“Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures . . .” —1 Corinthians 15:1–4
The following is the story of an ordinary Christian. It could be the story of a member of Grace Church. It can be your story…
The Turning Point of my life began with events that happened before I was even born. Those events tell a powerful, true story—one that completely changed my life. Nearly two thousand years ago, a child was born. His birth was unlike any other before or since. His mother was a virgin who, through God’s power, became pregnant without ever having sex. This child was Jesus—God’s one and only Son. Jesus grew up just like anyone else, except for one important thing. He never thought, or said, or did anything wrong. When Jesus was thirty years old, He began telling people what God his Father was like. He told people how they could have a relationship with God by turning away from sin and believing in Him. And He showed God’s great kindness by healing the sick, restoring sight to the blind, and even bringing dead people back to life. Everything Jesus did was good and right, but some people still hated him. They falsely accused him of crimes. Finally, they persuaded their ruler to kill him by nailing him to a rough wooden cross. Jesus hung from that cross until he died. Heartbroken, his friends buried him. But three days later an astounding thing took place—God raised Jesus from the dead! During the next forty days, over 500 people saw Jesus—solid proof that he really was alive again. Then, with many watching, he rose through the skies to his Father to take his place as ruler over all the universe.
The story you have just read is known as the gospel, or “good news.” I think you’ll be able to understand why this good news changed my life after I tell you some bad news. God created men and women to honor, serve, and enjoy him. But, from the very beginning, people have chosen to live their own way, rather than obeying the desires and commands of God. That’s called sin. Though every human being sins, God himself is sinless. He hates sin, and he has warned that everyone who sins will be severely punished. There’s not a thing men and women can do to save themselves from the punishment they deserve. That’s bad news. But Jesus has done what no person ever could.
You see, Jesus died for a reason. It wasn’t simply because men hated him. He died because his Father lovingly decided to punish Him instead of us. In other words, Jesus took our place. He became our substitute. God’s sinless Son received the punishment we deserved, so that we might receive the reward He deserved. How can we be sure God accepted his death in our place? By the fact that God raised Jesus from the dead and took Him up into heaven. Jesus is not just another religious leader telling us what to do. He is God. Because He has freed us from the power and punishment of sin, He deserves our total trust and obedience.
The Turning Point of my life came on the day I heard these things and believed them. That day I asked God to forgive my sins and to help me start living for him. God granted my request—but not because I deserved it or did anything special. He mercifully forgave me on the basis of what Jesus did on the cross. The good news of the Gospel changed my life. God has turned me around and given me a sense of joy and fulfillment that keeps growing. Though I’m far from perfect, God is helping me live the way he always wanted me to live. The Turning Point of your life could be just ahead of you, too. Maybe you think that none of this applies to you. But God sees things differently. He sees you living your own way rather than living for him. He sees you heading for eternal punishment. And he knows there is nothing in your own power you can do to change. But God will have mercy on you—just as he had on me…
Trust in Jesus’ death as the only thing that can pay the penalty for your sin. Turn away from your sins and live to please and obey God rather than yourself.
Know that God is eager to forgive you. He wants to have a relationship with you as your Father. And he offers you the power to live the rest of your life honoring, enjoying, and serving him in the context of a local church.