You’ve committed a crime and you’re before the judge. Today is the day of sentencing. Even though every fiber of your being wants to deny it, you know that you are guilty. Yet, you cry out, “But I tried hard! I did good things! Don’t they count for something?!”
The judge explains that what you did is serious. He says that in order to be a just judge he must give a judgment appropriate to your crime. With finality, the gavel comes down and the pronouncement is made. Death.
Before God we all deserve the penalty even though we cry out, “But I tried hard!” None of us deserve heaven.
Now, imagine that God is the judge and the sentence has been pronounced. But then something amazing happens! Jesus who been by the judge’s side, comes down from the bench, walks over to you, puts a hand gently on your shoulder and says, “As a just judge, God must give the penalty and for your offense it must be death. But, God loves you so much and doesn’t desire you to die. Therefore, I will take your place. I will die so that you might live.”
You’re stunned. Would he really do that? How could he do that?
You see, when you place our trust (faith) in Jesus and call him Lord and Savior, at that very moment you are pardoned. You are set free. In that moment you receive God’s mercy and grace.
- Mercy is not getting the punishment you deserve. (Eternal damnation)
- Grace is getting the favor you don’t deserve. (Eternal life in heaven)
While we can never be “good enough” to deserve salvation, we can receive it as a gift from Jesus. It’s summed up in this verse:
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast (from the New Testament, Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, Chapter 2 verses 8-9)
When Jesus died on the cross, he bore all of our sins. He bore the sin of your pettiness, your envy and greed, your pride and your boastfulness, your anger and hate, your self-centeredness and disobedience. Any sin that you could think including the secret sins that you believe are unforgivable, he bore them all and he bore them for you.
Jesus, the only Son of God, came from heaven to stand by you and say, “I love you so much that I will take your place. I will die so that you may live.”
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (from the Gospel of John, Chapter 3 verse 16)
No matter how severe your sin might be, God’s grace and God’s forgiveness is always greater. If God can forgive Paul who persecuted and killed Christians then He can forgive anyone including you. You are not outside the reach of God’s forgiveness.
If you have never accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior, today is the day to do it. Do not wait. Receive his mercy and grace. Receive his forgiveness.
Then when someone asks you, “Why do you think you’ll go to heaven?” you don’t have to wonder or have false hope. You can confidently respond, “Yes! Because my faith is in Jesus and by his grace I am saved!”