In fact, we believe it’s the greatest news that could ever be shared.
To make it as clear as possible, we like to break it down into four important things we believe everyone needs to know … including you!
1. You need to know that you were made by God to have a satisfying relationship with Him.
Many people believe that ultimate happiness and personal fulfillment deep within comes from such things as financial security, a reputation for success and achievement, the good feeling that comes from serving others, a sense of self-esteem, a deep and meaningful relationship with someone else, or even a sense of power and influence over others. But have you ever noticed how there are many people who have these things in great abundance, and yet are still unfulfilled? It’s as if there’s a great “hole in their soul” that such things simply wont satisfy. The Bible tells us that God is our Creator (Genesis 1:1); and that “in Him we live and move and exist” (Acts 17:28). His Son, Jesus Christ, made this claim: “I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly” (John 10:10). It’s like a great man named Augustine prayed many centuries ago: “Thou has made us for Thyself, O God, and the heart of man is restless until it finds rest in Thee.”
That “hole” is very real. As Augustine’s words suggest, it’s a “God-shaped hole.” God Himself designed us with a built-in yearning within our souls for a relationship with Him. Only God Himself can satisfy that yearning; and we’re left with a prevailing sense of dissatisfaction in life until He does. It’s no wonder that, in the first of the Ten Commandments, God says, “You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3). Only God has the right to have “first place” in our hearts; and so long as He isn’t in that first place, nothing else in life is right.
If that’s the case — if God made us to have a satisfying relationship with Himself — then why isn’t He filling that “hole in the soul” right now? What broke off the relationship? That leads us to the second thing we would like you to know.
2. You need to know about sin.
Sin stands in the way of having the satisfying relationship with God that He meant for you to have. The Bible uses several words to describe what has broken off our relationship with God. Sometimes, for example, the Bible talks about “transgressions”. Those are the times when we overstep God’s moral boundaries and, as it were, put our foot into His moral “no trespassing” zones. The Bible tells us that the “transgression” of our first parents Adam and Eve, while in the Garden of Eden, has had a devastation effect on all their offspring. “Through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men …” (Romans 5:18).
At other times, the Bible talks about “iniquities”. Those are the times when we shake our fist at God with a rebellious attitude, and refuse to do the things He commands. In the Bible, it says that our “iniquities” stand in the way of our fellowship with God. “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not so short that it cannot save; nor is His ear so dull that it cannot hear; but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He does not hear” (Isaiah 59:1-2).
And at other times, the Bible simply uses the word “sin”. The word used in the Bible that we translate into English as “sin” was originally an archery term, and it meant “to miss the mark.” It’s just like when an archer shoots an arrow at a target, but falls short of a “bull’s-eye.” This idea is very vividly expressed when the Bible says, “… All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 2:23).
So you see; that “hole in the soul” comes from not having a relationship with the One who made us. And it’s sin that broke that relationship — the guilt for sin that we’ve inherited from our father Adam and compounded with the guilt that comes from our own disobedience to God’s commands, our own rebellions attitude toward Him, and our own failures to measure up to God’s holy standards. Not only does our sin separate us from God, but as the Bible says, “… the wages of sin is death …” (Romans 6:23). Our sins place us in the terrible position of being in debt to God; and the debt can only be paid by death.
Suppose you had a credit card from a store, but irresponsibly maxed-out your credit way beyond your ability to pay. And suppose that you made a decision to change your ways, destroy your card, and begin paying cash from then on. It would be good that you stopped getting yourself into further debt; but what about the debt you already owe? The store would be very happy that you’re not getting into deeper debt with them; but it still doesn’t solve the problem of the debt that’s left unpaid.
That illustrates the dire situation we’re all in before God because of our sins. Our sins have offended the holy standards of God; and the wages of sin before such a holy God is death. He can’t merely “ignore” it; because, if He did, He’d have to decide to stop being holy. And merely “reforming” our life and “turning over a new leaf” isn’t going to solve the problem of the debt we already owe either.
Can you see how your sins have offended God? And do you see that you can’t have the satisfying relationship with God you were meant for so long as your debt of sin remains undealt with? And can you see that you, by yourself, can do no more to satisfy that debt than a man on death row could set himself free by promising to “reform” his ways? What a terrible problem our sins have caused!
All of this might sound like really bad news; and it is. But it’s this bad news about our sins that makes the “Good News” so good! That leads us to the third thing we would like you to know.
3. You need to know God has removed the barrier caused by our sin…
…by placing the guilt for sin on His Son, Jesus Christ. Not only is God holy, but He’s also merciful. Out of pure love and mercy, because of our helpless situation, God has sent His own Son Jesus to be born into the human race — the only Member of the human race that has never sinned — so that He might take the guilt of our sins on Himself and pay the “death penalty” for us on the cross as the second “Adam”. His death sets us free from our debt, and makes it possible for us to have a satisfying relationship with His Father. Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
In fact, the Bible gives us this “Good News” in lots of different places:
“… God demonstrates His own love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
“He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
“He … was delivered up because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification” (Romans 4:25).
The Bible tells us that Jesus had willingly taken our sins on Himself to pay the “wages of sin” in our place! And God the Father made it clear to everyone that He was completely satisfied with this payment by the fact that He raised Jesus His Son up from the dead! And so, the way is now clear for us to have the relationship with God that we were meant to have! God’s amazing solution to the problem caused by our sin means that He remains true to His own holiness, and yet is able to declare sinners “righteous” in His sight. He didn’t simply ignore the debt of our sin; He paid it Himself through His own beloved Son Jesus. At last, the “hole in our souls” can be filled to satisfaction.
Do you want God’s solution to the sin problem to be applied to you? If so, then there’s one more thing we’d like you to know.
4. You must personally put your trust in the forgiveness of sins God offers through Jesus Christ.
Suppose a man was on death-row for a crime that he committed. Suppose further that the governor called with the exciting news that someone else has willingly paid the death-penalty for him. A stay of execution has now been made possible.
It would be foolish, in such a case, for the man to reject the offer and say, “Sorry, Gov. I just don’t believe it. Instead, I’m going to stay right here on death row so I can pay the penalty myself.” What a tragedy! Life would’ve been available to him; but instead, he willingly chose death because he wouldn’t put his trust in the offer.
Similarly, God makes the offer of salvation to you; but you must put your trust in the fact that (1) you need salvation from the penalty of sin; and (2) that Jesus willingly paid for your sins on the cross; and (3) that God is satisfied with that payment. Just look at how the Bible tells us this:
“… Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved …” (Acts 16:31).
“… These things have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:31).
“Therefore having been justified [that is, declared to be not only "not guilty" but also "righteous" in God's sight] by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1)
Well; there it is. We’ve just told you the four most important things we believe anyone could ever know. But what will you do about them? It’s very “Good News”; but it’s news you must use! Will you now put your trust in God’s solution to the problem of sin?
If so, you should do so through prayer. You may want to pray the following prayer in your own words. Why not pray right now?
“Dear Creator, I have sinned against you. I have offended You with my sins. And because I have sinned, I am separated from You and have a terrible emptiness inside. I’m sorry for my sins. I want the guilt of my sin taken away. I want to be made clean inside and have a relationship with You.
“I believe what Your Bible says — that I cannot save myself from my sins. I also believe that Jesus took my sins on Himself at the cross and paid the death penalty for me. I believe that You are fully satisfied with that payment. I now put my trust in Your offer of forgiveness through the cross of Jesus.
“Thank you for hearing my prayer and forgiving my sins. Please begin a new life in me today. Amen.”
Did you pray that prayer? Did you mean it? Then keep reading for four more things you need to know.
Have you decided to put your trust in God’s solution to the problem of sin? Did you say a prayer of forgiveness and repentance? Then there are just four more things you need to know…
1. Jesus is alive!
That means you can count on Him to help you in all your struggles in life. Trust Him always; and take your concerns to God daily through prayer in His name (1 Peter 5:7; Philippians 4:6-7).
2. God has given you a new life.
As far as He’s concerned, it’s as if you have died to sin and have been raised up from the dead with Jesus. Ask Him daily to help you put away the old sinful life-style patterns and to live a completely new life in obedience to Him (2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 2:20; 1 Corinthians 10:13). It will take time; but be patient. He loves you and wants to help you grow.
3. The whole Bible is God’s word.
In it, He tells us how to live for Him and enjoy our new relationship with Him (2 Timothy 3:16-17; Hebrews 4:12). Get a copy of the Bible that you can understand; then read it daily — at least a chapter a day. (It would be a good idea to start with the Gospel of John.) Always pray before you read the Bible, though, and ask God to help you understand it and obey it.
4. God made us to worship Him with other people (Hebrews 10:24-25).
Find a church that preaches about what God has done for us through the cross of Jesus, and that teaches faithfully from the Bible. Meet regularly with other people who have trusted Jesus; because this is God’s way of helping you to grow more in love with Him.
There’s one more thing we want you to know. We’re here for you. Please write us, call us, or e-mail us, and let us know how we can pray for you. We want to help you in your walk with Jesus Christ. God bless you; and may you be filled more and more with all the fullness of God Himself.
Your friends at Bethany Bible Church
18245 NW Germantown Road
Portland, OR 97231