“If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone. The new has come!” (2 Corinthians ch.5 v.17)
So, where have we got to? God has made a wonderful world, and has given life to all of us. The trouble is, sin has entered the world, spoiling it and our lives.
God sent His Only Son, Jesus, into the world to die and rise again in order to deal with the problem of sin. Through Jesus, it is possible to have our sins forgiven, to have a brand new life and a fantastic future.
It is a common belief today that there are many ways to reach God. “It does not matter what you believe, you will be saved in the end.” It sounds very good, and very convenient; the problem is, it is wrong!
According to the Bible, there is only one way to God. “Jesus said, ‘I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me’” (John ch.14 v.6).
This is backed up by the words of Peter spoken to the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem: “Salvation is found in no-one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts ch.4 v.12).
To those who think they can get to God on their own merit, by leading good lives or giving to charity, Paul has these sombre words: “It is by grace you have been saved, through faith; and this not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not by works, so that no-one can boast” (Ephesians ch.2 vv.8-9).
There are two things we must do if we really want to know new life in the Lord Jesus. At the very beginning of His public ministry, Jesus began by telling His hearers that they must “Repent and believe the Gospel” (Mark ch.1 v.15). The same message goes out today.
Paul had very much the same message to preach in Acts ch.20 v.21: “I have declared… that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus.”
So, if you want to be forgiven and to know peace with God, these two things are vital.
But what does it mean to ‘repent’? It simply means you must acknowledge your sin and turn away from it.
There needs to be a change of mind about the way you have been living. You must admit that you have been living in the wrong way and for the wrong reasons. You have been living in a way that leads you away from God.
There also has to be a change of heart. Many people are prepared to admit that they are sinners, but very few feel any real guilt about their sins. They do not see sin as God sees it. They do not realise that their sins caused the death of God’s Only Son.
It is not good enough to say “Sorry” to God; you must really mean it. That is what repentance is.
We are given a wonderful promise in 1 John ch.1 v.9: “If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
There must also be a change in direction; you must be willing, with God’s help, to turn from everything you know to be wrong; this may include a habit, a friendship or a hobby. It may mean giving up a place, a book or magazine. It may mean giving up on a feeling for somebody or something you know to be dishonest.
True repentance will result in a change in our behaviour. In Matthew ch.3 v.8, John the Baptist warns those who heard him to “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.”
In Acts ch.17 v.30 Paul warns that “[God] commands all people everywhere to repent.”
The second step in receiving new life is to believe in Jesus. This means more than simply believing who Jesus is; James tells us that the demons believe who Jesus is (James ch.2 v.19). The belief the demons have will not save them; it has no effect upon the way they live.
A man was once crossing a tight rope with a wheelbarrow. Backwards and forwards he went, across a waterfall. In time several people stopped to watch the man, amazed at his ability and sense of balance. After completing a journey, he turned to the crowd. “Who believes I can take the barrow across one more time?” A large number of hands were raised. “Right!” the man said, “who wants to ride in the barrow?”
This little story illustrates the idea of real faith. You couldn’t say you really believed in the tightrope walker until you were prepared to sit in the wheelbarrow. In the same way, you can’t say you really believe in Jesus, until you are prepared to commit your heart and life to Him.
It means allowing Jesus to take charge of every area of your life: Your time, your money, your friendships, your family and your future.
The Christian life is not easy; you may have all sorts of problems. Not everybody you speak to will be pleased with your decision to follow Jesus. However, Jesus promises that He will be with you always (Matthew ch.28 v.20); He makes it all worthwhile.
And in John ch.6 v.47, Jesus promises that all who believe in Him will receive everlasting life! That means God’s life in you! Without this, it is impossible to live the Christian life. With God, everything is possible!!