How do I please God?
Many people believe that when they die God will accept them into His presence because they’ve lived good lives. They might point to the fact that they’ve given money to charity or that they’ve attended church or that they haven’t done anything “really bad.”
What is humanity’s true condition?
But in the Bible, God says that no one can live up to His righteous standard. “There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one” (Romans 3:10-12).
Earlier in the book of Romans, the author Paul goes further to describe humanity’s miserable condition and the reality of God’s wrath against us for our evil: “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold [or suppress] the truth in unrighteousness” (Romans 1:18).
In short, humanity is completely unrighteous in God’s sight, and God is going to judge humanity for its sin and evil.
Where does sinful humanity go when they die?
If we remain in our sins, we will die, not only physically but eternally as well. The Bible tells us why: “For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23a). It also describes the day when God judges sinful humanity and “whosoever [is] not found written in the book of life [is] cast into the lake of fire” (Rev. 20:15).
This miserable destiny is the lot of all humankind if they remain alienated from God. Thankfully, God did not ignore us in our unrighteousness and rebellion but provided a way of escape from His wrath!
How do we escape?
Too often, we as sinful humans imagine that we can counteract our unrighteous deeds by doing good deeds. But in God’s economy, human performance just doesn’t cut it. We are not saved by our own works but by God’s grace. “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” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
But how do we experience this grace? How can we be reconciled to God and receive this eternal life? This is the most important question each and every human being must ask.
What is God’s way of salvation?
Despite our inability to save ourselves, God made a way for sinful humanity to be saved. The most famous verse in the Bible is John 3:16, which describes this plan: “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.” God’s solution is His own Son: Jesus Christ.
Just prior to John 3:16, John describes who Jesus Christ is. He identifies Jesus Christ as the “Word” when he says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. ... And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth” (John 1:1, 14).
Simply put, Jesus Christ is both God and Man. Many other passages confirm this fact: “God was manifest in the flesh” (1 Timothy 3:16); “Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever” (Romans 9:5); “But unto the Son [God] saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever” (Hebrews 1:8).
What did Jesus Christ come to accomplish?
But why did Christ take on a human nature? And why did He have to die? Christ took on a human nature to live the perfect human life that we could not live ourselves. “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).
Most shocking is the question of why Christ had to die on the cross. Because God is infinitely just, He cannot sweep our sin under the carpet. Either He must punish us for our sins, or He must punish a voluntary substitute. The Bible says, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Christ was the voluntary substitute for sinners, and “He humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:8).
So not only did Christ live a perfect life in our place, he also died the death that we deserved to die, and He absorbed all of God’s wrath on our behalf. Therefore the Bible can say, “we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son” (Romans 5:10).
If Christ had remained on the cross or in the grave, it would all be just a sad story—but Christ did not stay dead. As a declaration that God is satisfied with the perfect sacrifice of His Son on our behalf, God raised His Son from the dead, and in His resurrection all who believe in Christ have the hope of a future resurrection to eternal life. “But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead” (1 Corinthians 15:20-21).
How do I receive this free gift?
In light of this amazing sacrifice, we might imagine that the cost of such a salvation on our part would be higher than we could afford. And God has already told us that our good works don’t save us. Our only hope of salvation and eternal life is to repent of our sins and believe in Jesus Christ. That’s all! Romans 10:9 states, “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.”
In Christ is the hope of eternal life. “But the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23b). Have you experienced God’s free gift of salvation?