Relationships are good for us. From getting to know a neighbor to a lifetime relationship with a husband or wife, healthy relationships are beneficial. A healthy relationship gives us acceptance, belonging, and love. Understandably, we spend months, years, and even a lifetime establishing and maintaining relationships with other people.
While some relationships are unpredictable, the best are solid and sure as we genuinely know and love someone and they truly know and love us. Yet even in the most solid of human relationships, there will be times of disappointment as other people will be, like us, human. From small, trivial matters to the breaking of vows and promises, at times other people will let us down. The truth is we let each other down because none of us is perfect.
But there is a relationship in which we will never be lied to, a promise never broken, we will never be left or forsaken, a relationship in which we will always be loved. This relationship is not temporary, but is eternal and is built on perfect love. It is a relationship with the one, true living God.
Like all healthy relationships, let's begin by getting to know one another.
Perfect. Perfect perfection. The word "perfect" may be the most-common word that people use to describe or envision what God is like. God is perfect. A perfect God must be good, but not just good; as the perfect Being, God must be infinitely good - infinitely pure and perfect goodness. Perfect goodness means that God must be the ultimate good - God is infinitely holy. God transcends all of creation - time,space, and matter; humans, animals, and plants; as well as the created spiritual realm. God's holiness means that God reigns sovereign, above and over all in a glorious majesty of rightful exaltation, purity, and infinite goodness. God is holy; God's name is holy; God's presence is holy; God's word is holy.
God is holy.
God is also perfectly righteous and just. This means God is infinitely right in perfect harmony with His infinite holiness. God's ways are right; God's thoughts are right; God's will is right; God's word is right; God's commands are right; God's laws are right; God's morals are right; God's judgement is right - for transcendent, sovereign, holy God alone is infinitely righteous.
In God's infinite holiness and righteousness, God is just. As transcendent, sovereign, holy God reigning with righteousness over all, God is a just God and renders righteous and holy justice on wrongdoings, transgressions... on sins, all of which must be punished. God exercises holy and righteous justice toward wrongdoers, transgressors,... sinners.
The reasonable person knows that justice demands that law breakers be held accountable and punished for their wrongdoings and transgressions. We know this to be good and right in our world today! We want and need justice to be upheld in our cities, states, and country. And it is certainly good and right for God to be just and hold transgressors accountable and ensure His justice is upheld.
If eternal God were to allow even the smallest, most insignificant sin to go unpunished, then God would not be perfectly good and infinitely righteous, just, and holy.
God is righteous and just.
God is also the perfection of the most precious virtue, the highest emotion - God is love. God's word, the Bible tells us, "He who does not love does not know God, for God is love." (1 John 4:8). But not just love, God is perfect love.
This is not worldly love, not even brotherly "phileo" type of love. The love of God goes beyond that, for it is "agape" love - the divine, sacrificial, self-giving love that is of God. With this type of love, God loves us when we are unlovable. With this type of love, God loves us even when we do not love Him. "In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins." (1 John 4:10) This big word "propitiation" refers to the atoning sacrifice of Jesus on the cross for our sins thereby providing the way of forgiveness and reconciliation with holy God.
God is love.
True love is personal, personal from one's heart. Real love is one of the most personal characteristics of human beings. God being love means that God is personal. God desires to express His love to us and to receive love from us as human beings. This is possible and expected as God made humans in His image.
Consider the following logical syllogism:
HIGHER THOUGHTS: Common sense and reason tell us that God, who is love, cannot be some impersonal, intangible "force" or "energy" or some "cosmic consciousness" in a "New Age" universe. And that is wonderful news! God, who is perfect love, is a real and personal Being, loving and caring for you and me as He has shown and expressed His love to all people. God being personal, means not only can we know about God, we can know God in a personal way.
God is personal.
True love is not kept to oneself. Genuine love is given. Perfect love is expressed, demonstrated, shown to others. Perfect love is not only given, but is given freely, never forced or coerced. The perfect love of a perfect Being means that God is not only love, God expresses or demonstrates His self-sacrificing love to us. The Bible tells us, "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8) God has freely demonstrated His love for you in the most powerful and loving way possible, out of His love for you, God gave of Himself. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)
God has shown His love to us.
As purely and infinitely perfect, God must be unchanging, for perfect God does not need to change. It must be impossible for God’s perfect, holy nature to change (Malachi 3:6). While humans change and often seem to change our minds at a whim, God does not change. Think about that. God who is good perfected, who is genuine love, and who is personal, God is also perfectly faithful. God will not change, not today or tomorrow or forever. God's word, the Bible, tells us, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever." (Hebrews 13:8)
The Bible makes it clear that God will never break a promise to you because perfect, holy God cannot lie, "in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began," (Titus 1:2) God's unchanging perfect nature means that God always keeps His promises and therefore, God is always perfectly faithful. "Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful." (Hebrews 10:23) Because God is unchanging and faithful, you can believe God and you can trust in God.
God is faithful.
HIGHER THOUGHTS: How holy is God? The Bible tells us that our most righteous works are like filthy rags before holy God! "All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. (Isaiah 64:6) Think of the best thing, the most righteous thing you have ever done. Compared to and before holy God that "righteous thing" is like a dirty, filthy rag. The point here is not to put down your good deeds, but to put into proper perspective all our best works and deeds in light of how infinitely good and perfectly holy God is!
An honest look at human nature reveals both nice characteristics as well as a very ugly side. We do nice things at times, but we also often feel, think, say, and do not-so-nice things. Indeed, if we consider how humans treat one another, far too often it is not very nice, is outright mean, and often horribly shocking. Have you ever noticed that no one has to teach a young child to lie? No one has to teach a child to sneak a cookie when told not to, or try to keep their parents from finding out when the little one has done wrong. No one has to teach their children to disobey! It's just the opposite - parents, grandparents, etc., spend a lot of time trying to teach children to behave and be obedient. And as humans get older, so often the disobedience, the wrongdoing, takes worse forms. From little children to elderly adults, human beings have a selfish side with a propensity of doing things our way even if we know it is not right. Humans are born with a sinful nature.
If we are honest, we all have done wrong. All of us at times have thought wrong thoughts, felt wrong feelings (wrong emotions, desires, attitudes, etc.), said wrong words, and done wrong deeds. Every one of our transgressions, is done in the sight and full knowledge of holy God, and each and every wrongdoing is an offense, a sin against perfect, holy God. Not a single sin is missed or dismissed.
"If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." (1 John 1:8)
Left to our own desires of the flesh, the human heart is selfish, wicked, and far too often does evil. And every human will give account to God, God alone who searches the heart, tests our mind, and will rightfully judge. In fact, God tells us in His holy word, "The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it? I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings." (Jeremiah 17:9-10)
God gave us a soul and a mind, and a conscience to act as a sin "warning alarm." We all have said things we shouldn't have said. We all have done things that we shouldn't have done. We have broken God's laws and are guilty of doing so. As we know even in our own societies, it is right that justice calls for wrongdoers to be punished.
There is reason and common sense to the saying, "Hindsight is 20-20." Indeed, we can often see things more clearly after the fact. Let's be honest. We've all thought wrong thoughts toward another person or had lustful thoughts about someone. We've all said something that wasn't true, not kept our word, or said things that we wish we could take back. By the way, another old saying, "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me" is not true - words can and do hurt. We've all done things that looking back we should have done differently or not at all. We've all messed up, not just with others but before holy God.
You may be thinking, but wait... I'm a "good" person. Perhaps, but that is "good" based on a world that defines "good" in a variety of ways. But when it comes down to your eternity and my eternity, any definition of "good" by the world's standards doesn't matter. From the only perspective and definition of "good" that counts, God's definition and compared to the holiness of God, the Bible tell us, As it is written: "There is none righteous, no, not one." (Romans 3:10) Every single person on planet Earth is born with a sinful nature and is literally guilty as sin. And every person will give an account to our Creator one day. God's holy word, the Bible tells us, "So then each of us shall give account of himself to God." (Romans 14:12) And our most righteous deeds or our personal definition of "good" will not impress or carry any influence upon God, "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23)
God holiness means our sins bring separation from God.
God's righteousness means our sins bring guilt before God.
God's justness means our sins make us deserving of punishment before God.
Because God is perfect goodness, righteousness and holiness, sin cannot be in God's presence. The Bible tells us about God, "You who are of purer eyes than to see evil and cannot look at wrong." (Habakkuk 1:13a). If there can be no sin in God's holy presence, no one with a sinful nature in heaven, and no one who has ever committed a sin in heaven, then every single human has a huge problem, a sin problem. Because of our sins and sinful nature, and because of God's holiness, we stand separated and guilty before perfect, just, holy God.
Our separation from God means we need to be reconciled to holy God.
HIGHER THOUGHTS: This leads us to the point, this is THE question isn't it - how can sinful man be reconciled to perfect, holy God?
We need pardoned, and we can't pardon ourselves. We need saved, and we can't save ourselves. If this was a court of law, all we could do is admit guilt and throw ourselves on the mercy of the court.
Indeed, we need mercy and grace.
Each of us is seen by God in the pure light of His perfect holiness, righteousness, and glory. God tells us how He sees each of us, "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23) Realizing and acknowledging this is key my friend. Every sin is serious to holy, eternal God. So serious that God's atonement for sin requires the shedding of blood from an unblemished sacrificial lamb that meets God's approval. God tells us in His holy word, the Bible, "For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul." (Leviticus 17:11).
HIGHER THOUGHTS: Why the shedding of blood? Because life is in the blood, and therefore blood is hallowed and sacred to God who Himself gives us life. Death is a result of sin - every person has a sin nature and every person dies, "For the wages of sin is death." (Romans 6:23a). God gives us life and sin brings death. The atonement for sin is accordingly, the shedding of life-sustaining blood from a sacrifice that God has deemed worthy. Sin is a grave and serious matter before holy God.
God cannot give sin a free pass, nor lower His standard - or He wouldn't be perfect, holy God. But we are sinners, and this means that each of us fall short of holy God's standard of perfect righteousness and glory (Romans 3:23).
Many people may think or even claim that they are "good" persons, and therefore God will or must let them into heaven. Indeed there are some nice and good people in the world - by the world's standards. But God does not see us and judge us by the world's standard or by our own standard. God sees and judges us by His righteous, holy standard.
"Being good" does not provide atonement for our sins! "Being good" does not qualify one to enter the holy presence of holy God! Our ways are not God's ways and our thoughts are not God's thoughts - and our standards are not God's standards!
God's standard is so pure, perfect, and holy that the truth is, no one but God could ever meet God's perfect and holy standard.
Humans never have and never will be able to attain or meet God's standard of perfect and pure holiness, no matter how much one tries or what one does. It just makes sense that only perfect, holy God can meet God's perfect and holy standard, we humans never can - and God knew that.
So in love, God the Father sent God the Son, Jesus, to meet the standard we could never meet, to pay the price we could never pay. God's only Son, Jesus Christ, came to this world, lived a perfect life without sin and on the cross Jesus took our sins upon Himself and bore God's holy wrath and punishment for our sins.
God the Son, Jesus, met God's perfect, holy standard!
The good news (the word "Gospel" means good news) is that God's justice and love are perfectly reconciled in one way, in the cross of God the Son, Jesus Christ.
Now that is God's love expressed! Please don't forget what God's word says in 1 John 4:10, "In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins."
Know this today - God loves you!
Jesus sacrificed His body and shed His blood that our sins could be forgiven. God's word tells us about Jesus, "In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace." (Ephesians 1:7).
On the cross, Jesus took our sins upon Himself and bore God's holy wrath and punishment for our sins to make the way that we could be forgiven, guiltless, and reconciled to holy God. Jesus was without sin, therefore death could not hold Him! That is why Jesus, and only Jesus, can give eternal life - because only Jesus has victory over death!
How can you know? Is there any evidence that on the cross Jesus, God the Son, fully met God's perfect, holy standard? Yes! That God's perfect, holy standard was fully and completely met was proven three days later when Jesus Christ rose bodily from the dead - fully defeating and giving victory over sin, death, and the grave!
HIGHER THOUGHTS: Only God could meet God's perfect standard, and God the Son, Jesus Christ, met God's holy standard. Every person who has lived on this planet is born with a sin nature -
except one person, Jesus Christ.
Everyone, all of us have sinned and come short of the glory of God -
except one person, Jesus Christ.
Every person has failed to meet God's perfect and holy standard -
except one person, Jesus Christ.
Friend, that is why only one person, God the Son, Jesus Christ, is the only way to God the Father.
In a wonderful conversation between the apostle Thomas and Jesus we read, Thomas said to Him, "Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?" Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." (John 14:5-6).
In God's infinite, sacrificial, love, He took our guilt and punishment and put it on Jesus and offers the righteousness and sinlessness of Jesus to be placed on us! The Bible tells us, "For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." (2 Corinthians 5:21)
God loves you and God has proven His love for you through the cross of Jesus Christ.
When your sin called for punishment, God sent His Son Jesus to take your punishment.
When you needed saved and couldn't save yourself, God provided the Savior - Jesus!
At the cross of Jesus Christ God's holiness is met,
God's justice is upheld,
and God's love is expressed!
There is reconciliation with God through the cross of Jesus Christ!
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)
When someone offers you a gift, a free gift that is given out of love, it is not truly yours until you accept it. They can stand before you and tell you about it - and you can refuse to believe. They can stand before you, gift in outstreched hand, but you can refuse to accept it, or you can simply do nothing and walk away.
Remember the earlier verse cited above, Romans 6:23a that tells us that the wages of sin is death? That's only the first part of the verse. Here is the rest, "but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 6:23b) Did you catch that wonderful word? G-I-F-T, the gift of God to you and to me.
Someone once said that if there are a thousand steps between us and God, God will take 999 and ask you to take the one. God has given the perfect gift, the best gift, His only begotten Son. John 3:16 tells us, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." Those are the very words of Jesus Himself knowing He was headed for the cross to die for you and me. Those are words of God's love, God's personal love... for in that word "world" is your name and my name.
You don't have to work for this gift. You don't have to try to earn this gift. We can't, for it is truly priceless. And because God's gift of salvation is given out of love, it is also given out of grace. This gift of love is a gift of grace. The Bible tells us, "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9) Salvation is the gift of God alone - by God's grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.
God's word calls repentant sinners to agree with God that they are sinners needing forgiveness; to believe that Jesus died on the cross for your sins and bodily rose from the dead in victory over sin and death; and then by faith, and ask God to forgive you and save you as turn away from your sinful ways and turn to Jesus as your Lord.
God's holy word is clear with the blessed truth, But what does it say? "The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart" (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, "Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame." For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For "whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved." (Romans 10:8-13)
It should bring us sorrow as we realize what our sin has cost God - the atoning death of His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ.
"Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing. For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. " (2 Corinthians 7:9-10)
What is your perspective of God and of yourself? The truth presented here is based on God's holy word, the Bible. That is why you find so many Bible verses referenced here.
How will you respond?
We must acknowledge in our heart that we have sinned against holy God, we need God's forgiveness, and there is nothing we can do to save ourselves. We must believe in our heart that Christ died for our sins and that God raised Christ from the dead. Not just knowing the facts about Christ, but believing such that by faith, you willingly place your trust in Christ and call on Jesus to forgive you and save you.
"The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance." (2 Peter 3:9)
A relationship with God is not one on equal terms, God is God and we are not, and we never will be. But almighty God, the perfect, supreme Being desires a relationship as one of a loving Father and an adopted child. God calls us to love Him but ultimately God allows us to choose to love Him, to not love Him, or even to decide if a person will believe God even exists. God is love and God will not force Himself or His love on anyone who does not truly want God's love and a relationship with Him.
HIGHER THOUGHTS: Try to imagine what a joyful blessing it is to be a child of God. Not only an adopted child of God, but when we are saved God makes us joint-heirs with His only begotten Son, Jesus! God has a wonderful and blessed future for all of His adopted children, a future of eternity in heaven in God's holy presence! A future where there is no more sorrow, no pain, no more tears. All of this replaced with joy, peace, happiness, and love!
"Therefore, brethren, we are debtors—not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together." (Romans 8:12-17).
A healthy relationship gives us acceptance, belonging, and love.
Know God's acceptance, know you belong to God's family,
and know God's love.
If you have truly believed that Jesus died for your sins and rose bodily from the grave in victory over sin, death, and the grave, and by faith put your trust in the Lord Jesus Christ to forgive your sins and save you, calling on the name of the Lord Jesus to save you... Welcome to the family of God!
It is important to find a Bible-believing, Bible-teaching, Bible-preaching church where you can worship God, serve God and others, fellowship with other Christians, and begin to grow and mature in Christ. This link may help you in fiding a Bible-believing church, www.sbc.net/churchsearch/.
"And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near." (Hebrews 10:24-25)
One of the first things to do in obeying and following Jesus is to follow the Lord Jesus Christ in what is often called "Believer's Baptism." Jesus was baptized and baptism is one of the two ordinances the church observes, the other being observing the Lord's Supper, sometimes called communion. When you look for a church, look for a church that baptizes by immersion and baptizes new born-again Christians in the name of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen. (Matthew 28:19-20)
If you don't have a Bible, purchase one at book store or you may consider ordering one from www.christianbook.com or www.lifeway.com. I would also recommend downloading a Bible for your phone, tablet, or computer (or all three!). Fine, literal-style translations include the New King James Version (NKJV); the New American Standard Version (NASB); and the English Standard Version (ESV). A very popular dynamic-translation that reads a bit easier is the New International Version (NIV). Ask a pastor or Christian friend to help you and let you examine their Bibles as well.
It is important to find a regular time of day that you can consistently spend time with God in prayer and in reading God's word, the Bible. Maybe you will read one chapter at a time, maybe more or perhaps less. But make a commitment to read, study, learn, and obey God's word and live it out in daily life. You will be blessed as you grow in God's word!
"as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby," (1 Peter 2:2)
"You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen. " (2 Peter 3:17-18)
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)