I am so glad that you are here. Let me take this opportunity to share a little bit about my faith in Christ ... this is my testimony.
What does it mean to be a Christian?
I suspect that many people have a misconception of what it means to be a Christian. They look at it as a process of "pulling yourself up by your bootstraps" ... to live a good enough life to be accepted into Heaven by God.
I can appreciate this concept because this is what all other religions strive for.
The truth of the matter is nothing could be further from the truth. It is not possible for us to work our way into heaven with our "good deeds".
While we should certainly strive to do good, it should be done from a different motivation. Good works flow from salvation, not the other way around. More importantly it doesn't change our status with God. We simply cannot overcome His holiness gap (it is too great a chasm).
The Bible reveals that no amount of works (goodness, morality, or religious activity) can gain us acceptance with God. The moral and religious are in the same boat as the immoral and non-religious. We all fall short of God's perfect righteousness.
The Profit Isaiah proclaims that our righteousness is like "filthy rags" before God (Isaiah 64:6).
So what does this mean? Is our quest to have a relationship with God in vain? Not at all - please keep reading ...
Why does this matter?
The reason this matter is so important is that it determines how we will live out eternity. Whether we accept the truth or not, it is still the truth, and it will be the truth at the end of our lives when we stand before a Holy God.
God is Holy
In reality, there is a deep chasm between us and the Holy God. It is difficult to even comprehend how Holy our God is. What separates us from God is our sinful nature, and there is nothing we can do in and of ourselves to bridge that gap.
In the Beginning
It wasn't always this way. When God created the world, we had a pure relationship with Him (in Adam and Eve). They regularly communed with God in the garden and exerienced sheer happiness and joy.
But God gave us free will, and Adam and Eve chose to disobey God (and so by inference - us). Hence ushered in the severing of our relationship with God.
From that very moment in time, God formulated a plan to bring us back into His fold.
Am I good enough?
You might be saying, well I'm a relatively good person ... I look out for others, I'm not a cheat or a thief, etc. Those are all good things, but it doesn't come close to the standard of a Holy God.
James tells us that it is our desires that give birth to sinful action (James 1:14-15)
God requires a sacrifice for the atonement of our sins. This is what the Old Testament sacrificial system was (a temporary one, which had to be repeated). In reality, this was simply a picture (or a foretelling) of the ultimate sacrifice (a permanent one) ... that is of Jesus Christ. Jesus (who is part of the triune God head - Father, Son, and Holy Ghost), who always existed, humbled himself and came to earth through a miraculous virgin birth. He is both God and man. He lived a sinless perfect life. His ministry modeled the true relationship we can have with God. He was sacrificed on a cross (the most brutal and shameful death imaginable), as a permanent atonement for our sins. He rose from the dead (the first of many saints), and ascended into heaven, where he prepares a place for his followers.
The bible tells us that:
In order to receive this gift, you must believe that it is real and that it can truly change your life. This is more than a simple "head knowledge". It is an act of trusting Jesus with your heart, and turning your life over to Him (Ephesians 2:8). You must confess Jesus as Lord (Romans 10:13).
Salvation is a free gift of God, offered to all who simply ask. If you want to become a Christian, you must fervently believe in the redemptive work of the Lord Jesus, repent from your sin, and ask him to come into and change your life. You can simply pray this prayer:
Lord Jesus, I confess that I have sinned. I repent of my sin and turn to you. I believe that you died on the cross for me. That you rose from the dead. That you reign in heaven. I confess you as my Lord, and my Savior. I pledge my life to you from this day forward. Fill me with your spirit, that I might be your servant. Thank you for saving me. In Jesus name. Amen
The truth of the matter is Christianity is less about religion, and more about a personal relationship with God.
If you prayed this prayer, there are angels rejoicing in heaven (Luke 15:10)! This reveals just how valuable you are to God and how much He desires for you to be with Him in heaven forever! A great victory has been won! Your next step is to seek out other believers, in a local Bible believing church, that can assist and disciple you in your new found faith!
In my personal life, I asked Jesus to come into my life as a young boy, during a revival of my parents church.
I was active in my church, trying to live a life that honored God. I continued that process into my adult days, raising my family and continuing to be active in my church.
However, it seemed like I was missing something. I would see other Christians that were "on fire" for the Lord. I didn't have the passion to be in God's Word, and my prayer life was non-existent. It seemed like I was merely going through the motions.
In 2005 I actually fell away from the church (for almost 15 years). I felt even more distant from God, and sin increased in my life.
A Renewed Faith
It was in 2020 when God started working in my heart. The things in this world seemed to be completely upside down ... pointing to an ever increasing sinful nature of our society (just as predicted in the end times).
God laid on my heart that the difference between my past Christian life and the Christians I felt were sincere in their faith, was the empowering of the Holy Spirit. This world is complicated and it is not something we can navigate on our own. We need help.
I believe there are two distinct aspects of the Holy Spirit in a believer's life:
The Indwelling of the Holy Spirit. This happens at the moment of salvation, and is a one-time occurrence.
Empowering of the Holy Spirit (or Baptism of the Spirit). This is when the Holy Spirit comes upon a person in power.
This is separate and distinct from salvation, and can occur multiple times in a believer's life. There are examples in scripture where one group of believers were empowered by the Holy Spirit multiple times. This is something that was missing in my faith, and it is crucial in providing the guidance to navigate life's every day twists and turns (overcoming temptation and sin).
How does this happen, you might be wondering? It's not difficult at all. It happens by simply asking God, and believing by faith.
For a full explanation of this concept, please listen to Pastor Gary Hamrick's Sermon in Acts 2:1-13.
When I fervently asked the Holy Spirit to empower me and assist me in my daily life, it was truly a miracle.
The past sins in my life were greatly diminished. This was not an insignificant thing. My desire for long standing addictions were simply removed (Praise God)!
For the first time I had a passion to be in God's word, soaking up everything He has for me through his word. This has manifest itself in this Bible Study guide.
My prayer life is much improved! I look forward to communing with God, giving Him my praise, thanking Him for what He has done in my life, and sharing my burdons and requests (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
I have for the first time, a desire to share my faith with others. If you think about it, this is the most crucial aspect of a Christian's life, and part of the Lord Jesus' Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20) ... sharing the Good News to a lost world.
I'm certainly not perfect. I have and will have a long way to go in solidifying my relationship with God. But this is certainly a step in the right direction, and I thank God for his provision!
May the Lord Bless You
I pray that if you do not know the Lord, you will consider what has been presented here, and ask him to come into your life.
If you do know the Lord, I pray that God will bless you in your walk with Christ.
Yours In Christ,