A real, intimate relationship with God begins with one crucial step...
5 "Lord," Thomas said, "we don't know where You're going. How can we know the way?" 6 Jesus told him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." -John 14:6 (HCSB)
In life it can be easy to lose our way. The pressures of life and the world around us weigh heavily on our hearts. Many see the evil in the world: corruption, violence, hate, poverty, pain, and despair. Some choose to turn to drugs or alcohol; while others look to a pursuit of wealth and privilege, gathering as many treasures as possible. Still others seek to eke out a living as best they can and try to ignore the sorrow around them. No matter which of these paths a person might try, they all lead to emptiness and a longing for something more. "25 There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it is the way of death. -Proverbs 16:25" Looming over all the sorrows of this world is another inevitability... Death. Ultimately each person asks, " Why?"
The first step onto the road to salvation is admittance. The world God initially created was far different from our own imperfect reality of the present. This changed when Adam and Eve, the first humans created by God, chose to do as they pleased and disobeyed God thereby allowing sin to enter the world. Sin is rebellion against God. God is the source of all life, "7 the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being." -Genesis 2:7. Sin distances us from God and so the curse of death and sorrow entered the world when man sinned, or rebelled, against God. In order to begin a relationship with the holy Creator of the Universe, one must first recognize their imperfections and sinful state. Even good people are sinners at heart: "2 God looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. 3 Everyone has turned away, they have together become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one. " -Psalm 53:2-3 "
"23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,..."- Romans 3:23 We have all chosen to make ourselves our own masters, thus we have sorrows and are bound by sin. When we admit that we are sinners we acknowledge that we know we are in rebellion against God.
Sin is a problem we cannot escape on our own; we sin daily. God can have no part in sin, so how may we even begin to approach the Holy God if He cannot be near sinful creatures such as we? In the time of the Old Testament, people would sacrifice animals, "22In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness."-Hebrews 9:22The only remedy for sin is death. It is the punishment justly merited for choosing on a daily basis to rebel against God, and as stated before, death is the natural result of separation from God. But how can the blood of animals be enough to cover over our sins? These sacrifices were given to people in the past as type, a representation, of what was to come. God in His infinite love and wisdom understood man's plight would be incurable by human means and so planned a way that all may come to a right relationship with Him once more. To accomplish this, God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to Earth to take on the form of a man and live as a man. Because Christ is God, He could not sin, but because He came as a man, He was tempted to sin just as we all are. Jesus Christ came to be the perfect sacrifice... an untainted offering whose blood could cover over the whole of mankind's sins forever. "16 'For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life'."- John 3:16 When we admit we are sinners, we acknowledge that we cannot save ourselves and need the sacrifice provided by God through Jesus Christ. "23For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."- Romans 6:23
The next step in the right direction is to choose to turn away from our previous mistakes, errors, and selfishness. We must choose to no longer serve ourselves, but instead to completely turn to follow Jesus Christ. It is at this time that we have chosen to repent. An essential part of repentance is belief. "6And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him."- Hebrews 11:6 Believing in God is not enough, however, because "19You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder." -James 2:19. The kind of belief required by God is displayed in accepting the sacrifice of His Son Jesus Christ and choosing to believe that Christ did die for your sins, and that more importantly, Christ on the third day after His crucifixion did something no other sacrifice and no other man could do... He rose again from the dead. Since Christ is man He could die and be our sacrifice, but because He is God He is life and "24But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him." -Acts 2:24. In raising from the dead Jesus Christ became the living Way to God. A priest Who can intercede for sinful men, because He experienced such temptations. Jesus Christ rose from the dead "24But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him." -Hebrews 7:24, therefore He can offer us life in Himself. By choosing to accept God's Son as your personal sacrifice, and believing in His death, burial (that He truly died), and resurrection (that He lives now and forevermore), you have given your own vow that you know God is true to His Word ("17Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. 18God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged. "- Hebrews 6:17) When we choose to live no longer in sin (living for yourself) and choose to follow His Son (living for God), God is able to extend His grace (unmerited favor) to us and give us His promise, in Christ Jesus, of eternal life with Him. Yet He gives us far more than just the hope of an eternity spent without pain, sorrow, fear, loneliness, and death. He gives us hope for life in this world. The promise of His presence within our hearts always, "And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."- Matthew 28:20b and "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you." - Deuteronomy 31:6 and "27 My sheep hear My voice, I know them, and they follow Me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish —ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all. No one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. 30 The Father and I are one." -John 10:27-30
The final aspect of coming to salvation and beginning a relationship with God is confession. Confess to God all that you have come to realize. Confess that you are a sinner and are incapable of escaping sin and death on your own. Confess that you believe Jesus Christ came to be the perfect sacrifice to take away your sins and that you accept Him as your Savior and Lord forever. Ask Christ to come into your heart from that moment and live there within you. Believe that God is faithful: "23 Let us hold on to the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful." - Hebrews 10:23 , "12 and that is why I suffer these things. But I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to guard what has been entrusted to me until that day." - 2 Timothy 1:12 Thank the Lord for saving your soul and giving you this new life; and then when finished and having said "Amen" (let it be so), trust that today is the first day of a new life. "9 if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 With the heart one believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth one confesses, resulting in salvation. 11 Now the Scripture says, No one who believes on Him will be put to shame, 12 for there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, since the same Lord of all is rich to all who call on Him. 13 For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." -Romans 10:9-13. God has freed you in that moment from bondage to sin and bound you to Himself. Every moment of every day is a new chance to come to know the Creator of the Universe more personally and deeply. To experience a comfort and peace unlike anything you have known: "6Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." -Philippians 4:6-7
Tell other Christians what you have done (including those of our church), and ask them to help show you the next steps in your walk closer to, and with, the Lord of Life. You will find that with God though the road may not always be easy, He will see you through every trial and hardship. He gives to all of His children, "1 Look at how great a love the Father has given us, that we should be called God's children. And we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it didn't know Him. " - 1 John 3:1, "3His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires." - 2 Peter 1:3-4 With this, the first step of many you may know that though there is suffering and hardships in this world you can take cheer "33"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.". - John 16:33 Reach out to others and show them the difference Christ is making in your life, and tell them how they too can take this first step to knowing and growing more intimately acquainted with the Lord our God. ("9The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance." - 2 Peter 3:9)