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The Greatest Gift of All - The Gift of Eternal Life

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes (trusts) in Him will not perish but will have life that lasts forever. (John 3:16)

by William L. Nowell

Born Again - Saved from Eternal Death and Hell

According to the Bible, "people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment." (Hebrews 9:27) For those of us who have put our trust in Yeshua (Jesus), death and judgment ushers us into God's eternal Kingdom. But for those who have not trusted in Yeshua for salvation, death and judgment brings eternal separation from God and the anguish of hell.

The Bible also makes it clear that we've all sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23, Ecclesiastes 7:20; 1 John 1:8) Sin separates us from God and puts us on a highway to hell. All sin is ultimately committed against the eternal God. (Psalm 51:4) Consequently, the penalty for sin is eternal destruction. Matthew 10:28 warns us to "be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell." But there is good news.

The Good News

Crucifixion of Christ

The Bible tells us "the payment for sin is death, but the gracious gift of God is eternal life in Messiah Yeshua (Jesus) our Lord." (Romans 6:23) Salvation from the penalty of sin is a gift, and cannot be earned (see Ephesians 2:8-9). All our good deeds are insufficient compared to the perfection of God. No matter how much we try to do what is right, or work to make the world a better place, it's still not enough to earn salvation. Salvation is a freely given gift. So how do you receive the gift of salvation?

Eight Steps to Salvation (the Forgiveness of Sins)

  1. Admit that you are a sinner in need of salvation. (Romans 3:23, 6:23, Isaiah 59:2)

  2. Be grateful that Yeshua (Jesus) died to pay the penalty for your sins. (Romans 5:8) His death was the necessary payment for your sins.(Hebrews 9:22)

  3. Believe the documented historical fact that God raised Him from the dead. (1 Corinthians 15:1, 3-4)
  4. empty tomb
  5. Accept Yeshua's (Jesus') resurrection as proof that His death was sufficient payment for your sins. "But Christ really has been raised from the dead. He is the first of all those who will rise from the dead." (1 Corinthians 15:20 NIRV)

  6. Know that His death and resurrection were both necessary and sufficient to secure your salvation. There is nothing more for you to do other than to accept His sacrifice made for you. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

  7. Understand that Yeshua (Jesus) is the only way of salvation. (John 14:6; Acts 4:12)

  8. Ask the Lord to forgive your sins. "Everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved." (Romans 10:13)

  9. Receive Yeshua (Jesus) as Lord - as your Lord. Accept His gift of eternal life. (Romans 5:1, Romans 8:1, Romans 8:38-39)

If you know you are in need of salvation, don't put it off any longer. It is presumptuous and very dangerous to postpone accepting the Lord. Everyday people die suddenly and without warning. "You do not know what will happen tomorrow... If you hear His voice, do not harden your heart... Now is the day of salvation." (See James 4:14, Hebrews 3:15, 2 Corinthians 6:2) After death, there are no second chances.

Joshua 24:15

Prayer of Salvation

Do you realize your need for salvation and are ready to turn from your sins? Then accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior by praying a prayer something like this.

Dear God,

I know that I am a sinner; I've broken Your laws and my sins have separated me from You. I am truly sorry for my sins. Please forgive me. I believe that Your Son, Jesus Christ, died for my sins, was resurrected from the dead and that He alone can save me from the penalty of my sins. I now put my faith and trust in Jesus, and Jesus alone, as my Savior. By faith, I gratefully receive Your gift of salvation. Thank you for forgiving me, for saving me, and for giving me the gift of eternal life.

In Jesus' name I pray,
Amen.

Have you prayed a prayer of salvation with honestly and sincerity? Then you are a born-again child of God. Praise the Lord for your salvation! You've just made the most important decision of your life. However, believing in Jesus is only the first step of a lifelong walk on the narrow road that leads to eternal life.

Next Steps

Now that you are saved, what's next? Christianity is not merely a religion with a set of rules and regulations, rituals and customs. True Christianity is a way of life. Many people who call themselves Christians live lives that in no way reflect Christ. Jesus said, "Not everyone who says to Me, 'You are Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only those who do the will of My Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 7:21) So how do you live the Christian life? Since a (true) Christian is a follower of Christ, the question becomes, how do you live as a follower of Christ? To follow Christ, you must first know what He taught and what He expects. To do this:

  1. Begin by reading God's guidebook for life, the Bible.
  2. Memorize verses of Scripture.
  3. Pray everyday.
  4. Find a good Bible-believing church/congregation and attend regularly.

A Bible Reading Plan

The Bible is a big book. Actually it's a collection of 66 books written by more than 40 authors and taking more than 1,500 years to complete. Before you begin reading, you need a Bible you can read with understanding. I do not recommend the traditional King James Version (KJV) of the Bible. Instead, read a Bible written in modern English, such as the New International Version (NIV). I use the NIV Life Application Study Bible ) and I highly recommend it. Additionally, you can read more than 50 English versions of the Bible on the Bible Gateway website. And if English is not your native language, Bible Gateway makes the Bible available in more than 70 other languages. Audio Bibles and numerous other resources are also freely available for all your Bible study needs.

Psalm 119:18
As newborn babies want milk, you should long for the pure milk (simple teaching) of God's word, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation. (1 Peter 2:2)

So where do you begin reading the Bible? I do not recommend starting at the beginning and reading through to the end, at least not right away. Instead, start with the Gospel of John. This Gospel's original audience was made up of new Christians and non-Christians who were searching for answers. The Gospel of John was written to prove that Jesus is the Messiah (the Christ), the Son of God, and that by believing in Him you will have eternal life. (John 20:31)

After completing John's gospel, you may want to read the other three gospels, Matthew, Mark, and Luke. The gospel accounts reveal different aspects of the life, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.

After reading one or more of the gospels, I recommend the book of Acts. The Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts have the same author, and like a sequel, the book of Acts begins where the Gospel of Luke ends. Acts chronicles approximately the first 30 years of the church's history and teachings.

Next, I recommend Genesis, the book of beginnings. Genesis teaches us about the origin of the universe and the human race in the creation account. Genesis reveals the tragedy and consequences of sin - the reason we need a Savior. Genesis also introduces us to the fathers of our faith, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It is through their descendants, (the Jewish people) that our Messiah Yeshua (Jesus) would come. Genesis is the foundation on which the gospel is built.

After reading Genesis, come back to the New Testament and read Romans. Follow this up with some of the Epistles such as Ephesians, and Philippians.

I suggest reading the book of James next. The book of James is full with practical wisdom for everyday living. (James was the younger half-brother of Jesus and a respected leader of the church in Jerusalem.)

Finally, if you are up to the task, read the book of Revelation. You may find much of the book of Revelation is difficult to understand because of its rich symbolism. However, Revelation is the only book of the Bible that promises a special blessing to those who hear and take to heart what is written in it. (Revelation 1:3)

Summary

Here is my proposed reading order of Bible books for new Christians and for non-Christians who are searching for answers.

  • Gospel of John followed by
    • Matthew
    • Mark
    • Luke
  • Acts
  • Genesis
  • Romans followed by
    • Ephesians
    • Philippians
  • James
  • Revelation

Continue Reading

Where you go from here is wherever you like. New Christians ought to focus on the New Testament. It is here that the teachings of our Savior are given. But don't neglect the Old Testament. There is much one can learn from books such as Exodus, Nehemiah, and Esther. All Scripture is given by God and is useful. (2 Timothy 3:16)

Quality time spent in the Word of God is more important than the number of pages read. Speed-reading is not the way to go. Instead, take time to carefully study the Bible (see Acts 17:11). However, be sure your Bible study is more than just a quest for knowledge. It is important that you allow the Word of God to transform the way you think and ultimately change the things you do (see Romans 12:2).

Your Bible study time will help you develop a Biblical worldview. Your worldview is the set of beliefs you use to interpret and interact with the world around you. Everyone has a worldview. You may not be able to articulate your worldview, but you do have one. To develop a Biblical worldview, begin by spending quality time in the Word of God. Next, do what it says (see James 1:22). Let the Word of God shape your thoughts and actions.

Memorize Scripture

Open Bible

While studying the Bible, no doubt, you will come across verses that have special meaning for you. Take the time to memorize those verses of Scripture that speak to you. In addition, I believe there are some verses that all followers of Christ should know. To see those I've selected, read my article, 52 Bible Verses Every Believer Should Know.

Pray Everyday

Why pray? Jesus prayed (Mark 1:35) and He taught His disciples to pray (Matthew 6:9-13). We are told to pray continually (1 Thessalonians 5:17). The Scriptures also tell us that prayer is powerful and effective (James 5:16). However, a complete answer to the question "why pray?" would require a separate article. There are dozens of Scripture verses dealing with the topic of prayer. Make it a habit to pray everyday.

I suggest that you set aside time at the start of each day for prayer. Remain in the attitude of prayer throughout the day. Then end your day with prayer.

Fellowship with One Another

New Christians in particular can benefit from the support of those who are mature in the faith. With that in mind, find a good Bible-believing church/congregation and attend regularly.

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May the Lord bless you and keep you; may the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; may the Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace. Amen

Three Crosses