
"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Romans 3:23
"For the wages of sin is death." Romans 6:23
As you can imagine, this creates a huge problem...because through sin, we are separated from God...and therefore cannot get to God on our own, for where He is, there can be no sin. But just when it appeared that all was lost, principle #3 kicks in:
Principle #3: Jesus Christ is God's only provision for man's sin. Now I know that sounds too simple. But then again, we are not God. It was God who chose to provide a "sacrifice" for our sins, His own son Jesus.
"But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8
Now here is the incredible part, it was His death that paid for your sins and mine, all the ones we have committed as well as any we will commit in the future. There had to be a blood sacrifice...and Jesus willfully gave his for you and for me.
But the most incredible thing to know is that three days after he died, he rose from the dead. This is not just religious mumbo jumbo, this is historical fact. And because he rose from the dead, he now sits at the right hand of God making intercession (carrying messages for us and speaking to God on our behalf) for us.
Christ died for our sins...He was buried...He was raised on the third day, according to the scriptures...He appeared to Peter, then to the twelve (disciples). After that he appeared to more than five hundred others..." I Corinthians 15:3-6
Principle #4: Jesus is the only way to God. This is the hardest one for many people to believe. There are no other "paths" to God or "ways" of salvation. While this is "many paths to God" theory is popular in the minds of many and even some modern-day churches, it is a lie designed to keep people from the truth of Jesus Christ.
"Jesus said to him, I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me." John 14:6
This is why it is so important that you understand that to simply be a good person, believe in God, and do your best to serve Him is not what it means to be a Christian. It is impossible to be a God follower without accepting God's son Jesus. Jesus is the way...the only way to salvation for mankind. It was Jesus who died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins, and it is Jesus that we must accept and come in to relationship with if we are to be called by His name...Christians, which means "followers of Christ".
Principle #5: You must receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. "But to as many who received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name." John 1:12
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast." Ephesians 2:8-9
We must individually receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.
Written below is a very simple prayer of salvation. It may be very similar to a prayer you have already said, but for some of you, this is your actual time of decision. If you have already prayed this prayer and know you are a Christian, then just read it over once and pray for those that may be praying this prayer for the first time. But if this is your moment of salvation, then simply kneel right where you are at this moment, and pray this prayer to the Lord. He is waiting in great anticipation. Only pray these words if they truly represent the desire of your heart and your decision to follow Christ:
Dear Jesus, I need You in my life. I acknowledge that I have sinned and I come to You right now confessing that and asking your forgiveness. Thank You for dying on the cross for my sins. I believe You are the Son of God and that You rose from the dead and are alive today. I open the door of my heart and receive You as my Savior and Lord. Thank You for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Please take control of my life from here forward and make me the kind of person you want me to be. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.