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Most of us can remember “fishing stories,” especially tales about “the one that got away.” Nowadays most fishermen fish by using some type of bait on a hook. Sometimes, depending on the laws and setting, fishermen fish with nets. It is fascinating to see a man throw out a net which spreads out as it hits the water. It is even more exciting to watch a fisherman haul in a net full of squirming fish.

Fishing with bait on a hook involves deceit and manipulation. This, of course, is legitimate in fishing. However, much deceit has entered the realm of human interaction. Even many religions present a false front in order to deceive people into becoming a part of them. This baiting of the hook in the realm of religion is unethical and manipulative.

In contrast to baiting the hook is the method of fishing with nets. Nets do not deceive; they confront. To apply the analogy in the religious realm would simply be to confront people with concepts rather than attempting to deceive them. This is ethical, honest, and legitimate.

In the midst of so much baiting of the hook today in the religious realm, please allow me to kindly confront you with the following questions:

If you were to die right now or five years from now, are you 100% sure that all of your sins (past, present, and future) are forgiven and that you have eternal life?

Perhaps you would answer “No,” or “I hope so,” or even “Yes.” Regardless of your answer, let me now ask another question.

What do you think you must depend on to receive forgiveness of sins and eternal life?

Some of the answers I often hear are these:
Be a good person
Keep the ‘Golden Rule’
Go to church
Try to do right
Be baptized
Believe in God and be baptized
Believe in God and live a good life


Perhaps your answer is like one of these. Obviously all of these answers cannot be right. The real question is this: What does the authority of the Word of God say? The Bible tells us in I John 5:13, “These things have I written unto you . . . that ye may know that ye have eternal life.” This teaches us that you can “know” and that God wants you to know that you have eternal life. So may I show you from the Bible how you can know for sure that your sins are forgiven and that you have eternal life?

Simply put, there are three truths that you must understand and agree with and then one decision you must make.


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I Corinthians 15:3 “Christ died for our sins.”

Everyone has a problem called sin. Let’s investigate this problem by probing four aspects of sin.

Universality of Sin
Ecclesiastes 7:20 “For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.”

Simply put, nobody is perfect. No one does good without ever sinning. But what is sin?

Definition of Sin
I John 3:4b “Sin is the transgression of the law.”

Of course, in the context of the Bible, the law that is being broken is God’s Law, the Bible. Sin is simply breaking God's laws.

Examples of Sin
The Word of God is filled with many laws (commands of adherence and commands of abstinence). But to give some specific examples which are unquestionably laws of God, let’s look at some of the Ten Commandments.

Exodus 20:7 “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh His name in vain.”

If you use God’s name lightly, flippantly, or as an exclamation (i.e. “Oh, my ---!”), you have broken the third commandment.

Exodus 20:12 “Honor thy father and thy mother.”

Honor means respect and obedience with the right heart-attitude. Have you ever broken the fifth commandment? Consider the remainder of the ten commandments:

1. Thou shalt have no other gods before.
2. Thou shalt not make any graven image.
3. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.
4. Remember the Sabbath Day.
5. Honor thy father and mother.
6. Thou shalt not kill.
7. Thou shalt not commit adultery.
8. Thou shalt not steal.
9. Thou shalt not bear false witness. (Lie)
10. Thou shat not covet.


Have you ever lied? How about coveted? It doesn’t take very long to see that God’s law is being broken regularly. The law does not remove sin; it reveals sin.

Obviously, nobody is perfect. Yet, some think "But won't we still make it to Heaven if our good works outweigh our bad works?" So let’s probe one more aspect of sin.

Disqualification of Sin
Matthew 5:48 “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”

The standard is God Himself. God's holiness demands perfection.

Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”

If three people were lined up at the Grand Canyon to see who could jump across, no doubt some would jump farther than others, but obviously all would fall short of making it across. Do you get the point? You may not be as “bad” as others, but the truth is that you have sinned and, therefore, fall short of God’s standard of perfection. Even if you try to merit Heaven by doing good deeds, you cannot achieve Heaven because God’s holiness demands perfection.

There is good news coming, but if this were all we knew—that God’s standard is absolute perfection and yet we all have sinned—how many would make it to Heaven on their own ability? Nobody—sin disqualifies people from Heaven on their own ability.

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I Corinthians 15:3 “Christ died for our sins.”

Why did Christ died for our sins? Because there is a penalty for our sin. Let’s research this by unfolding four aspects of judgment.

Justice of Judgment
Romans 6:23a “For the wages of sin is death.”

Just as you earn wages at a job, you earn death because of sin. But even people who go to Heaven may die physically, so it must mean more than just physical death, which is separation of the soul from the body.

Revelation 20:14 “And death and Hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.”

The second death is separation from God forever in the lake of fire. Because of our sin we earn and deserve this judgment.

Description of Judgment
Note the following Biblical descriptions:

Revelation 20:14 “lake of fire” and “second death”
Luke 3:17 “fire unquenchable”
Matthew 18:8 “everlasting fire”
Psalm 9:17 “hell”

As unthinkable as it is, Hell is real. Hell is eternal. The same Bible that teaches eternal life in Christ teaches eternal destruction in Hell.

Necessity of Judgment
But it seems so harsh. Is it really so necessary? Yet the Bible teaches that God is just.

Deuteronomy 32:4 "A God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he."

Genesis 18:25 “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?”

If God overlooked your sin and let you into Heaven, would that be justice? Certainly not. Justice demands that sin be judged.

Recipients of Judgment
Now let's personalize all this.

Revelation 21:8 “and all liars . . .”

Have you ever lied? All of us have. Now what does the Bible say we deserve? Let’s finish the verse.

Revelation 21:8 “shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”

Let’s face it, these first two truths are bad news. God's holiness demands perfection. God’s justice demands judgment. We’ll get to the good news in just a moment, but first think about this question:

If you died right now, where would you go? Are you concerned about that?

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I Corinthians 15:3 “Christ died for our sins.”


Notice that Christ is the One Who died for our sins. Fortunately, the Word of God reveals the only solution to mankind’s problem of sin and penalty for it. The answer is found in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Let’s focus on four wonderful truths regarding the Gospel.

Meaning of the Gospel

I Corinthians 15:1 states, “Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel.”


The word “gospel” literally means “good news!” After looking at sin and judgment, we definitely need God’s good news.

Motive of the Gospel
Though God is holy and will not tolerate sin, and though He is just and must judge sin, God also is love. God's love provided a way to satisfy His own holiness and justice.


Romans 5:8 “But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”


God proved His love by providing a just way of escape through the sacrifice of His own Son on our behalf. This did not violate His holiness and justice, rather it satisfied it.

Maker of the Gospel
Who is Jesus Christ?


Matthew 1:23 "Behold a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us."


Jesus Christ, the Son of God and yet “God with us,” (that is, God robed in human flesh) is the Maker of the good news because He sacrificed Himself for us.

Message of the Gospel
I Corinthians 15:3-5 “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures: And that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures: And that He was seen . . .”

Notice two simple points:

I. Christ died for our sins

This was proven by the fact that “He was buried”.


What did Christ accomplish?

First, Christ suffered the judgment we deserve.


Isaiah 53:6b “And the LORD hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”


I Peter 2:24a “Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree.”


Hebrews 1:3b “When He had by Himself purged our sins.”


Second, Christ's payment is in full.
John 19:30b “He said, It is finished: and He bowed His head, and gave up the ghost.”


At the Crucifixion before Jesus voluntarily gave up His spirit, He said, “It is finished!” What was finished? Among other things, the price of sin was completely paid. Now since Jesus paid your sin debt in full, since He finished the job, is there anything left for you to pay? Absolutely not!

I John 1:7b “And the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin.”


Could this mean all your past sin? How about all your present and future sin? It must, for that statement was made about two thousand years ago. All of your sins were future when that statement was written. Since the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin, is there anything left for you to cleanse? No, there is not!


In other words, how much of the saving does Jesus do? All of it! This is a magnificent truth for we cannot save ourselves because we are sinners. We need a Savior—Jesus Christ!

Third, Christ's righteousness can be credited to your account.


II Corinthians 5:21 “For He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.”




Your sin was credited to Christ so that his righteousness might be credited to you. Suppose you owed one billion dollars? Would that be a debt beyond your ability to pay? Let’s also suppose a multibillionaire—out of kindness—pays off your debt? That would be great, wouldn’t it? But you still would have a zero balance. So let’s suppose he decides to also credit another billion dollars to your account to the positive. Now that would be a transaction! Here is the point. You have a sin debt that is beyond you to pay. No matter how good you may try to be, you cannot erase the sin you have already committed. So Jesus Christ offers to not only pay off your sin debt but also to credit His perfect righteousness to your account. What an offer! Then God will see you with the righteousness of Christ, and His standard of perfection will be met.

II. Christ rose again

This was proven by the fact that “He was seen”.


He did not stay in the tomb. As God, He bodily arose from the dead. Over 500 witnesses saw the risen Lord. His disciples spent their lives proclaiming a risen Savior, and many of them were martyred for their unabashed proclamation of Jesus Christ as Savior. These disciples would not have been so bold unless they had seen a truly risen Christ. What a glorious message—Jesus paid our penalty of Hell when He died on the cross and rose again! When Jesus bodily rose from the dead, He conquered death. But we already learned that the wages of sin is death, therefore He conquered sin. We saw ultimately that the death referred to is the second death. Therefore He conquered sin, death, and Hell.

In light of this truly good news, does this mean that everyone is safe? No, not everyone is safe.


So far we have investigated three truths. Now that we have been confronted with these truths, what do the truths demand?


A decision must be made. What is it?


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I Corinthians 15:11 “And so ye believed.”


To be sure we don’t miss this vital decision, let’s analyze four biblical truths:

Offer of the Decision of Faith/Repentance: Universal

Who can believe?


Romans 10:13 “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”


“Whosoever” includes you. But what does it mean to “call upon the name of the Lord?” People around the world pray. The next verse explains what this means:


Romans 10:14a “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed?”


The real issue is not the act of prayer, but belief (faith) in the heart.

Meaning of the Decision of Faith/Repentance: Transferring Your Dependence/Changing Your Mind


Mark 1:15 “Repent ye, and believe the gospel.”
What does it mean to repent and believe?

COMMON FAITH
To believe is the verb form of the noun faith. What is “believing?” Believing is not simply an acknowledgment of God. Unfortunately we commonly use the word “believe” to mean that you understand something and agree that it is so. Here, it would be understanding the three truths (problem, penalty, payment) and agreeing with them. But the Bible word “believe” means more than that. You may want proof.


Luke 4:41 “And the devils also came out of many, crying out, and saying, Thou art Christ, the Son of God.”


The devils or demons acknowledge Christ. Obviously the demons know about God and the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, yet the demons are not on their way to Heaven! This is believing about Jesus without believing in Jesus.




SAVING FAITH
John 3:16 "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."


The story is told of a famous tightrope walker who had a tightrope stretched 1,000 feet across the Niagara Falls. The tightrope was 160 feet above the raging waterfall. After crossing the rope once with great crowd delight, the tightrope walker advanced again, pushing a wheelbarrow. When he crossed, the crowd cheered wildly. He then approached the crowd, got their attention, and asked something to the effect of “How many of you believe that I could put a man in this wheelbarrow and take him across?” The crowd cheered, “I do! I do!” He pointed to a man cheering “I do!” and said, “You, sir, please get in.” The man bolted in the other direction!


What was wrong? That man believed that the tightrope walker could put another man in the wheelbarrow and take him across. But he was not willing to place his dependence totally on the tightrope walker to take him across. This dependence is the essence of believing. We must place our dependence only on Jesus Christ to save us from sin and Hell. Thinking back to the Grand Canyon illustration, Christ is the only way across the chasm between a sinful man and a holy God. We must depend on Christ. That is believing.




Believing in Jesus is taking your confidence out of yourself and placing your confidence into Christ. It is not merely trusting God to help you in a crisis, although that may be real. It is trusting Jesus Christ to save you from the problem of sin and the penalty of Hell. Also believing is not just asking Jesus to save you; it is trusting Him to do it. This is a matter of asking and then taking God at His Word.


Believing is dependence on Christ alone to save you from sin and Hell. Just as straddling one's weight on two halves of two adjacent chairs would reveal a mistrust in either one of the chairs (as a single object), so depending on Jesus plus something else reveals a mistrust in Christ alone. A split trust is mistrust in Christ alone and reveals one has never believed in Jesus.


Believe corresponds to repent, which means to "change your thinking." Thinking corresponds to understanding. Your corresponds to the agreement. Change corresponds to the transfer of dependence. Sin is the problem. Hell is the consequence. Christ is the answer. So repentance is turning to Christ for deliverance from sin and Hell. This turn of trust is dependence.


Simply put, this transaction is the decision of faith/repentance.

Promise of the Decision of Faith/Repentance: Forgiveness of Sins, Credited Righteousness, and Eternal Life


Acts 10:43 “Whosoever believeth in Him shall receive remission [forgiveness] of sins.”


Romans 4:5 "But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness."


John 6:47 “He that believeth on Me [Jesus Christ] hath everlasting life.”


The Bible says that the moment you believe in Christ, you are given eternal life. Eternal life is forever. If you have eternal life in your possession, can you have eternal life just for a little while? No, it is forever. Therefore, it cannot be lost—another proof that salvation is not based on what we do, but on what Christ did for us. Of course, once you have eternal life, you do not need to keep asking for it. To think you need to indicates that you are not believing God did what He said He would do.


Also in I John 1:2, Jesus is called that Eternal Life. The Christian life is receiving the Life of Christ. So the promise for the decision of faith/ repentance is that your sins—past, present, and future—will be covered, Christ’s perfect righteousness will be credited to your account, and you will be given eternal life as a possession. What a promise!

Necessity of the Decision of Faith/Repentance: Mandatory


John 3:18 “He that believeth on Him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”


If you have never transferred your dependence to Jesus only to save you from sin and Hell (not just help you in a crisis), then you are presently under the sentence of judgment.


But based on God's Word, if you depend on Jesus Christ to save you from sin and Hell, He will forgive your sins, credit His righteousness to your account, and give you eternal life. It is a matter of eternal life in Christ or eternal death in Hell.


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Since this determines eternal life in Christ or eternal death in Hell, let me urge you to make the decision of faith/repentance. If you understand and agree that you have sinned against a holy God, that therefore you deserve judgment in Hell, and that Christ is your only hope, why not change your mind by transferring your dependence for salvation totally on to Christ to save you from sin and Hell.

Let me put it this way:
1. Do you believe that Jesus can save you from sin and Hell?


2. Do you believe that Jesus would save you from sin and Hell if you asked Him to?


3. Since the Lord Jesus Christ is willing to save you from sin and Hell, are you willing to depend on Him to do so right now?

Let’s suppose you were drowning. As you struggle up for what you think will be your last breath, you see a boat going by and you cry out “Help!” What did you do? You transferred your dependence from your own self-struggle to someone else. You don't have to wonder "Did I say 'help' right?" No, the issue is not the form of "praying;" rather the issue is transferring your dependence.

What will you say when you pray?

Remember the three truths and one decision:
• Admit to God your sinfulness.
• Admit you deserve judgment in Hell.
• Admit Christ died for you and rose again.
Ask Christ to deliver you from sin and Hell, trusting Him to actually do it.


You could express this decision by sincerely praying the following:
    
Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner. I know I deserve the judgment of Hell. But I also know that You paid my judgment when You died for me and rose again. The best I know how, I’m asking You to save me from sin and Hell. I am placing my dependence only on You to forgive my sins, credit Your righteousness to my account, and give me eternal life. Thank You for saving me. Amen.

If you sincerely believed in Christ, He just forgave your sins and gave you eternal life! What a gift! So if you were to die right now, where would you go? If you died five years from now, where would you go? Now you can answer “Heaven” to these questions because of the promises in God’s Word. If you had died yesterday, where would you have gone? Hell. What a sobering difference trusting Christ makes!


Now that you have believed in Christ, you are born again (i.e. born spiritually into God’s family). Just as a child must be fed to grow physically, when you get “saved” you need to grow spiritually. The Bible teaches that the Bible itself is our spiritual food. Just as we eat physically everyday, so we also need spiritual food everyday. You might start in the fourth book of the New Testament which is the Gospel of John. If you read just one chapter a day, you would finish in three weeks. Then you might start with Matthew and read through the New Testament. Ask God to help you understand, and then trust Him to obey what He teaches you.


The key to obedience is depending on Christ for each step of obedience just like you depended on Christ for salvation. Christ Who now lives in you will live through you as you choose to depend on Him.


Also, the main reason to go to church is to be fed spiritually through the preaching of God’s Word. Faithfully attend a church which believes that the Bible is the only authority for what to believe and how to live. As you yield to God’s working in your heart, you will grow spiritually.


Remember, just as you depended on Christ to save you, daily choose to depend on Christ to live His victory through you. The Spirit of Christ now lives in your spirit. As you depend on Him, He will enable you to do what the Bible says for each step of obedience.


If you sincerely prayed and asked Jesus Christ to save you, please contact us that we may rejoice with you. Click here to download a free pamphlet on the Christian life. 


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