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Enjoy Our God Forever
Living Out Our Lives In Relationship With God
Realize that you and I were created by God so that we can know, love, and enjoy him forever.[i] We were not meant to live alone in this world but to live out our lives in relationship with God for all eternity. What’s amazing is that you can drop in a parachute anywhere in the world and you will come upon people who are religious by nature. All the religions[ii] of the world are human made. God, on the other hand, is not offering us a religion of rigid rules and regulations to live by but a relationship where we can love and serve him with all our hearts.
There are unfortunate souls in this world that do not know of God and his love. These are the ones who continue to live their lives in quiet desperation.[iii] It was a grim discovery for the music world when Brad Delp,[iv] 55, the lead singer for the band Boston killed himself in his home. Delp’s fiancée found his body on the bathroom floor with his head on a pillow and a note that was paper-clipped to the neck of his shirt. He had sealed himself inside with two charcoal grills and committed suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning.[v] The note read: “I am a lonely soul.”[vi] In another note posted at the top of the stairs Delp wrote: “I take complete and sole responsibility for my present situation. I have lost my desire to live.”[vii] In spite of being surrounded by his adoring fans, musical fame, and big hits fortune, Brad Delp was reduced to a lonely soul that lost its desire for life.
Sin’s Slippery Slope
There was a time though, when men and women possessed every desire to live in relationship with God their Maker. When God created us, he designed our physical bodies to last forever. Human beings were free from fear, loneliness, depression, illness, and death. God made the first human being, Adam, in his image and planted him in paradise. There was a time when men and women didn’t need to read God’s word, the bible, in order to know and communicate with our Maker. When Adam was in the garden, God would speak to him and he would answer. This was so because Adam had a genuine relationship with God. This loving relationship was grounded in his trust and obedience to God. Adam was experiencing heaven on earth.
As the story goes, Adam and his wife Eve were tempted by the serpent and sinned against God by eating the forbidden fruit. And because they failed to trust and obey God in this matter, their relationship was broken. In the book of Genesis 3:10 we find the account of a human being fearful of God’s presence for the very first time in his life. Adam came out of hiding and answered God,
“I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.”
The Sinful Condition. Listen to Adam’s response. I heard you. I feared you. So I ran away and hid myself from you. Disobedience or sin causes in you and me a spiritual distance from the presence of God. Look around you and realize the condition we are in. People today are no different. God’s divine presence continues to cause us to run away and hide in a world of our own choosing be it alcohol, drugs, sex or any vice that numbs the pain of a broken relationship with our Creator. Through one man’s disobedient act, sin entered the world and caused a separation between God and humankind. Disobedience is a spiritual disease that infected the whole human race.
Those of you who have children understand this all too well. When my daughter was four-years old I was a stay-at-home Dad caring for her while working on my graduate degree in seminary. I remember that there were days I would serve her a hot bowl of mushroom soup for lunch. I’d set it on the table before her and return to my study to resume my work. It always seemed to amaze me that in a matter of minutes she’d call out to me saying that she had finished her soup. I’d ask her how she liked it and she would nod and lick her lips saying, “It was really good Dad.” Curiosity got the best of me one day and I decided to hide around the corner of our kitchen after serving her another bowl of mushroom soup. She looked around to see if the coast was clear. She then picked up her soup bowl, opened the sink cabinet, grabbed a plastic bag, poured the soup into the bag, and tucked it carefully into the trash bin. Sadly, sin didn’t spare my four-year-old from being disobedient. Romans 5:12 says,
"Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death came through sin, and so death spread to all because all sinned."
No one is exempt from experiencing spiritual separation from God. This fallen condition could have become permanent if God did not drive out Adam and Eve from the garden of Eden in order to prevent them from eating of the tree of life.[viii] God placed an angel with a sword flaming and turning to guard the way back to the tree of life. Since then, there is a great spiritual divide between God and humankind. And it is impossible for one to take a giant leap in the dark over this great spiritual divide and make it back to God's paradise. Romans 3:23 says,
“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
This verse tells us that “all have sinned” not some or a chosen few but all of us. There is not one soul in this place or in this planet for that matter that has not sinned or committed an act of disobedience. And try as hard as we could, we could never realize the true freedom we seek in God’s presence because of the burden of sin that weighs us down.
The Death Penalty. Now the burden of sin that we bear throughout the years will demand a payment or penalty. A need is inherent in all of us that every committed act of crime or wrongdoing deserves to be punished. We watch reality crime shows on television or tune in to Judge Judy and are affected by the criminal acts and blatant injustices experienced by the victims. And when we are wronged we instinctively demand justice or payback insisting that the wrongdoer can’t possibly get away with what he or she has done. We all possess this moral sense of what is right and what is wrong because we are not animals, but human beings made in the image of God. Likewise, if God is true to his nature, not only is he a loving God but also a just God. Ultimately, God’s justice will punish sin be it a tiny infraction, a minor misdemeanor, or a mortal murder. No one found with sin, in whatever shape or size, will escape God’s just ruling for the death penalty. Therefore Romans 6:23 says,
“For the wages of sin is death.”
The Judgment Seat. Physical death is not the end of life. Somehow we seem to forget that the real us is the soul that lives within each of us. The soul or the breath of life that was breathed into our beings by the Spirit of God is the part of us that will live on forever. It is the God-created soul that makes us all living beings.[ix] And our souls are not recycled or reincarnated into other forms be it a cow or a butterfly as taught in a popular eastern religion. And purgatory is not even an option.[x] The book of Hebrews 9:27 speaks of an appointed time when our souls will experience life after death and the certain divine judgment to follow,
“And just as it is appointed for mortals to die once, after that the judgment.”
Romans 14:10 also attests to this fact by stating,
“For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.”
The Second Death. Let’s review how far we have slid down sin’s slippery slope. All of us have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, the penalty of sin is death, and we will all die a physical death once and then stand at an appointed time before the judgment seat of God—sin, death, and judgment. I suppose you are wondering what will come about after all of this. Here’s the shocker. God created a place called hell. It is a place that is prepared for the devil and his angels[xi]—a place for anyone who chooses to live his or her life away from the presence of God. Hell is described as a place of eternal fire and separation.
In Revelation 21:8 we read,
“But for the cowardly, the faithless, the polluted, the murderers, the fornicators, the sorcerers, the idolaters, and all liars, theirs will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”
Through sin’s slippery slope not only do we slide into a physical death and divine judgment but we also stumble upon a second death—a spiritual death if you will. Let’s review the list of sinners that will end up in this God-forsaken place: cowards, faithless, polluted, murderers, sorcerers, idolaters, AND ALL LIARS. Did you catch that? You may have thought that you were free and clear of the second death due to the fact the first six sins are vile and unbecoming of you. Let me ask you a question. Have you ever lied in your life? Did you ever tell a little white lie? If your answer is “no” then that makes you a liar and that counts you among those who will experience the second death. White lie or black lie it makes no difference. You see it’s the seventh sin of lying that hammers the last nail onto our coffin and sends us off to the lake that burns with fire and sulfur.
Even after the grave, our final destination is grim. According to God’s word, all humanity cannot plead innocent and escape the evidence of guilt. We are found in sin. We pay this penalty by dying a physical death. We are then judged by God and found guilty. Finally, we are sentenced to spend eternity in hell away from God’s holy presence to die a spiritual death.
Son’s Saving Sacrifice
Good Works vs Gracious Gift. Based on these bible verses that we just read it looks like we hit rock bottom and there’s no way out. Yet there are those that believe that they can carve their own way back to God. Some may think that going to church, giving to charity, or even being a good upstanding citizen is enough to get you back to God. Somehow people think that God grades their sins on a curve. There are those that may not be 100% good but maybe 80% good and 20% bad or even 60% good and 40% bad. They come to the conclusion that if the good in their lives simply outweighs the bad it is enough to get them into God’s heavenly kingdom—he will simply wink at our mistakes and allow us into his presence. Again we fail to remember that God is not only just but is also 100% holy. Nothing sinful or impure can stand in his holy presence.
If you’re honest with yourself and come to the only conclusion that you’re cornered and there’s no escaping God’s sentence over the sin in your life then you will soon find that you are in a good place to start. Understand that we cannot buy, barter or bribe our way into God’s kingdom nor can all the good things that we do gain us entry into his presence. Ephesians 2:8-9 says,
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God—not the result of works, so that no one may boast.”
God knew that we are helpless and cannot save ourselves from sin’s penalty that leads to our physical death to the judgment seat that sentences us to a spiritual death. It is only by God’s gracious gift, not our good works that we are saved. Although salvation is a free gift, it cost God everything. He paid the price for our sins by giving up the life of his one and only son Jesus Christ. Frankly, I believe it is a great insult to God if we think that our good works will save us from our sins—that the sacrificial death of his Son was not enough. How can one have this free gift? All a sinner needs to do is cast aside his or her good works and humbly reach out by faith and receive this free gift of eternal life. John 3:16 says,
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.”
Religious Roads vs Narrow Gate. Many religions of the world claim that there is a way to God or there are other ways to God or that all religious roads lead us back to God. But what does the bible say? In Proverbs 14:12 it says,
“There is a way that seems right to a person, but its end is the way of death.”
Jesus says in Matthew 7:13,
“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it.”
What does Jesus say regarding the road that leads us back to God? In John 14:6 Jesus says,
"I am the way, and the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me."
In 1 Timothy 2:5-6 we read,
“…there is also one mediator between God and humankind, Christ Jesus, himself human, who gave himself a ransom for all.”
Someone has to pay the price for our sins in this fallen world. The bible says in Hebrews 9:22,
“Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.”
In 1 Peter 3:18 it says,
“For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit.”
Jesus Christ shed innocent blood on a cross and died once and for all. His life was sacrificed for sinners like you and me. His blood washes away our sin, pays the death penalty in full, receives a pardon before the judgment seat, spares us from the fires of hell, and ushers us into the presence of God by his Spirit.
God’s Gracious Gift
The greatest gift that we could ever receive from the living God is his one and only Son Jesus Christ. Jesus came to earth to give us God’s word, which shows us the way to salvation and eternal life. There is no other book in the universe like the bible, because it tells us that there is no other way to find forgiveness of sin than through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. Tragically, multitudes of lost men, women and children will never experience God’s love and purpose for them because they have never heard of Jesus or read a bible. They do not know that such a book exists. But today you are without excuse because now you know the truth and this truth could set you free.[xii] In 1 John 5:11-13 it says,
“And this is the testimony: God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.”
[i] Taken from the Westminster Confession.
[ii] Religion by definition is “a set of strongly held beliefs, values, and attitudes that somebody lives by.”
[iii] Henry Thoreau, Walden and the Whirlwind.
[iv] AP Associated Press. Boston frontman Delp dies at 55—Celebrity News—MSNBC.com. Delp, a native of Danvers, Mass., joined Boston in the mid-1970s and sang on two of the band’s biggest hits, “More Than a Feeling” and “Long Time.” He also sang on Boston’s most recent album, “Corporate America,” released in 2002.
[v] Yahoo News. Delp suicide note: ‘I am a lonely soul,’ by Katherine Webster, Associated Press Writer, Thu Mar 15, 10:18 PM ET.
[viii] Genesis 3:24.
[ix] Genesis 2:7.
[x] I do not believe in purgatory. Purgatory was an idea that took some time to evolve into a full-blown doctrine. When it was finally established, it was held by one part of the church, i.e. the Roman Catholic part. It was firmly rejected, on good biblical and theological grounds, by the sixteenth century Reformers. The question is asked, “Where do people go when they die?” If we are to answer this question, it is best that we take into account what Jesus revealed to the dying criminal who shared the same fate—death on a cross—as recorded in Luke 23:43. Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” Paradise is a beautiful resting place, but it is not the final destination. Bear in mind that if there were anyone in the Bible to whom we might have expected the classic doctrine of purgatory to apply, it would be this criminal’s case-in-point. As he was dying on the cross, time had run out for him to clean up his act. In spite of the fact that he had a criminal record of sins lingering in his body, he was rendered powerless to make any amends whatsoever. All the standard theological arguments in favor of purgatory apply to this crucified criminal. Even still, Jesus comforts him with a promise that he will be with him in Paradise, not in a couple of days or weeks, not after many prayers or masses said in his behalf, but ‘Today’.
[xi] Matthew 25:41.
[xii] John 8:32.
© 2010, Gicky Soriano. All rights reserved.