If I could have a birthday wish, it would be that you read and understand this message.
One of the worst things that has come upon our society - our fascination with self-esteem. What is man, even with all his fancy technology? Can he take the elements that make up a man -- can he take carbon and hydrogen and oxygen -- and make them live? No. Can he on his own stop the wars that have plagued mankind for its history? No. Can he even on his own stop the depravity that causes men to use little children as sex objects, sold into sex slavery? Apparently not. Can a man on his own even eliminate the depravity in his own life - his lusts and lies and cheating? I know I couldn't. Can man on his own stop viscous acts of revenge enacted on his fellow man? Not that I can see.
This false self-esteem movement tries to hide man's depravity, even from himself. If a man cannot see his own depravity, what reason is there to seek the only solution: trust in God. With all our violence, unbridled lusts, envy, avarice, untruthfulness, unfaithfulness -- we think we're so wonderful! You think, "Well I don't murder. I don't steal. I'm OK." That's true from man's perspective. But God's expectations are much higher. Have you ever told a lie? Have you ever looked on a woman with lust? That's the same as adultery. Have you ever been angry with someone? That's the same as murder in God's eyes.
Why are we so bad? It started in the Garden with Adam and Eve. God created man from dirt and saw that His creation was very good. But Satan came and deceived Eve that they could be gods themselves. Adam went along with this and all of mankind was cursed with death. The whole creation was cursed. Without God there is no hope. Left on its own, mankind seems bent on annihilating his own race -- with our Fukushimas and our atom bombs and our genetically manipulated plagues. And on an individual level, we denigrate the only one who can remove our death curse: our God who created us.
Though mankind is fallen, God gave us a way out. He sent His only beloved Son to earth to live as a man. Jesus came and was born as we are born, lived and we live, was tempted as we are tempted, felt pain as we feel pain, and died as we die. Since his father was God and not a man, he was not born with sin innate in him, as we are. He lived a sinless life, an example of how we should live. He suffered great pain and died willingly to save us. Jesus' death was accepted as sacrifice to pay the death penalty that is on all of us. A legal transaction has to take place for your death penalty to be removed: it's put several ways to try and describe the transaction - put your trust in Jesus, believe in Jesus, accept Jesus as Lord, repent of your sins. It's like putting all your eggs in Jesus' basket. It's like putting on the Jesus parachute in a plane that's going down. It's the Jesus lifejacket in the sinking ship.
When that happens we're finally made clean! We're no longer slaves to sin. We can stop lying and stealing and lusting. We don't completely - we still live in this worldly body, but it's different. Our lives are spent trying to be better, but none of that happens without Jesus' help, so even if we become wonderful people, there's no need for pride. We can only do it with help. When that legal transaction takes place, otherwise known as being born again, then we have no need to fear death. The one who created life will recreate it into everlasting life.
The one who dies having rejected Jesus and not being born again faces the just wrath of God: the lake of fire. I beg of you, please don't chose this path. Jesus endured torture and death out of love for YOU, to save YOU from this fate. Please don't turn your back on His sacrifice.
And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.
John 8:31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
33 They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?”
34 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35 Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. 37 I know that you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are looking for a way to kill me, because you have no room for my word. 38 I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence, and you are doing what you have heard from your father.”
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”
For God so loved the world that he gave his One and Only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.
Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.
They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved–you and your household.”
As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one.”
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.
For, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.
2 Corinthians 6:2
For he says, “In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.” I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast.
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
How shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him.
In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.
Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.
Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
1 John 5:13
I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.