By Alex Ellis, CEO
When I was 25 years old, I blew out my knee playing basketball.
What do you do when that happens? You lie down on the floor and groan, and then you go see a doctor. In that order.
Using x-rays, the doctor explained the problem and that I couldn’t simply walk softly for a while and let it recover.
Then he explained that I needed surgery and months of physical therapy.
I thanked him and agreed to proceed.
Here’s the point: If the doctor hadn’t convinced me of my need, I wouldn’t have agreed to surgery and months of physical therapy.
The same is true with God. We can embrace his solution only if we first understand our need. (See Matthew 9:11-13.)
THINK ABOUT THIS
If you’re like most people, you believe that everyone will continue to exist somewhere after death. Surveys show a majority of Americans believe in a heaven of some sort. Fewer believe in hell.
If God appeared to you and asked you, “Why should I let you into heaven?” what would you say?
Again, if you’re like most people, you might answer by pointing to your effort to live a good life. Why? Because most people believe that good people go to heaven. In other words, behave yourself now and that’s how you get in.1
But is that true?
Would it be worth your time to know what the Bible says about this important topic?
It’s what Easter weekend is about.
If you and I were honest with ourselves, hand-on-heart, we would probably acknowledge there are some things in the past we wish we would have done differently. Perhaps actions we took (or failed to take) that harmed someone else.
A summary of God’s standard can be read here. The Bible says it only takes one sin, just one, to fall short of God’s standard: “For whoever keeps the whole law (of God) and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it” (James 2:10). So even if we live perfectly from this day forward, we’ve already missed the mark.
God sees our sin as a debt that is impossible for us to repay (see Matthew 18:21-35), and the consequences of sin is spiritual death, including eternity apart from him: “For the wages of sin is death…” (Romans 6:23). And all of humanity is in the same predicament: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
Simply put, we are totally unable to fix the situation by ourselves.
So, God’s two choices at this point seem to be:
- Compromise his integrity as a judge by ignoring justice (“Don’t worry about your sin. It’s ok.”); or
- Condemn all people to an eternity apart from him.
God can’t do Option 1.
And he doesn’t want to do Option 2.
So, what did God choose to do?
THE SOLUTION – SUBSTITUTION
When you were a kid in school and your teacher was out sick, who did the school send to your classroom? A substitute. That person wasn’t your teacher, she was there in place of your teacher.
When Jesus died on the cross, he wasn’t the sinner. He was there in place of the sinner. He offered himself as our substitute.
Jesus sacrificed his life on Good Friday to pay the penalty for our sin. Then, God raised him from the dead on Easter morning, showing he had accepted the sacrifice. The solution was finished.
Look at God’s heartfelt motive of love described in Ephesians 2:4-9: But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions — it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast.
Years ago, I realized my need and asked him to give me his solution. I asked him to forgive me, I believed that he died and rose again to pay the penalty for my sin, and I confessed my faith in him.
Though I am far from perfect, I can say that he came to live inside of me and has had a lasting impact on my life.
God doesn’t play favorites, and nobody has sinned too much to receive his grace. The good news is he offers his solution as a free gift to anyone who truly believes.
If you haven’t responded to him like this before, he loves you and wants you to do so.
His invitation is real. And it’s for you.
How will you respond?
1 See Andy Stanley’s book, “Since Nobody’s Perfect, How Good is Good Enough?”