GOSPEL

Note: While we think the info below can help you, we think a decision of this importance is best handled as a conversation with a real human being that can answer your questions. If you'd like to connect with us, email us at office@faithon44th.com or give us a call at 616-284-1789.

For more information, check out 2 Ways to Live



Do you know what Jesus' first sermon was?

"Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."

Not a four-hour long tirade filled with judgment or a 30-minute list of inspirational platitudes from a desk calendar. A call to follow him. But what does it mean?

"Repent..."
To repent means, literally, to "turn around." But what does Jesus want us to turn around from?

The Apostle Paul tells us in the Book of Romans that everyone has"exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator." God made human beings to delight in and worship him, but each one of us has turned that around, delighting in and worshiping ourselves and our own desires.

The Bible calls this rebellion "sin." This isn't just a problem for you or me, but for everyone who's stepped onto this planet. "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" is how the Apostle Paul puts it.

And this rebellion comes with a price, namely death, a cancer infecting our total existence. The prophet Isaiah wrote, "Your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God." Sin means the death of our relationship with God, the eventual death of our physical bodies, and everlasting punishment in a place called hell.

So, Jesus wants us to repent from our sins and turn to obey God. Simple, right? Just try real hard, buckle down and obey God! But how often has that worked out? A resolution to conquer a single sinful habit in January often doesn't even survive until February, not to mention a dozen other areas where we fall short. Short-term, partial repentance might be achievable, but a lifetime of obedience? That's a different story.

So, what's the solution? Well, good news for us, Jesus' first sermon was a two-parter.

"... for the Kingdom of Heaven is at Hand."
You've probably heard it before, but Jesus isn't just any run-of-the-mill human being. He's the Son of God, God in human skin. The Bible puts it a bit more eloquently: "He is the image of the invisible God."

Being God himself, Jesus doesn't suffer from the same rebellion problem you and I bear. You'll find in the Book of Hebrews that Jesus was "tempted as we are, yet without sin." Jesus didn't need to repent, to turn around. He spent his entire life headed in the right direction.

Consequently, Jesus didn't need to face a rebel's death, as you or I do. He could have moseyed on straight through the gates of heaven and no one would have batted an eye. But that's not how his story goes.

Jesus came on a mission. He said that he "came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Think of a thousand stories you've read where the good guy gives up his life to rescue the ones he loves. Now, double it, multiply it by a million, and you'll just begin to understand what Jesus did for you and me.

You and I are the ones who stand as rebels before God. If anyone deserved death, it was us.

Yet it was Jesus, the Kingdom of Heaven personified, who died a criminal's death. Nailed to a wooden cross, Jesus died a death meant for rebels like you and me. The Apostle Paul writes, "God demonstrates his own love for us in that, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

Jesus died in our place, but unlike the heroes of our stories, he didn't stay that way. The Book of First Corinthians tells us that Jesus "died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day..."

Jesus, our crucified Savior, rose from the dead.

Jesus, Lord and Savior
So, how exactly does one follow Jesus? Remember these two words: confess and believe.

From the book of Romans, we read, "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved."

To follow Jesus, you must confess him as your Lord, your Master. You need to admit to yourself and to God that you've spent your life headed in the wrong direction. You need to, as Jesus preached in his first sermon, repent. Turn from our old life of rebellion and live under the rule of your Creator.

You must also believe in Jesus as your Savior, the one who died and rose again in your place. You need to understand that Kingdom of Heaven came down to save you from a rebel's death. And if you ask your Savior for forgiveness, you're sure to receive it, as the Apostle John says, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness"

What's So Different?
When we believe in Jesus as our Lord and Savior, the Book of Corinthians tells us we are "a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." Just as Jesus died and rose from the dead, a new follower of Jesus dies to their old way of living and rises to a new one. We die to our rebellion and are born children of God, as in the Bible we read, "just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life."

If you decided to confess Jesus as your Lord and believe in him as your Savior, you've already begun to follow Jesus. We'd love to help you continue on this journey as you learn to love and obey the God who died to save you. After all, helping people follow Jesus is what we're all about.

Contact us to let us know of your decision (office@faithon44th.com) or come to a weekly gathering, Sundays at 10 am. If you're a bit unsure, you can see what a typical Sunday is like.

God bless!