Study 6: Our Response
God offers the only remedy that works. But to end the separation, to get to the other side where God eagerly awaits us with open arms, we have to take the bridge.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)
We are not mystically transported to the other side without our knowledge simply because Jesus died on the cross. While it is true that He died for all, not everyone accepts Him. Nor are we herded across to the other side against our will. We can reject Him. There is no toll charge, no price that we can pay to gain the crossing. The price has already been paid. We simply have to accept Him and the sacrifice that He made. In so doing, we willingly cross over the bridge that He built back to Him. We cross over from death to life. We are born again.
1. The following verse from the Bible indicates that we must repent. Although an old-fashioned sounding word, it is not obsolete. It means to recognize that we are sinners and to be sorry for our sins to such an extent that we are willing to turn away from them and turn to God. One cannot cross the bridge going the wrong way.
Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out. (Acts 3:19).
2. According to the following verse from the Bible, we must believe in Jesus. You have to acknowledge that Jesus is the only bridge 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).
3. Finally, the following verse from the Bible says we must receive him as our Savior. This means we accept His sacrifice. This is how we cross the bridge.
Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God–children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God [born again]. (John 1:12-13).
It all hinges upon our response. Hopelessly separated from God because of our rebellion against Him, we face an eternity in Hell. By our own efforts we cannot change this. We have nothing to offer God that will make things right. But that is not the end of the story. Out of His continued love for us God sent His only Son to die for our sins. Jesus took the punishment upon Himself. Through His resurrection from the dead, He conquered not only physical death, but spiritual death as well. Because of this He can offer us a new birth, a spiritual rebirth. We can be born again. All we have to do is call on Him to save us. We do this by repenting of our sin, believing in Jesus, and accepting Him as our Savior. This is how we cross the bridge. It is that simple, no catches, no strings attached. Our sins are forgiven, the separation from God is ended, and we are saved from eternal punishment in Hell. We become citizens of Heaven.
And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. (Acts 2:21)
Repentance has three essential elements.
- We must confess (a recognition that leads us to admit) that we are sinners – If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives. (1 John 1:9-10).
- We must be sorry (so sorry that we ask for His forgiveness) that we have sinned – Your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended. Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. (2 Corinthians 7:9-10)
- We must turn away from our sinful ways and turn toward God – Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness. (2 Timothy 2:19)
Accepting Christ solves our problem. We cross over the bridge that He made possible by His death on the cross and His resurrection from the dead. We are reunited with God. We experience a spiritual rebirth. We are “born again”. Our acceptance of Christ has an eternal reward. We have His word on that.
“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.” (John 5:24)
In study three, we learned the awful consequences of our rebellion against God – Hell. This was never God’s intention for us. It was never His plan for us. It is an “eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” (Matthew 25:41). Heaven, on the other hand, is planned for us. “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many [mansions]; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” (John 14:1-4) (Emphasis added)
Read the passage entitled “What Is Heaven? Is It Real?” by Charles Ferguson Ball. If you have been born again, Heaven is a reality for you. If you have not been born again, you can make it a reality by becoming born again. By now, you know the answers to the three questions posed at the beginning of this book – what it means to be born again, why you must be born again and how you can become born again. It is something you can do today.
What Is Heaven? Is It Real?
By Charles Ferguson Ball
Some people talk about Heaven as they would an imaginary place. They do it with tongue in cheek and a knowing smile, as if to say Heaven is a human invention, a never-never land, a realm of dreams, and not to be taken seriously. Others say Heaven is a benevolent state of mind, a vague vacuum, or a reward for being good. Some say Heaven or Hell is what you make of this life – a projection of the best in yourself. Such people believe in the immortality of beauty and truth and influence and memory. But Heaven as a place? Never!
If God had intended that this vagueness be the normal response to the question, He would not have allowed so much to be said on the subject in the Holy Scripture.
Heaven is a place-God’s dwelling place, just as much a place as is New York or Chicago. It is the place where Christ went at His ascension and from where He will come again.
At death the Christian, who by faith becomes [born again], will go to be with Him. The purpose of our Lord’s return is that He may receive us to Himself so that where He is, we might be also.
Heaven is not merely a thought form. It is not simply a projection of the best in ourselves. It is not a vision of a longed-for utopia. It is not a pleasing hope or an invention of man. Our own thoughts do not make Heaven. It is a prepared place for a prepared [born again] people.
Charles Ferguson Ball, Heaven, (SP Publications, Inc., 1980), pp. 25-28. Used by permission of the publisher.
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many [mansions]; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” (John 14:1-4)
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life. (Revelation 21:3-4, 27)