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How do I get to heaven? How do I know God? | Calvary Catonsville

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How do I get to heaven? How do I know God?

Are you seeking to Know God?  Have you ever heard someone talk about the Gospel and wondered what that meant?

Well, the word Gospel means Good News.  The Gospel of Jesus is, therefore, the Good News that we received from Jesus.  What is it?  It starts with what is amazing news:

God loves you…

God is love, and He loves the whole world.

Jesus said, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life,” (John 3:16). “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”(John 10:10)

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Do you want a relationship with the God who made you? 

Do you want peace in the midst of this world filled with chaos and strife?

God built this desire into you.  Animals do not struggle with lack of contentment.  They do not mourn the wars and evils of the world.  They do not sit around and wonder if there will be justice or whether there is something more to life.  Humans are unique in that we yearn for the peace that can only be found with Jesus.  This is God speaking to you.  He is calling you to something more.

God sees everything that happens here on earth.  He knows everything we have ever done or thought and He still loves us.  He wants us to have a relationship with Him.  He wants us to Know Him.

There is a big problem though:

Our sin separates us from God…

God created us for fellowship with Him, but He is perfectly holy and sin separates us from Him.

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3:23); “For the wages of sin is death,” (Romans 6:23); “But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God,” (Isaiah 59:2).

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We may be nice people according to the world’s standards.  We may give money to charity and take care of our families.  We may even go to church.  The problem is that goodness or niceness are not the only things that define our lives.  We all sin and fall short often.  We lie, gossip, slander or covet things our neighbors have and that we do not and take things that do not belong to us….on a regular basis.

We may be better than the person down the road from us but that does not deal with OUR sins.

We violate God’s laws in many different ways.  It makes sense that breaking the law requires punishment, right?  At the end of our lives, we will stand before a perfectly just judge in God and have to account for every single sin we did in our lives, big and little(in our eyes), in secret or in the open.  It is a daunting thought, isn’t it?

Do we want to pay the price for all of that sin?  Does a righteous judge ever just let a person who is guilty of thousands of crimes go without facing justice?

Think of our Sun that sits at the center of our solar system.  It is amazingly hot, right?  So hot that even with special protective armor spacecraft can only get so close to the Sun before they burn up.  The Sun has no ill will towards those satellites, its temperature is just part of what it is.  It would not be the Sun if it were not blazing hot.  It also would not sustain billions of lives on Earth if it were cold enough to touch.

God’s holiness is the same idea.  His white-hot purity is who God is, not something designed to hurt us.  It is His nature. God’s nature is what causes beauty, justice, and wonder in the world.  It also directly conflicts with sin.  No matter how much protection we try to create, as flawed humans we can only get so close to God without the heat affecting us.  On our own, there is nothing we could ever do to get close to the center of the entire universe because of our sins..

Thankfully, God understood this problem and wants us to come to Him despite our flaws.  He sent His Son, Jesus to make a way for this to be possible.  We can face His holiness in joy and gratitude despite everything we have done.

Jesus Christ is God’s only provision for our sin. 

He took the punishment for our sins on the Cross.  He died so that we can be set free.

Jesus is our Savior and Redeemer. Through Jesus Christ, we can have our sins forgiven and restore a right relationship with God. Romans 5:8 tells us, “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, tells us what we need to know to be saved, “…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…” Jesus Himself declares that He is the only way of salvation in John 14:6, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

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This is the really, really great news on top of the amazing news.  God loved us so much that despite seeing all that we have done against Him, He sent His Son Jesus to stand in our place and take our punishment.  Jesus died on the Cross of Calvary under the weight of the sins of the world.  He is the sacrifice that faced what we deserved in our place.  We deserve to pay for our sins, but He paid for them instead. Jesus died for you so that you can have an eternal abundant life with Him.  Isn’t that wonderful news?  We get all the benefit and do none of the work.  Jesus is an awesome Savior.

He then rose again to show that this sacrificial offering was accepted by God.  Death has been defeated for those who are willing to follow Jesus. He was resurrected from the death and someday believers will be resurrected from the dead to eternal life also.

Eternal life in Jesus is the reward we receive when we accept His completed work on the Cross.

How can I receive this free gift of salvation?

Confess your sins and ask for forgiveness from God.

Repent and Receive Jesus as Savior.

We must place our faith in Jesus Christ as Savior in order to receive the gift of salvation.”If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved,” (Romans 10:9) Repent(change your mind about your sin) therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord,”(Acts 3:19)

John 1:12 describes how we become His people: “Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God.” Acts 16:31, says it very clearly, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved!” We can be saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone (Ephesians 2:8-9).

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Repent does not just mean feel bad about something.  I felt sorrow over a lot of things before I came to Jesus.  Repentance is more than just bad feelings.  It is feeling genuine, heart felt sorrow over what we have done and turning away from it.  At heart, the repentance we need to get to Jesus is first sorrow over denying Him as our Lord and Savior.  Jesus is the Eternal God who made every one of us.  He gave us life and then when we were lost, gave His life so that we could be forgiven and accepted into God’s family.

Turn away from a life of disbelief and to a life in Jesus.

Then set out to learn about our Savior Jesus and learn to follow Him in the every day.  This is a lifelong journey of discovery but it starts here and now.  Today is the day of salvation.  Today is the day to receive eternal life.

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What is stopping you?

 

Calvary Catonsville – A Calvary Chapel in Maryland

5695 Main Street

Elkridge, MD 210675

(443)840-7475

Pastor Tom Neary

Set an Example for the Believers

More is Caught than Taught

We Must Be Holy to Teach Holiness

We must follow Jesus if we want to teach others to do so.

“Follow me following Christ” is Paul’s simple direction to the churches.

The disciples Paul was leading will never lose sight of Christ if they see Christ in Paul.  It is a Jesus centered game of Simon Says.  This makes sense when considering how most people learn effectively.  It can be hard to apply abstract concepts from the Bible to our lives at times.  It is so much easier when we see them lived out.

This is the example Jesus models for us in the Bible.   People learn more by watching our lives than by listening to us.  We must live the life following Jesus without reservation first in order for others to learn how to do the same.  Personal holiness is an essential qualification point for anyone who seeks to disciple others.

Follow-Me-As-I-follow-Christ

It is a simple concept but it is also key to teaching godliness in others.

Follow Christ openly and clearly first.  Then tell others how to follow Christ openly and clearly.  And tell them to watch you following Christ fully…then wash, rinse and repeat.

The example we set for others in our everyday walk makes an impression that lasts for years.

We are Always Teaching…for Good or Ill

My father had a tradition.  Whenever we went into a supermarket, he would swing by the candy aisle.  Dad would grab one of the bags of candy and open it up while still in the store.  He would then give the candy to us kids to eat as we shopped.  As kids this was awesome.  What child does not like candy?   When it was time to check out, Dad would turn a quiet corner at the market and slip the opened bag of candy back onto the shelf.  He would never pay for the candy.

This practice continued throughout my childhood.  As a kid, it provided me with joy despite the wrongness of it.  Sugary treats and attention from my Dad were both desperately lacking in my life so I savored them both.  I did not understand how wrong it was as this was my example.

The desire to pass on this tradition was strong when I became a father.  The memories of the joy surrounding eating candy clashed against the realization it was theft.  I never carried out the tradition, but I sure did want to.  This clear example was hard to unlearn.

Be the Holy Example

I thought of the supermarket candy while pondering Paul’s words in  2 Thessalonians, specifically:

But we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to follow us, for we were not disorderly among you;

2 Thessalonians 3:6-7

Paul writes to Thessalonika about the members of the church who are unruly or walk in disobedience.  The word he uses for unruly is a military term that means out of step or not in line with the rest of the group.  Earlier in 1 Thessalonians, Paul told the church that these folks should be warned about their disobedience.  They should be taken aside and shown where they are violating Scripture.  The goal is to bring those out of line back in the proper order.

Paul goes further in this passage.  He states that if the unruly brothers are not repentant, the church should withdraw from them.  The idea is to remove the comfort and love of the church from them.  It is not to hurt them.  Rather, the point is so the offender will feel the sting of his own sin and turn back to God.

Jesus also covers this church discipline process in Matthew 18.

15 “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ 17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

This is not sin sniffing.  It is not disagreeing with you about politics, using instruments, or even just being annoying.  This section deals with someone who is in open, unrepentant sin.  It assumes that the steps from Matthew 18 have been carried out and every attempt to bring the struggling brother back into fellowship has failed.  This is not a brother who is struggling, but one who is not.  This is someone completely given over to their sin.  They have chosen sin and know they are choosing sin.

Paul says not to be like them and not to keep company with them.

Set an Example for the Believers

What is amazing is how he tells the church to judge that what he says is true and possible to carry out.  Paul says they can know what he is saying is true and right by comparing the disobedient brother’s conduct to him.

Paul’s life and his example are so aligned with Jesus, the church can look to him when in confusion.  When in doubt follow me is Paul’s clear message.  He expresses a similar sentiment in 1 Corinthians 11:1

Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ

and 1 Timothy 4:12

but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.

Follow-Me-As-I-follow-Christ

Follow me following Christ is Paul’s simple direction to the churches.  They should walk like Paul does following Jesus.

It is simple as all get out in concept.  It is also the key to discipleship.

Follow Christ, tell them others to follow Christ, tell them to watch you following Christ and then walk that out.

Are you doing it?

Imitate Me as I Imitate Jesus

The questions are so simple even a child can answer.

Are we able to exhort others to be imitators of us as we imitate Christ?

Are we trying to imitate Christ?

This does not mean follow Christ perfectly but earnestly and continually.

In victory and in defeat, in much or want, are we following Christ so that the one following us can see us and be taught to do the same!

If we do so, then we have done everything we can to disciples a man or woman of God.

If not, then what sin have we left crouching at someone’s door.  My dad did not mean to lead me into a life of thievery.  He did not intend to set a bad example.  Eating candy while food shopping was probably something his parents did with him.  Sin gets passed along generations.  Yet, his example created a powerful model for me to imitate and wrestle with.

What is your example?

Christ or not?  We are either gathering or scattering.  Which is it for you?

 

 

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