We must get this very clear.
God’s intention with the gospel is to reveal to you that you need help, set your heart right to receive his help and save you as much as you are willing to get saved. You must know this as a believer who intends to introduce others to Christ and His salvation.
God loves you, He gave.
The Bible tells us “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son…” – John 3:16a NLT
God is not happy with your shortcomings, he is not happy with the appearances of evil; the seed that the enemy had sown in the heart of people and by extension, in the world. Your bad deeds are somewhat of an expression of the devil’s character and his antics. Here is where God comes in. He wants you to truly express him and his character because we are an extension of God on Earth.
We are fickle and useless on our own. Except with the backing and continual dwelling of God’s presence in us, we are weaklings who will continue failing and being subdued by the desires of our flesh. In one word, we could be destroyed and wiped out forever but God, in his amazing love for us, gave his one and only Son.
Jesus was going to pay the ultimate price. The word of God had already gone forth; anyone whose allegiance is to the devil is subject to eternal death but to save humankind from eternal destruction, God in Jesus Christ came for the rescue.
That’s not where it ends. This is God’s part, now let’s talk about our part.
“…So that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16b NLT
Many times, we present God as an angry God in a bid to make people understand the consequences of their sins or get them to repent faster. Some imagine God with a mean face who is almost unforgiving but this is not who God is. As established earlier, God is concerned and unhappy with our shortcomings BUT he loves us. His love pre-empted his gift of Jesus to us.
Now, the question is, who is qualified to receive this salvation? Before answering this question, we need to understand who God loves. He doesn’t love only the Jews or the Samaritans. He loves the WORLD. This means he loves every mankind of every tribe, tongue and creed. God intends to save ANYONE, ANYWHERE, ANYTIME.
That man suffering from addiction is qualified. That loose woman whose body count is running into a thousand is qualified. That sexual abuser and murderer are also qualified. The thief who stole what was most precious to you is qualified.
Let me digress a bit.
This presents you with people who are qualified to hear the gospel, the people you must preach this gospel to. It includes those who offended you, those who broke your heart, those who did things that ordinarily, you find no reason to forgive. They are qualified to receive the gospel which must be presented with love, peace, forgiveness and yet in its wholesomeness.
There seems to be a dichotomy between some believers in this regard. Indeed, Jesus made it clear, “those who believe” but the question is “believe what exactly?” Understanding what is to be believed solves the misconception. To understand this, we will revisit the book of John
“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
What exactly did God’s Son, Jesus the Christ come to do? The next verse tells us
“God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. “There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son.” – John 3:17-18 NLT
Jesus didn’t come to judge the world BUT to save the world through himself. You cannot accept that you need salvation before accepting that you have a problem that you need salvation from. This answers our question on what to believe; not merely that Jesus is God’s son or that there is God. It is to believe we have a problem, we are doomed and destined for destruction but that for God’s love, we are saved in and through Christ Jesus.
Let’s get this straight. These are the very words of Jesus, there is no judgment against anyone who believes in him but believing in him is wholesome. It includes understanding why you need salvation, forsaking your old self and embracing the newness of life that comes with Christ. There is no true belief in Christ that happens without repentance. Repentance and believing as a prerequisite for salvation are not two different events, they are the same.
So many people stop at just merely believing but this is not God’s will for us. We must actively learn and live out God’s purpose for our lives. Saying we believe and then going back to that old life is an indication that our belief is faulty. Yes, a believer can be struggling with weaknesses but there must be a strong willingness to leave that ungodly life. Just because a believer did something wrong doesn’t warrant questioning their salvation but living unrepentant of their old lives is an indication that they truly have not believed.
God’s grace is also empowerment to live right and live for him
“For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed.” – Titus 2:11-13 NLT
Yes, the world is sinful and we may always be exposed to severe temptations but we must stand firm, using God’s word as our guide in deep reverence for him. Righteous living and devotion to God must be very intentional knowing that we have been empowered to live above sin.
“He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds.” – Titus 2:14 NLT
There must be a total commitment to do good deeds, live right and love others.
Apostle Paul wrote to believers saying:
“Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away, it is even more important. Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.” – Philippians 2:12-13 NLT
To live a good life is hard. To do good deeds is not easy. To ignore certain temptations are hard. We must accept this truth. But as hard as it is, we have been empowered to live right by God’s grace. We must WORK HARD to show the results of our salvation. People should see how we live and know who we are. We must ensure that we do not make a mockery of the gospel.
There is no guarantee that it will be easy, that is why Paul asks us to work hard. There is a strong reason why the evidence of our salvation must be visible. Apostle Paul explains in the proceeding verse
“…so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people.” – Philippians 2:15 NLT
You must live clean lives so that no one can criticize us. Paul likened it to the innocent lives of children. There is a way to stand firm and live for God, there is a way to live according to the will and purpose of God.
“Hold firmly to the word of life…” – Philippians 2:16 NLT
Holding firmly to the word of life is the only way. God renews your mind using his written and revealed words as the means. The word brings about transformation, it teaches you what God’s will for your life is.
“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” – Romans 12:2 NLT
God loves you, God wants you saved and God wants to use you for his purpose. However, you must be willing to accept that indeed you need salvation. We must always remember the words of Peter:
“The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.” – 1 Peter 3:9 NLT