1) GOD LOVES YOU AND CREATED YOU TO BE IN A PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH HIM
You are not an accident. You are not a biological and chemical product of millions of years of evolution. You are created by the same God who made the universe and everything in it. What’s more—you are not just another created being among many animals—as a human, you are a very special creation—
7 And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. 8 And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed. (Genesis 2:7–8)
That was how God created Adam, the first man. The first woman, Eve, was created in an equally unique way—
21 And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; 22 And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. (Genesis 2:21–22)
God made Adam and Eve differently from the rest of creation because He wanted to have a personal relationship with them.
Just like our first parents, Adam and Eve, we today are loved by God and are created to be in personal relationship with Him. What happened? Why aren’t all of us in a personal relationship with God?
2) YOUR SIN BREAKS THE PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD
When God created Adam and Eve, He made them with the ability to make free moral choices. He did this in order to have a real relationship with them. You can’t have a real relationship with a robot.
God could have made Adam and Eve as life-like robots, programmed to love Him. God would say, “Adam, do you love Me?” and Adam’s mechanical voice would say, “Yes, Master, I love You.” But that’s not a real relationship, is it?
We all know that love must be freely given for it to be meaningful. The man who kidnaps a girl and holds her captive in his home for months in some perverse quest to be loved by her will not find love. Love has to be freely given for it to be real.
So God made Adam and Eve with the ability to make free choices. But with the ability to make free choices, there comes the risk of being rejected. You can’t have true love without the risk of being rejected. That’s what makes it love!
In Genesis 3, we see Adam and Eve make a free choice that rejects God. Satan, in the form of a serpent, lies to Eve and tells her that God is too controlling. He’s holding back on them.
She and Adam eat the fruit of the one tree that God told them not to eat from (Genesis 2:17). In that moment, Adam and Eve reject God by disobeying Him. Paul, 4000 years later, wrote:
12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: (Romans 5:12)
Adam and Eve sinned first, but we all have followed suit. We’ve all sinned, and there are three consequences of our sin that are important for us to consider:
2.1) You Stand Morally Guilty Before God
What this means is that our sin is really evil. We like to think that only certain people who commit terrible crimes are really evil.
But the truth is, any sin that we commit is really evil because it goes against the nature of God. God is absolutely loving, holy, and good. So any sin against Him (and all sin is against Him) is worthy of the greatest punishment.
We see a little of this in a situation like this: imagine the kindly, good, sweet grandmother. One of her grandkids lies to her about something. Later, the mother finds out about her child’s lie and she rebukes the child say, “How could you lie to her? She is so kind and sweet and good!” We are instinctively offended when someone does something wrong against a person who is sweet, innocent, and good.
Here’s the thing: God is infinitely kind and good, so every little sin demands an infinite punishment!
23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; (Romans 3:23)
23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:23)
The basic point here is that our sin makes us guilty. It’s not as though we make mistakes that merely need correction. It’s that we commit crimes worthy of punishment.
2.2) Your Personal Relationship With God Is Broken
After Adam and Eve sinned, what happened? A number of things, including the curse on all creation, but Genesis 3 ends with them being kicked out of the Garden of Eden.
23 Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. 24 So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life. (Genesis 3:23–24)
One thing that this event shows us is how sin separates man from God—it breaks that personal relationship. Man is born a sinner, so the relationship is broken from the git-go. Listen to what the prophet Isaiah said,
1 Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; Neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: 2 But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, And your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear. (Isaiah 59:1–2)
Very clearly we see that the problem is not with God. His hand isn’t amputated, so that He can’t save. His ear is not plugged so that He can’t hear. The problem relationship between God and man is very clearly man, and specifically, the fact that man is a sinner.
I think that most people sense this. They sense that there must be a God and that they could have a personal relationship with Him, but their sin is the problem. I think I can say this because, in part, that there are so many who attempt to get to God by doing good works. They do good deeds and perform rituals and hope that they’ve done enough good to outweigh their sins.
This is the method of reconciliation with God that is prevalent in every religion except real Biblical Christianity.
Does it work? No, and that brings us to our next point:
2.3) You Are Born Spiritually Dead
From birth—conception even—every person is born spiritually dead. Paul writes about this in Ephesians 2—
1 And you hath he quickened [made alive], who were dead in trespasses and sins; (Ephesians 2:1)
Being spiritually dead means that we are unable to save ourselves. Dead people can’t do anything. We do not have the ability to make ourselves spiritually alive.
All the good works that people do, hoping to earn their way into Heaven, are like decorations on a dead body. They won’t do anything to make that person alive!
So man’s sin has broken the relationship with God. He is morally guilty before God, which means his sin must be punished.
This is a lot of depressing bad news, I know, but it makes the good news all the much better to hear. What is the good news?
3) JESUS CHRIST MAKES IT POSSIBLE TO HAVE A PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD
God is love (1 John 4:8). But He is also holy and just and must punish sin to remain holy and just. So how can God be loving and yet also remain just and holy all at the same time?
God’s solution: He became a man, lived a sinless life, and died in our place to pay the penalty for our sin. So God’s love remains intact and His justice is satisfied as well.
The cross of Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of both God’s justice and His love—
8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)
But the cross is not the whole story. Jesus did not stay dead. Jesus’s resurrection from the dead shattered the power of sin, death, and Hell. Jesus’s resurrection from the dead is like a stamp of approval on His sacrificial death. We know that He did pay for our sins, not just die as a martyr for a good cause.
But God does not force this payment for our sins on anyone. Instead, He offers it as a gift. People need to receive His gift in order for Jesus’s payment for our sins to be applied to their account.
4) YOU CAN HAVE A PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD BY RECEIVING JESUS
12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: (John 1:12)
When you receive Jesus Christ as your Savior, the three consequences of our sin that we discussed earlier are removed.
1) Instead of standing morally guilty before God, you are forgiven and stand in Jesus’s righteousness before God
2) Instead of having no personal relationship with God, you become His very own adopted child…
15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. (Romans 8:15)
3) Instead of being “dead in [your] trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1), you are made alive by being born again (see John 3).
CONCLUSION: HOW TO RECEIVE JESUS
How do we go about receiving Jesus Christ? According to the New Testament, it involves two conditions: repentance and faith.
Repentance is a genuine sorrow for your sin and a commitment to turn away from your sin and to turn towards Jesus. Jesus, at the beginning of His ministry said:
15 …The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel. (Mark 1:15)
Repentance is really just the flip side of the coin of belief. You can’t have faith in something until you repent from its opposite.
Imagine a person who has never seen an electric light. They use kerosene lanterns. They are told that there can be light in this little electric bulb. Of course, they don’t believe it. “Impossible!” they say. Then someone flips the switch and bam! In that instant they repent of their unbelief in the electric light bulb and faith is born!
So when you see “repent” in the Bible, faith is assumed to go along with it. When you see “faith” or “believe” in the Bible, repentance is assumed to go along with it. They are just flip sides of the same coin.
Repentance might involve listing all your sins, but mainly it’s really just repenting of our sinful unbelief in Jesus. It’s admitting that we are a sinner and we’ve been rebelling against God.
When I was saved at the age of 19, I knelt and prayed. The one line in my prayer that I remember to this day is this, “Lord, I am tired of running from You. I give up, I will do what You want me to do.” That was my repentance. It was turning from my sinful ways and turning to God.
Faith is having a trust or a confidence in something or someone. It’s more than just intellectually believing something to be true, it’s entrusting your life to it. Many people believe in a god, they even believe in Jesus. But their belief is only an intellectual belief—it is not faith. Look at a couple verses with me.
31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved…(Acts 16:31)
19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. (James 2:19)
How can this be? It’s the same Greek word in both cases (pisteuō). Here’s a word study tip for you. The meaning of a word depends on its context. You can’t just apply one definition of a word every time it is used in the Bible.
For instance, if I said, “He’s a very gay person,” you would instantly think of one thing. But I haven’t given you enough context to really know what I’m saying. I could be saying that he is a very joyful person.
In James, we know that demons don’t have faith in Jesus Christ. So their belief is merely an intellectual kind. They believe the facts about God, Jesus and so forth.
In Acts, Paul and Silas were answering the jailer’s question—“Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30). Therefore, the belief that they were talking about is the kind where you both believe the facts about Jesus and you entrust your life to Jesus. This is what faith is.
Receiving Jesus Christ and receiving the salvation that He offers requires us to repent of our sin and to have faith in Him.
Are you in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ? Have you come to know God in a personal way? If you haven’t, let me encourage you to do that now.
You can do this by praying. For instance, you could pray “Lord, I am sorry for rebelling against You in my life…I understand that my sins must be punished and I thank You that Jesus Christ has already taken the punishment for me. I receive Him as my Lord and Savior and place my faith in Him alone.”
If you are sincere in this prayer—whatever words you use—then you are now a child of God, and you have entered into a personal relationship with Him.
Spiritually, you are a newborn baby. You require milk to grow. That milk is going to come from reading the Bible, praying, attending church, and fellowshipping with other Christians. Don’t deny yourself these things.
Tell someone else about the decision that you’ve just made. There’s no such thing as a secret Christian. Telling someone challenges you to grow in your faith.
That’s also why the New Testament tells new Christians to be baptized. It’s a public expression of your faith. Don’t wait long to be baptized. Some put it off far too long, as if they are waiting to be perfect before they get baptized.
Finally, a word about assurance. The very basis of our assurance of salvation is the promise of God. The Bible says,
9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. (Romans 10:9)
If you have truly repented and placed your faith in Jesus, God’s promise is that you are saved.
Over time, you will notice little bits of confirming evidence: a love for reading the Bible, an attitude of prayer, a joy in fellowshipping with other Christians, a dislike of sin and the laying aside of sins, and the growth of the fruit of the Spirit in your life:
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. (Galatians 5:22–23)
You won’t be perfect, but you and others will start to see changes in your life. That’s the work of the Spirit. That’s a newborn baby Christian starting to grow up. And that is what God created you to be—a growing person who is in a loving relationship with your Creator.