Thank you for taking this step to explore more of what it means to follow Jesus and to engage with Him! Jesus not only makes life better, but helps us thrive! In a world full of fear and darkness, knowing and following Jesus helps joy blossom in our lives. Despite the uncertainty and disorder we face, a relationship with Jesus provides a deep inner peace. And, in a time when it can be easy to feel forgotten or troubled, belonging to Jesus gives us true purpose and meaning! Jesus can make all the difference in the world. All it takes is for us to know and respond to Him.
As you explore who Jesus is, a question may surface: “Do I believe in Jesus as my Savior?” We all have a mountain of moral debt. We all have done things we should not have done, and we have all not done the things we should have done. The Bible calls that sin. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). The reality of this moral debt, this sin, is that it has a nasty price on it – death, the ultimate defeat. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
Death means we’re unable to accomplish God’s vision for our lives, with no chance of a relationship with God, and no entrance into Heaven when we die. It is the opposite of thriving. Sin puts us in a big dilemma. This sin-condition goes from bad to worse because there is no way for us to cancel or pay this debt on our own. We can’t work it off, can’t do good to counter it, can’t buy our way out, can’t give sacrificially enough, and church attendance won’t erase it, either. The Bible is clear: we can’t win this one on our own. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
But God, through His grace, provided us a Savior – Jesus, who is the only available solution. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: 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).
Jesus, God’s only Son, came to pay the sin-debt we owe – beautifully providing redemption for those who will receive it. Amid a swirl of controversy, He died on the cross some 2000 years ago. It sounds strange, but His victory came through apparent defeat. But what’s amazing is that Jesus did not stay dead. On that Sunday morning long ago, Jesus rose from the grave, conquering death and proving that all His words and promises are true. He is indeed the Savior. The truth of Jesus’ resurrection allows us to finally thrive in life. He has defeated the ultimate enemy – death – to secure the ultimate victory! What a great reality to witness!
Our response is to believe so we might receive the benefit of Jesus’ work for us on the cross. True, saving faith is a mental understanding, but also a trusting action that moves us to follow Jesus’ way of life as part of His family forever. “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12). Instead of being estranged from God due to sin, we can be adopted into His loving family of followers forever! To be a child of God is to live life God’s way, which is explained in the Bible. We have the ultimate example of it in Jesus.
Do you agree with these truths from the Bible? Would you like to follow Jesus? If your answer is “yes,” then let God know through a simple prayer like this:
Lord Jesus, I know I have this mountain of moral debt. I am a sinner, and I know that this sin stops me from living the way You intended for me to live my life. I recognize this sin holds me back from relating to You and keeps me out of Heaven. I know I need a Savior, and I believe You, Jesus, paid the penalty for my sin. So right now I ask You to forgive my sin, and I accept You as my Lord and Savior. Thank you! Amen!
If you just prayed that prayer, welcome to the family of God! Your sins are forgiven and you are now free to follow God’s way of life. You have secured the greatest victory possible – a relationship with God! This is the life you were created to live (look up Psalm 139).
So, how do we grow in this relationship with God? First, begin with reading the Bible and praying. I like to encourage people to read the Bible books of James and John. Just read a few verses and ask yourself what these verses say about who God is and how He wants you to live. Some days you will have countless insights and other days you won’t. Even so, keep reading! As you become more consistent in spending this time, you’ll cultivate a close, personal relationship with God.
I also want to encourage you to attend church regularly. If you live in our area, we would love to have you join us here! But wherever you attend church, get involved in a small group Bible study very soon. Here, we call them Life Groups. If you are interested in getting connected here, email groups@NeighborhoodChurch.com.
Also, you’ll find a couple of wonderful resources enclosed here with this letter. The Case for Easter is written by Lee Strobel, a former atheist and investigative reporter, who placed his trust in Jesus after examining the facts of Christianity. In this book he deals with the evidence for Jesus’ resurrection, which we celebrate on Easter Sunday. The other booklet, Easter in Three Words, explains the meaning of Easter and how you can respond.
If you made a decision to follow Jesus today, we’d love to know and celebrate with you! Please email Mike@NeighborhoodChurch.com or call us at 714-952-3001 (our office). We have some materials to send you that will help you thrive in your relationship with God.
Thank you for exploring Jesus and what it means to thrive in Him. I am so happy for your desire to seek Jesus this Easter week. He can change your life! I am praying for you!