The Simple Truth
By the time our days have ended, each of us will either reconcile what has caused our separation from God, our creator and giver-of-life, or be separated from Him forever. In talking with people and in observing society in general, I see that many tend to complicate ‘getting right with God’.
Many people don’t like the word God uses to describe what separates us from Him - Sin. The concept of our imperfection is offensive to people who cannot accept the idea that they somehow do not measure up to a standard. The truth is, none of us will ever meet the standard of perfection that is required to be “fit” for Heaven.
In society I see many versions of the idea that we can somehow atone for our own Sin. That we can be “good enough” to make up for what renders us unworthy to spend eternity with the One who made us. The Simple Truth is so easy it frustrates those who want to have a hand in their own salvation. The well-known verse John 3:16 says “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” It’s so plain, but often we don’t want simple when we can make it complicated.
Romans 3:22-24 says: “This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”
God wants to reach everyone through his simple plan. It’s easy to understand, but for some it’s impossible to accept because they aren’t involved in the process of saving themselves at all. I’ve seen people understand the simplicity and reject it because they couldn’t let go of how they were raised to believe they must earn their salvation through good works.
When reading the context that John 3:16 is set in, Jesus is having a conversation with an inquisitive Pharisee named Nicodemus who comes to Him at night to ask questions. A Pharisee was a corrupt religious leader in the Jewish system, who used a counterfeit approach to Judaism that misled the Jews by teaching salvation through morality and religious works. Rather than teaching about righteousness being attained through Faith, as is detailed in Hebrews 11 (a New Testament chapter about Old Testament Jewish Biblical heroes who were cited as righteous because of their Faith), pharisees taught the ‘letter of the Law’ and promoted attaining righteousness by living as perfectly as one could. It's in this intense conversation that Jesus tells Nicodemus he must be “born again”. He chooses this analogy of birth to enlighten the pharisee that there is nothing he can do of his own merit to inherit eternal life, just like there was nothing he did to contribute to his entrance into the world as a baby. Nicodemus is stunned. He cannot understand that God would welcome everyone who simply believes…that God would make a way for people from all walks of life to be received into His family and His kingdom. He believes that Heaven should be reserved for only the Jewish rule-followers. He wants salvation to be harder to attain and more exclusive. He truly wants to earn his way to Heaven rather than have it be a gift he simply receives. The pathway to Heaven that Jesus presents to Nicodemus factors out of the equation Nicodemus’s own efforts …initially the pharisee’s mind cannot comprehend that, and his will isn’t ready to accept it. Later in the Gospel of John, it appears that Nicodemus does come around to accepting the free gift of salvation and becomes a Jesus-follower, once he is able to surrender his pride and repent of his “works” mentality.
Roman’s 5:8 says, “God demonstrates His own love for us in this, that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us”. The offer of salvation is wide enough to include even the worst sinner of all time. It’s also narrow enough to exclude the most moral, religious person who relies on their own merit to stand before the Almighty, Creator God - the perfect judge whose standard is perfection.
It boils down to a simple choice of faith on our part. We need to understand the way our sin has affected our relationship and standing with God, that He loves us so much that He has provided a way to deal with the cause of our broken relationship, and that this plan involves understanding and embracing the importance of the work of Jesus on the cross to pay the penalty for our sin, along with His resurrection that shows power over death.
Ephesians 2:8,9 says “For it is by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, so that no one can boast.” Nicodemus’s story is in the Bible to show all those who struggle with this concept of good works that trying to earn one’s salvation is futile. It’s a lie. Jesus wants you to be like a person being born…again (spiritually)… this time entering into the family of God by simply accepting the atoning work of God’s son on your behalf.
Romans 10:9.10 says “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved.”
Please don’t miss the simple truth.