(Permission granted from Narrow Gate Ministries)
"Strive to enter by the narrow gate; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.
-JESUS CHRIST, The Word of God, Luke 13:24
DO YOU THINK YOU KNOW GOD?
Do you know the only true God? Not the God of your imagination but the God who is described in the Bible? Do you know Him with an intimate knowledge so that you love, obey and serve Him? These are very important questions. The Bible tells you that eternal life is obtained only by knowing God and His Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus says, And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God,and Jesus Christ whom You have sent (John 17:3). If you are to have eternal life and live with God forever in heaven, you must know God and His Son, Jesus Christ, like the Bible says you must.
Carefully consider the following.
Who God Is
The Bible teaches that God is very great and glorious. He is the Most High God. The Lord is high above all nations; His glory is above the heavens. Who is like the Lord our God, who is enthroned on high, who humbles Himself to behold the things that are in heaven and in the earth (Psalm 113:4-6)?God is so great that no one is like Him. There is no one or thing in all the world that can be compared to God. God is three persons in one divine being: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God is infinite, self-sufficient, unchangeable, and sovereign. He has infinite power, knows everything, andis present everywhere. The God of heaven and earth is the only holy, righteous,and just God and can only do good. He is full of love, grace, and truth. He is so great that His glory is above all nations and even above the heavens.You are nothing in comparison to Him. All the nations are as nothing before Him, they are regarded by Him as less than nothing and meaningless (Isaiah 40:17).
God's greatness can be seen in the wonderful works which He performs.The Bible says that God is the Creator of all things.Genesis 1:1 says In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.The universe did not come into being by some kind of process of evolution.It was created by God in six days. God merely spoke His all-powerful word and the world came into being. By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of His mouth all their host.For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast (Psalm 33:6,9). God is so powerful that He made the world out of nothing. The Bible teaches that every person, including you, owes his existence to God.
God is not only the Creator of the world, but He is also the Sustainer of the world. He upholds the world so that it continues to exist. You, even You, are Lord alone; You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth, and all things that are therein, the seas, and all that is herein, and You preserve them all . . . (Nehemiah 9:6). Without the preserving power of God the whole world would cease to exist. The universe cannot stand by itself. It was created by God and therefore needs God forits very existence. You can be nothing and you can do nothing without the upholding power of God. God gives to all life and breath and all things . . . for in Him we live and move and exist . . .(Acts 17:25, 28). You cannot even move one inch without the sustaining power of God.
The greatness of God is shown not only by His creating and sustaining the world, but by His control over the world. God is the ultimate Ruler of the world. The Lord has established His throne in the heavens; and His sovereignty rules over all (Psalm 103:19). God is the only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords (1 Timothy 6:15).He is not a weak God whose will is frustrated by people like you. He is the eternal King who rules over all things, including you. He so controls all the things of the world that He brings about what He has eternally planned for the world and everyone in it. He works all things after the counsel of His own will . . . (Ephesians 1:11).Whether you believe it or not, God is your Ruler and King.
Thus, neither you nor anyone in all the world is independent of God.You need God. You owe your very life to God. The air that you are breathing right now is from God. Moreover, God created you for His own glory.The Bible says of God, . . . for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed and were created (Revelation4:11). You were not created for your own pleasure. You were not created simply so that you would exist. Rather, you were brought into being for the pleasure and glory of God.
Since God is the great and glorious Creator, Sustainer, and Ruler of the world, He is worthy of your praise, honor, and worship. Read in the Bible, Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things . . . (Revelation 4:11). In all the works which He performs God shows Himself to be so wonderful and so great that you should stand in awe before Him. God requires that you fear and reverence Him. Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him (Psalm 33:8). This is not an option.It is the commandment of God. You are obligated to worship your God and Creator.
The reverence which God requires of you is to be expressed in worship, thanksgiving, and service. As a creation of God, you are to worship Him. Come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord our Maker (Psalm 95:6). God calls you to acknowledge Him as your Creator, Sustainer, and Ruler by bowing down before Him in worship. Your worship should be an expression of your thanksgiving for all that your Creator has done for you. The Bible even calls you to sing praises to Him. Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth . . . . Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him; bless His name (Psalm 100:1,4). Your whole life is to be set apart for God's service. All your talents, time, and resources must be used for His glory. Jesus says you shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only (Luke4:8).
Worship, thanksgiving, and service are expressed in obedience to God's commandments. The Bible says, .. . fear God and keep His commandments, for this applies to every person(Ecclesiastes 12:13). Your whole duty to God has been given to you in the Bible where He tells you what He requires of you. Part of God's requirement is found in the first seventeen verses of Exodus chapter twenty.
First, you need to know your specific duty toward God.
1) You are to have only one God, the God of the Bible. He alone is to be the object of your love and worship. All other gods are false gods.In fact, anything more important to you than the God of the Bible is a god to you. The gods of other religions and the gods of pleasure, money, and power are all to be rejected.
2) You are not to represent God by any kind of image, nor are you to worship Him through any image. You are to worship God by hearing and obeying His Word.
3) God forbids you to take His name in vain by cursing, swearing, and using His name in a meaningless way. You must always be careful to fear and reverence His holy name.
Next, God not only requires that you behave a certain way toward Him, but that you act a certain way toward others.
4) You are to honor your father and mother. This honor is expressed in respect, submission, and obedience according to God's Word.
5) God forbids you to murder, hate, or harm any person, including yourself. God abhors your envy, hatred, anger, and your desires for revenge. You are even to love your enemies.
6) You are not to have sex with anyone who is not your lawful husbandor wife. God also forbids adultery of the heart--lustful thoughts and desires.
7) You are not to steal anything. You are to gain your possessions by your own honest labor.
8) You are not to be a false witness against anyone by slander, backbiting, or spreading rumors. All lying is forbidden.
9) You are not to covet (desire in your heart) anything that belongs to someone else.
It should be evident to you that God requires not only external obedience, but obedience of the heart.
Your heart must hate all that God forbids and delight in all righteousness. Jesus teaches us that God's law may be summed up in one word--love.He says, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it; You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets (Matthew 22:37-40). God requires nothing less than perfect love. You are to love Him with your whole being. Love is tobe the basis of all your reverence, worship, thanksgiving, and service. It cannot be merely an external show for God and others.
If you know that God is your Creator, Sustainer, and Ruler who requires that you love, worship, and serve Him alone, you should also know something very basic about yourself. You are a sinner who fails to fulfill your obligations to God. You do not love, worship,and serve Him as the Bible says you should. You do not always keep the commandments God has given you. Although you may not outwardly disobey some of these commandments, you constantly break every one of them in your heart. You do not love God with all of your heart, soul, and strength. Your whole life is not devoted to the worship and service of God. The Bible says that you are wicked and that you must say, Against You [God], You only, I have sinned, and done what is evil in Your sight. . . (Psalm 51:4). How many are my iniquities and sins?. . . . Behold,I am insignificant; what can I reply to You? I lay my hand over my mouth(Job 13:23; 40:4). If you deny that you are a sinner, you are lying to yourself and God. The Bible says, If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us(1 John 1:8).
Apart from the grace of God, you cannot do anything that is good or pleasing to God. You are like people everywhere on Earth. You area sinner. All people are alike in that all are sinners. Thereis none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God. All have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one (Romans 3:10-12).There are no exceptions. Not even you who read this can sneak yoursin past God. Everyone fails to fulfill his duty before God. Even those deeds which seem to be very good to you or others are not good enoughfor God. It is not the quantity of your deeds, it is the quality. Without faith in Christ it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). The Biblesays all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment. . . (Isaiah 64:6). God requires perfection, but you know thatyou are far from God's perfect standard.
Your inability to fulfill your duty before God is not to be attributed to God. God created man righteous and able to do all that He required. But your first father, Adam, rebelled against God. He disobeyed God and fell from his state of righteousness into sin. As a result of that fall into sin, Adam's spiritual nature became wicked. Rather than loving andserving God, he loved and served sin and the devil. That corrupt spiritual nature of Adam is passed on to all his offspring. Because you are adescendant of Adam, you too have inherited his corrupted nature. Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned . . . (Romans 5:12).
The Bible calls that spiritual corruptiondeath—spiritual death. You sin because your spiritual nature is wicked. You are spiritually dead. The Bible speaks of the wicked nature of man when it says, The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it? (Jeremiah17:9). And to make matters worse, you currently love your sin.
Moreover, your inability to fulfill your duty does not change God's requirement. It remains the same. God has not changed. He is stillthe Holy God. God doesn't lower His standards for you. The angels cryout before Him, Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts . . . (Isaiah 6:3). As the Holy One, God is thoroughly perfect. He cannot sin Himself and He will not tolerate sin in others. God hates all sinfulness. The Bible says of God, For You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness; no evil dwells with You. The boastful shall not stand before Your eyes; You hate all who do wrong. You destroy those who speak falsely; the Lord abhors the man of bloodshed and deceit (Psalm 5:4-6). God is also a jealous God. He says, For you shall not worship any other god; for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God (Exodus 34:14). You were created in God's image. He created you, therefore He commands you not to act like you have another creator. The Jealous God demands that you love, worship, and serve Him alone.
Since there are always consequences to your actions, and because you do not fulfill your duty before God, you deserve God's condemnation and eternal destruction. You deserve eternal punishment in hell. God is so jealous and holy that He must punish sinners for their sin.
A jealous and avenging God is the Lord; the Lord is avenging and wrathful. The Lord takes vengeance on His adversaries, and He reserves wrath for His enemies. The Lord is slow to anger and great in power, and the Lord will by no means leave the guilty unpunished (Nahum 1:2-3).
At the end of the world God will send to eternal torments in hell all those who are not saved by His grace and who, therefore, remain in their sin. Jesus says, So it will be at the end of the age; the angels shall come forth, and take out the wicked from among the righteous, and will cast them into the furnace of fire; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 13:49-50). Apart from God's grace, you cannot escape the eternal punishment of God's avenging wrath.
Your Only Hope
Does your situation seem hopeless? How can you escape the wrath of God and eternal destruction in hell? How can you, a sinner, ever come to know God intimately and be at peace with Him? How can you,a sinner, make yourself holy? It is impossible! Who can make the clean out of the unclean? No one! (Job 14:4). But what is impossible for you is not impossible for God. The glorious Creator, Sustainer, and Ruler of the world is also the Savior, who delivers from sin, death, and hell. God says, I, even I, am the Lord; and there is no savior besides Me (Isaiah 43:11). God is not only a holy and just God who must punish sinners, but He is also a God of love and grace who shows mercy. In His grace and love, He hassent Jesus Christ to accomplish salvation. God, in Jesus Christ, is the only Savior. If you are ever rescued, it will only be by the person and work of the Lord Jesus.
Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God who came to earth and tookupon Himself a human nature. He is God, but He came as a real man.In Christ, God was revealed in the flesh . . . (1Timothy 3:16). His name [is] Immanuel, which translated means, "God with us" (Matthew 1:23). Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of a virgin. After He had grown to adulthood, He preached the good news of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. He told people about God, His truth, and salvation. By healing the sick and even raising the dead to life again, He displayed the power of God. This is the same power which saves sinners like you. Throughout all of His life, He loved, served, and obeyed God perfectly. At the end of His life He was taken by wickedmen, led to a hill called Calvary, and nailed to a cross where He suffered and died, just as God had eternally planned (Acts 2:23; 4:27-28). After three days in the grave He arose from the dead. He ascended into heaven and now sits at the right hand of God ruling the world until He returns to judge the living and the dead.
By His sacrificial death Christ accomplished salvation. When He suffered and died on the cross, He bore in His own body the sins of all those whom God chose to save. For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that He might bring us to God . . . (1 Peter 3:18). Their sins were counted as Christ's and God punished Christ in their place. Christ paid the debt for them that they owed to God so that they could have their sinsforgiven. In whom [Christ] we have redemption,the forgiveness of sins (Colossians 1:14). Moreover, all of Christ's righteousness is counted to be their righteousness; as if they perfectly love, worship, serve, and obey God. Christ has met the requirement of God in their place. For as through one man's disobedience[Adam's] the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One [Christ's] the many will be made righteous (Romans 5:19). The death of Christ saves sinners from the wrath and condemnation of God. There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans8:1).
Christ not only secured salvation by His death on the cross, but He also applies it to the lives of all those whom God has chosen to save. Christ raises them from their spiritual death to spiritual lifeby giving them a new spiritual nature which loves Him. Thus God said, "Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you . . . . And I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances (Ezekiel 36:26-27).Out of that new heart Christ gives faith and repentance so that the new child of God turns from his sins and by faith worships and servesthe only God, even though imperfectly. He comes to know God as his Lord and Savior in an intimate and personal way. God loves him and guides him,and he obeys God so that they are at peace with each other. Andwe know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding, inorder that we may know Him who is true, and we are in Him who is true,in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life (1 John5:20). Christ brings believers into fellowship with the trueand living God.
You cannot think, say, or do anything to save yourself. It is the work of God alone. The Bible says God has saved us,and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus . . .(2 Timothy 1:9). God saves by His grace alone. Salvation is not something you deserve. It is a gift that is freely given through Jesus Christ. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast (Ephesians 2:8-9). No man can ever boast that he contributed something to his own salvation—not even you! Salvation does not depend on the man who wills,or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy (Romans 9:16).
Since God saves by giving faith to the sinner, salvation is impossible without faith. No one is a true child of God without faith. And without faith it is impossible to please [God]Him . . . (Hebrews 11:6). He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him (John 3:36). Do you want to escape the wrath of God and everlasting destruction in hell? Are you burdened with the load of your sins and are you seeking forgiveness? Do you desire to know God and His Son Jesus Christ and thus enjoy the blessing of eternal life? Jesus says, Have faith in God (Mark11:22). A man once asked, What must I do to be saved?He was answered, Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved . . . (Acts 16:30-31).
God calls you to believe! Right now! This very second!
What is biblical faith? What does it mean to "believe"?
Faith or belief contains three things:
1) It is the knowledge of what the Bible says about God, Christ, man, and salvation.
2) It is the recognition that those facts are true.
3) It is trusting in God and His Son Jesus Christ alone to save you.(Stop trying to do things to save yourself!)
What must you believe?
1) You must believe that God is the glorious and holy Creator, Sustainer, and Ruler of the world. You are dependent upon Him for everything.
2) You must believe that it is your duty to love, worship, serve, and obey God. The great and glorious God is worthy of your reverence and honor.
3) You must believe that you are a sinner who cannot fulfill your duty to God. You deserve eternal torment in hell.
4) You must believe that God sent His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ,to save sinners like you. Christ accomplished salvation by dying on the cross and shedding His precious blood. Three days later He rose from the dead as the victorious Savior. There is no salvation apart from Him.
5) You must believe that God in Christ Jesus is your only Saviorwho delivers you from your sins and God's wrath and gives you eternal life.
True faith is always accompanied by repentance from sins. You cannot say that you believe in God and Jesus Christ if you continue inall your sins. Jesus commands you, Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand (Matthew 4:17).
Your true repentance contains three things:
1) You must acknowledge the fact that you are indeed a sinner who needs to be saved by God. You must stop trying to save youself.
2) You must have a godly sorrow over your sin. You do not merely mourn the bad consequences of your sin. You grieve over the fact that you have sinned against a holy God, your Creator, Sustainer, and Ruler.
3) You must turn away from your sins and abandon them. You must not seek to live a sinful and selfish life, but you must seek after God and His righteousness.
True faith fills the believer's heart with thanksgiving so thathe longs to obey God. It causes him to see how merciful God is in saving him from his sins. He loves God and wants to do all that God commands him. Even though he cannot obey God perfectly, his desire is to keep all His commandments. Jesus says, If you love Me, you will keep My commandments (John 14:15).
The true believer shows his love for God by faithfully fellowshipping with other believers and serving them and attending church worship services where he hears the preaching of God's Word, the Bible. He reads and studies the Bible continually. He goes to his God in prayer throughout each day. He seeks to know his God more and more, for he knows that he has only a childlike understanding of the knowledge of God. The rest of His life will be devoted to learning more about God and His Son, Jesus Christ.
The person who has true faith does not think that his faith, repentance, love, and obedience are his own work. He does not think that they are his part in salvation as if he helps God along. He knows and believes that all these things are a part of the salvation which God gives as a free gift. He could have no faith,repentance, love, and obedience without the grace of God working thosethings in his heart and life. Jesus says, . . . apart from me you can do nothing (John 15:5). Nor does he think that byhis faith, repentance, love, and obedience he fulfills God's requirement himself. He believes that his salvation is based solely upon the person, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
If not, God commands that you believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ . . . (1 John 3:23). Jesus prayed, And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent (John 17:3).~~~~~~~~~~~~