How to Begin a Relationship with God
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The world is filled with competing theories about God, religion, and salvation. Alternate views of Jesus vie for our attention at every turn. Different paths to different gods market themselves in the ever-changing desert of ideas. Yet in the midst of this world of contradictory claims, Jesus Christ made a bold assertion: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14:6).
In a confusing world filled with signs pointing us down different roads of philosophies and religions, can we be sure we’ve placed our feet on the right path? The answer to this question comes from the all-time bestselling book, translated into more languages and read by more people than any other book in human history. The Bible alone clearly marks the way of truth and salvation with four vital markers.
Our Spiritual Condition: Totally Depraved
The first marker is rather personal. One look in the mirror of Scripture, and our human condition becomes painfully clear:
There is none righteous, not even one;
There is none who understands,
There is none who seeks for God;
All have turned aside, together they have become useless;
There is none who does good,
There is not even one. (Romans 3:10-12)
We are all sinners through and through—totally depraved, completely corrupt. Now, that doesn’t mean we’ve committed every atrocity known to humankind. We’re not as bad as we can be, just as bad off as we can be. Sin colors all our thoughts, motives, words, and actions.
You still don’t believe it? Look around. Everything in this broken world bears the smudge marks of our sinful nature. Despite our best efforts to create a paradise on earth, crime statistics continue to soar, divorce rates keep climbing, and families keep crumbling.
Something has gone terribly wrong in our society and in ourselves, something deadly. Contrary to how the world would repackage it, “me first” living doesn’t equal rugged individuality and freedom; it equals death. As Paul said in his letter to the Romans, “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23)—our emotional and physical death through sin’s destructiveness, and our spiritual death from God’s righteous judgment of our sin. This brings us to the second marker: God’s character.
God’s Character: Infinitely Holy
When he observed the condition of the world and the people in it, the wise King Solomon concluded, “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity” (Ecclesiastes 1:2; 12:8). The fact that we know things are not as they should be points us to a standard of goodness beyond ourselves. Our sense of injustice in life implies a perfect standard of justice. That standard and source is God Himself. And God’s standard of holiness contrasts starkly with our sinful condition.
Scripture says that “God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). He is absolutely holy—which creates a problem for us. If He is so pure, how can we who are so impure relate to Him?
Perhaps we could try being better people, try to tilt the balance in favor of our good deeds, or seek out wisdom and knowledge for self-improvement. Throughout history, people have attempted to live up to God’s standard by keeping the Ten Commandments or by living out their own code of ethics. Unfortunately, no one can come close to satisfying the demands of God’s law. Romans 3:20 says, “By the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.”
Our Need: A Substitute
So here we are, sinners by nature, sinners by choice, trying to pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps and attain a relationship with our holy Creator. But every time we try, we fall flat on our faces. We can’t live a good enough life to make up for our sin, because God’s standard isn’t “good enough”—it’s perfection. And we can’t make amends for the offense our sin has created without dying for it.
Who can get us out of this mess?
If someone could live perfectly, honoring God’s law, and would bear sin’s death penalty for us—in our place—then we would be saved from our predicament. But is there such a person? Thankfully, yes!
Meet your substitute—Jesus Christ. He is the One who took death’s place for you!
[God] made [Jesus Christ] who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
God’s Provision: A Savior
God rescued us by sending His Son, Jesus, to die on the cross for our sins (1 John 4:9-10). Jesus was fully human and fully divine (John 1:1, 14), a truth that ensures His understanding of our weaknesses, His power to forgive, and His ability to bridge the gap between God and us (Romans 5:6-11). In short, we are “justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24). Two words in this verse bear further explanation: justified and redemption.
Justification is God’s act of mercy, in which He declares righteous the believing sinners while we are still in our sinning state. Justification doesn’t mean that God makes us righteous, so that we never sin again, rather that He declares us righteous—much like a judge pardons a guilty criminal. Because Jesus took our sin upon Himself and suffered our judgment on the cross, God forgives our debt and proclaims us PARDONED.
Redemption is Christ’s act of paying the complete price to release us from sin’s bondage. God sent His Son to bear His wrath for all of our sins—past, present, and future (Romans 3:24-26; 2 Corinthians 5:21). In humble obedience, Christ willingly endured the shame of the cross for our sake (Mark 10:45; Romans 5:6-8; Philippians 2:8). Christ’s death satisfied God’s righteous demands. He no longer holds our sins against us, because His own Son paid the penalty for them. We are freed from the slave market of sin, never to be enslaved again!
Placing Your Faith in Christ
These four markers pointing us to the way of truth describe how God has provided a way to Himself through Jesus Christ. Since the price has been paid in full by God, we must respond to His free gift of eternal life in total faith and confidence in Him to save us. We must step forward into the relationship with God that He has prepared for us—not by doing good works or being a good person but by coming to Him just as we are and accepting His justification and redemption by faith.
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
We accept God’s gift of salvation simply by placing our faith in Christ alone for the forgiveness of our sins. Would you like to enter a relationship with your Creator by trusting in Christ as your Savior? If so, here’s a simple prayer you can use to express your faith:
I know that my sin has put a barrier between You and me. Thank You for sending Your Son, Jesus, to die in my place. I trust in Jesus alone to forgive my sins, and I accept His gift of eternal life. I ask Jesus to be my personal Savior and the Lord of my life. Thank You. In Jesus’s name, amen.
If you’ve prayed this prayer or one like it and you wish to find out more about knowing God and His plan for you in the Bible, contact us at Southside Baptist Church. You can contact a pastor on staff.
Of all the relationships you enjoy in this life, none can compare with a relationship with God through Jesus Christ, who loved us and gave Himself for us. That first step by faith onto the true path begins a personal and eternal relationship with God.