You may have realised by now that you are in a miserable situation. We lie and cheat. We are disobedient and unreliable. We hurt other people and dishonour our Creator time after time. As we are, the righteous God can have nothing to do with us. He must punish us for our deeds. We are unable to give Him the honour He deserves. Even if you did your best to live a good life, the mistakes from your past would still haunt you.
All have sinned and are not good enough to share God’s divine greatness. Romans 3:23
Because of our lack of respect and all our bad things, we cannot face God. We are useless and in a spiritual sense we have been pronounced dead.
When people sin, they earn what sin pays—death. Romans 6:23 A
In the end, our behaviour will lead to death. The end of our life here on earth. But death is not the end of our spiritual existence. We will be called to give an account for our behaviour.
But you are so stubborn! You refuse to change. So you are making your own punishment greater and greater. You will be punished on the day when God will show his anger. On that day everyone will see how right God is to judge people. He will reward or punish everyone for what they have done. Romans 2:5-6
Death is the result of your behaviour. This makes your life a matter of urgency. As long as you live, you have the possibility to be reconciled with God.
This is not what God wants
It is almost unbelievable that God loves you despite your behaviour. I hope you regret your way of life. I hope you long to find a solution to make things right between you and your Creator.
If you think about it, you will realise that you cannot make things right on your own. If you regret your past behaviour, and if you are honest, you know you will make more mistakes in the future.
God’s plan of salvation
Still God loves people, even though we are unworthy.
From the very beginning He had a plan to bridge the gap between us and Him. A plan that shows His incredibly great love for us.
First, I will tell you about God’s plan in short. In the rest of the chapter, I will tell you more.
~ God’s plan of salvation ~
Without forgiveness, our future is hopeless. We dishonoured our Creator and have been declared spiritually dead. We live in darkness, far away from God. But that is not the purpose with which He made us.
From the beginning of creation God had to intervene to save us from destruction. That is why He came to earth Himself. He became man and His name was Jesus Christ. He was also called the Son (representative) of God. He was the only man who ever lived without sin and without dishonouring God. He could do that, because He was God.
His plan of salvation is incredible and loving at the same time. He did not come to the earth to be served. He did not come to punish us for our disgraceful and dishonouring behaviour. No, He came to show His great love for us. Not because we deserve it, but because He is loving and He sympathised with us.
He let Himself be humiliated by man and even let Himself be sentenced to death on a cross. On the cross He did not only suffer unbearable bodily pain, but He also bore the wrath and the judgment of God. He bore our punishment. On the cross He experienced how it felt to be abandoned by God.
To prove He is greater and stronger than death, He rose from the grave after three days. In that way He made death powerless. God’s honour was restored.
This is God’s great gift to us. Through the death and resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ all our sins have been forgiven and removed. If you believe that Jesus Christ died and was raised for you as well, you will be washed clean of all our filth. You will receive God’s mercy, your sins are no longer imputed to you and you will be declared righteous.
If you repent of your sin, your filth and of the ways you dishonoured God, your Creator, you can be saved. If you accept God’s gift of forgiveness by his Son Jesus Christ, you will be free from guilt and death through Jesus. You will be washed clean of all your filth.
Spiritually, you will die with Him and be born again. You will receive a new (spiritual) life. You may live with and for God. With His help, you will be able to serve Him from the heart. He will help you to live according to His will. Out of His love, you may serve others around you, just like He did.
You will even have the honour to be called a child of God. You will receive eternal life. In the future, you may live with God in heaven. In this life now, He will be with you with His Holy Spirit.
But if you refuse the gift God wants to give you through Jesus Christ, you must bear the consequences of your deeds and your disobedience yourself.
I can imagine this short summary raises many questions. That is why I would like to tell you about God’s plan of salvation in more detail.
What happened first
From the beginning of creation it was clear that man could never come near God again, because he freely chose to disobey his Creator. We were doomed to live in spiritual darkness.
In the Bible you will find that through history the coming of a Saviour is announced. From shortly after creation to about 2,000 years ago, there were prophecies that a Saviour would come to free man from his fate. This Saviour was called the Messiah (meaning Anointed, or King). These prophecies were fulfilled about 2,000 years ago. And He was not just any Saviour. God Himself came to the earth to carry out His plan of salvation. (1)
God coming down to earth?
Before we go on, I think I need to explain a little more. It sounds unreal when you read that God, the great Creator, came down to earth. In the Bible, the apostle John describes it like this:
In the beginning, before the earth was made, the Word was there. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. […] The Word became a man and lived among us. We saw his divine greatness—the greatness that belongs to the only Son of the Father. The Word was full of grace and truth. John 1:1,14
For us humans it is almost unbelievable that the great Creator became man. To be able to understand this a little, you must first know more about God. There is only one God. But in the Bible you read about God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. They are three separate individuals, but together they are one God. This is beyond our comprehension, because there is nothing in the human world that compares to this.
Some people try to compare it to water. Water can be steam (gas), liquid or ice (solid) when it freezes. Another example is that of a clover leaf, which consists of three smaller leaves. Together they form one leaf. But whatever you try to compare it to, nothing can really describe the nature of God.
The name ‘Son of God’ indicates the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is also called The Word, which refers to the creation of the world, where God spoke and it was created.
He came as a child
The coming of the Saviour was foretold since the beginning of the world. He was born as a child. But He was not an ordinary child.
This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah happened. His mother Mary was engaged to marry Joseph. But before they married, he learned that she was expecting a baby. (She was pregnant by the power of the Holy Spirit.) Matthew 1:18
God’s Spirit caused Mary to become pregnant. She was a virgin, but God’s Spirit caused her to be with child. Her child was not only fully human, but also fully God. His name was to be Jesus, which means ‘Saviour’.
The little boy Jesus was developing into a mature young man, full of wisdom. God was blessing him. Luke 2:40
As Jesus grew taller, he continued to grow in wisdom. God was pleased with him and so were the people who knew him. Luke 2:52
The major difference between Jesus and other children was that Jesus never sinned.
Peter, one of the eye witnesses, describes it like this:
“He never sinned, and he never told a lie.” Isaiah 53:9 People insulted him, but he did not insult them back. He suffered, but he did not threaten anyone. No, he let God take care of him. God is the one who judges rightly. 1 Peter 2:22-23
The message of Jesus Christ
Jesus began His public ministry when He was about thirty years old. (2) In a short period of about three years, Jesus travelled around and taught people. His message was clear: repent of your sinful, selfish life and turn to God.
From that time Jesus began to tell people his message: “Change your hearts and lives, because God’s kingdom is now very near. ” Matthew 4:17
He also made clear that God is not to be served by living according to certain rules and traditions. What is important, is that you serve God from the right attitude, from the heart. Jesus called the religious leaders to account about their hypocritical behaviour.
You are hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he spoke for God about you: ‘These people honor me with their words, but I am not really important to them. Their worship of me is worthless. The things they teach are only human rules.’” Isaiah 29:13 Matthew 15:7-9
During His life, He performed many miracles and healed people with blindness, leprosy and other diseases.(3)
Still, there were many people who did not want to believe that He was the long promised Saviour (4). But His warning to people was clear:
But I tell you if you don’t decide now to change your lives, you will all be destroyed too!” Luke 13:5b
He gathered a group of disciples. He taught them about the Kingdom of God and about what is important in God’s eyes: believing that He is God’s Son and the Saviour of the world. Therefore, we should love God, live for Him, and love our neighbour as ourselves.
The people asked Jesus, “What does God want us to do?” Jesus answered, “The work God wants you to do is this: to believe in the one he sent.” John 6:28-29
Jesus answered, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. The only way to the Father is through me. John 14:6
Jesus answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and most important command. And the second command is like the first: ‘Love your neighbor the same as you love yourself.’ Matthew 22:37-39
What you should want most is God’s kingdom and doing what he wants you to do. Then he will give you all these other things you need. Matthew 6:33
Jesus did not come to the earth to tell us off. He did not come to be served as the great and mighty Creator. He came to save us.
God sent his Son into the world. He did not send him to judge the world guilty, but to save the world through him. John 3:17
He came to save us from our (spiritual) death. He came to restore the relationship between God and man. He came to make possible the forgiveness of our sins.
Jesus gave himself for our sins to free us from this evil world we live in. This is what God our Father wanted. The glory belongs to God forever and ever. Amen. Galatians 1:4-5
To be able to carry out this plan, He had to cancel the punishment for our sin. We deserve the death penalty, because we keep dishonouring God with our behaviour and our deeds. By dying for us, Jesus took the punishment upon Himself. Because He died in our place, we can be declared righteous by God.
His suffering and death
Jesus knew precisely why He came to this world. He knew what awaited Him and told His disciples so.
From that time Jesus began telling his followers that he must go to Jerusalem. He explained that the older Jewish leaders, the leading priests, and the teachers of the law would make him suffer many things. And he told his followers that he must be killed. Then, on the third day, he would be raised from death. Matthew 16:21
Not much later, this prediction came true. The religious leaders were tired of Him. They felt their honour and power were threatened and sought a way to get rid of Him. They arrested Him and took Him to the High Priest (the spiritual leader of that time). He was falsely accused of many things, but in the end they found a charge against Him.
[…But Jesus said nothing to answer him] The high priest asked Jesus another question: “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the blessed God?” Jesus answered, “Yes, I am the Son of God. And in the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right side of God All-Powerful. And you will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven.” Mark 14:61-62
Without realising it, they sentenced Him to death on the basis of His true identity.
Because the country was occupied by the Romans, the religious leaders had to ask the Roman governor for permission to sentence Jesus to death.
Jesus stood before Pilate, the governor, who asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “Yes, that’s right.” Then, when the leading priests and the older Jewish leaders made their accusations against Jesus, he said nothing. Matthew 27:11-12
Governor Pilate could find no charges against which he could sentence Jesus to death, but he was frightened by the large crowd that had accompanied him;
Pilate asked the people again, “So what should I do with this man you call the king of the Jews?” The people shouted, “Kill him on a cross!” Pilate asked, “Why? What wrong has he done?” But the people shouted louder and louder, “Kill him on a cross!” Mark 15:12-14
Pilate saw that there was nothing he could do to make the people change. In fact, it looked as if there would be a riot. So he took some water and washed his hands in front of them all. He said, “I am not guilty of this man’s death. You are the ones who are doing it!” Matthew 27:24
The religious leaders took Jesus to a hill, where He was nailed to a cross. A cross is one of the most gruesome and humiliating ways to execute the death penalty. Jesus bore the shame and pain without resisting, because it was according to God’s plan.
But He did not just endure the shame and physical pain. On the cross He bore God’s punishment for our sins. God’s wrath was poured on Him. As a man, He experienced abandonment by God. That was the punishment we deserved for our sinful behaviour.
At noon the whole country became dark. This darkness continued until three o’clock. At three o’clock Jesus cried out loudly, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani.” This means “My God, my God, why have you left me alone?” Mark 15:33-34
When He died on the cross, when His blood flowed, He paid the full price for our sins.
After this He gave up His spirit and died. One of the Roman soldiers who supervised the crucifixion stuck a spear in Jesus’ side to make sure He was dead. Jesus’ friends asked if they could bury Him and He was laid in a grave, hewn out in rock.
By dying Jesus Christ showed the world how serious it is that we injured God’s honour. But by dying He also showed how much God loves us.
Friends of Jesus asked to bury Him and He was placed in a rock tomb.
But the death of Jesus was not the end. God showed He is stronger than death. After three days Jesus rose from the grave and appeared to His disciples and large groups of people (5).
This was after his death, but he showed them that he was alive, proving it to them in many ways. The apostles saw Jesus many times during the 40 days after he was raised from death. He spoke to them about God’s kingdom. Acts 1:3
Through His death and resurrection He made new life possible for us. If we believe in His plan of salvation, we may, as it were, die with Him spiritually, and be born again. We will receive new life, because He bore the punishment for our sins. We can face God again.
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection. I am life. Everyone who believes in me will have life, even if they die. And everyone who lives and believes in me will never really die. Martha, do you believe this?” John 11:25-26
Our bodily death is no longer the end. Is has become the beginning of eternal life with God.
The people who believe that Jesus is the Messiah are God’s children. Anyone who loves the Father also loves the Father’s children. 1 John 5:1
Yes, God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him would not be lost but have eternal life. John 3:16
After His resurrection from the dead, Jesus appeared to His disciples many times. In the presence of His disciples He returned to His Father in heaven.
After Jesus said this, he was lifted up into the sky. While they were watching, he went into a cloud, and they could not see him. They were staring into the sky where he had gone. Suddenly two men wearing white clothes were standing beside them. They said, “Men from Galilee, why are you standing here looking into the sky? You saw Jesus carried away from you into heaven. He will come back in the same way you saw him go.” ‘Acts 1:9-11
We are cleared of our punishment and the relationship with God can be restored.
God makes people right through their faith in Jesus Christ. He does this for all who believe in Christ. Everyone is the same. Romans 3:22
If we regret our sin and our behaviour, and if we accept His forgiveness, we can start a new (spiritual) life. In a spiritual sense, we are born again.
Jesus answered, “I assure you, everyone must be born again. Anyone who is not born again cannot be in God’s kingdom.” John 3:3
They became God’s children, but not in the way babies are usually born. It was not because of any human desire or plan. They were born from God himself. John 1:13
We will live as humans on the earth until we die. But after our death there is a wonderful future awaiting us.
There are many rooms in my Father’s house. I would not tell you this if it were not true. I am going there to prepare a place for you. After I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back. Then I will take you with me, so that you can be where I am. John 14:2-3
God living inside of us
“I will send you the Helper from the Father. The Helper is the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father. When he comes, he will tell about me. John 15:26
If you believe in Jesus Christ and accept His forgiveness, God’s Holy Spirit will come to live in your heart and He will help you to live according to God’s will.
But there is also another side to this good news. Some day Jesus will come back to the earth to judge all people on the basis of their deeds and behaviour. God cannot overlook any sin.
And the Good News I have shared about God’s kingdom will be told throughout the world. It will be spread to every nation. Then the end will come. Matthew 24:14
We saw before that no one will be able to stand, unless you grab hold of the lifeline Jesus offers.
Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life. But those who do not obey the Son will never have that life. They cannot get away from God’s anger.” John 3:36
Everyone who refuses to accept His plan of salvation, must bear the punishment for their sin and selfish behaviour.
Any of you who try to save the life you have will lose it. But you who give up your life for me will find true life. It is worth nothing for you to have the whole world if you yourself are lost. You could never pay enough to buy back your life. The Son of Man will come again with his Father’s glory and with his angels. And he will reward everyone for what they have done. Matthew 16:25-27
The righteous and holy God must sentence those who do not want to believe in salvation through His Son to eternal death. The Bible describes hell as a place of fire, gnashing of teeth, tears and sorrow. I hope you will repent in time and will accept God’s loving forgiveness. (6)
People who believe in God’s Son are not judged guilty. But people who do not believe are already judged, because they have not believed in God’s only Son. They are judged by this fact: The light has come into the world. But they did not want light. They wanted darkness, because they were doing evil things. John 3:18-19
I hope the good news of Jesus Christ, Son of God, has set you thinking.
By dying on the cross, Jesus showed the mercy and love of God. He urges us to repent. When an ordinary man had died for you or me, there would be no reason to repent of our sins. But God sent His own Son to solve the problem of sin. Do you realise how much God loves you?
In this chapter, I tried to explain God’s wonderful plan. I can imagine you still have questions. A number of them are addressed in the articles at the bottom of this page. You can also ask your questions via CHAT (if available in your country).
I hope it has become clear that God has a boundless love for you. He loves you so much, that He humbled Himself through His Son Jesus Christ by becoming man. He let Himself suffer and be nailed to a cross, where He died to bear the punishment for your sins. He did that out of love for you and me, because He wants to restore the friendship with Him (7).
I want to invite you to read the next chapter, in which you will be asked to make the most important choice of your life.
1) We teach wisdom to people who are mature, but the wisdom we teach is not from this world. It is not the wisdom of the rulers of this world, who are losing their power. But we speak God’s secret wisdom that has been hidden from everyone until now. God planned this wisdom for our glory. He planned it before the world began. None of the rulers of this world understood this wisdom. If they had understood it, they would not have killed our great and glorious Lord on a cross. But as the Scriptures say, “No one has ever seen, no one has ever heard, no one has ever imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” Isaiah 64:4 1 Corinthians 2:6-9
2) ‘When Jesus began to teach, he was about 30 years old. People thought that Jesus was Joseph’s son. Luke 3:23a
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me. He has chosen me to tell good news to the poor. He sent me to tell prisoners that they are free and to tell the blind that they can see again. He sent me to free those who have been treated badly and to announce that the time has come for the Lord to show his kindness.” Isaiah 61:1-2; 58:6 Luke 4:18-19
Jesus applied a prophecy from Isaiah 61:1 to Himself:
Then the eyes of the blind will be opened so that they can see, and the ears of the deaf will be opened so that they can hear. Crippled people will dance like deer, and those who cannot speak now will use their voices to sing happy songs. This will happen when springs of water begin to flow in the dry desert. Isaiah 35:5-6
4) ‘The people saw all these miraculous signs Jesus did, but they still did not believe in him. John 12:37
5) Now, brothers and sisters, I want you to remember the Good News I told you. You received that Good News message, and you continue to base your life on it. and that he appeared to Peter and then to the twelve apostles. After that Christ appeared to more than 500 other believers at the same time. Most of them are still living today, but some have died. 1 Corinthians 15:1,5-6
6) “Also, God’s kingdom is like a net that was put into the lake. The net caught many different kinds of fish. It was full, so the fishermen pulled it to the shore. They sat down and put all the good fish in baskets. Then they threw away the bad fish. It will be the same at the end of time. The angels will come and separate the evil people from the godly people. They will throw the evil people into the place of fire. There the people will cry and grind their teeth with pain.” Matthew 13:47-50
7) But Christ died for us while we were still sinners, and by this God showed how much he loves us. We have been made right with God by the blood sacrifice of Christ. So through Christ we will surely be saved from God’s anger. Romans 5:8-9