WHAT ABOUT JESUS?
WHO DO YOU SAY THAT JESUS IS?
You can know God personally. The Creator of the universe made you and wants an intimate relationship with you. The way to know the Father is through his Son: "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6). C. S. Lewis was one of the most brilliant men of the 20th century. A converted atheist, he later wrote these words about Jesus:
I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: 'I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept His claim to be God.' That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic--on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg--or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to (Mere Christianity [New York: Macmillan, 1943] 55-6).
AREN'T ALL RELIGIONS THE SAME?
We can believe that Jesus existed, that he is divine, and that the Bible is trustworthy. But what makes Jesus the only way to God, as he claimed (John 14:6)? Don't all religions lead up the same mountain to the same God? Why do we need to trust in Jesus to go to heaven?
Some people say that objective truth does not exist, so the claim "Jesus is Lord" is merely personal and subjective. But if I say, "There is no such thing as absolute truth," haven't I made an absolute statement? We believe that the Holocaust and 9-11 were objectively wrong. Objective truth is an intellectual and practical necessity in life.
Other people say that all religions teach the same truth. But Buddha taught that there is no personal "god" (despite the fact that some of his followers now worship him). Hindus believe in thousands of individual deities but no "Lord" of the universe. Muslims believe that Allah (the Arabic word for God) is the one supreme ruler of the universe and that the Trinity is blasphemy. Jews believe that God revealed himself through the Laws and Prophets of their Scriptures, that Jesus was not the Messiah, and that the New Testament is not the word of God. And Christians say that Jesus is the only way to the Father.
If any one of these religions is right, the others must be wrong. None believes that other religions are equally correct or divinely inspired. The holy writings which the various world religions trust do not describe different paths up the same mountain, but very different mountains.
No other faith rests on historical evidence as compelling as that which exists for Christianity. No other religious leader was raised from the dead; no other ancient religious book possesses the kind of manuscript, archaeological, and prophetic evidence which the Bible can claim. If Jesus is alive, then he is Lord and God. And we can trust him to be our Lord and our God.
We know Jesus existed, the Bible is trustworthy, and Jesus' claim to be God is backed up by evidence and reason. Now, why do you need him personally? What will he do for you that no one else can?
The Bible diagnoses our problem: "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). If you're the exception, the one person who has never lied or cheated or had an immoral thought, I'd like to meet you and learn how you did it. The rest of us know that we've made mistakes and sinned. So what? "The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23). God cannot let my sins into his perfect heaven, or it wouldn't be heaven any longer. My sins must be punished, my debt paid.
This is why Jesus came: to die in our place, taking our punishment on himself (see Isaiah 53:5, 12). No one else in all of human history has done this, or could do it. Every other person has sinned, so that they owed their own debt to God. Only Jesus lived a perfect, sinless life (Hebrews 4:15), so he had no debt to pay. He could die for us, taking our place and purchasing our salvation. He then rose from the dead to prove his divinity, and to show us that we would live after death with him in paradise (John 14:1-6).
You need Jesus in your life so that your sins can be forgiven and you can spend eternity in heaven. He is the only one who can give you this gift. But every gift, even one which comes from God, must be opened.
CAN I KNOW JESUS PERSONALLY?
If you believe that Jesus is the risen Lord and his word is true, you are ready to meet him personally. You can now open the gift of salvation he died to give you.
These are the biblical facts which make it possible for you to have a personal relationship with God:
1- God loves you.
He created you and wants to have a personal relationship with you now on earth and eternally (John 3:16; Ephesians 2:4-5).
2- Sin has separated you from God.
The Bible defines "sin" as choosing our will over God's. We have each made this mistake (Romans 3:23). Our sins have now separated us from our holy God, and he cannot allow us into his perfect presence. Instead, we are each destined for an eternity separated from God in hell (Revelation 19:19-21).
3- You cannot repair your broken relationship with God.
Many people think we can be good or religious enough to earn God's forgiveness and go to heaven when we die. But the Bible teaches that the only payment for sin is death (Romans 6:23; Ezekiel 18:20). Someone must die for the sins we have committed.
4- Jesus died to pay the debt owed by your sins.
Since Jesus was sinless and owed no debt to God, his death could pay for our sins. He took our place on the cross and suffered the penalty we deserved. His death now makes it possible for a righteous God to forgive our sins and offer us salvation (Romans 5:8; 2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 2:24).
5- You must receive the gift he died to give.
Now you must choose to trust in what Jesus has done for you rather than trusting in your own efforts to restore your relationship with God. In faith, rely completely on Jesus to make you right with God. Confess your sins and mistakes to God, and choose to live by his word and will. Decide that you will make Jesus the Lord and Master of your life.
How can you make this decision? Through prayer you can meet Jesus today. There is no single prayer you must pray to become a Christian, no magic formula, but the following words are one way to trust Christ as Lord. They are the prayer I offered to God on September 9, 1973, when I first trusted in Jesus as my Savior. If you will pray them with the sincere commitment of your heart and life, you will join me in knowing Jesus personally and living for him as your Lord.
Thank you for loving me. Thank you that Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty for my sins and failures. I admit to you that I am a sinner, that I need you to save me. I ask you to forgive me for my sins. I turn from them now. I invite Jesus into my life as my Savior and Lord. I turn my life over to him. I will live for him as long as I live. Thank you for giving me eternal life and making me the child of God. In Jesus' name,