Written July 22, 2012 By Joe Cunningham
If you were to take an honest look at the world around you, and by that I mean; look at the media, the headline news, at your
neighbor across the street, the people you work with, your own family, and even the people that you attend church with every
Can you honestly say that people are inherently good? Or, is it more that people are bad and do their best to live a good life? I
believe it is more the latter.
We think of an innocent baby born into this world. Most are cared for by loving parents that want only the best for their child.
And, as predictable as the sunrise, it doesn't take long for the rebellious nature of this sweet innocent child to begin to surface.
Some of the first words that children learn are NO and mine. And so, we spend the rest of our lives teaching our children to be
Because we're not inherently good.
Now, don't get me wrong, there are a lot of people that are much better at controlling their rebellious nature than those who
aren't. I would even go as far as to say that the greater majority of the human race does a pretty good job of living a life that
doesn't hurt anyone else. Some go out of their way to help other people. Some dedicate their entire lives to making this world of
ours a better place. We look at these people and say, "These are good people".
By human standards, they are good people. So we say, "If anyone deserves to go to heaven, this person does". And, if it were
a matter of being good enough, these people would be the first in line, and rightly so.
Unfortunately, it is not our level of goodness or badness that determines our final destination, it is sin. Sin is a conscious
rebellion against God. It is our way of saying to God, I know what you expect, but I want to do it my own way. We don't want to
give up control. We want to be in charge of our own lives.
From our point of view, that doesn't seem like too much to ask. Does it?
The God of heaven is perfect, holy, and righteous. Sin absolutely cannot exist in His presence. Even the smallest sin is enough
to separate us from God for eternity. It seams hopeless, "For all have sinned, all have fallen short of God's glorious standard".
(Romans 3:23) It doesn't seem fair. We're only human. We make mistakes. We're not perfect. We do the best we can.
We need to understand that it's God's standard that we are being compared to - not mine, or yours, or the Church, or any
other religious group. It's God's standard. And if God's standard is perfect, holy and righteous, than we need to be perfect, holy
and righteous to be in His presence.
God chose the Jewish nation to reveal His plan to the world. He gave them the Ten Commandments as a list of His standards.
The Jewish people tried their best to live by those standards, and are still trying today.
But, they continue to fall short. God made it clear that eternal death would be the price of their rebellion. We deserve to die for
our own sins. But, God allowed the nation of Israel to sacrifice an innocent animal in their place. It wasn't that God needed to
see thousands of innocent animals slaughtered to satisfy His blood thirsty appetite, He needed to show us the cost of every
single sin. That one, innocent animal could only pay for one sin - one animal for every sin. It was an exercise in futility - they
would run out of animals before they would run out of sin. It seemed hopeless - they were given a list of standards that no one
can keep, and they would run out of animals before they would run out of sin.
God intentionally brought them to this place so that they, and we, would realize that they couldn't do it on their own. If we can't
live up to God's standards, than humanly speaking, the only logical thing to do is to lower God's standards. Right? So, we bring
God down to our level. We treat God as if He were just another human, and we view Him as someone that we might do business
with. We think and say things like, "When I get up to the pearly gates I'm gonna ask St. Peter for an appointment with The Man,
and God and I are gonna hash it out. I have a gift for gab... I'm sure He'll see it my way". We say things like, "If I were God, I
would let this person into heaven." "Look at how good this person is". "Look at all of the good that this person has done in
We recreate God in our image, and develop religions to worship this new god. We say, "My god is a god of love. He would
never send a good person to hell". We choose to believe the lie.
Ask yourself this question; "Does it really make sense that God would ignore sin?" Would you? Would you ignore it if someone
scratched the side of your new car? Would you respond by saying, "Well, he's a relatively good person. He does a lot more
good than he does bad. I think I'll just ignore it". Of course you wouldn't. Justice must be served. So, why would we think that
God would be any different?
Here’s the truth - God loved us so much that He created this world and everything in it. He created us in His image (both men
and women) as a demonstration of His perfect love. He knew from the beginning that we would sin and rebel against Him. And
still He created us anyway. And as the ultimate act of His perfect love, He put a plan in motion from before time even began, to
make us right with Him.
God’s plan from the beginning was to sacrifice Himself for us. Yes, God sent His only Son, Jesus Christ - God in the flesh, to
pay the price for our sins. The bible is God's plan of redemption from start to finish. God revealed His plan through Moses and
the prophets over a span of about 1500 years of real recorded history.
There are hundreds of prophetic verses in the bible that reveal this plan of God, and one of the most telling is in the Book of
the Prophet Isaiah, Chapter 53. God spoke to the prophet Isaiah, and Isaiah recorded this in 681BC - nearly 700 years before
Jesus was born. It is a vivid description of how the Savior would die, and why He had to.
My servant grew up in the Lord's presence like a tender green shoot, sprouting from a root in dry and sterile ground. There
was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us to him. He was despised and rejected - a man of
sorrows, acquainted with bitterest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way when he went by. He was
despised and we did not care. Yet it was our weakness he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought
his troubles were a punishment from God for his sins! But he was wounded and crushed for our sins. He was beaten that we
might have peace. He was whipped, and we were healed! All of us have strayed away like sheep. We have left God's paths to
follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the guilt and sins of us all. He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never spoke
a word. He was led as a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth. From
prison and trail they led him away to his death. But who among the people realized that he was dying for their sins - that he was
suffering their punishment? He had done no wrong, and he never deceived anyone. But he was buried like a criminal; he was
put in a rich man's grave. But it was the Lord's good plan to crush him and fill him with grief. Yet when his life is made an
offering for sin, he will have a multitude of children, many heirs. He will enjoy a long life, and the Lord's plan will prosper in his
hands. When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied. And because of what he has experienced, my
righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for he will bear all of their sins. I will give him the
honors of one who is mighty and great, because he exposed himself to death. He was counted among those who were sinners.
He bore the sins of many and interceded for sinners. (Isaiah 53:2-12 NLT)
If you've ever read through any of the four gospels - the Books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John - or have seen the movie,
The Passion of the Christ, you can see in your mind's eye Jesus being scourged and beaten, shouldering his cross as he
passed by the people that, just five days earlier proclaimed him their Messiah and King. These same people, now, turned their
backs on him - rejected him, despised him.
He was innocent, but offered no defense. It was God's good plan all along. Isaiah asked the question, "Who among the people
realized that he was dying for their sins?" Do you? Because of what he did for us, we can now be counted righteous because
He paid for all of our sins.
How does this work? It is purely by God's grace. Think of it this way; Justice is getting what we deserve, and we deserve Justice.
Mercy is not getting what we deserve. And, Grace is getting what we don't deserve. We are made right with God purely by His
grace, through faith in what Christ has done for us. By grace through faith. Therefore, since we have been justified through
faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in
which we now stand. (Romans 5:1-2 NIV)
If it truly is sin that separates us from God, then Jesus is the only one that addressed the sin issue. Jesus is the only way to
What right do we, as Christians, have to say such a thing? We are called intolerant, bigoted, and exclusionary. But, that's not
the case at all. The Good News of Christ is very good news, and it needs to be shared. The creator God of the universe wants
to spend eternity with each and every one of us, and He made a way for us to do just that. He went to the cross and died for us
so that we could be made right. Not by anything that we did, but purely by what He did for us.
Judaism says to live a sinless life, but we know that's impossible. Islam says to live a sinless life, and if that doesn't work,
sacrifice your life for the cause of God and you will go to heaven - as if God is going to ignore their sins. The Hindu faith says
that if you don't get it right in this life, you are given a series of chances until you finally get it right. It doesn't matter how many
chances you are given, it is impossible for a human to live a sinless life.
John 3:16 reads, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whosoever believes in Him will never perish, but
will have everlasting life". All God asked of us is to believe Him. It truly is as simple as that. But He also promises so much more.
If all Jesus had to do was to die on the cross for our sins, He could have simply came to earth as a man, died on the cross, and
went right back up to heaven. But, He didn't do it that way - He had to come as a baby, born of a woman. He had to live a
perfect, righteous life. He came to fulfill the law of God. No human could ever keep the law - only the God-man could. But, why
is that important?
Jesus had to fulfill the righteous demands of God so that we can be made right with God through Him. When we put our faith in
Christ, His righteousness is transferred into our account so that when we stand before God we are considered righteous - not
by anything that we have done, but by what Christ has done for us.
Here’s a simple story to help illustrate; A wealthy man is walking down the street and comes across a homeless man. The
wealthy man feels compassion for the man and offers to give him $1000.00 to make a fresh start. The wealthy man writes a
check and gives it to the homeless man, wishes him luck, and continues on his way. The next day, the wealthy man is walking
down the same street and comes across the same homeless man. He stops and asks the man why he is still there, did he not
cash the check? The homeless man told the wealthy man that he went to the bank that afternoon. But he stood outside, looking
in the window, and saw everyone inside nicely dressed. He saw his reflection in the glass with his tattered cloths, scraggly
beard, and un-kept hair. He said to himself, "They will never believe me if I walk in looking like this - they will never give me the
money." The wealthy man said, "Now, you go back to that bank today, just as you are, and hand them that check." They will
give you the money because it is my signature on the bottom of that check. It has nothing to do with who you are. It has
everything to do with who I am.
In much the same way, Christ impunes his perfect righteousness on us. And because of it, the Apostle Paul explained, "As a
result, He has brought you into the very presence of God, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before Him without a
single fault. But you must continue to believe this truth and stand in it firmly. Don't drift away from the assurance you received
when you heard the Good News. (Colossians 1:19-23 NLT)
This is a promise for all believers in Christ. It is for us today, in this lifetime. Too many people see Christianity as nothing more
than a fire insurance policy - something to keep us from burning in hell for eternity. But a life with Christ is every bit as
important, rewarding and fulfilling in this lifetime as it is in the life to come.
Again the Apostle Paul explained, "What this means is that those who become Christians become new persons. They are not
the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life has begun! (2Corinthians 5:17 NLT) When we come to faith in Christ, the
Holy Spirit of God comes to dwell inside of us. This inner presence of the living God is what brings about the change that gives
us the strength to avoid sinning. Without His presence we are powerless against sin, but with His presence, "I can do all things
through Christ who gives me strength". (Philippians 4:13 NLT)
During the Last Supper, Jesus was giving His disciples some last minute instructions. He knew that His purpose for coming was
nearly fulfilled and there wasn't much time left. Jesus began telling them that He would be betrayed by one of them, He would
be handed over to the authorities, He would be crucified, He would die, and He would be buried. The disciples were
understandably confused. Jesus had told them all of this before, but they never thought that He meant it literally. He was
preparing to die. Peter objected! Jesus comforted them by reassuring them that He would rise again. The disciples kept
insisting that there had to be another way. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but by
me". (John 14:6 NLT).
The disciples were crushed. What would they do? Where would they go? All of their hope was in Jesus. Jesus explained that He
had to die. Because if He didn't, He would not be able to send the Holy Spirit. He promised that the Spirit would come and would
lead them to all truth, that He would remind them of everything that Jesus had taught them, and that the Spirit would be with
The Holy Spirit of God would live in them, and in all who put their trust in Jesus Christ.
"But, when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, He will produce this kind of fruit in us; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness,
goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Here there is no conflict with the law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus
have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to His cross and crucified them there. If we are living now by the Holy
Spirit, let us follow the Holy Spirit's leading in every part of our lives". (Galatians 5:22-25 NLT)
Are you tired of wandering through this life with no direction? Are you tired of asking yourself what is the purpose of this life?
Are you tired of fighting a battle that you just can't seem to win on your own? If so, are you willing to trust the Holy Spirit to
guide your life?
So, why Jesus? Why not some other way?
Like I said earlier - If it truly is sin that separates us from God, and keeps us from going to heaven when we leave this earth,
then Jesus is the only one that addressed the sin issue. "And, if we say we are without sin, we are only fooling ourselves and
refusing to accept the truth". (1 John 1:8 NLT)
If it's not sin, well then I suppose that you can pick whatever religion that you want. Or, you can even make up your own. But,
just remember this; if you are not willing to ignore injustice, neither is God.
Jesus truly is the only way to heaven. He always has been and He always will be. THIS IS GREAT NEWS!!
"Anyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. For 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. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with
God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved". (Romans 10:9-10 NLT)
Will you put your faith in what Christ has done for you? Will you call out to Him so that you can be called a child of God? Do you
want heaven to be your eternal residence? Pray this prayer out loud,
"Father, I know that I have broken your laws and my sins have separated me from you. I am truly sorry, and now I
turn away from my past sinful life and I turn toward you. Please forgive me, and help me to avoid sinning again. I
do believe that your son, Jesus Christ died for my sins, was resurrected from the dead, is alive, and hears my
prayer. I invite Jesus to become the Lord of my life, to rule and reign in my heart from this day forward. Please
send your Holy Spirit to help me obey You, and to do Your will for the rest of my life. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen."
If you have just prayed this prayer, and you meant it from your heart, you can be assured that on the authority of scripture, you
are saved. You are now a child of God, and your eternal address is heaven. Your name is now written in the Lambs Book of
Life. You are now registered as a citizen of Heaven (Luke 10:20).
The Apostle John wrote in his first letter, "I write this to you who believe in the Son of God, so that you may know you have
eternal life". (1John 5:13 NLT). This is called the blessed assurance. If you put your faith in Christ, you will go to heaven. No
one can take that away from you. It is God's promise.
Watch how the Holy Spirit begins an amazing work in your life. You will be transformed into the person that you were born to be.
This is an exciting time. As the Apostle Paul said,...A new life has begun! (2Corinthians 5:17 NLT)
God Bless you, Joe