Pardon, purpose and peace are not all that He can give. Jesus of Nazareth is the only One who can give you power to live a new life.
Frequently, men and women say, “I would like to become a Christian, but if I do, I am sure that I will never be able to live the life. You don’t know the mistakes that I have made, the resentments that I have, my tendencies to sin, my immorality, heavy drinking, drug addiction, cruel tongue and many, many other problems. I do not believe that I could live the Christian life.”
But, as they have received Christ into their lives, these same people have discovered that the Christian life is a supernatural one and that Jesus literally changes them — their attitudes, their actions, and their desires. When we trust in Him, Jesus Christ comes to live within us and lives His life in and through us. Therefore, it is no longer what we do through our own self-effort, but what He does supernaturally, because He is the one who provides the power, and we are merely the instruments through which He releases that power.
The Bible tells of a man named Nicodemus who wanted to follow Jesus but didn’t know how. One night, this man — a good, moral, ethical, religious leader and a ruler of the Jews — came to see Jesus and asked, “Rabbi [meaning Teacher], we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.”
Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”
Nicodemus exclaimed, “Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!”
Jesus said, “No one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit” (John 3:2-5, New International Version 1984). Jesus meant that we are born with a physical body to live on a physical plane; but the kingdom of God is a spiritual kingdom and God is a spiritual being. If we are to have fellowship with Him, we must become spiritual creatures through a spiritual birth.
Picture a caterpillar — just an ugly, hairy worm — crawling in the dirt. If you could communicate with it, you might say, “Why do you crawl in the dirt? Why don’t you fly like the butterfly?”
No doubt it would reply, “It is impossible for me to fly, for I am earthbound; I can only crawl in the dust.”
Then you suggest, “Let us perform an operation. We will attach some butterfly wings to your body.”
“No, that would do no good,” the caterpillar would reply.
Then you ask, “Why don’t you take a course in aviation, and then you would be able to fly?” But all of this would be to no avail.
So it is with people who try to become Christians by good works — such as good conduct, church attendance, reading the Bible and praying — rather than by way of the new birth as Jesus commanded.
Of course, the caterpillar doesn’t remain a caterpillar. One day it weaves about its body a cocoon, and out of that cocoon emerges a beautiful butterfly. We do not understand fully what has taken place. We know only that where a worm once crawled in the dust, a butterfly now soars in the skies. So it is in the life of a Christian. We receive a miraculous new birth when Jesus of Nazareth, the risen Lord and Savior, comes to live within us.
This new birth connects us to the supernatural resurrection power of our Savior. But like an instrument that is not used, we cannot experience this power unless we continue to invite God to work in our lives.
As I said earlier, there is a throne in every life. If you are on that throne — if you are deciding what to do with your life — it is quite likely that you are not a Christian. Christ says, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock [the door of your heart — your will, your intellect, your emotions]. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in” (Revelation 3:20, NIV).
The Bible promises that “to all who received Him [Jesus] ... He gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12, NIV). And “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17, NIV).
Commitment to Christ involves the surrender of the intellect, the emotions and the will — the total person. Suppose you meet a certain young man or woman about whom you have heard many fine compliments. Intellectually, you like what you see — looks, personality and many other qualities. You like everything about this individual. Would this be enough on which to launch a marriage? No. There is more to marriage than mutual respect and admiration.
As you become better acquainted, Cupid finds his mark and you fall in love. Is this sufficient for marriage? No. There is more to marriage than the intellect and the emotions.
Then you become engaged, and the wedding day arrives. How exciting! Intellectually, you believe that he or she is the most wonderful person in all of the world. Emotionally, your heart beats twice as fast when you are together.
But then something even more important takes place. As you stand before the minister to exchange your vows, you commit your wills one to the other. The marriage is not a true marriage where there is no mutual giving of one to the other.
There you have it — a marriage relationship involves the intellect, the emotions and the will. In becoming a Christian, one must give himself wholly — intellect, emotions and will — to Christ.
Perhaps you are saying, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that He died for my sins. Am I not a Christian?” Not if you have refused to yield your will to Him. Or you may say, “I heard a wonderful sermon, my emotions were stirred and I had a great emotional experience. I even responded to the invitation to go forward for counsel. Am I not a Christian?” Not if you have never relinquished the throne of your life, your will, to Christ. The surrender of the will is the key to becoming a Christian and the secret of living a victorious Christian life.
If you have not already received Christ as your Savior and Lord, will you, in the quiet of this moment, surrender your will to Him — invite Him to come into your life to live His life in you? Your life upon this earth and for all eternity is affected by your decision. Be assured that if you do receive Christ as your Savior and Lord, He will pardon your sin, give purpose to your life, and give you His peace and power. Your life will be forever changed. If you desire to receive Christ, bow your head and pray this prayer:
Lord Jesus, I believe You are the Son of God and that You died on the cross for my sin. I surrender my will, the throne of my life, to You. Show me Your purpose for my life, and I will follow You. Give me Your peace and power that I may please and honor You, Lord Jesus. Amen!
If you have received Christ into your life, you have begun the great adventure for which He created you. We are told in the Bible, “What is it that God has said? That He has given us eternal life, and that this life is in His Son. So whoever has God’s Son has life; whoever does not have His Son, does not have life. I have written this to you who believe in the Son of God so that you may know you have eternal life” (1 John 5:11-13, Living Bible). When you receive Christ, you have eternal life here and now. You need not invite Him in again. He promises His followers, “I am with you always, even to the end of the world” (Matthew 28:20, TLB). His Holy Spirit will dwell within us for the remainder of our lives.
Some time ago, I had the privilege of sharing this marvelous truth with a doctor and his wife from Zurich, Switzerland. Dr. and Mrs. Pruppacher had sent their son Hans to the University of California, Los Angeles, to complete his doctoral studies in meteorology. Hans received Christ at one of our meetings and wrote to his parents about his newfound faith. He mentioned my name as the one who had introduced him to our Lord. They wrote back asking if he would set up an appointment for them to see me. At great expense, the father and mother flew all the way to Los Angeles for the express purpose of becoming Christians.
It was a dramatic moment for me when this man of great influence and means and his wife came into my office near the UCLA campus. He began by explaining his own spiritual journey. “I was an atheist for years,” he said, “but I found no future in atheism. So, I began to study the religions of the Orient. Again, I found no satisfaction. Then, someone told me the New Testament was where I would find my answers. I began to read it and became convinced Jesus was the One I was looking for. Then we received the letter from Hans telling us how you had helped him to become a Christian. We want you to tell us what you told Hans.”
Well, you can imagine how I felt! What a privilege it was to talk to this wonderful couple about my Savior, the living Christ.
I explained how they could receive Christ by simply inviting Him into their lives. Dr. Pruppacher interrupted me. “Mr. Bright,” he said, “I’ve already done that. I receive Jesus into my life every day. On some occasions I ask Him in several times a day.”
Now I was puzzled. Relatively new in leading people to the Lord in those days, I didn’t know what to say. I prayed silently, “God, help me. What do I say now?”
Ephesians 2:8-9 flashed on the screen of my mind: “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” (NIV).
I explained that it is not enough to ask Jesus into your life; you must believe He will come in as He promised. “God honors faith,” I said. “He does not honor your invitation to Him to come in. It is your faith in Him and His promise that He honors. If you open the door, He will come in as He promised. You can ask Jesus into your life a thousand times, and He will never come unless you believe, on the basis of His promise, that He will come.
“You can know for sure He’s in your life because He said He would come in. He promised never to leave you nor forsake you.” I suggested that they receive Christ into their lives one more time on the basis of God’s promise. But even before we prayed, Dr. Pruppacher’s face lit up with assurance of his salvation, and he began to laugh.
He turned to his dear wife and spoke to her in German, telling her what I had shared with him. She began to laugh, a holy laugh, a laugh of assurance. They had been looking for God, and now the light went on, and they were filled with joy.
If you have invited Jesus Christ into your life, you too can have confidence that He is living in you and has given you eternal life as He promised. Jesus would not deceive you. Do not insult Him by asking Him in again. For the rest of your life, as an expression of faith, begin every day thanking Jesus that He is with you as He promised. He is closer to you than your hands or feet and nearer than your breathing. You can draw upon His supernatural life all day, every day, to live the abundant life of adventure which He promises.
Simply begin every day on your knees, acknowledging that He is Lord of your life. Invite Him to walk around in your body, think with your mind, love with your heart, speak with your lips, and continue seeking and saving the lost as He came to this world to do two thousand years ago.
As you continue in obedience to Jesus’ commands, you will experience the fulfillment of His promise of an abundant life. I encourage you to study the Word of God diligently and become active in the vital Christian fellowship of a New Life Group and a local church. May God bless and keep you in this great adventure with Christ our Savior.
© 1971, 1998 Bill Bright, New Life Publications. All rights reserved. Adapted with permission from Bill Bright, “Jesus and the Intellectual” (Peachtree City, GA, NewLife Publications).
Bill Bright was the co-founder of Campus Crusade for Christ International.
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