Monday, May 14, 2007

The Big Four

There are four questions that shape the way you answer all other questions. Your answers to these will affect everything else in your life. Each human being must (and will) answer these questions in one way or another.

My desire here is to pose these questions and then give you answers... not my answers. My answers can be wrong. When it comes to life's most important questions, we certainly don't want to be wrong. But how do we know what's true and what's false? In John 17:17, Jesus said that the Bible is true, so let's look at the answers the Bible gives to "The Big Four."

Question #1: WHO IS GOD?
Ever thought about this? Is He a cosmic kill-joy, seeking to ruin our lives? Is He a grandfather-figure in heaven, just sitting up there, smiling at us? Is He a She? Is He at all??
  1. Our Maker -- If you create something (a piece of furniture or artwork), then you have rights over it. You can do with it what you will. You can use it yourself or give it away. If it doesn't please you, you can destroy it. It's yours. You made it.
    That's how it is with us and God. He made us for a purpose -- to glorify Him. That means He has rights over us and that we are accountable to Him. If we fail to accomplish our purpose (glorifying Him), we will have to answer to our Maker!
  2. Our Father -- God also reveals Himself as a Father, an ideal one. He is a Father who genuinely loves and desires to do good to His children.
  3. Our Judge -- This is part of the picture, too. God is a Judge. He will judge us all. But remember that He is just as much a loving Father as He is a mighty Judge. That means that He's going to do what's right, what's fair.
    In order to set up what's fair, He's given us His law. The judge down at the courthouse doesn't (or shouldn't) judge arbitrarily. He judges based on the laws on the books. God does, too. That's fair. So what are these laws?

    These were first given to us in Exodus 20:3-17. You probably know them as the ten commandments. Jesus summarized these ten by giving two commandments in Mark 12:30-31. He said, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength (that's everything you've got). And you shall love your neighbor as yourself." So that's the law. Pretty simple, huh?
>I love God with everything in me. I've never put anyone or anything above Him. T/F
>I love everyone (including my enemies) as I love myself. I always seek to serve and to do good to other people. T/F
How'd you do? We have all failed miserably at this. We often hate other people. We want to be served instead of serve. And instead of putting God first we usually put Him last... behind relationships, money, fame, work, fun, you name it. This brings us to the 2nd question.
Question #2: WHO AM I?
God has given us these two laws. The test showed us that we've broken the laws. That's what the Bible calls "sin." Sin is breaking God's law or not fully living up to God's law. That definition means we are all sinners. Romans 3:23 says, "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Red and yellow, black and white, we're all sinners in His sight. 1 John 1:8 says, "If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us."
As a law-breaker standing before the righteous Judge (God), what should He do to you? Most likely you're thinking, "forgive me!" But think of it this way:
Let's say someone burns your house to the ground, leaving you with absolutely nothing. What should the judge do to that person? Should the judge just say, "Don't worry about it...I forgive you"? No! The judge should punish the law-breaker in some way. We would say the judge was unjust if he didn't punish the guilty.
The same goes for God. He's a good, fair Judge. As such, when we stand before Him, He will have to punish us as law-breakers. Romans 6:23 tells us the punishment. It says, "The wages of sin is death." The fair payment for our sins is death -- spiritual, physical, eternal death. The jailhouse for this sentence is Hell, a place where we experience God's just wrath forever.
You, a sinner, are under the fair wrath & judgment of God. That's a terrible thought, isn't it? This is a serious issue. I plead with you not to brush it off. Even if you end up rejecting it, at least give it some thought.
>Do you admit that you are accountable to God for your sins and are completely uncapable of keeping His law?
>Do you admit that you cannot save yourself from this dilemma you are in, that good works, church membership, fighting injustice, etc. will not save you?
>Do you agree that the life you are currently living will dead end in Hell, and does this concern you?
If this troubles you, keep reading.
Question #3: WHO IS JESUS?
  1. He's the way back to God. As sinners, we are separated from our Creator & Father. Unless we find a way to fix our broken relationship with God, we stand condemned to Hell. We need a way back! Jesus, God's Son, became a man in order to bring us into a right relationship with the Father. Jesus is the God-man, which means He is fully God (enabling Him to forgive sin) and fully man (enabling Him to take our place). As the God-man, He - and He alone - is the way to fix your relationship with God.
  2. He Kept the Laws. Remember those laws that we couldn't keep? Love God perfectly and love others human can do that! Well, Jesus (the God-man) did it. He never sinned. That means He meets God's requirements on our behalf. If you turn to Christ, His perfect obedience becomes yours, leaving you guiltless in the sight of the Judge.
  3. He Took the Punishment. Sins must be punished. We said that if the Judge lets the guilty law-breaker go, then He isn't fair. You and I deserved God's wrath, the punishment from the Judge. The only way to settle this is for someone to pay the penalty. You must pay for your sins in Hell. The only other option is Jesus. He came and took the punishment for us! On the cross, He died a cruel, painful death in our place, satisfying the penalty of sin.
  4. He is Alive! He died on the cross, but 3 days later rose from the grave. This historical event, called the resurrection is the proof that 1, 2, & 3 are true. Only God could come back from the dead, which means Jesus must be who He said He is! And that means that there is hope for you! Your sins can be forgiven if you embrace Jesus Christ as Savior & Lord.
Now the most important question...
What will you do with this good news? You really have 3 options:
  1. Accept It - "I have read and understand this post. I recognize that I am a sinner who deserves God's wrath. I agree that Jesus is my only hope for salvation and that I need Him. I want to be in a right relationship with God." If you're thinking along those lines, God commands you to do two things: A) Turn Away From Sin: Stop loving your sin. The love that you have for breaking God's law must be replaced with a holy hatred. The thought of disobeying God needs to disgust you. Leave your sin behind! It's nasty! B) Turn Toward Jesus Christ: Start loving Jesus! Give Him all your affections. Make Him your life's passion. Be willing to give up everything just to know and follow Jesus.
  2. Reject It - "I have read and understand this post. According to the Bible, I am a sinner who is fully deserving of God's wrath. According to the Bible, Jesus Christ has paid the penalty that I owe on the cross and only He can save me. And according to the Bible, I must turn away from my sin and trust in Him. But I reject this, knowing that I am in danger of being eternally punished by God in Hell."
  3. Think About It - "I have read this post, but do not totally understand it. I still have some questions about Christianity."

Which one of these options best describes how you're feeling/ what you're thinking right now?

If Option 1, Read the Bible, Start Praying (talking to God), Find a Bible-believing church and get involved. This link might be helpful: "The Cost of Discipleship"

If Option 2, I urge you to reconsider. Know that this isn't a light matter. Please don't reject this message without first giving it some serious thought. Take at look at this link: "Why Christianity Is Credible"

If Option 3, know that you don't have forever to just "think about it." Be active in this. Read the Bible for yourself, talk to someone you know who really lives for Christ. This link might be helpful: "Life's Most Important Question"

Feel free to comment with any questions or concerns.

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