What I Thought I Knew But Really Didn't
When I was 18 years old my sister challenged me to read the New Testament of the Bible. I had been religious all of my life, acknowledged that there was a God, went to church every Sunday and had no desire to search for any meanings to life. I also had never felt the need to open the Bible and see what it actually had to say. After all, wasn't my religion supposed to be teaching me what I should know about God? Something compelled my to take the challenge even though I'm not much of a reader.
It took me 3 months to read it and when I finished, I was very disturbed because what I had been taught about how you get to Heaven was not what the Bible was saying. I had been taught that if you were a good person, you would go to Heaven. But the Bible said you had to be perfectly sinless in order to qualify, and I sure wasn't that. I also started to think that if you could achieve Heaven by being good, then why did Jesus Christ come down and die on the cross?
The Bible stated that there was no one righteous and that's why we needed a Savior, which was Jesus Christ. He paid the price for our sins and extends salvation as a free gift. There was nothing we could do in God's eyes to earn it. That was the hardest thing for me to accept, that it was free. All my life I had been used to earning every good thing I got. I wrestled with the conflict for days. Who was I to believe, my religion or the Bible.
The Bible also reinforced that my relationship with God should be a personal one. It was between Him and me. It said that the gate to eternal life is narrow and few will walk through it. You may say that you already believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Well, even demons acknowledge that, but do they accept Him as their Savior and strive to live their lives a manner pleasing to God? There is a big difference between acknowledgement and acceptance.
I continued to wrestle with what was correct and then one day at the apartment complex I worked at, a man came in to look at an apartment. When he left, he had handed my father a Bible tract. I still remember my father throwing it down onto the table and it slid toward me but stopped in the middle. I had to reach for it and when I picked it up, I read it and the words seem to put every dilemma I had been wrestling with into perspective. That night it all finally became clear what I needed to do and I made the decision to accept the blood sacrifice Jesus Christ as the only atonement for my sins.
From that point on, my life was forever changed and I now enjoy a personal relationship with God. It’s respectful and loving, like a wide-eyed child’s reliance on a beloved father. I strive to do good out of reverence for God and His desire for me to be His witness. My guidelines for living now come from Biblical standards, as opposed to what society deems acceptable.
Living a God-centered life has given me a firm foundation that has kept me stable and focused through life's trials in this fallen world. My true joy comes from the hope of eternity with the God of this Universe, as opposed to the quest for momentary pleasures in this earthly life.
Think about it. One day, maybe even today, you will have to stand before God and show an accounting of yourself. I guarantee this will happen whether you believe it or not. What will you have to offer when the time comes?
As my sister did with me so many years ago, I'd like to challenge you to read the New Testament of the Bible and see for yourself what God’s Word actually says. Your physical life here on earth is a mere vapor in the scheme of forever. Don’t lose out on eternity in Heaven due to ignorance or arrogance. Investigate God’s Word for yourself.
Suggested places in the New Testament of the Bible to begin reading.
The Gospel of John
The Letter of Paul to the Romans