By PASTOR WES OAKLEY
1 Timothy 3:16: "This Christian life is a great mystery, far exceeding our understanding, but some things are clear enough: He appeared in a human body, was proved right by the invisible Spirit, was seen by angels. He was proclaimed among all kinds of peoples, believed in all over the world, taken up into heavenly glory." (The Message)
What do you do to be a Christian? Assent to a certain belief system? Have good morals? Change and improve one's character? Join a church? Never make another mistake? Always say the right thing (though having a disciplined tongue would be a good thing)? Always treat others well? Never get into trouble? Give to the poor? (It's a good thing.) But it's still not enough.
Thing is, you could do all those things and not make it to Heaven, and end up spending eternity in hell.
"Hell, Pastor Wes, you know a loving God wouldn't send anyone to hell."
You know, you're exactly right. God does not send man to hell, man chooses to go there of his own choice. A loving God, our Heavenly Father, made a way of escaping eternal damnation -- that's what a loving God does.
He sent His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to die for our sin -- the sin of not believing on Him (John 3:18) -- that we might have eternal life with Him. When Jesus lovingly told a man he must be born again, He made reference to being born from spiritual death to spiritual life. He also sent out a shout of truth to mankind, telling us the only way to do that was through Him, the Savior of the world.
John 3:16: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (NKJV)
1 John 5:12: "He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life." (NKJV)
John 17:3: "And this is eternal life: to know (to perceive, recognize, become acquainted with, and understand) You, the only true and real God, and to know Him, Jesus [as the] Christ (the Anointed One, the Messiah), Whom You have sent." (AMP)
John 14:6: "Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.' " (NKJV)
The Word of God is quite clear when it says there is only one way to Heaven and that's through Jesus Christ. If anyone tells you there is more than one way, they are not telling the truth -- because Jesus Christ is Truth and He said, "No man comes to the Father except by (through) Him."
Mankind tends to think God is angry, ticked off, or just looking to smack someone, and we should be afraid of Him. We should revere Him, but we should not be afraid of Him.
We are admonished from the Word of God to "Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves that Jesus Christ is in you? Unless, indeed, you are disqualified." 2 Corinthians 13:5 (NKJV)
Jesus is more than fire insurance. He's a way of life that is exceedingly, abundantly above all that we might ask, think or imagine.
What is a Christian? Someone who has accepted Jesus into their heart; the free gift of eternal life.
Have you invited Him in? Why not do it right now? Here's how. Say this to Jesus:
"Jesus, forgive me for not believing in You. Come into my heart, and save me from eternal condemnation. You didn't come into this world to condemn me, but to save me. I receive you now and from this day forward you are my Savior and Lord and I will spend eternity with You."
If you did this, find yourself a good church that preaches Jesus, and begin to grow up into Him in all things.
Blessings on you and welcome to the family.
Statements of Faith is a series sharing lessons from local church leaders and members. To submit a column for publication, contact the Hays Daily News at (785) 628-1081.