© Bethany Hall, Glenburn, Prestwick.
For the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans chapter 6, verse 23.)
If you are thinking that this sounds too wonderful to be true, you are not alone. Most of the human race would probably agree with you. What is extremely strange, though, is that those same people who flippantly declare the Bible to be untrue would have to admit that they have never put it to the test and, in many cases at least, have never read any of its content. How illogical! How unreasonable! But everyone who has received the gift which God offers has found the Bible, God’s Word, to be absolutely true.
The way to receive this gift is by accepting a fact about ourselves and then making a choice. It seems so simple, but it will not be easy. You will need courage, and you will need to be completely honest.
The fact is this: we have all sinned, and we all fail to meet God’s perfect standard. It should be obvious to us that we are sinners, since we do not even come up to our own standards, let alone the standards laid down by God. We need to see ourselves as God sees us, and we will then be able to accept that, without his special help, our situation is utterly hopeless.
This special help is called “salvation,” meaning that God is prepared to pay for all the damage we have done through our sinning, if we agree with him about our personal responsibility and accept his amazing plan to save us.
What is this plan? Around two thousand years ago, the Son of God, Jesus Christ, willingly gave his life on a cross. He died that horrible death to cover those “wages of sin” which we have earned. And God now offers us “the gift of God [which] is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” What a choice! The wages of sin, or the gift of God. Wages have to be earned. When we receive wages, we receive what we deserve. But gifts are given, not earned, so the gift which God offers us cannot be earned, and is most certainly not deserved.
If you agree with God about your sin, you ought to be aware of a simple commandment contained in the Bible, in the book of Acts, chapter 17, verse 30: “God ... commands all people everywhere to repent.” But, what does “repent” mean? It is more than just admitting that you have sinned against God and asking him for forgiveness. Basically, it means to turn around and face in the opposite direction. If you do not know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour, the trend of your life is away from God, your back is towards God, and the focus of your life is on anything but God. When you repent, that all changes. You acknowledge that Jesus Christ is the only one worthy to be your Lord and the only one capable of being your Saviour; the trend of your life is towards God, and you long to know him better day by day; the focus of your life is on the Lord Jesus Christ, who died to save you and to bring you into an everlasting relationship with himself; and you no longer have the sad prospect of receiving the wages of sin. Instead you have, here and now, as yours to enjoy, the gift of God, which is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. The first 11 verses of Romans chapter 5 describe some of the wonderful blessings enjoyed by those who have received this gift of God. Compare these verses with the gift list above.
God gave you your capacity to reason, and he does not expect you to waste it. In fact, speaking through the prophet Isaiah, God himself invites you to reason with Him: “Come now, and let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isaiah chapter 1, verse 18).
Take God at his word. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved” (Acts chapter 16, verse 31). Some people try to make changes to their lives by turning over a new leaf. This will always fail to satisfy God. God’s answer to your need is to give you a new life: new life in Christ, given as a gift to everyone who will receive Him as Lord and Saviour. “As many as received Him, to them gave he power to become the children of God, even to them that believe on His name” (John chapter 1, verse 12).
If you could have anything in the world, what would it be?
Surprisingly, when people think carefully about this, they come up with similar gift lists. Rich or poor, young or old, male or female, most people would list things which cannot be bought with money. In fact, they are not material things at all. Almost all thinking people have five basic desires. See if this list includes what you wish you had:
A certain hope after death
Making sense of personal suffering
Knowing the secret of happiness
There is a special book which promises to provide those five gifts -