HOW TO FIND TRUE FREEDOM
Having been a pastor for many years, I’ve talked to a lot of people about their relationship with the Lord. I realize you’re not here in front of me right now, but I would like to speak to you as if you were.
I have found that there are a lot of good people in this world who would like to know the Lord, and know without any doubt that they are on their way to heaven, but they’ve never had anyone take the time to sit down and explain what the Bible says about that. So that’s what we’re going to do right now.
Let’s cover the basics of salvation as given in the Bible. We can break them down into 4 thoughts.
First of all, the Bible says that we are sinners. That means we have broken God’s law. God gives us his law or commandments in the Bible, telling us what is right and wrong. Sin just means that we have disobeyed God. We did what He told us not to do - or did not do what He told us to do.
This is the Bible that I would use to show you these verses if you were sitting here. So, let me turn to Romans 3:23. The Bible says “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:10 says, “There is none righteous, no not one."
That simply means we’re ALL in the same boat. We are all sinners. Everyone has disobeyed God - and is guilty of lying, cheating, stealing, hate, anger, disobeying parents, lustful thoughts and so on.
So… this brings us to our second point - there is a penalty for sin. We understand the concept of justice pretty well. When we break man’s laws, we understand that there is a penalty. If we get pulled over for speeding or a traffic violation, we understand that there will be a ticket and a fine and maybe even jail time.
According to the Bible, there is also a penalty when we break God’s law. Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death.” "Wage" simply means “what you have earned’ or “what you deserve”. So, the Bible is saying that because of our sin, we deserve death. Death is the result of our sin. God is just, and demands justice. We we break His law, the just penalty is death.
WHAT IS DEATH?
Death is an interesting term. It doesn’t really mean that we stop existing. It means that we are separated from life. Physical death is when our soul is separated from our body. Spiritual death is when our soul is separated from God. Since God is life, and is the source of all life, to be separated from Him forever would be death. That’s what the Bible calls hell or the second death.
Revelation 20:14-15 “And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire."
Hell is the absence of everything good… light, love, joy and life… it’s really the absence of God.
Sin is so destructive that it drives a wedge between us and God, not only in this life, but for eternity.
So, to recap… 1) We’re all sinners, and 2) sin brings death both physically and spiritually. So far, this is pretty bad news. If I had to stop right here, we would all be in trouble. But I’m glad to tell you that the Bible does not stop here.
The next point is this… God loves you, and does not want you to suffer for your sins. In fact, He has made a way to deal with your sins.
Romans 5:8 says, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.” That word commendeth means demonstrated or proved. God proved his love for you by sending Jesus - His Son - to die for your sins. There are a few things to notice about this verse.
First, it says that God loved you in spite of your sins. “While we were yet sinners Christ died for us”. That means he is not waiting for you to improve or to turn your life around or to be worthy before He will love you. He loves you now, in spite of your condition.
Also notice the phrase “Christ died for us”. He did not die for his own sins, because he had none. He was perfect, and sinless as the Son of God. If He had had any sins, He would have had to die for them. But because He had no sin, He was able to die for ours. So on the cross, he was dying for you, for me, and for everyone in the world.
You’ve probably heard John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
ILLUSTRATING WHAT JESUS DID FOR US
You can think of it like this. If I had been pulled over for speeding and the officer gave me a ticket, I would expect to have to pay the penalty. Let’s say I showed up before the judge with my ticket. He says “Are you guilty of speeding?” I would have to say, “Yes sir, I am.” He would say, “Alright then, the fine is $200 or you can go to jail.” Let’s say I didn’t have the money to pay for the ticket so I answered, “Sir, I don’t have the money. I’ll have to go to jail.”
About that time, let’s say that you walk into the courtroom. You see what’s going on and you say to the judge, “Your honor, I have $200. I’ll be glad to pay that fine for him.” Well, first of all, I would be very thankful. Secondly, the judge would look at me and ask, “Are you willing to let him pay this penalty for you?” I could say “No, I’ll just do it myself. I’ll go to jail.” But, if I said yes to your offer, the judge would accept that payment (it doesn’t matter to him where the payment came from), rip my ticket in half, and let me walk out of that courtroom a free man!
That is a very small picture of what Jesus has done for us. Basically, each of us stands before God, the Judge of the Universe. It’s as if He asks us “Are you guilty? Have you broken my laws.?” If we are being honest, we would have to say “Yes sir. I know I have sinned and I am guilty.” He would say “The penalty is death. That is the payment for sin.” About that time, Jesus Christ steps in and says,”Your honor, I would like to pay this penalty for them. I love them, and I am willing to die in their place.” God the Judge then looks at us and says, “Here is one who is willing to pay the price for you? Will you accept this payment on your behalf?” If we say, “Yes”, then the Judge accepts the payment, stamps “paid in full” on our debt, and we are free forever, no longer under the penalty of sin! This is when we can truly begin to live life and enjoy it to it’s fullest.
The fourth thought is this, the Bible says eternal life a gift for you to receive. Back in Romans 6:23 where the Bible said, “The wages of sin is death”, the second half of the verse said, “but the gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
RECEIVING A GIFT
Let’s think about this. It says eternal life is a “gift". That means it’s free. Then it says, “through Jesus Christ our Lord”, because he is the one who paid for the gift. So God is saying that He wants to give us the gift of eternal life. It’s as if He is standing there, offering us this gift. How do you get a gift? You simply receive it!
Let’s say I had bought this Bible especially for you, and I was holding it out to you. What would you need to do to have it? Well, you would just reach out and take it, right? What if, as you were taking it, I said, “OK, I need you to chip in $10 to help pay for that. It was really expensive.” It would no longer be free at that point, and it wouldn’t be a gift. What if I said, “Now, if you want to keep that, I need you to do some work for me. Let’s start by having you wash my car, and then my truck. You do that, and you can keep the gift.” You know at that point, it’s really not a gift any more.
Some people think if you’re going to heaven, that you’re going to have to work for it, give an offering, go to church, keep the 10 commandments. But God says it’s a gift. You can’t pay for it. What if God was holding out this gift to you and said, “Alright, here is this wonderful gift, but I need you to do a few things to be able to keep it, or I’ll take it back.” Then we know it was not truly a gift. Ephesians 2:8 says “For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works lest any man should boast.” Basically, this verse is saying that no one is working their way to heaven. No one will get to there and say, “I did it! I earned my way!” No, Heaven is a gift from God, paid for by the blood of Jesus Christ that was shed on the cross. Everyone that gets there, gets there the same way — through Jesus Christ.
RECEIVING ETERNAL LIFE
So now, the question is, how do I reach out and take this gift? I can’t see it. I can’t handle it physically. The Bible tells us in Romans 10:9-10, “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. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness: and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation."
Basically, God is saying, “confess with thy mouth”. That means to pray. Talk to God, just like you would to me or anyone else. Tell God that you know you’re a sinner, and you have broken his law. Then it says, “believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead.” That just means it’s not some empty prayer that you say or read. You believe it in your heart. That’s what faith is. From your heart, you are asking God to forgive you and save you. Then it says, “thou shalt be saved.” God is making a promise. If you will do your part, He will do His part. “Thou shalt be saved” doesn’t mean that you might be, or can hope to be, or will have to wait and see. God says you will be saved. That’s a promise you can count on. In fact, if you cried out to God and asked Him to save you, and He didn’t, you would be the first one in all of history that He didn’t save.
So, again, to review: The Bible says we are all sinners, the penalty for sin is death, Jesus Christ came to die in our place, and now He offers us the gift of eternal life.
Someone shared this information with me several years ago. After explaining it all, they asked me, “Do you understand that you are a sinner?” I said, “Yes.” I had no problem understanding that I had done a lot of things wrong, and I knew I was guilty before God. Then they asked, “Do you understand that there is a penalty for sin, and according to the Bible, that penalty is death?” I said, “Yes.” It made perfectly good sense to me that my sin should be punished. Then they asked, “Do you believe that God loves you, and sent His only son, Jesus, to die in your place.” I said, “Yes, I do.” Somehow, I knew in my heart that this was true, and I truly believed that God loved me, and sent His son to die for me. They said, “Ok, I have one more question for you. Do you believe that if you asked God to save you, that He would?” Well, we had just read where the Bible said “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” I knew that included me, so I said, “Yes.” They said, “Good. The only thing left for you to do then, is to go ahead and ask Him to save you. Is that what you want to do?” I said, “Yes."
I can still remember bowing my head and praying a very simple prayer to God. I basically said, “Lord, I know I’m a sinner. I have done many things wrong, and I am so sorry. Please forgive me. I do believe that Jesus came to this earth, and died on the cross, and rose again after 3 days. Right now I am asking you to save me, to wash away my sin, to give me eternal life and to take me to heaven when I die. I put my faith and trust in you… to save me now. Thank you Lord, for hearing me, and saving me. In Jesus name, amen."
From that day to this, I have known that I belong to Him, and that I’m on my way to heaven. Not because I’m a good person, or because I go to church, but because I did what the Bible says to do- I called upon the name of the Lord, and asked Him to save me! And I’ll tell you this, I have never been sorry. In fact, it changed everything in my life and was the best thing I ever did!
WHAT ABOUT YOU?
Now, I could ask you those same questions that someone asked me. 1) Do you know that you are a sinner, and you’ve broken God’s law? 2) Do you understand that God is going to deal with sin, and that there is a penalty for your sin? 3) Do you believe that God loves you, and sent His only Son Jesus to die on the cross for you so that you wouldn’t have to die? 4) Do you believe that if you asked God to save you right now, He would? If you could answer yes to these questions, then there’s only one thing left for you to do… PRAY.
GOD WILL HEAR YOUR PRAYER
I can help you pray this prayer, as long as you mean it in your heart. God knows exactly where you are right now, and what you’re going through. He is listening to you right now. Would you cry out to Him and ask Him to save you. He promised that if you will do your part - He will do His part. He is ready and wanting you to pray so that you can settle this once and for all. If you would like to know that you’re on your way to heaven, would you sincerely repeat after me, and talk to God right now? Here we go...
“Lord, I know I’m a sinner and I cannot save myself. I am guilty before you and I don’t deserve to go to Heaven. Please forgive me. I do believe that Jesus died on the cross, and that He rose again after three days, as the Bible says. Right now, I am asking you to save me, wash my sins away, give me the gift of eternal life, and take me to heaven when I die. As best as I know how, I put my faith and trust in you to save me now. Thank you Lord, for loving me, for dying for me, and for saving me. Help me now, to live for you. In Jesus name I pray, Amen."
I hope you prayed that prayer. It’s the best decision you could ever make, and it really will change your life. I would love to rejoice with you if you would like to call or e-mail me.
Let me leave you with 5 steps you should take, now that you are saved.
1) Read the Bible. That’s the only way to grow as a Christian. Just like a baby has to have milk to grow, Christians need the Bible. It is our milk, and our bread, and eventually our meat. Read it everyday and ask God to speak to you as you read. I would recommend starting in the book of John or the book of Genesis.
2) Pray. Prayer is not some mysterious thing, it is simply talking to God. Talk to Him daily, just like you would to your best friend. Be honest with Him, ask questions, let Him know how much you love Him. The Christian life is a relationship. God talks to you as you read His Word, and you talk to Him as you pray.
3) Find a Bible-preaching church. God’s plan is that we would find a good church, and go faithfully. This is where we will really learn, grow, and use our abilities to serve. I believe a good church is one that faithfully preaches the Bible, and is actively trying to reach out to the lost world with the gospel. Find a church like that and get “plugged in”.
4) Follow the Lord in baptism. Baptism is really the first step of obedience that you can take after you get saved. It is a picture of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. This is a way for you to identify publicly with the Lord Jesus Christ, and basically let others know that you are a believer, and you’re not ashamed.
5) Tell someone else about the Lord. You probably have friends or relatives who need to hear the good news of Jesus just like you did. Tell them what you have done today. They need the Lord, too, and deserve to know how to go to heaven as well.
Thanks for you time today. I look forward to seeing you in heaven some day. Let’s thank God daily for the wonderful gift He has given us through His Son, Jesus Christ.