How to Have a Relationship With God
 

The greatest news ever told is contained in the most famous verse of the entire Bible. John 3:16 proclaims,

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

This verse is a wealth of exciting truths. God loves you. Let that sink in for a moment. Say it to yourself… “God loves me.” What an amazing thought! The God of the universe loves you and desires to have a relationship with you. That's special. It's special because not a single person deserves God's love. In fact, the Bible teaches that all of us are sinners. We have all sinned against God, our Creator to whom we are accountable. We are told in Romans 3:23,

 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.

That word sin means to “miss the mark” or to “fall short” as with an archer missing a bull's eye target. What mark are we missing? According to the passage, we are falling short of God's glory, His expectation for us to live as He is…HOLY (without sin) in all things and at all times. God expects us to live righteous, God-honoring lives. But, if we are honest with ourselves, when we lie or have an ill motive or whatever the wrong may be, we all miss that mark. Romans 3:10 rightly assesses the nature of all men including you and me,

 As it is written, there is none righteous, no, not one.

Not only are we sinners, but we are also deserving of an eternal punishment for our sins against an eternal God. Because we sin against God with our attitudes and actions, we have earned punishment and have invited the righteous judgment of God upon ourselves. The Scriptures say it this way in Romans 6:23a,

 The wages of sin is death.

Wages are that which is earned for a work performed. When we perform the work of sin in our lives, we earn a wage of punishment and that punishment according to this verse is death, not simply a physical death but a spiritual death as well. The Bible calls the spiritual death the “second death.” The second death is eternal separation from God in a horrible place of punishment called the Lake of Fire (commonly referred to as Hell). Revelation 20:14 explains,

 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.

That's not the way we like to evaluate ourselves (as sinners against God) nor is it the condition we want to be found in (deserving of eternal punishment); however, it's the truth. But thank God it's not where His love leaves us.

 You see, God loves you, and that's special. It's special because we do not deserve it, but also because God was willing to save us from our sin and the penalty of it. Sin must be paid for; the righteousness and holiness of God demands it. Yet, God is infinitely gracious. 2 Peter 3:9 teaches us that God is

 Not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

In order to satisfy His holiness and at the same time express His grace, God through the Person of Jesus Christ died upon the cross, was buried, and rose again as the perfect payment for our sins. He, Who knew no sin, took our sins (all of them…past, present, and future) upon Himself and paid the penalty for them (2 Corinthians 5:21).

 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

Jesus Christ died as our payment for sins so that we would not have to perish but could have forgiveness and eternal life.

 The gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:23b)

That's great news, and the free gift of eternal life is available to everyone.

As God extends His special love to all, it is up to each person to decide what he will do with it. In sinful pride, many reject God's love and His free gift of salvation by trying to curry the acceptance of God through good works and self-righteousness. God has made it very clear in His Word that salvation and forgiveness only comes as a result of His grace through Jesus Christ, not by any good works or religious practices we could perform of ourselves.

 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

 Jesus said this concerning Himself in John 14:6,

 I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

Through sin, we have already rendered ourselves unholy before God and are under condemnation. No amount of doing right will change that. Isaiah 64:6 proclaims,

But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.

Only the gracious act of Jesus Christ dying in our place upon the cross and the imparting of His holiness to us in salvation is what can give us forgiveness and a right standing before God. Isaiah 53:5 says this concerning Jesus Christ:

 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

True forgiveness and salvation is granted to those who humbly receive the love and gift of God by faith. Romans 10:13 assures us,

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

This is a wonderful promise from God Himself that anyone who will accept His love expressed through the gracious sacrifice of Jesus Christ when He died upon the cross in victory over sin and death will have complete salvation. After all, that is the nature of a gift (Romans 6:23b). If we had to pay for it or earn it in some way, it would cease to be a gift. Jesus Christ has paid the price for our forgiveness; we just have to receive His gift by faith.

Have you come to the place in your life where you have embraced God's love and grace and received the free gift of eternal life though Jesus Christ? If not, you can pray and invite Him into your life right now. You can pray from your heart, something like this:

Dear God, I know that I am separated from You because of sin. I confess that in my sin, I cannot save myself. Right now, I turn to You alone to be my Saviour. I ask You to save me from the penalty of my sin, and I trust You to provide eternal life to me.
—Amen

If you have just trusted Christ, we would love to rejoice with you in your decision and give you a Bible and some other materials to help you learn more about that new relationship! Give us a call at 615.865.5300 and let us know today!