Jesus of Nazareth is the most remarkable, the most powerful, the most unique, and the most attractive personality of all time. To know Him personally as your Savior and Lord is the basis of the greatest relationship you can ever have, because only through Jesus can you experience God's love and forgiveness. Let me explain why.
One winter during the Feast of Dedication (Hanukkah), Jesus was walking in Solomon's Colonnade of the temple in Jerusalem. A crowd gathered around Him demanding, "How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly."
"I did tell you," He answered, "but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father's name speak for me...I and the Father are one" (John 10:22-25,30).
Our Lord's claim is reinforced by the fact that He fulfilled prophecy. Hundreds of years before Jesus came to earth, various prophets of Israel foretold His miraculous birth, the place of His birth, His divine character, the purpose of His ministry, how He would die, and that He would be raised to life.
These prophecies represent only a few of the many predictions made about Jesus' life, ministry, death and resurrection. And He fulfilled every one down to the very last detail.
After His cruel crucifixion, Jesus demonstrated that He was God by rising from death and appearing to hundreds of people over a period of 40 days, as many as 500 in a single meeting. Then, as His followers watched in wonder, Jesus returned to heaven, having promised a continuing relationship with those who love Him.
God's holy, inspired Word also affirms Jesus' claim. The apostle Paul records, "He promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding his Son, who as to his human nature was a descendant of David, and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 1:2-4).
Jesus didn't live on earth just to prove He is God. He came to give you eternal life, to offer you forgiveness and set you free from sin and guilt, to give you a full and meaningful life here on earth. And it's because Jesus is God that He can provide forgiveness from sin and enable you to live abundantly.
In a conversation with a religious leader of His day, Jesus said, "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. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him" (John 3:16,17).
Paul wrote, "There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death" (Romans 8:1,2).
A rich and satisfying life is the heritage of every Christian. Jesus intended the Christian life to be an exciting, abundant adventure. He promised, "I have come that [you] may have life, and have it to the full" (John 10:10). When you walk in a close relationship with our Lord, and in the control of God's Holy Spirit, every day is filled with wonder, meaning, and purpose -- your life overflows with desirable qualities:
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22,23).
But most Christians don't experience the abundant life. The life of joy and victory modeled and promised by our Lord is strangely foreign to them. Instead, they consider the Christian life a burden, a chore, a terrible cross to bear. They endure their Christianity on earth, hoping at last for relief in heaven.
Jesus never intended for you to live a defeated, dreadful existence. He called you to a life of joy and victory. Whatever the circumstance you are in -- comfort or conflict, abundance or need, health or sickness, freedom or persecution -- our Lord promises peace (John 14:27; 16:33). He said He would never leave you, and if you ask anything in His name, He will do it (Hebrews 13:5, Matthew 28:20; John 14:14).
As a Christian, God has promised you a legacy of support, abundance and joy. Why, then, are so few Christians really enjoying their inheritance?
Let me ask you: Are you living a joyous, fruitful life?
In his Introduction to the New Testament Epistles, J. B. Phillips writes:
There is a vast difference between the Christianity of the first century and the [Christianity of today]. To us, Christianity is all too often a code of ethics, a philosophy of life, a standard of performance, but to those first-century Christians, it was a new quality of life altogether, and they did not hesitate to describe this as Christ living in them. Perhaps if we believed what they believed, we could achieve what they achieved.
The first-century church rocked their world. Filled with the Spirit and compelled by the love of God, the early church took the Good News of God's love and forgiveness to the entire known world. Never before had any small body of ordinary men and women made such an impact on the world.
Those Christians were a group of ordinary people, like you and me, who knew the love and forgiveness of God. Controlled and empowered by God's Holy Spirit, they reached out in love to people living under the tyranny of an evil empire.
If you have experienced God's love and forgiveness in your life, you too can influence your world.
The world today is filled with anxiety, fear, and crisis. So much of the world is in a state of chaos. Nothing so characterizes the mood of our day more than the word "upheaval." In every facet of society and in every country of the world, there is upheaval -- politically, socially, economically, even religiously.
In America, for example, we are witnessing epidemics of crime, drug addiction and alcoholism, pornography, AIDS and venereal disease, abortion, and broken homes and divorce -- just to mention some of the serious problems facing our nation.
Countless human solutions have been proposed, and yet the crisis becomes increasingly worse. People are searching as never before for peace in their troubled relationships, for answers to the gnawing emptiness in their lives, for something more.
Through the process of elimination, many are now beginning to turn back to God. Never before has there been such an ideal climate for presenting the claims of Christ. The Spirit of God has created an unprecedented hunger in hearts. People are turning to Christ in increasing numbers and are experiencing God's marvelous love and forgiveness.
Even so, a relatively small number of Christians are involved in this great harvest. In the midst of these tremendous opportunities, most Christians have not entered into the joy of reaping the harvest God has prepared. The vast majority of believers live in spiritual impotence, defeat, and sterility. The average lay person and even many pastors seldom, if ever, introduce another person to Christ.
Unfortunately, many Christians do not display a quality of life that encourages others to desire a relationship with our Lord. Some believers do not even display a quality of life that encourages others to have a relationship with them.
Adapted from the Transferable Concept: How You Can Experience God's Love And Forgiveness, by Dr. Bill Bright, co-founder of Campus Crusade for Christ. © Cru. All rights reserved.
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