Sunday, December 20, 2009

what it means to be Christian

this was originally written by an author i recently ran into on here is her profile:

First and foremost, I am a Christian. I realize that that simple fact puts me at odds with some people, but let me try to explain what that means, in a way you might not have considered before.
People say, "If God is love, then He won't send people to hell. He will accept me." I won't argue with the first part. God is love. God is gracious. God is merciful. But God is also holy. He is just. He is righteous. He can't have anything to do with sin, or He would be denying Who He is. "God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all." (1 John 1:5, NIV)
"But I'm a good person. I try my best. God has to see that."
All right, but what about this? Isaiah 64:6 says that "all our righteous acts are like filthy rags." Romans 3:11-12 and 23 say, "There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one...For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (NIV)
We can't make it on our own. A holy God demands perfection, and no matter how hard we try, we can't be perfect. It's like trying to jump the Grand Canyon. You might have someone who can jump, say, her 5'3 1/2" height. And that's good - but she didn't reach the other side. You might have a guy who can jump nearly seven feet - an excellent jump, but he still didn't make it. You could bring in the best Olympic jumper, and he could jump 20 feet. But even he didn't get to the other side. There has to be a bridge.
"But God demonstrated His own love for us in this: while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8, NIV). I once heard Louie Giglio, an amazing speaker, explain it this way: "This is where the holiness of God and the love of God collide." God loves us. He wants to restore the relationship between us. So He, in His perfect love and holiness, sent His Son Jesus to die for us.
Jesus is the way to be forgiven. Jesus is the way to be saved. Jesus is the way to have a right relationship with God. Jesus is the way to be set free.
You might say, "How can you say that Jesus is the only way? He can't be the only way. That's intolerant!" Well, He claimed to be "the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father but through Me." (John 14:6, NIV). I'm only repeating what He said. And He also said, "...wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." (Matthew 7:13-14, NIV)
So you might call me intolerant...narrow-minded...hateful. "Everyone should just be free to believe whatever they want to believe. You've got to just leave people alone; that's love." No, that's being a coward. That's like seeing someone speeding toward the edge of a cliff and not warning him. That's like seeing someone in a burning house and not going in to rescue him.
Hell is real. It is an unimaginably horrible place. It's blacker than the darkest black you can imagine...lonelier than the deepest loneliness you've ever felt...more painful than the worst pain you've ever experienced. Because God is not there. It is a place of total separation from God, a place where God is completely absent.
It's not a popular thing to say. It's not a warm, fuzzy, make-you-feel-good message. But it's true. And I'm telling you this because I don't want you to go there. And you don't have to. God in His just holiness must punish sin, but He in his just love sent His Son to die on the cross, in our place. "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." (John 3:16, NIV) Jesus conquered sin and death through His death and resurrection. Through Him we can be set free from sin and be restored to a right relationship with God - not because of anybody you are or anything you've done, but because of Who He is and what He has done.
This gift is yours for the taking. It's free - you can't earn it. "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 6:23, NIV) Another speaker I once heard, Bob Lenz, put it this way: "Grace is a gift, not a paycheck." Louie Giglio said, "Grace is God at work doing what I can't do." Ephesians 2:8-9 sums it up quite nicely: "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." (NIV)
So how do you get this gift - this grace? Just reach out and take it. Tell God that you believe that He sent His Son to die for you - tell Him that you know that you're a sinner and need Jesus. He won't turn you away. "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, NIV)
Sin is real. Hell is real. But God is real. His justice and love are real. His gift of salvation through His Son Jesus is real.
God will never, ever leave you - never, ever forsake you. He always keeps His promises. Nothing can separate you from His love, and His faithfulness reaches to the skies. The Christian life isn't all "sunshine and daisies," but it's good. God gives you strength for every difficulty, hope in the midst of deepest despair, and comfort during grief.
1 Corinthians 2:9 - "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him." (NIV)
Ephesians 3:20-21 - "Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen." (NIV)
Jeremiah 29:11- "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." (NIV)

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