A Worthwhile Journey
When I was twelve years old, I was driven to church with my friend. After that sermon, the pastor gave an invitation to step forward and begin a new journey. Something tugged at my heartstrings, and nothing could have kept me in the balcony that day. I made my way down the steps and walked down the aisle until I stood in front of the pastor.
I can’t tell you all that was said to me, but I do know the outcome. I began a new journey…and so did my precious friend.
Since that day, I have learned the precepts that God used to draw me down the stairs and up the aisle, and I’d like to share them with you. They are not new, but they are effective in showing God’s goodness toward us. Let’s take a stroll down the Roman Road.
The entire Bible is God’s love letter to mankind. Romans is a book of the Bible, and it can be found in the New Testament, tucked between the Acts of the Apostle and I Corinthians. If you have a Bible, it might be helpful for you to read the scripture directly, but in case you don’t have a copy, I’ll include the verses along each stop in our journey.
Our first destination is Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”
What this means is that no matter how well we try to follow the Ten Commandments, we’re going to mess up. Do you know why those commandments (many more than the ten we know by heart) were given? God gave us these laws so that we could see that we can never keep them all and so that we would realize that on our own, we are lost and in need of a Redeemer. There’s a little more about sin that you should know, so let’s go a little further on our journey.
Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Look at the wording. God is an awesome author. He never wastes a word. Do you see it? The wages of sin is death. That means that we earn death because of our sin. We work our way into hell. But God has a gift for us. A gift is free. We don’t have to work to get it. We need to accept it. What is that gift? It’s eternal life given to us through Jesus Christ our Lord–our Redeemer. We’ll look a little more at this precious gift and its Giver and how we can receive it, but we need to move forward and understand a bit more about this sin that condemns us to a death sentence.
Let’s go back a couple of steps to Romans 5:8: “But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
How deep is God’s compassion toward us? The depth of his love is explained in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
The truth is that not only did God give His Son to die on the cross as a perfect sacrifice, one without sin, Jesus willingly died on that cross. He was buried and He rose again, defeating death and sin. In doing so, Jesus opened the doors of Heaven wide to all those who seek Him.
Above, at our stop at Romans 6:23, we learned of God’s gift of eternal life. We also saw that we earn our wages for sin, which is death, but that eternal life is a free gift given to us through Jesus Christ. Let’s move further up the road and find out how we can take hold of this gift.
Romans 10:13: “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
This calling upon the Lord isn’t just a shout out of Jesus’s name. No, it’s much deeper than this. Along the trail we’ve taken, we’ve learned that none of us are without sin. Remember? We can’t keep the commandments. It just isn’t possible. Then we learned that by breaking the commandments, our sin has earned us death. (Psst: this isn’t an eternal rest like some believe. Death is actually life eternal in a very nasty location called hell–a place of never-ending torment). There is good news, though. Jesus offers us that gift–something we cannot earn–an eternal life of joy in His presence.
That gift came at a great price for both the Father and the Son. God had to give up His only Son to our sin so that He could be that perfect only-acceptable sacrifice for us. Jesus went to the cross not only willingly but lovingly. Before Christ came to this earth, born of a virgin, with the sole purpose of my salvation, I know He knew every sin I would ever commit, and each of my sins caused the stripes on His back, the thorns in His brow, and the thrust of the sword into His side. The sword did not pierce Jesus’s heart. My sins did. The water and the blood that poured from Him came from a broken heart–for me. Can you envision the magnitude of His love? Jesus loved you so much so that if you recognize your fallen condition and call upon Him, He is faithful to save you from your sins.
God gives us a little more instruction in this regard, so let’s take a walk back to Romans 10:9-10: “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believe unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”
I said above that calling upon the Lord isn’t just shouting out His name. This calling upon the Lord is a serious decision we all must make. It would be simple to walk off the path and to refuse to believe that the wages of sin is death (separation from God for all eternity). I’ll admit it. Trusting God is hard until you’ve proved Him. I’m so glad that my friend and I didn’t walk away, that we trusted Him so long ago, because a short eight years later, my friend died in a car crash. I grieved his passing, but I also know that I will see him in eternity.
My prayer is that if you’ve read this far, you are ready to trust Jesus and accept His free gift of salvation. If so, here’s how:
1) Recognize that no one is perfect. We are all sinners, that sin separates us from God, and that is the reason we need Jesus’s free gift of salvation.
2) Confess your sins to God. He’s a big God. He knows the truth about you–your innermost secrets–but still He loves you enough to have sent Jesus to die for you. Jesus loved you enough to die a horrible death when He was the only one who did not deserve to die. Let Him know by your confession just how much you understand His sacrifice and how seriously you are taking His love for you.
3) Ask the Lord to save you from your sin. Here’s the secret. You never have to be afraid that God will refuse your request. If you ask Him in all sincerity, He will be faithful to do so. If you’re having trouble forming the words, here is a prayer for you. Please remember that it is not the words that save, but the posture of your heart.
Thank you for loving me. I confess that I’m a sinner and that Your Son, Jesus, died on the cross for me. By Your mercy and Your grace alone may I be saved. Please, Lord, save me, and create a new heart within me. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.”
4) Confess that the Lord is your Savior. Don’t keep this to yourself. It’s too important a decision to keep hidden. If you have no one else to tell, please leave a message here so that others can rejoice with you. Heaven rejoices at each life saved. Let us rejoice with Heaven.
Now, take a deep breath and realize that God isn’t through with you yet. You’re a new creature still wearing your old flesh, and that old creature will be at war with the new creature. Continue to pray to God for His forgiveness. It’s been given, but the act of repentance is a reminder to you that your flesh is weak and you need God’s help. Don’t be afraid to ask Him to help you. Your salvation isn’t something that is given and then taken away. 1 John 5:13 says, “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.”
If you’re not familiar with the scriptures, I recommend that you begin reading in the Book of John (this is the gospel account found between the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles). John describes the deity of God…the relationship of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Find a Bible-believing church that places Christ as the head of the church and attend. This is important. You need to grow as a Christian. Others will be happy to help you.
Lastly, I’d like to welcome you as a new brother or sister in Christ. God bless you abundantly on your journeys with Him.