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By John Duncan
Have you ever wondered where you will spend eternity? If you ever spent any time thinking about life, death, or your purpose on this earth, then you have pondered on eternal things. Humans are eternal beings and there are only two eternal destinations available after this life. Where are you headed?
The Bible says that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). “The wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). Some common sins are lying, lusting, nurturing unforgiving or bitter thoughts towards someone, taking God’s name in vain, getting drunk, coveting someone or something that does not belong to you, dishonoring your parents, being an angry person, etc.
Have you ever lied? If so, you are a liar. Have you ever stolen? If so, you are a thief. Have you ever had lust in your heart towards someone who is not your spouse? If so, Jesus said that you are an adulterer at heart. Have you ever hated someone in your heart? If so, Jesus said that you are a murderer at heart. What will you do when you stand before God in judgment as a lying thief, adulterer and murderer? These are only 4 of the Ten Commandments.
How many times do you sin a day? Let’s suppose that you sin an average of 3 times a day (if you are a very “good” person). That is over 1000 sins every year. Now multiply this number by the number of years that you’ve known right from wrong and you will see that your transgressions against God are too numerous to count. The sentence for each ONE of these sins is eternity without God in torment in Hell. I hope that by now you see that Hell is a place from which there is no escape without God. If you have ever sinned one time, Hell is where you are headed unless you repent and place your faith in Jesus Christ.
The Bible describes Hell as a place with everlasting fire (Mat 18:8), everlasting punishment (Mat 25:46), everlasting chains (Jude 1:6), eternal damnation (Mark 3:29), eternal judgment (Heb 6:2), eternal fire (Jude 1:7), unquenchable fire (Mat 3:12), the blackness of darkness for ever (Jude 1:13). It is a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth (Mat 25:30), a place of torments (Luke 16:23), a place of Sorrows (2 Sam 22:6), a place of everlasting destruction (2 Thes 1:9), a bottomless pit (Rev 9:2), a place of no rest (Rev 14:11), a place of unsatisfied desires (Luke 16:24), a place of memory and regret (Luke 16:28). Since Hell is a place where God’s blessed and glorious presence is absent (Mat 7:21-23), it is also a place void of love, for God is love (1 John 4:16). There is no peace because God is peace (John 16:33). There is no rest (Matt 11:29-30). There is no protection, for God is our protector (Psa 91:9). "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning" (James 1:17). Therefore everyone in Hell is alone because friendship is a gift from God. There is absolutely no affection, caring, or understanding from anyone. Hell is a place void of all things good.
Since the wages of sin is death, a death is required as a result of our sins. Christianity is the only religion that provides a sufficient atonement for sin in Jesus Christ. Jesus lived a sinless life and shed His blood for our sins.
In order to realize the value of salvation, it is necessary to understand what it cost. Because people do not have a good understanding of the sufferings of Christ, many place a low value on the work of the atonement. It was the amazing love of God the Father that brought about such a plan to redeem the human race. Such love manifested in the gift of God's beloved Son amazed the holy angels (1 Pet 1:10-12). This Son was the brightness of His Father's glory and the express image of His person (Heb 1:3). He possessed divine majesty, perfection, and excellence. He was equal with God (Col 2:9, Phil 2:6-11).
Jesus willingly gave His life in the sinner's stead so that humanity, by a life changed by repentance and faith, may escape the death penalty of the law of God. Jesus’ death did not make the law of none effect. The law was not nullified and its holy claims were not lessened by any means. The death of Christ proclaimed the justice of His Father's law in punishing the transgressor, for the “wages of sin is death” (Rom 6:23). Jesus willingly suffered the penalty of the law Himself in order to save fallen man from the curse of the law. The death of God's beloved Son on the cross shows that the law of God will never pass away. Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross can be yours if you meet the requirements in the Bible: repentance and faith. (Mark 1:15)Repentance: the First Requirement for Salvation
From the Greek “metanoia”: afterthought, change of mind. God requires man to repent as a condition for salvation (Matt. 3: 8; Luke 3: 8; Acts 20: 21; 26: 20). In the New Testament this change of mind involves both a turning from sin and a turning to God. Repentance involves a change of mind, will, and heart (Matt. 21: 29). God wants to influence and control our thinking (Phil 2:5). When one repents, one experiences change regarding sin. They no longer love sin but love light and truth (Jn. 3: 19). They surrender their will to God and thus view God and sin in a different light (Heb. 12: 28). They realize their own sinfulness and cease being selfish (Rom. 3: 23; 2 Cor. 5: 15). They respect the word of God and desire to obey it (Acts 2: 37-42). Repentance produces a change in how we view ourselves, Satan, others, money, work, and life in general (I Pet. 5: 8; Matt. 7: 12; I Tim. 6: 10; Col. 3: 22, 23; I Pet. 3: 10, 11). Repentance is a radical act because it completely changes what you desire, the way you think, and the way you view things in life.
Paul writes, “For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.” (2 Cor. 7:10). There is a “worldly sorrow” that leads man into a “sin and repent cycle.” The classical example is those who ask God to forgive them only to repeatedly return to the same sins, never gaining freedom to stop the behavior. Most times those who have “worldly sorrow” are sorry that they were caught, sorry for what sin has done to them, or just afraid of the consequences of continuing in sin. It works death because it is still all about THEMSELVES. On the other hand, true “godly sorrow” brings men to the END of themselves. They turn from selfishness and give their lives to God. This type of sorrow is met with divine grace and power to break man free from the bondage of sin (Titus 2:11) and enabling mankind to live as God intended from the beginning: in a holy, loving relationship with the Savior Jesus Christ.
John the Baptist said, “Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance” (Mat 3:8). True repentance is not only sorrowful for sins committed, but it “means business” enough to stop doing that which violates God’s moral laws. Prov. 28:13 says, “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and FORSAKETH them shall have mercy.”
Faith: the Second Requirement for Salvation
Faith is simply believing. “… 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. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” (Romans 10:9-10)
Saving faith will transform your life and you will have a change of nature. Good works do not save you, but if you sincerely believe from your heart, good works will follow your conversion. You will no longer bring good fruit grudgingly with an effort but simple things like prayer, Bible reading, and church attendance will be things that you will sincerely desire and enjoy doing from your heart. "For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts” (Heb. 8:10).
“Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor 6:9-11). Once true faith comes into your heart, you will not be the same! If you once lived a life of adultery, fornication, lust, drunkenness, you will change! Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (2 Cor 5:17)
If you are ready to give your heart to
Jesus Christ, talk to the Lord (PRAY). If your heart is pure and you are
ready to COMMITT your life to God and not look back, He will receive you
with open arms.
If you have just given your heart to Jesus Christ, here are essential things for your spiritual growth:1. Pray. Some time each day should be spent alone with God away from distractions. Prayer is not formal: we are simply talking to God as we would to a friend. If you are not sure how to pray, begin by thanking God for all the good things that have happened to you, then pray for others, and finally pray for your own needs. Remember to examine your life and quickly repent if any sin creeps back in. If Jesus is now your Lord, He will give you power to deny temptation (1 Cor 10:13, Titus 2:11). You may want to spend some silent time waiting on the Lord to speak to your heart. Also, learn to pray throughout the day, for example: while driving alone in the car, or while doing some task which requires no concentration. And as good things happen during the day, take a moment to thank God for them. 2. Read the Bible. You need to spend time reading God's word. At least once a day read a portion of the Bible. You can read a chapter or a paragraph. A good place for a new believer to start is the book of John. 3. Meet with fellow believers. Attend a Bible believing church every Sunday, join a Bible study, get together with other Christians. Always check what you are taught against the Bible (Acts 17:11). You need the encouragement and support of others who have an understanding of how God works in our lives.
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