How to Know God.
   
This is the simple message of Christianity.  (A story of Crime, Punishment, Justice, Love, Sacrifice and Mercy.)

Have you ever watched the sunrise from the back of your Scoot or listened to the
restful cascade of a mountain stream? Or strolled in awe through a redwood grove?
In these quiet moments, a thought may well up from your soul: Only God could
create such beauty.

Most people who have experienced moments like these come away believing that
there must be a God. But how does a person relate to this Creator? How do we
come to know God?

The most marvelous book in the world, the Bible, marks the path to God with four
vital truths. Let's look at each marker in detail.

Our Spiritual Condition: Totally Depraved?

The first truth is rather personal. One look in the mirror of Scripture, and our
human condition becomes painfully clear:

As it is written,
"There is none righteous, not even one;
There is none who understands,
There is none who seeks for God;
All have turned aside, together they have become useless;
There is none who does good,
There is not even one."
Romans 3:10-12

We are sinners through and through---totally depraved. Now that doesn't mean
we've committed every atrocity known to humankind. We're not as bad as we can
be, just as bad off as we can be. Sin colors all our thoughts, motives, words, and
actions.

Don't believe it? Look around. Everything around us bears the smudge marks of
our sinful nature. Despite our best efforts to create a perfect world, crime statistics
continue to soar, divorce rates keep climbing, and families keep crumbling.

Something has gone terribly wrong in our society and in us, something deadly. For,
contrary to how the world would repackage it, "me first" living does not equal
rugged individuality and freedom; it equals death. As Paul says in his letter to the
Romans, "The wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23)---our emotional and physical
death through sin's destructiveness, and our spiritual death from God's righteous
judgment of our sin. This brings us to the second marker: God's character.

God's Character: Infinitely Holy

Our very awareness that things are not as they should be points to a standard of
goodness beyond ourselves. That standard is God Himself. And God's standard of
holiness contrasts starkly to our sinful condition.

Scripture says that "God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all" (1 John 1:
5). He is absolutely righteous--which creates a problem for us. If He is so pure,
how can we who are so impure relate to Him?

Perhaps we could try being better people, try to tilt the balance in favor of our good
deeds. Throughout history, people have attempted to live up to God's standard by
keeping the Ten Commandments. Unfortunately, no one can come close to
satisfying the demands of God's law. J.B. Phillips' translation of

Romans 3 states:
               No man can justify himself before God by a perfect performance of the Law's
demands---                       indeed it is the straight-edge of the Law that shows us how crooked
we are.
                                                                                       Romans 3:20 PHILLIPS

Our Need: A Substitute

So here we are, sinners by nature, sinners by choice, trying to pull ourselves up by
our own bootstraps and attain a relationship with our Infinitely Perfect, Good, and
Holy Creator. But every time, we fall flat on our faces. We can't live a good enough
life to make up for our sin, because God's standard isn't "good enough"--it's
perfection. And we can't make amends for the offense our sin has created without
dying and paying an eternal debt for it.

Who can get us out of this mess?

If someone could live perfectly, honoring God's law, and would bear sin's death
penalty for us, then we would be saved from our predicament. But is there such a
person? Thankfully, yes!

Meet your substitute---Jesus Christ. He is the One who took death's place for you
!


           [God] made [Jesus Christ] who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we
           might become the righteousness of God in Him.
                                                                                               2 Corinthians 5:21


God's Provision: A Savior

God rescued us by sending His Son, Jesus, to die for our sins on the cross (see 1
John 4:9-10). Jesus was fully human and fully divine, a truth that ensures His
understanding of our weaknesses, His power to forgive, and His ability to bridge
the gap between God and us (see Romans 5:6-11). In short, we are "justified as a
gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus" (Romans 3:24).
Two words in this verse bear further explanation: justified and redemption.

Justification is God's act of mercy, in which He declares sinners (like you and me)
who trust Him for Salvation, righteous, while they are still in their sinning state.
Justification doesn't mean that God makes us righteous, so that we never sin again,
rather He declares us righteous much like a judge pardons a guilty criminal.
Because Jesus took our sin upon Himself and suffered our judgment on the cross,
God forgives our debt and proclaims us PARDONED.

Redemption is God's act of paying the ransom price to release us from our bondage
to sin.  We were shackled by the iron chains of sin and death but Jesus willingly
paid the ransom. And what a price He paid!  Because the crime of our sins are
committed against an Infinitely Holy and Infinitely Powerful God the punishment
could only be satisfied in an eternity of punishment (Hell) or the punishment of an
eternal being, Jesus.  The price for all the sins of those who believe: past, present,
and future were paid for by God Himself. Jesus' death and resurrection broke our
chains and set us free.

And it gets better.  Now God declares that those who believe are now adopted as
His children.
(See Romans 6:16-18, 22; Galatians 4:4-7).

Placing Your Faith in Christ

These four truths describe how God has provided a way to Himself through Jesus
Christ. But God won't force us to follow it. He won't drag us down a path we don't
want to go. It's our decision to step forward into a relationship with Him, and we do
so in faith.

      For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves,
        it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast.
                                                                                          Ephesians 2:8-9

Try this passage:  maybe this will clear it up a little:

4 If you're a hard worker and do a good job, you deserve your pay; we don't call your wages a
gift.
5 But if you see that the job is too big for you, that it's something only God can do, and you
trust him to do it--you could never do it for yourself no matter how hard and long you worked--
well, that trusting-him--to-do-it is what gets you set right with God, by God.   Sheer gift.

                                                                                          Romans 4:4-5 (The Message
)

We accept God's gift of salvation simply by placing our faith (complete trust) in
Christ alone for the forgiveness of our sins.

Would you like to enter a relationship with your Creator by trusting in Christ as
your Savior?

If so, then believe.  Take God at His word.

Here's a simple prayer you can use to express your faith:

Dear God,

I don’t understand everything right now but I know that I am a sinner.  I know
that because you are always good and do what is right, you must punish sin and
that means that as a sinner I deserve death and separation from you. Thank you
for sending Jesus to die in my place. I trust in Jesus alone to forgive my sins and
accept His gift of eternal life.  I understand that I could never do anything to
deserve this gift; you did it all because you love me.  I ask Jesus to be my personal
Savior and the Lord of my life.  Help me to learn more about you and to
understand the Bible. Lord, lead me to other people who love you and help me to
become who you want me to be.
Thank You. In Jesus' name, amen.

If you've prayed this prayer and you wish to find out more about knowing God and
His plan for you in the Bible, contact us.  We can help you find a good church near
you where you can learn more about your Heavenly Father and His Bible.

Remember, it's not praying a prayer that saves you...it's your full confidence in His
promise that Christ paid for you personally.  FAITH.

The next time you ponder a starry sky or admire a sunrise, consider the One who
created our wonderful world. You know Him personally and He loves YOU.