…And, what does it matter? What difference will it make? Well, it could matter a lot and it could make a huge difference.
While with a group of friends recently, the topic of religion came up. One of the ladies asked if we believe that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene. I emphatically responded that I did not. They then mentioned that Dan Brown in his book The Da Vinci Code made some really strong points for it. Okay. First of all, that book was a work of fiction (and for the record, no I have not read it.) But the primary reason I do not believe it is true is because it is not written in the Bible. There are so many specific things about the life of Jesus in the Bible that you have to wonder why would such a big detail have been omitted if it was true? In my opinion, it would not have been omitted if true.
Then one of them said what she really had a problem with was the immaculate conception. Then stated something to the effect of how that was just “too out there” to be believed – another one of the ladies agreed. I have to confess I was shocked. My response was “Well, it is in the Bible and you either believe what the Bible says completely or you do not believe it at all.” I firmly believe that. You cannot pick and choose what things that are written in the Bible you want to believe and what you want to discount – it is all or nothing.
If you cannot believe in the immaculate conception, how can you possibly believe that after Jesus was hung on a cross and died that He rose from the dead? And, if you cannot believe that He rose from the dead, then how can you believe that you have a salvation that will ensure you go to heaven?
“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 NLT) Jesus could not have been God’s “one and only Son” without the immaculate conception – he would have simply been the son of Joseph and Mary. [Emphasis mine]
In the Old Testament, when the people of God lived strict and restrictive lives under the law handed down from God to Moses, they sacrificed animals – shed their blood – in order to be in good standing with God. The shedding of that blood was required for the forgiveness of their sins. “The life of every living thing is in the blood, and that is why the Lord has commanded that all blood be poured out on the altar to take away the people’s sins. Blood, which is life, takes away sins.” (Leviticus 17:11 GNT)
In the New Testament we can read about John the Baptist – he was kin to Jesus in some way, possibly a cousin. John had been sent by God to preach and teach about the coming of the Savior. One day he was baptizing people in the Jordan River when he saw Jesus approaching and said: “‘There is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’” (John 1:29 GNT) “The next day John was standing there again with two of his disciples, when he saw Jesus walking by. ‘There is the Lamb of God!’ he said.” (John 1:35-36 GNT)
Those animals sacrificed in the Old Testament had to be perfect – they could have no blemishes at all. We can read about how Jesus, who was perfect and without sin, was to be sacrificed on our behalf as our sacrificial lamb – once and for all. “For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And it was not paid with mere gold or silver, which lose their value. It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God.” (1 Peter 1:18-19 NLT) [Emphasis mine]
So how do modern day Christians get into good standing with God? You need to believe that when Jesus – that “sinless, spotless Lamb of God” was crucified on the cross and His blood was shed, it was in our place that He did that. His shed blood covers our sins, allowing us to be forgiven. Referring to God we are told: “He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins.” (Ephesians 1:7 NLT) Once we confess our sins to God, they are forgotten. “But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” (1 John 1:9 NLT) “He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.” (Psalm 103:12 NLT)
Believing is the first step; but, you need to take another step and confess that belief. “If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9 NLT) [Emphasis mine]
There are those that think because their parents were Christians they are all set for heaven. There are those that think because they go to church they have fulfilled the requirement for heaven. Some believe that just doing your best to live a decent life and strive to be a “good person” is enough. But all of these people would be very wrong.
Lastly there are those that think…well, I kind of like my life and the way I am living right now. I really do not want to change myself or the things that I do, so I will just wait to make that kind of life decision – after all, I am young and/or healthy – I have plenty of time. You think? What if you were to suddenly fall over dead of a heart attack? What if you were involved in a car accident that takes your life? What if you are shot – accidentally or intentionally and die? What if you contract COVID and are placed in a room alone with no family around and are placed on a ventilator in a coma then pass? There are no guarantees for how long you will be on this earth. Do you really want to take that chance? The chance that you might end up in hell for all eternity?
Salvation and the assurance that you will be in heaven when your time on this earth is done, is a very personal decision. You cannot ride on the coattail of any other. The scriptures I have laid out for you above make it pretty clear what is required. You must believe and you must confess.
If your belief and your confession are true and sincere you will generally find yourself wanting to alter your life. Some people are able to change their lifestyle quickly and easily; but, others will have a more difficult time. God does not necessarily expect you to change overnight. Most people have a lot of struggles, but with confidence in your relationship with God you can become the person you should be, that you want to be, that God expects you to be.
I pray that if anyone is reading this today and is not sure of their salvation that you will not procrastinate any longer. This is the single most important decision of your life. Just tell God that you know you are a sinner and ask that He forgive you. Tell Him that you believe Jesus died and rose from the dead in order that you might be saved so that you can spend eternity with them in heaven. It is just that simple. Then I would recommend you get yourself a Bible – a translation that is easy for you to understand – and start reading it on a regular basis. (Starting in the New Testament is the best place for a new believer to begin.) You also need to discipline yourself to pray on a regular basis – for others and for yourself. It does not have to be big, flowery words – just converse with him like you do everyone else. If you do not currently attend church, you should find one – but be cautious – there are some out there that do not teach truth. Today is your day!
“I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13 NLT)
Written by Karran Martin – October 16, 2020