There is no issue more important than where are we going to go when we die. Because none of us are going to escape it. And when we do die, we are not going to just cease to exist, as many believe. When our bodies die, we who have lived in them will go on and live forever; either in hell or heaven.
This is what Jesus came for, and what he spent His time teaching while He was here.
Mark 8:36 "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul."
In the 3rd ch. of John 1-7, Nicodemus came to Jesus to ask the most important questions recorded in history, how to receive eternal life.
Nicodemus was a scholar of religion, spending most of his life in the ancient scrolls and parchments. He was highly intelligent, but realized there was something missing in his life. He knew Jesus had a closeness to God that he missed. He wanted that closeness, spiritual power, and he came seeking Jesus for the answers.
Signs of a receptive heart:
1. He wanted to learn, he was willing to listen to someone else, instead of stubbornly holding to his own dead ideas that he knew were faulty
2. He acknowledged his own emptyness
3. He humbled himself to go to the one who could answer him, because he could see the fruit of Jesus' life, that he has answers that Nicodemus was looking for "Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that you do, except God be with him."
Jesus gave him an answer he didn't expect: Nicodemus was looking for a tangible answer something he could write down and put into a practice; a law or principal to follow. But Jesus told him he must EXPERIENCE GOD in a relationship, NOT FOLLOW A FORMULA.
Many people are like Nicodemus. They are seeking answers to questions about God rather than seeking God Himself. They think that if all of their questions can be answered to their satisfaction, and the pieces properly assembled in their minds, then they will have the correct concept intellectually, and understanding will be theirs.
TRUE SPIRITUAL LIFE IS SPIRITUAL
IT IS BEING ALIVE TO GOD
A MAN'S NATURAL SENSES ARE DEAD TO GOD
EXPLANATION: A corpse lies unaware of anything around it. It cannot feel, or see anything. God is all around us, but the natural man is unaware of God as a corpse is to the sun or rain.
In receiving Christ we know God, we are awakened, and with this awakening comes new life.
Acts 17:28 "In God we live, and move, and have our being."
SPIRITUAL LIFE COMES BY REALIZING WITH THE HEART WHO HE IS, AND KNOWING HIM IN THE LIGHT OF THIS REVELATION. AND IT CAN ONLY COME BY REVELATION.
It is not a product of reasoning powers
It cannot happen through positive thinking
It is not the fruit of religion
Text Matt. 16:13,14
Thru the ages men have had many speculations, and reasoned in themselves who Jesus is. Human intelligence and reasoning has come up with a number of conclusions. He was John the Baptist reincarnated or one of the prophets, or another spiritual teacher.
In the text Jesus asked his disciples, "But whom do you say I am?"
Here we are given the greatest revelation from Peter of the truth of who Jesus is "And Simon Peter answered and said, You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God."
1. The greek word apokalupto, means revelation, or "take off the cover". Peter was given a revelation from God who Jesus really was.
2. This revelation was given by the Holy Spirit to Peter, it did not come from his own human reasoning. Now, his own spirit was enlightened, and he knew, he saw and understood.
a. 1John 5:1 says "Whosover believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God."
Acts 16:31 says "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved."
What Was His Mission
Jesus only came into the world for one reason; to save sinners. There is no other reason why He came from heaven to this sin sick world, it was for you and I.
Luke 5:32 "I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."
Luke 15:1,2 "Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him. And the Pharisees and scribes murmered, saying, This man receives sinners, and eats with them."
1Tim. 1:15; Paul said "This is a faithfull saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief."
1John2:2 "He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world."
1John 4:10 "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins."
Many people believe in Jesus, but are not saved; the bible tells us the devils believe and tremble. James 2:19 "You believe that there is one God; you believe well: the devils also believe, and tremble."
Christianity is not being Baptist, Catholic, Methodist or any other religion. It is not cooking church suppers, doing rummage sales for the poor, it's not being a police man for God by enforcing His laws. If God took the cover off and let you see, as Peter did, you would see Christ, and Christ alone.
Not a philosophy, not a protestant or Catholic ethic, not a theological position, not even a way of life......but a Person. Not merely Jesus......but Jesus the Christ.
In Acts 2:36 when Peter was restored by Jesus after His resurrection; Peter preached a powerful message and proclaimed "God has made Jesus both Lord and Christ.
4. It is very important to know that we can be faithful to the teachings of Jesus, be an excellent churchman, yet not be a christian.
What does propitiation mean?
Propitiation: Is a greek word "hilasterion", meaning " an atoning victim. The Old Testament atonement was made by a propitiation, a blood sacrifice. "For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the alter to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that makes and atonement for the soul." Lev. 17:11
This Old Testament declaration of atonement through the blood was a picture of things to come. It was the prophetic announcement of Christ.
In the New Testament we read, "We joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement." Rom. 5:11
Now, atonement means RESTORATION TO DIVINE FAVOR.
When Jesus went to the cross, and died there, He made atonement for your sins, all of them, and restored you, even while you still lived in sin. ON THE CROSS HE CRIED; IT IS FINISHED. THE PRICE FOR YOUR SINS AND MINE WERE PAID.
Salvation comes when we receive the free gift of his salvation, and simply ask for his forgiveness and cleansing. There are no works that we can do to earn our salvation.
When we are born again, our desires will change, we won't want to do the things we did before. This is the evidence of the Spirit of God now living in us. It may take time, and putting into our daily lives the guidence of the word of God. It is a process of "renewing our minds", and becoming stronger in God as we continue our journey here on earth. We may fall, but if we do we have an advocate; Jesus the Son. He promises to forgive and cleanse us again, and if we are sincere He will once again restore us to his righteousness. 1John 1:9
In the last teaching I gave on the prodigal son, and The Father; we see a picture given to us by Jesus Himself of this restoration.
A man escapes the wages of sin because the Heavenly Father values his son's sacrifice more than anything, in all of history.
The Father freely accepts those who come to Him through this sacrifice. No matter what they have done. They will be forgiven if they will ask in the name of the Son.
But, if someone scorns, or smugly tries to rest on their own merits, or own imaginations, they remain in darkness, and headed for an eternity without God. We choose our own ultimate destination. God does not send anyone to hell.
Is There Any Other Way
Let's see what the scriptures say
What Jesus said about Himself:
John 8:58 "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am." Here He identifies Himself as the eternal, ever existing God, who spoke the same truth to Moses when he called him to service, in Ex. 3:14.
John 10:7-10 "Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. The thief comes not but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly."
John 14:6 "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me."
Acts 4:12 "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved."
1Tim. 2:5 "For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus."
According to these and many other scriptures; Christ is the only way provided to us for salvation. He was more than a man called Jesus from Nazareth, He was the Christ from heaven.
The disciples were persecuted fiercely, imprisoned, stoned, and killed not just because they talked about a good man, or even because they repeated his teachings. No one resented that, they were stoned, beaten, and killed because they preached Jesus was the Christ.
There is no stigma or persecution attached to the person who sees Jesus as a teacher only. When men consider Jesus as a teacher, most can accept His sayings about love, and the golden rule.
It is not the Jesus the "teacher" or Jesus the "good man", that people reject. It is Jesus the Christ.
What causes persecution; The message of the cross, The blood shed for us, The resurrection, The second coming.
We will have to make up our minds also is Jesus is worth it to us; to go thru whatever we may have to; to stand firm for Him. The bible never offers us, or promises us an easy walk, but does set us on the path of heaven, and a "city, whose builder and maker is God."
Satan hates these truths to be proclaimed, because he knows everyone who receives Christ is one he has lost in his grips of sin.
Ac 4:10 Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole.
Ac 4:11 This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner.
Ac 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
Jesus.....not a teacher only, but a SAVIOR.
He has risen again as he said, and one day; as He said, He will come again for His children.
If you do not have the assurance of eternal life, it is my hope you will simply look up to heaven, and say "Lord, I am a sinner, please forgive my sins, come into my heart and life, and help me live for you." If you do that, and mean it with your heart the Lord has saved you. Read the bible, find fellowship with other believer's, and spend time talking to the Lord each day, and ask the Lord's guidance daily. I hope to meet you in heaven one day.
(2007 teaching for Teen Challenge)