A journey to God begins with understanding why you would even take such a journey. It begins with recognizing that you are missing something; that you have a deep thirst. The thirst is the longing of the soul for something; love, acceptance, importance, meaning, justification, purpose, leaving a mark, finding joy. Somewhere there is a thirst in everyone for these deep longings of the soul. Have you quenched it?
The Gospel or Good News of Christianity at its core is the answer and solution to this thirst. It isn’t a system of rules or religious observances, it is a reconnection with God our creator that quenches the deep thirst and brings lifelong joy which leads a person to an eternal joy. This joy is all based on a personal relationship with God through Christ-
And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. John 17:3
So, how do we get there?
Let’s start where Jesus started, listen to his first message:
Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” Mark 1:14,15
Repent means to turn around; to redirect your life, your agenda, your plans, your values to his. Why? Because his kingdom was coming. Jesus brings a new kingdom, or rule, that brings God’s love, God’s values, and God’s life- but we can’t enter this kingdom just as we are, we must repent, or turn around.
What do I need to turn around from?
Bottom line- we need to turn from our rebellion
...as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one. Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive. The venom of asps is under their lips. Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes. Romans 3:10-18
Tim Keller says it like this, “We have all chosen (and re-affirm daily) to reject God and to make our own joy and happiness our highest priority. We do not want to worship God and surrender ourselves to him as Master, yet we are built to worship, so we cling to idols, centering our lives on things that promise to gives us meaning; success, relationships, influence, love, comfort, and so on.”
This rebellion against God is seen in 2 ways
Everyone needs to determine their own reality, their own standards of right and wrong. This may include some kind of religion or spiritual exploration, but everyone is free to make that decision for themselves. There is no being or person that decides, each one lives as they see fit. So each one seeks their own joy, own meaning own reality. But has it worked? Has the thirst been quenched, or do you keep looking for the next thing, the next relationship to fill the void?
We become acceptable to God through our behavior, morality, and achievements. There is a strict standard and rules to be followed. If you follow the rules you are in, it is all based on your performance. However two problems occur. 1-crushing defeat and guilt- because you can never quite measure up no matter how hard you try, 2-self-inflation, because you know you are doing good. This allows you to look down on those who haven’t made it.
Ironically- this way of living is also based on excluding and rebelling from God. It is not God you want, it is his blessing. You are not interested in repenting and turning your life over to him, you want to control him. If I am good enough God owes me. I don’t want God, I want blessing and if I do the rules then he must follow through with blessing.
In either case the message is clear- I’m my own boss, and I’m in control of my life. Whether through my free self discovery or more rigorous morality God is not the center or priority- I am. But does it work, have you found that joy, that peace, that meaning quenching the thirst? Have you even lived up to your own standards? Are you really free?
For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Romans 7
So what is the answer?
First the bad news- this rebellion is an offense to God and deserves his punishment.
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
What we deserve as a result of rebellion and rejection of God is death. God is a righteous judge, he cannot leave the guilty unpunished. He is also a God of love and chose instead to send his son to take the punishment we deserve.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. John 3:16,17
God sent his only Son Jesus, not to carry out a judgment against us, but to take our judgment onto himself. This is the great exchange, he suffered for our guilt, and we are given his perfection.
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21
How do we access this amazing gift?
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2:8,9
This means we are offered forgiveness and salvation as a gift. It is not something we can earn or work for, it is something we receive. The way we receive it is by faith.
If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. Romans 10:9,10
This is the repentance Jesus spoke of. To turn our trust, our hope, our heart toward him. To recognize that we are rebels and that Jesus suffered the punishment so that we could be brought into God’s eternal kingdom. So that we could be free from the endless search for meaning having found it in Christ.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself.
2 Corinthians 5:17,18
Not only are we forgiven, loved, given a new identity as a beloved child of God, we also have a future hope. Jesus rose from the dead on the third day demonstrating his complete victory over sin and death. This gives us assurance that he can bring his children through death into eternal life. Life lived forever with God in his Kingdom in the new heavens and new earth.
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away." And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Revelation 21:1-5
The Gospel, the Good News as you have just read is the quenching of the thirst. The finding of meaning, purpose, a new identity free from guilt and shame, forgiveness, hope, purpose, and mission are all in Christ. He knows you, loves you and is seeking you. Let me urge you to turn your life to him; to repent. In giving him your life you actually find it.
To begin this journey you can pray to him, even now and put your life in his hands. You can offer a simple prayer like this, “God, I realize that I have lived my life without you and against you. I have sought my own glory, my own identity, and my own passions, but they have left me empty and ashamed. I now repent and turn my life into your hands. I put my trust in Jesus as my savior and Lord. I want to become yours and live my life for you. Thank you for dying for my sins and promising me new life. Amen.”
Jesus said, “whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
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