The Gospel Message
The Bible says that God is “Holy”, and Heaven is also “Holy”. And “Holy” just means “Perfect”. Now it’s really important to understand that God can not let anything imperfect into Heaven, otherwise it just wouldn’t be Heaven any more! It wouldn’t be perfect! It would be like a re-run of earth, but up there!
The Bible also says that all of us have a body and a soul. And at death, our body is either buried or cremated – but our soul (which is the real you) lives on forever, either in Heaven of Hell, and the Bible says that ultimately there is no third place for your soul to go.
Unfortunately, we’ve got a bit of a problem, because the Bible says that if we’ve broken just one of God’s laws, for example if we’ve lied once; cheated once; hated once; just once (like we all have, let’s be honest!) then our soul becomes imperfect and we cannot enter Heaven. We become like a lost soul.
Now, let me ask you a question, but do you know anyone who has never broken any of God’s laws? The answer is obviously “No”, and neither do I. So here is our problem. All people have broken God’s laws; therefore all people have imperfect souls. So, if at death your soul could either go to Heaven or Hell, but to get to Heaven we have already said that you must have a perfect record, and none of have one – then sadly all of us must be headed for Hell!
That might seem harsh, and you might ask the question, “How could a loving God create a place like Hell, let alone send someone there – a loving God just wouldn’t do that”.
Let me try explain to you why there has got to be this place called Hell. I want you to think of someone that you love very much. Let’s say that person is brutally murdered. The police catch the murderer and the murderer pleads guilty in court. But to your horror, the judge says, “This is a really bad thing that you have done. But, because I am a loving judge I’m just going to let you off”. You would be very angry. Why? Because you know that when someone has broken the law, they must be punished, otherwise there is no “Justice”. So you see Hell is not a love issue, it’s a justice issue.
Now I am going to ask you three questions that someone once asked me that further helped me to understand why there’s got to be this place called Hell.
Have you ever told a lie in your life?
(If you answered “No” to this question, then you are probably telling your second lie! The truth is that most people have lied at some point in their life, and if you’ve lied once, then you are guilty of being a liar. So am I.)
Have you ever taken anything that’s not yours?
(Have you ever gone to work late or left work early and got paid for it? Have you ever used the bosses telephone or photocopier without asking permission? This is steeling of course. The truth is that most people have taken something that is not theirs, which makes them guilty of being a thief.)
Now, do you think that God is going to let a bunch of thieving liars like us into heaven? I don’t think so, because if He did, He would be the same as the unjust judge who failed to punish the murderer of the one you love. We can’t have it both ways!
But many people say, wait a minute, I’m a “Good person” and there’s a big difference between lying and stealing and murder – I’ve never murdered anyone! But, what’s interesting is the way Jesus redefined murder, because He said that if you’ve hated a person in your heart, you’ve murdered them in your heart. So here is the last question:
Have you ever hated anyone?
(The truth is that most people have felt hatred in their hearts towards others, which in God’s eyes makes us guilty of murder! In civil law you do the crime and you’re guilty – in God’s law you’ve just got to think it and you’re guilty!)
So you see this is the bad news, for the sake of justice there has to be a place called Hell. But the “Good News” is that we can be forgiven! This is the reason why Jesus Christ is such an amazing person. For a start, so many people have forgotten that He split the time line: BC / AD /. Christmas / Easter – all of these events are based around Jesus Christ’s life, and yet most of us have forgotten this.
The most significant thing that distinguishes Jesus from everyone else is that we all have imperfect souls for breaking God’s laws, but Jesus is perfect. Before Jesus came to earth 2000 years ago, this is what happened.
Jesus looked forward in time and saw you here today, and He turned to God the Father, and asked Him “Father, I love the people in the world, and I don’t want them to go to hell for breaking your laws. Is there a way for them to be forgiven?” And God the Father turned to His Son and said, “Jesus, there is one way. If you go to earth and become a human being, live a perfect life, and then die a cruel painful death on a cross to take the punishment, which the people in the world justly deserve for breaking my laws.
Then I will make it possible for them to be forgiven, the day when they ask you to exchange their imperfect record for your perfect record. Jesus willingly agreed, and 2000 years ago He came to lay down His life for us, to pay the price for all of God’s laws that we have broken – and there is no greater love than when someone lays down their life for us. But there is still something that we must do to be forgiven.
The Bible says that there are 3 major events in everyone’s life. There’s birth and death, and ultimately we have no control over these two events, but he third major event in our life is the day when we ask Jesus to forgive us. It’s the day when we ask Jesus to give us His perfect record. Now we are not forgiven by being Christened or baptised, or being confirmed, praying, going to Church, or by believing in God, or by trying to be good. These are all good things, but none of them give us forgiveness. The Bible says that there is one thing we must do to be forgiven. We must believe the gospel. The gospel simple means good news. The bad news is that we are all sinners. The good news is that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, died for all of our sins, was buried, and rose from the dead the third day. If we believe this will all of our heart, we will be forgiven.
Once we are forgiven we should surrender to Jesus. Surrender means this: if God made you in your mother’s womb, and if He made the entire universe that surrounds you – then don’t you think He deserves to be the central person in your life? It’s when we acknowledge that Jesus is God, and it’s when we humble our lives to Him in service. Say you decided to believe the gospel and be forgiven; this is what it would be like for you at death. You see when you were born; God opened this book about your life.
Bearing in mind God never sleeps, and He sees every attitude, every thought, every motive and every action. Every time we break just one of God’s laws it’s written down in that book – and you can imagine that by the end of our lives there is a whole library written against us.
But when you turn and surrender to Jesus this is what happens. Jesus takes your record and stands at the top of a cliff and tears out all of the pages of your book of all the things you have ever done wrong, and He throws them in to the deepest sea. He promises to never remember those things again.
Jesus then takes a copy of His perfect record, which you’ve asked Him to give you, and He places it inside the cover of your book with your name on the spine of that book.
That book is then stored like a precious library book in heaven.
The miracle is that your book is not touched again between the point that you ask Jesus to forgive you and death – even though in that time you may make mistakes and break God’s laws again.
So you can see that becoming a Christian does not make you instantly perfect, and neither does it mean that you can just say a quick prayer and return to your old ways. It means that when you receive God’s perfect record, you are forgiven for your sins of the past, present and future.
When you die, you will go before God on judgement day, and God will look at you and He will command His angels to get your book.
He will look inside that book and say, “This person was – PERFECT!” You will probably say to Him, “No I wasn’t, I broke your laws! Don’t I justly deserve to go to hell?” And Jesus will say to you, “For the sake of justice, you do deserve to go to hell. You did break my laws, and some you broke many times. But you, my beautiful son or daughter, you have my perfect record, which I gave to you when you turn and surrendered to me on earth and I forgave you. Welcome to heaven!”
And that is the very reason why Jesus Christ is such a super hero – because He made it possible for everyone in the world, regardless of what mistakes we have made, to be forgiven and to one day enter heaven.
But say, you never turned and surrendered. Let’s see what would happen.
When you die, you will go before God at judgement, and God will say to you, “I’m sorry, I can’t let you enter heaven. I have to send you to hell. You never asked me to forgive you. I loved you so much that I tried six ways to get through to you. First, I died on the cross to take your punishment. Second, Tony explained to you in a simple way how you could be forgiven. Third, there were churches throughout the world – some were good and some I was ashamed of. You could have found the good ones. Fourth, I gave you a conscience, so you could tell right from wrong. You can’t ever say I didn’t know – I gave you a conscience. Fifth, I created a world around you that was so awesome, how could you not know that I created it? And finally, I rose from the dead to prove that I was God and that everything that I said was true – but you still did nothing. I’m sorry I can’t let you enter heaven – I have to send you to hell.”
Please be honest, as you consider this question. How about YOU? If you died tonight, where would you go – heaven or hell?
Say you are not sure, let’s have a little review.
The only sort of record that can get you into heaven is a perfect record. There are only two ways to get a perfect record. The first way is to be a perfect person – and we’ve all blown that one. The second way is to ask Jesus for His perfect record. What was the thing that Jesus said we must do to receive His perfect record?
We must believe the gospel. That Jesus Christ, the Son of God died for all of our sins, was buried, and rose from the dead the third day. Now, unless we’ve done this, Jesus said it is literally impossible to be forgiven, and at death it is impossible to get to heaven, and that is so sad because that is the very reason why Jesus died for you!