“Christ dies for the ungodly… God demonstrates His own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:6,8)
John looked worried. Although life was good, a secure job, and friends and family, he was not at ease. He leaned forward and asked: “How can I be accepted by God?
It’s a good question. Everyone wants to be accepted by others, and God is the ultimate OTHER. What does it take to be right with Him? Thankfully, the scriptures reveal God’s way.
I answered: “God accepts me when I place my confidence in Jesus alone. Only Jesus is able to forgive me, and to present me approved to God. Without Him, by myself, I stand condemned before God. This is because God is holy, and unable to tolerate my falling short of His standard. His standard is impossibly high for me: perfection.
God is a judge, and cannot pardon my guilt, any more than a judge on earth pardons those who are guilty. Justice demands a penalty be paid.”
John said: “Yeah, I hate it when a judge lets a criminal off with a slap on the wrist.” But then he looked even more worried: sounds scary” “It is, but God is loving, and has provided a way for the penalty to paid by another. When Jesus died, God judged Him in my place. He was condemned for my sin. He took my penalty. When I turn to Jesus, and ask for forgiveness, then God grants me forgiveness, and eternal life in heaven.
This demonstrates God’s love for me. “Christ dies for the ungodly…God demonstrates His own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:6,8)
John eased back in the chair, a glimmer of hope dawning. I continued: “Jesus is therefore my only hope. The good news is that God accepts me on the basis of His death for my sins. And there’s more. The perfect life of Jesus, all his obedience to the law, is credited to my account. We are, as it were, clothed in the perfection of Christ. This means that God now sees me “in Christ”, and therefore accepted by Him.
The bible calls this grace: “For by grace are you saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no-one can boast.”’ (Eph 2:8,9).
John seemed relieved as he said, “So what happens next, where to from here?” I replied, ‘“Place all your confidence in Jesus alone to forgive you. Stop thinking that you are good enough to be accepted by God. Sin has disqualified us all, but Jesus qualifies me. Stop living life your way, and to turn my life over to Him: “under new management.”’
John did that. He prayed: “Lord Jesus, forgive me for falling short of your standard. I’m sorry for not loving you, and for living life as if you didn’t matter. I believe you died so that the penalty for my sin may be erased. Please rule in my life. I turn my life over to you, and pray that you may live within me”.