Monday, March 15, 2010

EXTRA: Seeking God?

~ Response to a Comment ~

A recent comment posted by Jay to my blog states: “I am a muslim and am interested to know about the Christian way to God.” As a blogger I am taking this comment at face value and assume it has great sincerity. Before providing my answer I would like to remark that the five Christians who gave their lives and were the subject of the post you replied to possessed guns with live ammunition. They could have easily saved themselves but they had previously determined not to use their weapons against these native people. Their reasoning was that they knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that when they died they would be with God. On the other hand, they feared for the eternal future of the natives they were trying to reach with God’s love. Here is my two-fold answer to your question:

(1) I highly recommend that you obtain a Bible and begin by reading the Gospel of John. The Bible is divided into two major portions—the Old Testament takes up the first two-thirds of the book and is followed by the New Testament. The Gospel of John is the fourth book in the New Testament. As you read, please be open. You might say a prayer in your own words, something to the effect of “God, if You are really God, will You show me the way with no uncertainty—that I might know the true and living God.” If you do these things, I believe God will reveal Himself to you in no uncertain terms.

(2) What follows is an appendix to my next book which is due to be released in the second quarter of this year:

There was a time when I collected prints of scenes from the Pacific Northwest. I remember the time that I was looking through a hardware store in a small town along the Columbia River. I always enjoy hardware stores, especially in small towns, and in this case the anticipation of a bargain was high due to the “going out of business” signs in the windows. It wasn’t long before I spotted something I had not anticipated. It was a large discarded painting in the back room—in the “Employees Only” area. It was extremely dirty and dusty but I thought I could make out that it was a painting of Crater Lake, Oregon. The painting had no future and was headed for the dump when the store closed for the last time.

I found the owner of the store and asked about it. He was surprised that I had spotted it and amazed that I showed an interest in it. He brought it out and we blew off some of the dust. I quickly discovered some prior do-it-yourself efforts to clean the painting—which were clearly unsuccessful. Apparently someone had used gasoline or other solvent, smearing the oils—the painting looked beyond repair. But since my wife and I had honeymooned at Crater Lake and we returned to that special spot regularly, to his delight I gave the store owner a few dollars and then left with an original oil painting. My intention was to restore the painting.

At home I briefly cleaned it the best I could and hung it in our basement, but it was clearly damaged goods. The painting hung in our basement for a number of years.

One day through a business contact I learned of a local oil painting restoration expert. His services turned out to be far more reasonable than I expected and the beauty of the original creation was brought back to life. The vibrant colors were amazing. It turned out to be a painting from the late 1800s by a well-known painter. Some years later we took it for a formal valuation and confirmed that the painting which had been headed to the trash was indeed valuable.

The painting now occupies a prominent spot in our dining room—it is on display for others to see and admire.

Just like that painting, many lives have been wasted and now exist in back rooms missing out on the purpose for which they were created. Many others appear very successful on the outside, but inside they are empty and missing the most important thing in life. Like the painting, they are covered with dirt from past experiences, circumstances, and wrong decisions.

When the surface is cleaned up and a deeper analysis is made, the evidence of past do-it-yourself improvement projects is evident. No lasting success was achieved; in fact, often they are worse off than before their “pulling up by bootstraps” efforts were completed.

I have some good news for you. Jesus Christ is the Master Restorer. He restores broken and cast-off lives. He also brings clarity and brilliance to all who come to Him. Bringing your past to Jesus Christ and trusting Him for the future is the only effective answer. He has already paid for your restoration at the Cross. You only need to deliver yourself to the Master Restorer. When He restores, all your stains are removed and vibrancy is restored. Like my painting, you can be restored to what you were intended to be.

As you grow in your knowledge of Him, you take on His character. Like the painting, you can now fulfill the role for which you were created. Your life will have meaning and purpose, and like the painting, you will bring joy and pleasure to others. You will no longer be headed for the trash bin, rather now you have a secure home. Others looking on will admire what they see.

That painting is a picture of many individuals today. Because of Adam’s original sin all of mankind is doomed to sin, suffering, and death. The just and righteous Creator of the universe cannot overlook crime against His holy nature—the price must be paid!

The Good News is that your penalty has been paid by Jesus Christ.

The sin of man grieved the heart of God so much that He sent His only Son to die at Calvary to pay the penalty of your sin. However, there is a simple requirement in order for you to escape the ultimate judgment and corresponding eternal suffering. You must make a decision to accept the gift of salvation that the death of Jesus Christ provided for you.

But please do not take my word for it—take God at His Word. Consider the following quotations from the Word of God. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one” (Romans 3:10).

“But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:8-9).

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me” (Revelation 3:20 NKJV). “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13).

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because He has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son” (John 3:16-18).

Please now understand the significance of that word “whoever.” That last paragraph may be correctly read as follows: “For God so loved [your name] that He gave His one and only Son, so that if [your name] believes in Him [your name] shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn [your name], but that [your name] might be saved through Him. If [your name] believes in Him [your name] will not be condemned, but if [your name] does not believe [your name] stands condemned already because [your name] has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son.”

“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). The fact that Jesus Christ overcame death proves He was God. Over 500 eyewitnesses saw the resurrected Christ at one time. There were also numerous other appearances in His resurrected state including appearances to those who knew Him very well. He not only has power over death but also the power to give you a never-ending life of great joy and happiness in the world to come.

“Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God” (John 1:12-13). However, this world may be at 11:59 p.m. on the dial of the “earth’s history” clock, and when the hour strikes midnight it will be too late.

“The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire” (2 Peter 3:9-10).

God has promised that if you come to Him in faith He will save you for all time and provide you with a deep inner assurance of the reality of your salvation. “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” (1 John 5:13, emphasis added). Once you have accepted the free gift of having your sins paid for by the death of Jesus Christ, the way to confidence and assurance of your future is to regularly read the Word of God and to pray to God.

As you follow God you will gain complete confidence in your future. If you have made the decision to accept the death of Jesus Christ on your behalf, welcome to the kingdom of God! I am so happy to have you as my new brother. (I would welcome contact with you.)

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