Even as a mobster, I considered myself a good person, if you can believe that. I was born into a religious family. I believed God was real. I gave away lots of money to friends and family. Sometimes I even said a prayer before a robbery. So, wasn't that enough to get me into heaven?
Unfortunately, if I had gotten shot and died while robbing somebody, heaven would not have been my final destiny, despite how "good" I was. The Bible, which is from God, says, "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God," (Romans 3:23). It also says not a single person is good (Romans 3:10).
You see, God is holy, just, and righteous; He is the only one able to decide who is good and who isn't. He even gave us laws in the Bible (like the Ten Commandments) to show us what "good" looks like. Now, you might be thinking, "Yeah, Robert, but I'm not near as bad as you were." That might be true, but how do you measure up against God’s standard? Have you ever told a lie, big or little? Then you're a liar. And even if that were the only sin you ever committed, the Bible says that if we break just one of them, then we're guilty of all of them (James 2:10).
So, we know now that all of us are sinners. But is sin really THAT big of a deal? Oh yeah. In fact, sin caused a huge separation between us and God; think about me standing on one side of the Grand Canyon and you standing on the other, and you kind of get the idea. It also brought Death into the world. In the first part of Romans 6:23, it says, "For the wages of sin is death..." This death is not just the death we experience when our bodies die; this is a spiritual death that makes the separation from God permanent and extremely painful. Again, imagine hanging out forever in a really hot place with creatures that make the old me look like a boy scout. Not a very pretty picture, is it?
That kinda makes God look mean, doesn't it? But ask yourself: if someone had smacked you around and went to court over it, would you want the judge to let him go free without doing time? I didn't think so. Remember, part of God's character is that He is just; He can't allow sinful people to go unpunished.
But what's really great is that this God is a God of love; in fact, He IS Love (I John 4:8), and the truth of the matter is, He's crazy IN love with us. And because of this crazy love, He did the craziest thing to get us off the hook; He posted bail for us by sending Jesus to die in our place. The last half of Romans 6:23 gives us the good news: "But the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." Here are some more verses from the Bible: "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us," (Romans 5:8). "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). And just like that, a bridge is now available for us to cross to get to the other side.
So, do I have your attention now? Are you interested in getting out of the mess you got yourself into? Good. Then let me show you how.
In Romans 10:9, it says, "that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved." That's it. I know, pretty easy, huh? But that just shows you how much God loves you. Verse 10 goes on to say, "For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation."
Here's the main point: You can never be saved by being a good person or doing good things. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift— not from works, so that no one can boast." So get it out of your head that you can do this all by yourself; it just ain't happening.
There are no exceptions to this; anyone who asks God to save them will be saved (Romans 10:13), unless, of course, they're already dead. Then, unfortunately, it's too late.
God has made you an offer you can't refuse. What are you going to do about it? I highly suggest you do what I did. Right now, right where you are, pray to God. Say something like this: "God, I know that I am a sinner, and because of that, I'm doomed. I believe that You sent Jesus to die for my sins, and that He rose from the dead as the Savior of the world. I ask you to forgive me and come into my heart. Please save me." It doesn't have to be these words exactly. You just need to admit you're a sinner, recognize Jesus as the Savior, ask for forgiveness, and give permission for Jesus to enter your life.
Did you do it? Then let me be the first to say, "Welcome to the family."
I encourage you to do a couple of things. First, spend time every day in prayer. Hey, you just got made; you might as well take advantage of your connection with the real Godfather. Second, find a church that believes everything in the Bible is Truth and doesn't pull punches.
Something that's very important is that you surrender your life to Jesus – kind of like how I had to surrender a time or two to the cops. I had to put my hands in the air and submit to their will. Of course, surrendering to Jesus has much better consequences, as you will see. Just open your heart to Him, and He will do things in your life that will knock your socks off.
And don't be afraid to tell others about what you did; get out there and share the Good News with everybody.
If you made a decision to follow Jesus today, contact me so I can celebrate with you. Thanks.