In order to appreciate why Jesus died on the cross, we need to know a bit of the background to why He did this for us. So we will begin with the bad news before we go on to the good news.
Everyone is guilty before God of wrong deeds (sin)
Right at the beginning mankind chose to live his own way rather than God’s. From that time on every human born has inherited a nature which at times rebels against God’s moral standards. As an example of God’s moral standards and to see how far we have missed the mark we can look at the ten commandments God gave to the Israelites at Mount Sinai. You can read the account of when God gave the Israelites the Ten commandments in Exodus chapter 20 in the Bible. Here they are:
1. ‘You shall have no other gods before me’. It says in Deuteronomy chapter 6, verse 5 that we are to love the Lord with all our heart, soul and strength. He is to come first in our lives. Is God first in your life?
2. ‘You shall not make yourself any graven image’. We make a god to suit ourselves when we imagine that God is loving but not just or holy, and when we think that God can somehow overlook sin.
3. ‘You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God’. This means using God’s name as a swear-word, or using His name inappropriately. Have you ever done this? Does your ‘language’ need cleaning up?
4. ‘Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy’. The Jews were commanded to rest one day in seven and to have this as a holy day. Although we are not commanded to keep the sabbath in the New Testament it is worth asking the question- do you regularly set aside time to spend with God?
5. ‘Honour your father and mother’. Have you always honoured your parents, from childhood to adulthood?
6. ‘You shall not murder’. Jesus further explained this. He said that when we fume with anger towards people without cause we are also guilty of this sin- murder is the final outworking of uncontrolled anger towards our fellow man- (Matthew chapter 6, verses 21-26). Have you ever ‘lost it’ with someone? If so, you have broken this commandment.
It only takes a single breaking of just one of God’s laws for us to become lawbreakers:
‘For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all’- James chapter 2, verse 10.
It is when God reveals His standards to us that we realise just how far we all fall short:
‘For all have sinned; all fall short of God’s glorious standard’- Romans chapter 3, verse 23 (New Living Translation)
‘If we say we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and refusing to accept the truth’- 1John chapter 1, verse 8 (NLT)
There is a consequence to sin
Death came into the world when mankind committed the first sin. There will be a day of judgement when we will all stand before God and be called to give account for our lives. At this time God will punish every act of wrongdoing. Hell is a real place where God’s anger against sin is displayed. The Bible says no one will by their own effort be able to live a good enough life to avoid coming under God’s judgement- we are all guilty before Him.‘Remember, each one of us will stand personally before the judgement seat of God. For the Scriptures say, ‘As surely as I live,’, says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow to me and every tongue will confess allegiance to God’ Yes, each one of us will have to give a personal account to God’- Romans chapter 14, verses 10 to 12 (NLT)
‘For the wages of sin is death’- Romans chapter 6, verse 23 (first part) (NLT)
Jesus Came to Rescue Us
Jesus is God in human form. He lived a perfect life without sin, and died on a cross to take the punishment for all the wrong things we have done (sins). Because Jesus loves us so much, He became our substitute. On the third day Jesus came alive again, proving that the death penalty hanging over us had been paid in full. He was also showing that all those who put their trust in Him will, likewise, one day be raised back to life, to be in heaven with Him forever. Here is what it says in the Bible:
‘For God sent Jesus to take the punishment for our sins and to satisfy God’s anger against us. We are made right with God when we believe that Jesus shed His blood, sacrificing His life for us’- Romans chapter 3, verse 25 (New Living Translation)
‘For 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’- John chapter 3, verse 16 (NLT)
‘But the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord’- Romans chapter 6, verse 23 (second part) (NLT)
How to Become a Christian
- Admit your sins before God and truly say sorry to Him for them. Ask God to forgive you, to save you from the punishment of sin- death and Hell. Make a decision to change and to start living as God wants. Put right any wrongs you have done to others.
- Surrender your life to God. Decide that, from this time on, you will no longer live your life for yourself, but will allow Him to lead you.
- Thank Jesus for taking the punishment for your sins, by dying in your place on the cross. Thank Him for the fact that He overcame death and that He promises eternal life to all those who put their trust in Him.
- Ask God to fill you with His Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is God Himself filling you and giving you the power to live a godly life. He brings an assurance that you have a restored relationship with God. He will help you to see that God is now your loving Father. The Holy Spirit will also help you to communicate with God by giving you spiritual gifts. You can read about this in 1Corinthians chapter 12.
- Be baptised in water. This is a public declaration that you mean to follow Jesus. It is also a picture of what has happened to you spiritually. As you go down under the water this pictures your old way of life, and as you come up out of the water this is a picture of your new life in Jesus. Ask one of the leaders of the Church you join to explain more about what baptism means, and to arrange for you to be baptised.
A Prayer to become a Christian:
Dear Lord Jesus,I am sorry for the things I have done wrong in my life (take a few moments to ask for anything particular that is on your conscience). Please forgive me. I now turn from everything which I know is wrong and surrender my life to you. Thank you that you died on the cross for me so that I could be forgiven and set free. Thank you that you offer me forgiveness and the gift of your Spirit. I now receive that gift. Please come into my life by your Holy Spirit to be with me forever. Thank you, Lord Jesus. Amen.