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Know Christ?

Most people seriously ponder God at some point in their lives. The awe of encountering a beautiful scene of nature may awaken the awareness of God. Memories of our early religious experiences may bring the issue up. Desperate situations may drive us to pray to Him, or our own children's questions may cause us to revisit our beliefs. Most people respond to these promptings by believing in a God, but many remain unsure of who He is. After all, our culture offers a confusing buffet of contradictory religious ideas. A few even come to deny God's existence altogether.

Written over the course of many centuries, the Bible records the stories of countless people who asked the same questions about God that we do. Billions have found their most profound longings answered in the Bible's revelation of Jesus Christ. In this "good news" (gospel), we learn not only that God exists, but that He loves us--all of us. At just the right time, He sent His Son Jesus into this messed up world to show us both the realities of who God is, and who we are.

The Deep River

For starters, the Bible tells us about the central human problem: "For all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23)." Sin happens when we want to be "gods" of our own lives, deciding for ourselves what is right and wrong. We often selfishly treat others accordingly. This destructive pride drives a wedge between us and God. As I waded in Falling River to take the second picture at the right of this page, I couldn't cross a deep point to get to the opposite riverbank. In the same way, each of us must accept the fact that we can't cross over the river of our sins by trying harder. Being a "good person" or "doing your best" can't even begin to ford the divide between God's absolute goodness and you.

God's Bridge

Because God loves us like a good parent loves his or her children, He could never be content with this sad state of affairs. He knows that we can't reach Him through religious rituals or performance, so He reached us in Jesus Christ: "But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8)." God came across the river of our self-destructive pride and was born a human being in this world.

This man --Jesus Christ-- showed the world who God is, how God feels about us, and what God expects of us. In time, the jealous religious and political leaders of Jesus' day killed Him on a cross. They did not realize that His life was sacrificed not for His guilt, but for ours. In three days, He was raised from the dead to show who He really was.

This was God's bridge across humanity's sin and evil. When we trust in Christ, we can cross over from eternal death to eternal life: "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23)."

You Can Cross Over

"...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 (Romans 10:9)." You may still have questions. You may not fully understand how God works. You may not be a Bible expert. You may have grown up in a different religious tradition. You may have done something that makes God's love for you hard to believe. None of these things can keep you from crossing the bridge of Jesus Christ. No excuse or doubt can keep you from simple faith.

If you are willing to simply allow Jesus to be Lord of your life, you can experience the Christian life. This journey usually begins with a simple prayer. The wording is not as important as your heart's attitude. If you are ready, you can pray something like this:

God, I need you. I am sorry for my selfish sin.

I believe that You sent Jesus to show me the

way.

I believe that He died so that I could be forgiven,

And that He was raised to life again.

I want Jesus Christ to be my Lord from now on.

Please help me and guide me from here,

In Jesus' name, Amen.

Beginning the Journey

The faith represented in the prayer above is the first step in the Christian life. You may or may not have an emotional experience when you make it. The important thing is the trust that has joined you and God through Jesus Christ. When we reach out to God, He reaches for us. His Holy Spirit will help you take further steps across the river:

  • Begin praying to God and seriously reading the Bible for yourself. The New Testament is an excellent place to start, perhaps with the gospel of John.
  • Get involved in a Bible believing church that you're comfortable with (Hebrews 10:25). Don't be surprised if you notice imperfections in other Christians and their churches. Remember that they're still crossing the river of sin too! Jesus' church is like a hospital where sick people come to be made well--not a place for the perfectly healthy.
  • After you first commit yourself by trusting Jesus, you are told to show this publicly by being baptized (Acts 2:38). Your baptism shows that you are not ashamed of the Lord. It is also a beautiful representation of the fact that you've died to your old ways, and that you are beginning a new life with Christ.
  • Don't expect temptations and problems to suddenly vanish. Being a Christian is a lifelong journey of discovery. Even experienced Christians continue to have struggles of various kinds. When you fall, you are not disqualified from going on. God promises us a fresh start in Christ (I John 1:8-9).
  • Finally, please feel free to contact me (Pastor Keith) if I can be praying for you or help in any way. May the love of Christ be with you!

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