Mankind Was Created In God’s Image
“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27). Being created in God’s image (likeness) does not mean we are “little” gods or that we possess His supernatural attributes. God created mankind in His own image to be a reflection of His holy character (personality). We have the ability to reflect His character in our love, patience, forgiveness, kindness, and faithfulness. “We love because he first loved us” (I John 5:6). Mankind was a unique creation of God that was set apart from the rest of the created beings. God gave man the authority (rule) over all other living creatures that He created (Genesis 1:28; Psalm 8:5-8). God has the ultimate rule over all things but He has delegated this authority to man.
God’s Purpose For Man
God’s purpose for mankind is that we honor, serve, and fellowship with Him. “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being” (Revelation 4:11). Adam and Eve were the first man and woman that God created. At the time of creation, man was perfect in nature, reflecting God’s character. A perfect harmony existed between God and man because Adam and Eve honored God by obeying His commands (Genesis 2:16-17). In our world today, the image (likeness) of God in man is not clear. The reflection of God’s character is dim.
What happened to destroy this perfect relationship? What went wrong? Why do we need salvation?
Man’s Problem: Sin
God commanded Adam and Eve not to “eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (Genesis 2:17). When they disobeyed God and ate from the tree (Genesis 3:1-7), sin entered the world (Romans 5:12). Adam and Eve’s sin passed to the entire human race, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Sin is rebellion against God. It is breaking God’s law, “Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness” (1 John 3:4). Sin is individual acts of doing what God has told us not to do or not doing what God has commanded us to do. Sin is not limited to our actions but it includes what we think or say (Matthew 5:21-48). Sin can also refer to a general human condition. The perfect nature of mankind from creation no longer exists. We inherited a sinful nature from Adam and we are born with it.
Is sin serious? Does sin have consequences? Does sin hinder our salvation?
Sin’s Penalty: Death
God’s holiness demands a penalty for man’s sin, “For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23a). The consequence (result) of sin is death. The Bible teaches that death resulting from sin separates a person from God. Spiritual death separates a person from the life of God, “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins” (Ephesians 2:1). Spiritual death begins at birth, man is born with a sinful nature, and continues to sin throughout life until physical death. Physical death occurs when a person’s soul separates from his or her body (Hebrews 9:27). Eternal death separates a person, both soul and body, from God forever in Hell (Revelation 20:15). Hell is a “place of torment” (Luke 16:28b), it is a “fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 13:42).
How can we have eternal life and avoid damnation in Hell? Can we receive God's salvation by being a good person?
Religion: Good Works
Are you a good person? Do you believe in God? Do you go to church?
Many people try to satisfy God’s judgment and attempt to gain or earn eternal life many different ways. They think they are going to heaven based on a system of belief (religion) or a moral code. We will examine some common misconceptions.
Man says, “I believe in God."
The Bible says, “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that – and shudder” (James 2:19). Believing that God exists is a good start but that alone will not get a person into heaven. “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him” (Romans 1:21).
Man says, “I am a good person and I do good deeds (help others, sacrifice time and effort, donate money to church/charity).”
The Bible says, “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6a). Giving of time and money and helping others are “good” things to do but they will not save us from eternal death in Hell. Remember that we were all born with a sinful nature so it is not what we do but who we are (Titus 3:5; Ephesians 2:8-9).
Man says, “I go to church, worship God and take place in religious ceremonies (traditions).”
The Bible says, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death” (Proverbs 14:12). Going to church and taking part in religious ceremonies or ordinances (i.e. communion) again are “good” things but they do not take care of man’s sin problem. Churchgoing folk may even fool a lot of people, including themselves, into thinking they are “good”. On the outside (actions, speech) people may even appear to be Christians but God knows the heart of all men. “He (Jesus) said to them (Pharisees) “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight” (Luke 16:15).
Man says, “I am not as bad as so and so nor do I commit major sins (murder, adultery, robbery).”
The Bible says, “Who can say, “I have kept my heart pure; I am clean and without sin” (Proverbs 20:9). God is perfect and therefore all sin is serious in His sight. The Bible teaches that sin is not limited to just actions but also includes thoughts and words. “He (Jesus) went on “What comes out of a man is what makes him ‘unclean’. For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man ‘unclean’” (Mark 7:20-23).
Man is powerless to save himself from sin’s penalty of death. Our best efforts will not pay the debt of sin demanded from us by a holy and just God.
“What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death” (Romans 7:24)?
What is God's plan of salvation?
Christ’s Payment“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). God hates sin but He loves sinners. God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to pay the penalty for our sins by dying on the cross in our place. Jesus, who is God, became a man and lived the life (without sin) that we cannot live. “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21) (Hebrews 4:15). Jesus died the death that we could not die. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). We have learned that our best efforts, all of our righteous acts, cannot restore our relationship with God. When Jesus died on the cross, He provided a way for us to have a right relationship with God here on earth and in heaven. “For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5).
How can Jesus Christ become your Savior? How do we receive salvation?
Trust In Christ
If you want to enter into a right relationship with God and have eternal life in heaven you must receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. Jesus said in John 14:6 “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” In order to receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, you must repent of your sins and put your trust in Jesus Christ alone as the only hope of eternal life.
RepentThe Bible teaches us that all people “must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus” (Acts 20:21b). When we repent of our sins, God forgives us and wipes our slate clean. “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out” (Acts 3:19a). Repentance is more than just asking God for forgiveness, it is also changing our attitude toward sin. We must now live in a way that is pleasing to God.
“That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved” (Romans 10:9-10). When you put your trust in Jesus Christ, it means that you believe that He is the Son of God, who died for you on the cross and rose from the dead. It is a transfer of trust from your own good works or religion to Christ as the only way of salvation. “For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13).
What are the results of our salvation?
God’s Promise: Eternal LifeJesus said in John 5:24 “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.” What an awesome promise for those that put their faith in Christ alone! Jesus tells us that the believer: 1) will have eternal life, 2) will not come into God’s judgment (not be condemned), and 3) has passed out of death into life – no longer being separated from God but living with Him forever in heaven. Do you have a desire to have a relationship with God? Will you receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior today? No matter the time or the place you can pray to God now.
How do you receive God's salvation?
- Admit that you are a sinner, confess that you have sinned against God and ask Him for forgiveness.
- Believe that the Lord Jesus Christ is the Son of God Who died for you on the cross, rose from the dead, and is Lord.
- Call upon Jesus Christ to be your Lord and Savior enabling you to turn from sin and to live for Him.