BOOK OF GOD'S PROMISES
J. Steven Lang
-- "Self-improvement" and "self-help" are popular concepts today. They
would have been totally meaningless to the authors of the Bible. They made no
promises at all about learning to be a child of God or working to
be the right kind of person. The message of salvation is that there is no improvement
-- there is transformation. The message is that we are changed -- by God
-- from being sinners into God's children. We are changed from being alienated
from him to being reconciled to him. This isn't accomplished by reading books
or attending seminars or joining a twelve-step program. It occurs by recognizing
that we need saving, not just improving.
The LORD is close to the
brokenhearted; he rescues those who are crushed in spirit.
LORD protects those of childlike faith; I was facing death, and then he saved
Jesus came into the world, proclaiming the kingdom of God
-- not a kingdom on a map, but the rule of God over those willing to be ruled
by him. In other words, salvation was extended to those willing to say to God,
"I don't rule my own life very well. You do it." According to Jesus, anyone could
make this statement, but few do.
"You can enter God's Kingdom only through
the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many
who choose the easy way. But the gateway to life is small, and the road is narrow,
and only a few ever find it."
"If you try to keep your life
for yourself, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for me, you will
find true life. And how do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your
own soul in the process? Is anything worth more than your soul?"
"God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes
in him will not perish but have eternal life. God did not send his Son into the
world to condemn it, but to save it."
Jesus replied, "I assure
you, unless you are born again, you can never see the Kingdom of God."
do you mean?" exclaimed Nicodemus. "How can an old man go back into his mother's
womb and be born again?"
Jesus replied, "The truth is, no one can enter the
Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. Humans can reproduce
only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives new life from heaven. So don't be surprised
at my statement that you must be born again."
Paul, who wrote
much of the New Testament, understood the "self-improvement" mentality. He had
been brought up to believe that keeping the Jewish Law faithfully was the way
to please God. He did keep it faithfully -- then concluded it hadn't made him
right in God's sight. Again and again in his letters Paul reminds his readers
that Christ alone is the way to salvation.
No one can ever be made right in
God's sight by doing what his law commands. For the more we know God's law, the
clearer it becomes that we aren't obeying it.
But now God has shown us a different
way of being right in his sight -- not by obeying the law but by the way promised
in the Scriptures long ago. We are made right in God's sight when we trust in
Jesus Christ to take away our sins. And we all can be saved in this same way,
no matter who we are or what we have done.
For all have sinned; all fall short
of God's glorious ideal. Yet now God in his gracious kindness declares us not
guilty. He has done this through Christ Jesus, who has freed us by taking away
Paul knew full well that the gospel would meet
with skeptics. Do intelligent people really believe that Jesus could be the Son
of God, and that his being crucified could somehow make us "right with God"? Actually,
many intelligent people do believe this. And many don't. Paul made it clear that
the message couldn't be judged just by its popularity.
I know very well how
foolish the message of the cross sounds to those who are on the road to destruction.
But we who are being saved recognize this message as the very power of God. As
the Scriptures say, "I will destroy human wisdom and discard their most brilliant
1 Corinthians 1:18-19
Those who become Christians become new persons.
They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life has begun!
All this newness of life is from God, who brought us back to himself through
what Christ did. And God has given us the task of reconciling people to him. For
God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people's
sins against them. This is the wonderful message he has given us to tell others.
For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that
we could be made right with God through Christ.
2 Corinthians 5:17-21
were buried with Christ when you were baptized. And with him you were raised to
a new life because you trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from
You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature
was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ. He forgave all our
He saved us, not because of the good things we
did, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins and gave us a new life
through the Holy Spirit. He generously poured out the Spirit upon us because of
what Jesus Christ our Savior did.
I am convinced that nothing
can ever separate us from his love. Death can't, and life can't. The angels can't,
and the demons can't. Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow, and even
the powers of hell can't keep God's love away.
See also Repentance,
New Birth, Sin.
article: Steps to Peace with God
other teaching sheets from CBN.com.
The Book of God's Promises -- Copyright, 1999 by J.
Stephen Lang. All rights reserved, used with permission.