Have you ever felt so strongly about something that you’ve kept silent over fear of screwing it up? That’s how this post feels for me. My hope is that I don’t get this jumbled. That by the end of it, you are able to gain a full understanding of why I’ve chosen to center my whole life around following and obeying Christ.
Let me start out by saying that I believe, without one shadow of any doubt, that the Bible is truth. It is God’s living, breathing word, and I put my trust and faith in it, from one cover to the other, without hesitation. Yes, it was physically written thousands of years ago, and it would be easy to say that it is out of date and originally manufactured by man’s imagination anyway. But I will argue that those men were instead used by God to document His heart for His people. There is not a single word in the Bible that is contrary to another, despite the centuries and millennium separating each book, and there are historical accounts outside of the Bible, that verify its validity and support what was written.
Because I’ve chosen to believe that it is God’s word, I don’t pick and choose which parts I believe to be truth. It has to all be true, or it has to all be false. God doesn’t mess around.
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17
It is with this solid faith that I write this post.
Why do Christians claim that God is the only god? Don’t all paths lead to heaven if you are a good person?
Well, that is a very big question (or couple of questions), but I’ll do my best. God is both the beginning and the end, He is the creator of all things, He is the very definition of love and truth. There are no other true gods, apart from Him. I know this because, if it is true that He created all things, then there could not be any others that exist without His creation of them. And if God didn’t create them (because why would He create other gods that would speak in opposition to Him?), then the only other explanation is that they’ve been created by man, to support man’s desires and goals.
God as the Trinity
What about Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit? Aren’t they also gods? Well, yes and no. They are all separate faces of God, but not gods individually. Our God is a triune God, meaning there are three parts to His whole. He is God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Together, they are One. But they do serve different purposes and perform different tasks. Think of different parts to the same machine, or three cords to a single rope.
There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. Ephesians 4:4-6
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. 2 Corinthians 13:14
God the Father
In the Beginning
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Genesis 1:1
Before anything came into being, God existed. He created all of earth, all that is within earth, and all that surrounds earth. Mankind, He created out of His desire for relationship.
Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. Genesis 2:7
God gave him everything. He gave him a wife and partner, He gave him control over all of the plants and animals, and He placed him in a beautiful garden to live. He only laid down one restriction, to not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and explained that if he did so, he would die.
But man failed Him, choosing His own self-serving desires instead.
Why did God place the tree there in the first place, if there would be such eternal consequences? That doesn’t seem very loving, does it? To be honest, it is a very hard concept to grasp. But God did this because it is impossible to have a relationship with a puppet. Puppets love and choose you only because you’ve told them to. A relationship should mutual, and two sided. By placing the tree, God gave Adam the freedom to choose for himself who he would serve.
Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way, death came to all people, because all sinned. Romans 5:12
God’s Law and Sin Atonement
To be sure, sin was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not charged against anyone’s account where there is no law. Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who is a pattern of the one to come. Romans 5:13-14
So, fast-forward to the time of Moses, when God’s love for His people spurred Him to provide a written law, so that by it, they might obediently follow Him. (This law would also keep them safe and healthy, as are so many of the instructions that come from Him for our edification.) Through Moses, God provided a rule book for His people to follow. The greatest of these rules are known today as the 10 Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17).
The clincher is this, there has not been one person alive (apart from the Son of God, who we’ll get to below), who has been able to obey whole law. We are all selfish and self-seeking. We are all children of Adam and Eve, born with sin in our hearts.
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, Romans 3:23
For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. James 2:10
Again, because our God is nothing but consistent, the penalty for breaking this law of His was death, and not just physical death, but spiritual death, apart from Him for all eternity.
But because He is a gracious God, and because He knew that their fickle hearts didn’t have the capacity to remain true to Him as He had called them to, He provided a way to atone for their sins apart from their own death.
When anyone becomes aware that they are guilty in any of these matters, they must confess in what way they have sinned. As a penalty for the sin they have committed, they must bring to the Lord a female lamb or goat from the flock as a sin offering; and the priest shall make atonement for them for their sin. Leviticus 5:5-6
God’s Desire to Dwell with His People
God’s intent in creating the earth and all who live on it, was not so that He would have loyal subjects that He could lord over. His heart was to have living beings who would love Him in return, and among whom He could live with in community.
We see examples of this throughout our history:
- In the Garden – Since God’s desire in creating mankind was for relationship, He created the Garden of Eden with the purpose of dwelling there together with us.
Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day... Genesis 3:8
- In the Tabernacle – After rescuing His people from their lives of slavery in Egypt, God had them build a tabernacle so that He might dwell among them.
Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them. Make this tabernacle and all its furnishings exactly like the pattern I will show you. Exodus 25:8-9
When they did so, He descended upon it in a cloud and when it was time for the Israelites to move, He guided them personally by a pillar of a cloud by day and by a pillar of fire by night.
- In the Temple – Once the Israelites, following God’s lead, traveled into the promised land, conquered the inhabitants, and settled there, they began to plan a permanent house for the Lord.
The word of the Lord came to Solomon: “As for this temple you are building, if you follow my decrees, observe my laws and keep all my commands and obey them, I will fulfill through you the promise I gave to David your father. And I will live among the Israelites and will not abandon my people Israel.” 1 Kings 6:11-13
When the priests withdrew from the Holy Place, the cloud filled the temple of the Lord. And the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled his temple. Then Solomon said, “The Lord has said that he would dwell in a dark cloud; I have indeed built a magnificent temple for you, a place for you to dwell forever.” 1 Kings 8:10-13
God the Son
There are many scriptures in the Old Testament that prophecy the coming of the Son of God, but one of my favorites is this:
“In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed. Daniel 7:13-14
When Jesus was born in a humble, dirty manger to a humble couple from a humble village, He was born with all the authority, glory and sovereign power of the Almighty God. Even though He had every right to ride in on a white stallion with a flaming sword, slaying the wicked, He chose a different path.
Once again, God in the form of His Son, came to live among His people. This time, He came with a purpose. He came to be our sacrificial lamb, our sin offering. He came to teach, and to save the lost. He came to live by example.
Even though Jesus was born as a human being in that moment, that was not His true beginning. Because He is God, before life began, He existed.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it…The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:1-5,14
When Jesus was just 33 years old, He allowed Himself to be led to His own slaughter, in full obedience to God the Father.
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! Philippians 2:5-8
Jesus became the atonement for our sins. Because of His sacrifice, I no longer am required to pay for my disobedience of the law by death. Because of His sacrifice, I no longer need a high priest to approach the throne of grace on my behalf. He became the price paid, and He became that high priest.
And because He is God, He was not defeated by the grave.
For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures. 1 Corinthians 15:3-4
So why would He go through all of that? What’s the purpose? Because the only way to pay for sin, is by death. Christ became that death for us so that we might not have to endure spiritual and eternal separation from God. He did it because He loves us.
For 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. John 3:16
There is only one sin that Christ’s death will not atone, and that is the ultimate denial of who He is, what He’s done for you, and the refusal to accept His forgiveness.
And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. Luke 12:10
People like to debate what the worst sin on earth is. Well, that’s it. All other sin God sees as the same, but this one is unforgivable. If you die with denial of Him on your lips and in your heart, there is no turning back.
God the Spirit
Once Jesus had died, was raised and then descended into heaven, He sent the Holy Spirit as a gift to those who believed.
But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. John 14:26
God has now chosen His most intimate of dwelling places – within our hearts. When we accept all that Christ has done for us, and we invite Him in to do His good work in and through us, the Holy Spirit welcomes the invitation and moves right in.
Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your bodies. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
So, is That It? Do I just Believe in Jesus, and Accept What He Did for Me and I’ll Be Saved?
Sounds too good to be true, right? Well, that’s because it kind of is. The Bible teaches us that superficial belief is not enough. When we truly believe, we put our faith and trust in God’s purpose and design. We begin to recognize that our desires and plans might not be as healthy for us and for others as we previously thought. In true belief, we begin to allow the Holy Spirit, while dwelling within us, to mold and shape us into who God created us to be in Him.
What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder. James 2:14-19
What Happens After I Put My True Faith in Him? What Will My Life Look Like?
Once you’ve surrendered your life and will over to Him, He will begin to work within you, molding you and shaping you into who you were meant to be. You will begin to reflect the characteristics of Christ.
This will not be an immediate change. This is a process that takes a lifetime, and will not always be fun or gratifying. Others may seem to be living a more attractive life, but I assure you, you’ll have chosen the better path.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:1-2
The process of sanctification looks a lot like the refining process a goldsmith uses to purify his precious metal. He burns off the rough, dirty edges and removes any impurities, leaving behind a finished product without blemish or abrasion. As I look back on my own life, I can see this process in action. I can see areas that have been smoothed out and polished. I can also see the rough spots He hasn’t started on yet..
In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for special purposes and some for common use. Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work. 2 Timothy 2:20-21
You know all of those “Life is short” quotes? Well, guess what? Life is not short, it’s eternal. It doesn’t matter who you are, or on what side of the coin you fall on, we will all live on for eternity. The question is, “where are you going to spend it?”
Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Galatians 6:8
But no worries, if your physical body is still alive today (and if you’re reading this, then I assume that it is), you still have time. There is no limit on how many can spend eternity with God in heaven. There is room for all.
My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. John 14:2-3
So, What Now?
- Now, you pray. Get down on your knees and recognize God’s love for you, what Christ did on the cross for you, and invite the Holy Spirit in to begin living through you. Surrender control over to Him and obey.
- Find a church and get involved in the community there. Surround yourself with others who will encourage your relationship with God to grow stronger. (Read the blog post, Why Do I Need to Go to Church to Be a Christian? for more information on this.)
- Spend time getting to know Him each and every day. You do this by reading His word and talking with Him regularly. (Visit the Resources page or the Still Waters shop for various options to assist you in this.)
But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because God chose you as first fruits to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter. May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word. 2 Thessalonians 2:13-17