The name Nehemiah means Comforted of Jehovah. As we read through the book of Nehemiah we can surely see how God was the only comfort for Nehemiah. He faced insurmountable odds of completing such an enormous task. God shows through Nehemiah that what ever tasks he sets us to, that he will be faithful to equip, defend, and enable us to the completion his ordained will, and for the glory of his name. God will leave or abandon us, and God remains faithful to his promises. He is a God who redeems and sanctifies.
The book of Ezra told of the events of the Jews return to their homeland after their exile to Babylon, for seeking other gods. From Ezra we heard about the near 50,000 former captives that had returned to Palestine. We also see Ezra’s struggles in rebuilding the Temple and the great efforts of Ezra to re-educate the Jews on their Hebrew ancestry and the Law of Moses.
The book of Nehemiah continues this story with Nehemiah receiving grave news concerning the state of things in Jerusalem. In this continuation of the saga of the restoration of Israel we see the providence of God, and the intricacy of his planning. God has positioned Nehemiah in a position that gives him access and favor of King Artaxerxes. We also are given a proper manor in which we should deal with situations of great distress that are out of our hands.
Nehemiah has received word that the city and survivors in Jerusalem are, “in great affliction and reproach.” In addition, Nehemiah is told that the wall of Jerusalem is broken down and the gates lay destroyed by fire. This leaves the city defenseless to bands of marauders and enemies of the Jews. There is no sense of cohesion, nor security from within or without. In learning of these things, Nehemiah weeps and mourns in fasting and prayer for days. He pleads with God for mercy and confesses the sins of his nation. He reminds God of his promise to restore Israel if they repented and returned to keep his commandments. Then Nehemiah calls to the Lord that he knows that the Lord has indeed redeemed his people by his great power and his strong hand, and that abandoning his children after delivering them is not in his nature. Then we see that God opens the door for Nehemiah to come to Jerusalem with the blessings of King Artaxerxes, and with the full authority of the king and his protections to rebuild the city of Jerusalem.
In this exchange we see that Nehemiah not only wept, confessed sin, and sought the Lord before he did anything else, but in the waiting on the Lord, Nehemiah also made plans and preparations for when the Lord would answer him. Oh, what a model of faith we see in Nehemiah. This is the constant pattern we see in the book of Nehemiah. We should take note of this faith and responsibility to God that Nehemiah demonstrates. For every obstacle that presented itself in attempts to thwart Nehemiah’s rebuilding of the wall and the re-education of the Jews towards their heritage and the Law of Moses was met with prayer and seeking of God first. God answered Nehemiah faithfully with resources, protections, and wisdom.
Jewish tradition tells us that Nehemiah is the author of this book. There is such detail and firsthand knowledge concerning the events which took place in this volume that leads to Nehemiah as the author of this chronicle. There is not knowledge of the life of Nehemiah prior to this event. However, we can ascertain that he was raised in teachings and study of the scriptures. We can also see that since he was the cup bearer to the king, he must have been a man of integrity. King Artaxerxes himself must have been very familiar with Nehemiah’s character and attitudes, because he noticed a change in Nehemiah’s demeanor. In addition, Nehemiah was a very trusted servant who was given the authority of the king as his Governor over Palestine. How great a witness we could have if we, as Christians walked in the integrity of the Lord, and in whom was no reproach found from our secular authorities appointed over us. For it is God who appoints kings of nations, not men.
Nehemiah shows us the importance of living a godly life, in a secular work environment. Nehemiah was not a priest, nor was he some great prophet. He was a single man, who feared God, loved his people, and endured many hardships. God uses people from all corners of life, and every kind of careers. Surely each one of our secular jobs is a mission field that the Lord has appointed us to. Give thanks to the Lord for where you are today and plan for where he leads you tomorrow.
There seems to be a lot of confusion over the question of prayer, and if God answers all prayers. Many Christians sit in pews and listen to pastors who teach that God answers all prayers. The pastors say that sometimes God will say “yes”. They will admit that sometimes God says “no”, or even “maybe”, or “wait”. These are all valid answers. I have seen examples of such answers that I have given to my own children in seeking to be a good parent. Children sometimes ask for things that are not good for them. Or for things that are inappropriate for them. However, there were times to when they were asking things with the wrong attitude, or the while they were being punished, or things that they just knew that I would not allow, but they asked anyway.
On those occasions, I simply ignored the pleading. I had all the right to as a parent. Just because I was asked, it did not mean that I must answer or even that I had to listen. You may have been in a similar situation with your children. Lucky for us we serve a God who is the essence of what is good. He loves us from his goodness, and his goodness gives us love. Therefore, He always seeks our best interest, within his will. We are his children, and we are treated as such. But, what about those who are not his children? Does God have to pander to their requests? Does he have the right to disregard their prayers?
The Holy Bible starts out with a simple assumption, that God exists. “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1) If God exists, and he created the heaven and the earth then God is sovereign. We either must believe that or not. Now if we believe that God is sovereign then we must believe that he is not under our jurisdiction. He is free to determine what he must and must not do. God gets to choose his own actions. God’s actions are governed by his own character.
This character is what has been the demonstration of what is true in love, charity, longsuffering, righteousness, and all things that are good. Our since of justice comes from the character of God. God as creator does not have to answer for himself to his creation. We simply must accept that he can choose to answer any prayer that he so chooses to answer. In accepting that as truth we must also accept as truth; God can choose to not answer, and even ignore some prayers. We do not dictate the terms to God. It is God who dictates terms to his creation.
To ignore the sovereignty of God would put us in the same place as Satan. “For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.” (Ezekiel 14:12-14) You would think that we would see and understand that to stand in the presence of God and make demands of him is to put ourselves in the position of God. This is what happened in the Garden of God in Eden. There Satan tempted Eve to sin, by telling her that she would be like God. (Genesis 3:5) We must listen to what the Word says and not what we desire. So, are there times that God chooses to ignore prayers? What does the Word say about unanswered and ignored prayers?
Well James the half-brother of Jesus wrote, “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.” (James 4:3) The epistle of James is believed to have been written around 49-50 AD, that would make it the earliest written letter written, after the Ascension of Christ, in the New Testament. Here James is answering the same question that we are still asking today. Why doesn’t God answer all prayers? In this short sentence James tells us that if we ask to consume it in our lusts, that is to say, to satisfy fleshly desires, or in self-serving desire, then you are asking in vain because God will not honor that prayer. So, the motivation of our prayer has to be sincerely unselfish. So, is it wrong to ask for the things we need? No, Jesus himself told us that we should ask that our joy may be full. Jesus also says that we should seek the kingdom of God first, because the Father knows everything we need, and he will supply our need. So, James does not contradict Jesus. Both Jesus and James, tell us that we should ask with the proper motivation.
We also see that the Lord will not hear those who think immorality in their heart. “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me:” (Psalms 66:18) What an eye opener this verse is. To put it in context, the writer is actually praising God for hearing his prayers, and NOT those of the wicked. He draws a contrast and comparison between himself as a righteous man before God who seeks to do the will of God and those who do not seek the will of God. These who enjoy and keep sin in their hearts will have their prayers unanswered because they are separated from God and God will not hear them. Pay close attention to what Isaiah says, “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear.” (Isaiah 59:2) Iniquities are knowledgeable sins. These are sins we know are wrong and choose to continue in them. These separate us from God, and then he will not hear us. This is what leads the Apostle John to write, “Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth.” (John 9:31) There seems to be a theme developing here. The theme that wrongly motivated prayers and a desire to continue in sin are some things that motivates God to NOT answer prayers. Heck it even seems that he ignores those who do such things.
In fact, God tells the prophet Jeremiah, because Israel has violated these two principles and rejected God, he will not hear them when they pray, and he forbids prayer for them. Did you hear that? Don’t believe me? Listen to Jeremiah 14:10-12, “Thus saith the Lord unto this people, Thus have they loved to wander, they have not refrained their feet, therefore the Lord doth not accept them; he will now remember their iniquity, and visit their sins. Then said the Lord unto me, Pray not for this people for their good. When they fast, I will not hear their cry; and when they offer burnt offering and an oblation, I will not accept them: but I will consume them by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence.” Wow he will not hear their prayers, not anyone else’s prayers for them. He will not listen even if they fast, no matter how often nor how long they pray, because they have rejected him. I think that it is fair enough to say that the doors of heaven can be closed to those who leave God, should he so choose.
Ok so far we see that God can choose to ignore prayer from those who have improper motives rooted in selfishness. God will not hear those who choose to live in sin, or who have forsaken God for another god. Now we move on to those who have actually rejected God. Scripture tells us that Jesus is the Word of God and the Word of God was with God in the beginning and created all things. The Word also tells us, “The Lord by wisdom hath founded the earth; by understanding hath he established the heavens. By his knowledge the depths are broken up, and the clouds drop down the dew. My son, let not them depart from thine eyes: keep sound wisdom and discretion: So shall they be life unto thy soul, and grace to thy neck.” (Proverbs 3:19-22) and then scripture also tells us that this wisdom of God that Created, this Word of God that Created, this Jesus that Created, if you reject him. Then you will cry out and the Father will not hear you.
• Proverbs 1:24-28 – Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; When your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you. Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me: • Matthew 10:33 – But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. • John 14:6 – Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
There we clearly that the rejection of Jesus Christ means that the Father does not know you. That would mean that he is not your Father. You would not then be his child. He would be under no obligation to hear those who have rejected Jesus. God does have a real heart for those who listen to him, those who abbey his will, and those who care for others. So much so that Zachariah tell us that God proclaims that those with hard hearts, who refuse to listen to the Lord and his commandments he will not hear. (Zechariah 7:11-13). Proverbs 28:9 tells us that those who turn there ears away the hearing of the Law of God, God considers their prayers an abomination. That means that God thinks that those who do not even bother to listen to his law and then want to pray to him, that their prayers are an outrage. There is another form of ignoring that God does not particularly care for and will cause prayers to be unheard. Those who ignore the plight of the poor, when they ask of God, their prayers will be, likewise, ignored. (Proverbs 21:13) God will not hear the prayers of those who mistreat his people either. These are those who hate good, love evil, who seek to hurt and kill the Saints of God.
• Psalm 18:40-41 – Thou hast also given me the necks of mine enemies; that I might destroy them that hate me. They cried, but there was none to save them: even unto the Lord, but he answered them not. • Micah 3:2-4 – Who hate the good, and love the evil; who pluck off their skin from off them, and their flesh from off their bones; Who also eat the flesh of my people, and flay their skin from off them; and they break their bones, and chop them in pieces, as for the pot, and as flesh within the caldron. Then shall they cry unto the Lord, but he will not hear them: he will even hide his face from them at that time, as they have behaved themselves ill in their doings.
These have cried in the past and the Lord choose to ignore their pleas. There are other examples of prayers that do not get answered. Prayers from those who worship idols (Jeremiah 11:11-14; Ezekiel 8:15-18. Those who do not believe will not receive anything from the Lord. (James 1:6-7).
So then if we are all unrighteous, who does God hear? Those who seek and call upon him in belief that he is, and that he is a rewarder of those who earnestly seek him to know who he is.
• James 1:5 – But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. • Jeremiah 29:12 – Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. • Job 33:26 – Then he will pray to God, and He will accept him, That he may see His face with joy, And He may restore His righteousness to man. • Psalm 91:15 – “He will call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him. • Psalm 145:18 – The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, To all who call upon Him in truth. • Psalm 65:2 – O You who hear prayer, To You all men come.
• Jeremiah 36:7 – Perhaps their supplication will come before the Lord, and everyone will turn from his evil way, for great is the anger and the wrath that the Lord has pronounced against this people.” • Matthew 7:11 – If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him! • John 14:13 – Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. • John 14:14 – If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it. • John 16:23 – In that day you will not question Me about anything. Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask the Father for anything in My name, He will give it to you. • John 15:7 – If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. • James 5:16 – Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. • Matthew 21:22 – And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.” • 1 John 5:14 – This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. • 1 John 5:15 – And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him. • Romans 10:12 – For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him;
Scripture is clear. God is sovereign and he chooses to ignore those who do not recognize or who ignore his sovereignty. But to those who sincerely seek him, and desire to know him. He will reveal himself to them. Those who are repentant and who confess that Jesus is the Son of God who died, was buried, and rose again from the grave, and desire to perform his will, God will hear, and answer. He will fulfill the desires of that person’s heart. God hears those who hear him. If you first ask to hear God, he will let you hear him, that your joy may be full. You want to hear something really neat? God prays for us. (Romans 8:27; John 17:15; 1 Timothy 2:15; Hebrews 9:15) In addition, for those who accept Jesus as Christ, those have been made righteous (2 Corinthians 5:21) This means the unrighteous man that John said God would not hear… we are no longer that unrighteous man. Therefore, God hears us, because of Jesus Christ, in order that the Son of God may be glorified of the Father. What wonderful news!
There is something that puzzles me greatly in the American churches. Lifeway Research and Ligonier Ministries partnered together to conduct a survey that they refer to as the State of Theology. Now this survey was conducted which included the results of 3000 Americans. This survey asked questions like:
• True or False: God is a perfect being and cannot make a mistake • True or False: There is one true God in three persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit • True or False: God accepts the worship of all religions, including Christianity, Judaism, and Islam • True or False: Jesus is the first and greatest being created by God • True or False: Jesus was a great teacher, but he was not God • True or False: The Holy Spirit is a force but is not a personal being • True or False: Even the smallest sin deserves eternal damnation
Now these are just a sampling of the questions that were asked in this survey. These questions can tell where an individual stands on these issues; and they are issues. These are the issues of life and death. What you believe on these affects your eternal fate.
We should expect that those who do not call themselves Christian should not believe in certain things that are in the bible. However, we should expect that “evangelicals” should believe what the bible says, and that the bible has authority over every other ancient and modern writings, philosophies, cultures, religions, or political and economic influences. While there is a wide difference in what people say that an evangelical is, the National Association of Evangelicals makes these distinctions to identify its members to the world.
• The Bible is the highest authority for what I believe. • It is very important for me personally to encourage non-Christians to trust Jesus Christ as their Savior. • Jesus Christ’s death on the cross is the only sacrifice that could remove the penalty of my sin. • Only those who trust in Jesus Christ alone as their Savior receive God’s free gift of eternal salvation.
An evangelical should not be defined on political, social, or cultural trends that are made up in American or world societies. They should be distinct and adhere to these basic beliefs at a minimum.
Historically evangelicals have shared a strong conviction that (1) it is their duty to convert others to be “born-again”, (2) it is their duty to actively express and demonstrate the gospel through missionary work and social reform programs, (3) they have typically taken the defense that the Bible is the ultimate authority on spiritual matters and obedience is a necessity, and (4) the historical crucifixion of Jesus Christ is what makes it possible for redemption of humanity.
It would seem then, that an evangelical is someone who confesses to believe in Jesus Christ for their savior and Lord. This survey shows that many evangelicals to not believe in basic biblical truths. Many evangelicals do not believe: • Jesus is God, Creator, and has always existed • The bible and the information within it are accurate and true • Even the smallest sin deserves eternal damnation • Belief in Jesus is a requirement by God to receive eternal life • The Holy Spirit is an equal part of the Trinity of God • Hell is a real place where the unbelieving will be punished forever • Jesus will return to judge all the people who have ever lived on earth • Sex outside of marriage is a sin • Abortion is a sin • The Bible condemns homosexuality and all sexual immorality along with other sins
I cannot understand how those who say that they believe in the authority of scriptures can be so mislead that the very foundation of their belief is Jesus is in error. Paul the Apostle would have said, “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; bur there be some that trouble you , and would pervert the gospel of Christ.” (Galatians 1:6-7) How is it that you who call yourselves followers of Jesus Christ, who have professed to believe the gospel are so far removed from the very truths you profess to believe. If you do not believe the gospel that was first delivered to you, and have taken on a new gospel, then you do not believe in the gospel of grace that was revealed to you.
This means that their faith would be in vain. John wrote, “but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.” (John 20:31) Again he wrote, “This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us.” (1 John 3:23) The question is, do you believe what was written for your benefit? We are given the scriptures so that we can know what it is that we should know about God and to know that what we believe is correct. If we are told in just these two samples of scripture that Jesus is the Son of God and, we are commanded to believe that he is the Son of God; then failure to believe means that we are lacking something very important in our faith. The truth that Jesus is God, and that he is the Son of God is a requirement of belief in Jesus that cannot be ignored. If we then do not believe in this, we are not believers in Jesus, and we are not saved. We have simply… NOT believed on the name of Jesus.
Scripture also tells us, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) It is just as simple and clear as that. You see God does have all authority. He has chosen that men can be saved in only one way, believe that Jesus is God and that he became flesh and died for men, that their sins may be forgiven. This is the only way, belief in Jesus. This is what believing in Jesus means, if you don’t believe everything the scriptures say concerning him, then you don’t believe in him, or in the authority of his name as the living Son of God.
The problem is that we have progressively listened to the serpent in the garden. When Satan tempted Eve in the garden, he made her to question the authority of the Word of God that she had received. Once this doubt was in her head, she was vulnerable to the rest of his attack. Here is the account of the temptation of Eve in the garden.
Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. (Genesis 3:1-6)
In here we see somethings that we should take note of, as those who believe. The first is that the form that Satan had taken. He was in the form of a serpent. The serpent in creation was subject to Adam and should have been confronted and put in his place with the authority God had given to Adam. Instead of putting the serpent to silence Eve listened to him. Second, the serpent is described as more subtle. This means that he was very intelligent and quite crafty. Notice that his approach is to say “Yeah, hath God said”. Did God really say this? Surely God didn’t mean you could not eat of that tree… Right there he usurps the very words of God and pulls the authority associated with it into question. If what she thinks that God said is not what God actually said, then it may not be wrong to eat of every tree in the garden after all. Thus, it is with society. The serpent had slowly taken away the belief that what God has given us in scripture is accurate. This has been done through philosophies, pseudo sciences, textual criticisms, false teachers, errant preachers, and teachers who do not teach the whole counsel of God, and cults. Worst of all is that there is a new English version of the Bible out every day it seems. With so many versions in just English alone then how can you know which is the word of God? These have eroded trust in the bible and those who wield it.
If the Bible is not accurate, it cannot be trusted. If it cannot be trusted, then it may that Jesus is not the only way to salvation. It could be that we could save ourselves. It could be that God cannot tell us what is right and wrong. It could be that there really is no heaven nor a real hell. It could be that we do not even need to be saved at all. Do you see the progression?
Still there is this verse that calls to us. “But these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.” What things have been written that we may believe? Well that is the entirety of the Holy Bible. We are taught in the scriptures who God is. God is the creator, and as such he has supreme authority. In fact, his authority is beyond question. So, if God says something, it is fact and is trustworthy. If God caused 40 different authors located in three different continents over a span of almost 2000 years to reveal himself to us and to tell us something so urgent that we need to know, then shouldn’t we listen to it and take it for truth also?
These things are written so that you may believe… that seems like such an important statement. What then can we believe if we take the Bible as the authoritative Word of God. To start with we can believe that Jesus is God, and Creator. (John 1:1-3) Here the Apostle John tells us that Jesus is the living breathing Word of God. He says that Jesus was always with God from before the beginning because he is 100% God. John tells us that God did not make anything without Jesus, because Jesus is the one who created everything. So, in Genesis when it say, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth”, that was Jesus who did the creating. In the first few verses of Genesis we see all three parts of the Trinity of God at work. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are all in existence, and in union together. (James 2:19; Deuteronomy 4:35; Deuteronomy 6:4) Here we see that there is only one God in existence. This sole God created everything we have ever known in our lives and in the history of mankind. The theory of evolution is just that a theory. In fact, there are three different theories of evolution in existence today and they have all changed over time, as new science if brought out. This new science is more and more proving the Genesis narrative of creation.
Jesus as God has always existed. Since he has always existed, he was not created. Instead, he was the one who created everything. This gives him full authority over all of creation. This means that everything else written in the Bible is true also. So later when John also writes to us, “and the word was made flesh, and dwelt among us…” (John 1:14), that this same Jesus, who is the Word, who is God, became a man and then walked among us. You see, Jesus was not a man who became God. There is no place in the bible where a man has ever become God. Neither is there anything written in the bible that says any other spirit, angel, or creature became God. There is only one God. No other God has ever existed. Anyone who tells you that you can become a god, or that Jesus is one of many Gods is telling a lie, from Satan. By the way, Satan is not a God either.
This Jesus, who is God in the flesh, walked among us and did teach many things about God, and how we should live, and what heaven is all about. He also taught us what hell is like. He affirmed the scriptures that tell us that God is a God of justice and he pours out his wrath on the unrighteous (sinful and rebellious). But Jesus also let us know of the great love and mercy that God has. Jesus was not just a great teacher of spiritual truths, he was the embodiment of the truth of God. This same creator who originally breathed life in to the first and every man since creation, also came to ensure that we can have eternal life in the presence of God. He was perfect and did not sin. Then Peter tells us this Jesus “who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes you were healed.” (1 Peter 2:24) Why did he do this? Love. God loves you.
We cannot earn our way into heaven. We cannot buy our way into heaven. We cannot be a good person at heart and gain our way into heaven. Romans 6:23 tells us that “the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” So here we are. We have all sinned in some way. Even if we had not the original sin of rebellion that was passed down from Adam, we have all still sinned. That is evident in our life. If does not matter how insignificant we may think our sin is, or even if we do not think it as a sin. If we have murdered, or if we have just told a little white lie or taken a pen from the office stationery at work, it is still a sin. The cost for that sin is death. Death is the result of failing to meet the standard of God. Because God is so holy, things that are not holy cannot enter his presence. Jesus made the way for man to enter the presence of God. He took that price of sin, the debt you owe, and paid it. Jesus died in your place. Jesus died, no one else. There was no angel, no ancestor or yours, no saint, and certainly no devil that stepped in and took the shame of your sin and bore it on their shoulders and died because of. That is why Jesus is the only way to heaven.
Then something happened to attest to us that Jesus is indeed God. He overcame death. Only God can defeat death because only God has the power and authority to. You see, death did not come into existence until after the fall of man. The fall of man did not happen until after the creation. God was before the creation. Jesus is the creator. God is the only one who can bring man back to God. Since there is only one God, he sent a piece of himself, as Jesus, for the specific purpose of redeeming us and all of creation back to himself. Jesus came, died, was buried, and rose from the dead, then he ascended to heaven where he resides waiting to return to take possession of the earth. But, to take possession, he will have to judge all of creation. Love is what keeps him on his throne in heaven. It is the will of God that no one should perish in hell. He desires that all should be saved. So, he is giving you every opportunity to live. You see in we are deceived by the devil so easily because we like to sin. Let us go back and visit John again. John 3:16 is one that everyone loves to quote, the believer and the unbeliever also. But we never seem to get past to the other verses that accompany it. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.” (John 3:16-21) God does love. God did sacrifice his only Son for this love. God does require that you believe on this sacrifice and honor the name of his son, Jesus. Salvation is a free gift given to those who believe. But, did you catch the latter verse? “…but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.” The ones who do not believe are already condemned; not chosen to be condemned. No, these are already condemned because of their own lack of belief. They have chosen to “not“ believe and chosen to reject Jesus, because they love their sin to death. That is why we are so easily deceived. We love the darkness. Only those who love the light, receive the truth. What should we do then? “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:19) Well, we should repent. Repentance must come before salvation. Repenting is a confessing to God that His ways are perfect and that you are not. You agree with his authority to say what is acceptable and what is not. Then confessing those things to him that you agree are not acceptable, those things we call sin. Confessing to lay those down and to never return to them again. Luke 13:3 tells us that except we repent… we will die. Repentance is first. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) Confession is a part of repentance. We do not need to confess to a man, in fact in some cases it may be better not to. Confession is made to God, it is him of whom you are believing in, not a man. So, then repentance and confession are made to Jesus Christ. Romans 10:9 tells us, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” The key here is to believe. Believing on Jesus is a choice. It is a choice and not a feeling. You are choosing to believe what the scriptures have said about God, and Jesus as the Son of God, and the sacrifice he made for you. This is what we call faith. We believe, not because we have seen, but because the trust that what God has said in the Bible is accurate and trust worthy. Without this giving of our trust in the truth of God and Jesus, then it is impossible to receive salvation. “But without faith [it is] impossible to please [him]: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and [that] he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) It does not matter if you call yourself a Christian already, what matter is does Jesus know who you are?
Jesus said, “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matthew 7:22-23) Paul, one of Jesus’ apostles, tell us to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. We need to make sure of what we believe and why we believe it.
If you are not yet ready to believe, keep seeking him through his scripture, the Holy Bible. The Bible is what God has chosen to reveal himself to us by. Do not be a fool. There is no need to look anywhere else to seek God. Find a church, get into Sunday School, and attend a Pastor’s class or two and study earnestly in your bible. When your ready, ask God, and he will reveal himself to you.