Evidence You Never Knew Existed: Why Jesus and the Bible Can Be Trusted — Chapter 2
Acting on the Evidence
Step One: God loves you and wants you to know that there is only One God. This one God created the universe and is Lord over all.
''In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" (Genesis 1:1). ''... before me no God was formed, nor will there be one after me" (Isaiah 43:10b).
God was never a man, and man will never be God! As the eternal God he became the God-man Jesus, to die for us, but for all eternity he was God, not man.
'' ... from everlasting (that's eternity past) to everlasting (that's eternity future) you are God! (Psalm 90:2b).
God never progressed, earned or attained His way to being God, He was always God. (The Bible mentions false gods, but to believe that other gods really exist is pagan polytheism, not Christianity.)
Clearly, there is not now, and never will be, any other God on this planet or any other ''world" or planet. There is forever only one God. Men cannot become Gods — none ever has, none ever will!
" ... I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me" (Isaiah 46:9b). "... before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me" (Isaiah 43:10b).
Step Two: There is One Saviour, Jesus Christ, Who is Eternally God.
"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." (Isaiah 9:6). Within the nature of God there are three eternal distinctions or Persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit; there is only one God. Since Jesus is repeatedly called God, we must accept Him as God, or we accept another Jesus. In the Bible the ''Word" means Jesus (John 1:14). ''In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God" (John 1:1). ''Beginning" here simply means, ''from all time.'' As God was God from all time so was Jesus Christ God, from the beginning, from all time! Jesus never progressed, worked, or attained His way into being God, He was always God (Micah 5:2).
God forbade forever the worship of any other god (Exodus 34:14), yet Jesus accepted worship as God on many occasions. "Suddenly Jesus met them. 'Greetings,' he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him" (Matthew 28:9). No wonder Thomas cried out to Jesus, ''My Lord and my God" (John 20:28).
Step Three: The Sin Problem — Our Sin Nature
An apple tree is an apple tree before it bears apples. It bears apples because it is an apple tree.
So, we sin because we have a sin nature. We are all "by nature the children of wrath'' (Ephesians 2:3). An apple tree is just as much an apple tree by nature, whether it bears one apple or a thousand!
So it is with a sinner. One sin or a thousand is not the point! The point is, we all have a sin nature that must be changed. Picking the apples off the tree does not change the nature of the tree! So, getting rid of some sins does not change our nature!
'You must be born again” (John 3:7). John 1:12 tells us how: “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”
We are not by nature children of God. We must receive Christ in order to become the children of God.
We are sinners by nature and choice. Sin is the fruit of our sin nature, of each of us as sinners. Sin is ''going our own way" (Isaiah 53:6). It is being the God, Manager, Boss, Lord, of our own life. It is being self-centered instead of Christ-centered.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9). “There is no one righteous, not even one” (Romans 3:10b).
"Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness" (Romans 4:4-5).
Salvation is not by works, it is a gift. Personally receiving Christ, trusting Him alone to save us, is God's way of salvation. ''For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ, our Lord" (Romans 6:23).
We cannot make ourselves ''worthy" of the grace of God. Salvation is a free gift for the unworthy, the undeserving, which we all are. Christ died for the ''ungodly" (Romans 5:6).
A dog does not bark in order to become a dog. He barks because he already is a dog. His barking helps demonstrate the fact! Just so, we do not do good works in order to become Christians (be saved). We do good works after we are saved (become Christians) to demonstrate the fact that we have been saved.
Remember that God's Word says, before salvation, ''All our righteous acts are like filthy rags" (Isaiah 64:6b). We all have a sinful nature. We are sinners by nature and by choice. ''For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). This means we are all lost sinners. Besides, how many good works can a dead man do? As natural men we are all ''dead in trespasses and sins" (Ephesians 2:1b).
Although salvation is not by works, true salvation always produces a changed life. Christ comes in by personal invitation as Lord and Savior to change our life, and live His life through us.
The Good News is ... the blood of Jesus Christ, God's Son, cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:9).
Step Four: The Time is Now.
After death it is too late. Now is the time to be saved. '' ... now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation" (2 Corinthians 6:2b). There is no chance after death. ''Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment" (Hebrews 9:27). There is no general salvation for all men because of Christ's death, but only individual salvation for those who believe. '' ... but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him" (John 3:36b). All men are resurrected, but the unsaved dead are resurrected to damnation, not salvation (John 5:29; Revelation 19:3-6).
'"If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire" (Revelation 20:15). Nowhere in the Bible is anyone ever said to have been saved after they died. Today is the day of salvation.
''Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." (Matthew 7:13, 14).
According to God's Word, the vast multitude of men are on the road to Hell, and to the resurrection unto damnation (John 5:29) unless they personally invite Christ into their lives as Lord and Savior. Death ends all hope for the lost.
Because of our sin nature all men are sinners, both by what we are and what we do. That is why Jesus said, ''You must be born again" (John 3:7).
Suppose a pig tried to become a sheep by acting like a sheep. Suppose the pig was clothed in sheep wool, ate sheep feed and even learned to bleat like a sheep. Would that change its pig nature and make it a sheep? Would it matter whether or not the pig was ''good" or ''bad" by pig standards? So it is with trying to act like a Christian in order to become a Christian! It takes a miracle — the new birth. Just as it would take a miracle from God, a new birth, for a pig to become a sheep, so it takes a miracle from God, the new birth, for a sinner to become a child of God, a Christian.
"Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God" (John 1:12).
Step Five: The Way of Salvation
Jesus alone can cleanse us from sin and change our nature. ''He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree" (1 Peter 2:24a). Not just Adam's sin, but our own personal sins. This is why He died on the cross for us, why He shed His blood for us, to pay the debt for our sins.
We need cleansing from sin and a new nature in order to become a Christian. Jesus took our place and shed His blood to cleanse us from sin. No amount of ''good works" could wash away one sin or change our nature. ''Just as I am without one plea, but that thy blood was shed for me."
Good News! Salvation is instantaneous! The moment we repent, turn to Jesus from our sins, He saves us. Christ said to the unbaptized, unsaved, no good works, thief on the cross, in instant salvation response to the thief's believing call: ''Today shalt thou be with me in paradise" (Luke 23:43b). (The place Paul saw as the Heaven of God, 1 Corinthians 12:2-4). Instant salvation for a harlot: ''Go thy way, thy faith hath saved thee" (Luke 7:50b). Instant salvation in response to the publican's believing call: '' ... this man went home justified" (Luke 18:14a).
Saul the murderer was changed to Paul the Apostle by one vital encounter with the living Christ. Salvation includes accepting Jesus Christ as both Lord (our God, Lord, new manager) and Savior. It involves heart (in the Bible, 'heart' means the ruling, governing, choosing, center of our being) belief. "That if you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." (Romans 10:9).
We thus turn from our sins, our self, and our way to God's way. When we believingly call on the Lord Jesus, in faith and repentance, He enters our life, cleanses us from sin, makes us children of God by the new birth, and gives us the free gift of salvation, with new, abundant, everlasting life. Heaven becomes our certain home, and His peace our possession.
There is no magic in the few puffs of air emitted from our vocal cords as we call on Christ. Yet He said, 'For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks" (Matthew 12:24). If our call is from the heart, using our God-given power of choice to believe in Christ, God always responds and saves! He promised!
Salvation is simple. “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13). We must personally call believingly on Jesus to save us. This is how we receive Him. If we do so call, He must save us or God would be lying, and God cannot lie. If Jesus loved us enough to die in bloody agony to save us, would He then turn us down when we called on Him? Of course not!
Remember! ''But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8). God loves us, and wants us to come to Christ just as we are. God loves you and wants you to be saved. Would you like to receive Jesus as your Lord and Saviour right now? Just pray, if you mean it, the best you know how, with all your heart, this prayer, or a similar one.
''Lord Jesus Christ, come into my heart and life. Cleanse me from all sin by your shed blood. Make me a child of God. Give me your free gift of everlasting life, and let me know that I am saved, now and forever. I now receive you as my very own personal Lord and Savior. I place my complete trust in you alone for my salvation. In Jesus' name, Amen."
Did Jesus save you or did He lie? According to Romans 10:13 he had to do one or the other if you called believingly on Him. “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
Salvation is certain! You can know you are saved, not just by feeling, but because God's Word says so! Memorize John 3:36a. Read it three times. ''Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life." What do you have right now according to God's Word? Where would you go if you were to die right now, according to God's Word?
If you know that Jesus has saved you, according to His Word, please thank Him out loud for saving you.
''I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life" (1 John 5:13a).
As a help to you, to further nail down this definite decision, you may wish to sign your name to the following statement:
I have today received Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. I am claiming by faith His promise of sins forgiven and His gift of eternal life.
Choose to believe Christ, feelings or no feelings, and He will prove His reality to you as you step out in faith that He has kept His word and saved you.
Note this important illustration. Three men step aboard an elevator bound for the third floor where they all want to go. One is laughing, one is crying, one is expressionless, unemotional. All three of them get to the third floor, regardless of their feelings, because they believed the elevator would get them to the third floor, acted on their belief, and committed themselves to the elevator. So it is with trusting Christ, feelings or no feelings.
The reality of your salvation will be shown in your decision to obey and follow Jesus Christ. '' ... If a anyone loves me, he will (not if, maybe and/or but) obey my teaching" (John 14:23a). To work for salvation shows unbelief in the sufficiency of Jesus Christ alone to save us. However, true salvation, true faith, always produces good works! ''You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless?" (James 2:20).
An apple tree does not have to produce apples in order to become an apple tree! Apples are products of the tree and prove that it is an apple tree. So, good works never produce a Christian, they merely prove he is one. ''Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" (2 Corinthians 5:17).
We must have salvation in order to demonstrate it, just as we must have a car before we can demonstrate it! True Christians produce good works.
Believe Him for His victory, thank Him, step out in faith, and He will prove His victory in your experience.
In the next and final chapter some guidelines and helps for new believers are introduced and explained.