To listen to Nancy’s answer recorded from Moody radio, click below.
Growing up as an agnostic, what frustrated me the most about the Christians I knew, was that none of them could answer fundamental questions about their faith. I would ask, “How do you know that Jesus died for the sins of the world? Tell me why Christianity is not a hoax religion.” They were however, quick to tell me that I was going to hell because I did not believe in Jesus. A well-intended Christian friend of mine once urged me to repeat a prayer with her to insure my future home in Heaven. I declined and told her I was a good person and doubted very much that repeating words would help my position with God, who may or may not exist.
Many skeptics, like me, struggle to understand who God is and what He expects out of us. Their questions are real and require an honest answer. “Is God knowable? Is He approachable? Could He take away my fear of death and guilt over my bad choices? Could He love me? Why should He?”
“but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).
Jesus is our Savior. He came to live on earth as a man without sin, which makes Him God. For some reason, even though He knew how selfish and prideful we are, He created us to have a personal relationship with Him. That is why He made us in His image, giving us the capacity to know and love Him. Our sin keeps that from happening. Therefore, Jesus willingly chose to sacrifice Himself to death on the cross to pay the price for our sins, allowing us to live in harmony with God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit now and forever. Such love is too wonderful, too big to grasp. What can we do to thank Him? The only thing He wants is our hearts to believe and follow Him.
The Bible makes it clear that salvation comes by faith in Jesus Christ and not by doing good things including repeating a prayer without clearly understanding what it means. We can’t undo our past, but God forgives us and chooses not to remember our sins forever.
“Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.” And where these have been forgiven, sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary” (Hebrews 10:17-18).
“I, yes I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake and remembers your sins no more” (Isaiah 43:25).
We are not saved from the penalty of our sins by anything else but by believing that His Son Jesus died for our sins. The Greek word for “believe” is “Pisteuo,” which means reliance upon, strong conviction of, and total trust. When that happens, our lives change, over time, from self-focused to God-focused.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
We tend to stumble a bit on the idea that we are saved only through faith. The world we live in demands all to work hard to earn wages. We have studied hard to make good grades to go to college or to get a good job. Relationships that at first were easy soon become difficult because building healthy friendships takes much effort and time together. And then we are introduced to Jesus, God Himself, who made becoming His Child a choice of trusting and believing in Him, not work or performance. Works drive all false religions and cults. If you do this or that, then God will accept you. In any other religion, there is no assurance that you are loved by whatever “god” you worship or that there is a future in Heaven.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8,9).
“But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12).
“And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
The word grace refers to God’s blessings as completely undeserved. It negates any idea of us working through performance to be with God. No religious rite, including baptism, can get us to a righteous standing with God. We become righteous by faith alone in Jesus for our salvation.
Paul said that God’s righteousness is offered as a gift.
“But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:21-23).
What, then, does God expect from us? He wants us to love Him by obeying His words in the Bible and communicating with Him in everyday language in prayer. He wants us to love others as we love ourselves and to be “eager to do what is good” (Titus 2:14).
What Does the Lord Require?
“With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before God on high?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old?
Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil?
Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”
He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:6-8)