When I talk to folks in the lobby of my church it’s pretty common to hear people say…
“I was so happy to come to a church where I could just be myself.”
And that’s how it should be. In religious settings, we often try to be someone we’re not so we’ll impress people, or show how we have it all figured out. The truth is, no one has it all figured out. No one has it all together. The Bible says that it rains on the just and the unjust (Matthew 5:45). We all experience hardship. We all have regrets. That’s because we’ve all done wrong. We’re all sinners. That’s right. All of us. In the New Testament book of Romans, the Bible says,
“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23 (KJV)
Sure, there are folks who’ll tell you they’ve lived a good life. That their good works will surely outweigh the bad. Sadly, it doesn’t work like that. Later on in the book of Romans, we read
“the wages of sin is death…”
As New Yorkers, we know better than anyone that the only three things you can be sure of are death, taxes, and…oh yeah…taxes. Everyone knows there will come a day when we take our last breath. Death comes to us all. But that’s not the death this passage is referring to. Here the Bible is speaking of a spiritual death. An everlasting separation from God in a place called Hell. This is the wage for our sin. It’s what we’ve earned for what we’ve done.
It’s a good thing that verse doesn’t end there. Here it is in its entirety:
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 6:23 (KJV)
And there’s the Good News! The Bible is clear. There’s nothing we can do on our own to save ourselves. It’s out of our reach. We’ve racked up a debt we could never pay.
But then came Jesus. He came to earth and lived a life without sin—and in doing so, He became the only one qualified to cancel our sin debt. Through His death on the cross, His burial, and resurrection, He took our punishment upon Himself so we won’t have to live and die separated from God. This is the gift of God through Jesus.
Still, we can only benefit from a gift when we actually accept it. And we have that choice. It’s plain that it took a deep, driving love for Christ to willingly face torture and death for our souls, but there’s truth in that old saying “If you love someone, set them free.” God doesn’t make us accept His gift. He doesn’t take that choice away from us. He allows us to accept Him or reject Him. You are faced with that choice right now. The Bible is clear. Your good deeds simply cannot save you. In the book of Ephesians, the Apostle Paul wrote to Christians,
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV)
“Not by works,” but by faith. Faith is trusting something or someone that you cannot prove. To be saved, we need to take God at His word, and trust in His gift. Right now, you have the opportunity to accept His gift. It’s not a mistake that you’re on this website reading this message. God has brought you to this place at this time for this reason. Don’t let this chance slip away. If you’re ready to receive God’s gift of grace, take a moment and just lift this prayer up to Him. The prayer itself won’t save you, but God can see into the depths of our hearts, and if this genuinely represents your heart, let God know that.
Dear God, I know that I’m a sinner. I know I can’t be reconciled to you on my own. I’m sorry for the sins I’ve committed, and right now, I want to accept your gift of salvation through what Jesus did for me on the cross. I don’t want to be separated from you in life or death. Thank you for your gift. Thank you for saving me. Amen.
If you’ve accepted God’s gift of salvation, you’ve just made the best decision you’ll ever make. In life, our choices have ripple effects—both good and bad. This choice has potential to ripple throughout the rest of your life. The Bible says that when we make that choice, we can truly call God our Father.
“Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household,” Ephesians 2:19 (NIV)
We come as we are. We’re not keen on phony or frilly. We all know where we’ve come from. We’re all sinners. That’s the bad news. The good news is that we are sinners who have been saved by grace. And when that happens, we don’t stay as we are.
You may be wondering where to go from here. One of the most important steps you can take in this new life with God is to get spiritual care. Tell someone (you could tell me 🙂) about the decision you made. Find a good church near you. Meet with other followers of Christ, and explore the ways that you can grow in your new relationship with God.