If you want to read my own story from practising PAGAN to devout CHRISTIAN, see My Testimony page.
For the majority of my life I was far from religious, and certainly not Christian. I grew up knowing who this Jesus fellow was supposed to be, but I never really believed (or even knew) what His message was. I certainly never classed myself as a follower of Christ, and in the several years before God found me I was very actively opposed to God, Jesus and Christianity. I argued against the Bible, I promoted that God was in fact an angry vengeful god, and I believed Jesus was little more than a human teacher rather than the Son of God. So, in a way, I have a rather unique outlook on this whole subject of Christianity, in that for a very long time I was opposed and against its very existence, and also the fact that there was no other person, no third party, that took part in my “conversion” from active pagan to Christian. In many cases people come to the Lord through the witnessing of other Christians; they are educated about what Christ taught and helped to understand what His message means. This didn’t happen with me, there was NOBODY else involved, just me and God. If you now want to read more about my own journey, go to My Testimony (this link will open into a new browser window so you can return here after).
God’s gift is FREE!
The thing I never understood for so many years is that God’s gift is FREE. Jesus paid the price for my sin, for your sin, for everyone’s sin. For all the sins I have committed, and will ever commit, Jesus died so that I could be forgiven. Can you possibly ever comprehend what that means? While we were all still sinners, while we were all still walking away from God, Jesus died so our sins could be forgiven! Romans 5:8 says:
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:8 (NIV)
You can perhaps imagine laying down your life for someone that loves you, but what about someone who denies you even exist? Would you lay down your life for your enemy? My old pastor once said it this way in a newsletter:
If Jesus is God’s Son; what on earth is He doing hung up and dying on a cross? What would be so important that would drive Him to do such a thing?
The simple answer is WE ARE! You, me, everyone. It’s not about what we do, or how many good things we can stack up in our favour, it’s about what Jesus has already done for us, for all of us! Jesus, the perfect sinless Son of God, God in human form, allowed Himself to be nailed up on a cross so that we could have our sins forgiven.
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
2 Peter 3:9
We all Sin!
We all sin, it’s in our nature ever since the fall way back in the Garden of Eden. But sin doesn’t just mean the really big sins, it means ANY sin, ANYTHING that goes against God’s perfect laws. As humans we tend to ‘grade’ our sins; we know that lying is wrong, but not as bad as killing someone, but God doesn’t see things the way we do. To God, a sin is a sin; if you tell a lie, even a very small “white lie”, it is still a LIE; if you take something that isn’t yours, no matter how small or insignificant (a pencil? a pen?), it is still STEALING. These are all SIN! (if you think you are “good enough” try taking the ‘Good Person test’ [ people have taken this test! Link now fixed]).
The First Conspiracy Theory
You see, NONE of us are ‘perfect enough’ for God. We have all turned our back on God, at some time, or failed to perfectly maintain His perfect Law. This isn’t a reflection on God or His creation, He made us perfect, and we enjoyed a “one-on-one” relationship with God in the Garden, but then we succumbed to the world’s very first “conspiracy theory”!
1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’ ”
4 “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
Genesis 3:1-5 (NIV)
“you will be like God...” Eve (and then Adam) believed the serpant, who was in fact Satan, and in doing so they brought sin into the world. God wasn’t trying to deny us knowledge by restricting access to the fruit of the tree, He was giving us a free choice; trust Him and follow His command, or “go our own way”, and we chose very poorly indeed! In that instant we (Adam and Eve) gave up immortality (there was no death or sickness), peace and harmony (there were no wars, fights or disagreements), and a perfect one-on-one relationship with God, our Creator. Sin had entered the world, and very soon all of creation would suffer because of our poor choice!
The penalty for sin is death. You can see this in the Old Testament how the Israelites had to sacrifice animals to atone for their sin, or where death was the penalty for some sins. But death doesn’t just mean physical death, it also means spiritual death. It is a debt that we can never pay, for if we are spiritually dead then we can never be with God in Heaven, we do not get eternal life but rather an eternity in hell away from God. We can never, truly, pay the debt that sin brings about, because we will always continue to sin, in some way. It can’t be helped! But, God still wants to have a relationship with His creation, mankind. He loves us, and He wants us to love Him.
This is where the whole story becomes truly amazing. God knew that there was no way we could pay the debt for our sins, and because each of us has his/her own sins to deal with there is no way that anyone can pay the debt for someone else. So, to solve this problem we need a perfect sinless sacrifice that can take our place - enter Jesus! Our debt has been PAID IN FULL, by Christ, who took the place of all of us. He was the perfect sacrifice, a pure and sinless Lamb of God that took on the sin of all humanity; past, present and future, so that we did not have to suffer eternal death to pay for our sin. Jesus is our sacrifice to God, when we accept Him as our Lord and Saviour we are able to transfer all of our sin, all of our guilt, onto Him and God is then able to accept us, washed clean by the blood of the Lamb that God Himself supplied.
Romans 5 goes on:
Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!
Romans 5:9-10 (NIV)
But, I’m basically a good person!
A question that many evangelists ask is “If you died tomorrow and came before God, and He said ‘Why should I let you into My Heaven?’, what would you say?” Many people will answer “I’d say that I’m basically a good person, I’ve never killed anyone, and I think you are a fair judge, so why shouldn’t I get in!” Well, let me put it this way...
Suppose someone stole your car, and they were caught and brought before the courts. When the judge asks “Do you have anything to say before I pronounce sentence?” the offender stands and says “Yes! I believe I am basically a good person. I have never killed anyone, and I think you are a fair judge, so you should set me free.”. Would you expect that judge to set the offender free with no penalty at all? Would it be justice if judges heard this plea and chose to set everyone free as long as they had never killed anyone? Of course not! You would want the person that stole your car to be punished for his crime, right?
So, when you stand before God, who is the ultimate judge, the judge that judges based on perfect truth, do you really think He will ignore the things you have done wrong simply because you say that you’re a good person? Remember, to God, there is no such thing as a “small sin”, EVERYTHING that goes against His perfect Law and Commands is sin, end of story. So, looking back on your life with this new view of what sin really is, do you truly think you will be judged perfectly sinless? Really??