Why Nothing Compares With Jesus Christ…
And the Power of the Cross
This is my testimony, originally published on my personal blog, but revised and re-published for Rocking God’s House. This is my message to a postmodern world that, at least in much of the secularized West, no longer believes in God or in the claims that Jesus Christ made about Himself.
I love music. I love writing. But by far the biggest passion in my life is my relationship with Jesus Christ. After studying the 66 books of the Bible in detail over the course of 20 years, I am absolutely convinced that God has sent a clear message to humanity through those pages.
He wants to have a personal relationship with each one of us.
And it was extremely costly for Him to make that possible.
A Great and Terrible Divorce
A great divide came between humankind and God long before recent civilizations began writing history books. Whether a person believes “long ago” means six thousand years or six million is non-essential to the point that I’m trying to make. At some point in the beginning, after God created us, a great divorce occurred between the two parties, and the relationship has been fractured ever since. And in the gaping wound of that fracture, a flood of evil and suffering swept in and twisted the earth and the human condition into a pale version of what God originally designed.
God Arrives In-Person to Heal the Divorce
But Jesus came to restore and heal that fracture and that broken condition. He came once to deal with the internal brokenness — our fractured spiritual relationship with God — but He is coming once more, and very soon I believe, to deal with the world’s external brokenness: the external injustices, oppression, and wickedness of the world that humanity has fashioned for itself.
And, I should add, when I say a person can have a relationship with Jesus, I mean it quite literally.
And by “relationship,” I mean a personal one-on-one interaction that we can have with Him through prayer. Yes, as odd as it might sound, I believe that Jesus is alive and well today, and anyone can interact with Him through the spiritual medium of prayer, if that person seeks Him in faith, with an earnest heart that believes the claims He made about Himself, about God, and about the nature of reality and truth.
Jesus Would Offend Relativists Today
Jesus is not an inclusivist. He was not a moral relativist. He was very bold about this when He told the religious leaders of His day that He was the only way to God.
Not only that, but He claimed this: He is not merely a prophet or a moral teacher or just a real nice guy. He is the immortal God Himself born into the mortal flesh and bone of a human frame. He claimed to be the only authority on everything: from what happens in the afterlife to why our world came into existence in the first place. He claimed that His “religion” was the only authentic one that would actually heal the fracture between God and humankind.
Because He — God, the Creator of the universe — chose to come to earth and confront, in-person, the sin disease that has separated every human being from having a close relationship with Him.
The Uniqueness of Jesus’ Claims
No other religion offers a solution to our great divorce from God — at least, not in this way. All religions other than Christianity teach a works-oriented path to God: meaning, the only way people can get to God is by their own efforts, whether through meditation, religious disciplines, by praying a certain number of times, or by “being a good person.”
Jesus was the only founder of a religion to claim that no person on earth — no matter how good — could earn their way to God, and — another 100% unique claim — the only solution was for God Himself to be born into the human race, to become “one of us” and to pay our spiritual debt Himself.
But He Will Not Override Our Free Will
He is a gentleman though, and He will not force this pardon upon anyone. We must freely receive it as a gift and believe with all of our hearts that Jesus really is the Creator of the universe who came to the earth, died for us, and rose again with total victory over all sin.
(And, by the way, we might object to this by saying, “Well, what about the people who have never heard of Jesus?” Well, as Timothy Keller once preached — one of the most respected Christian theologians today — there is more than enough evidence in the Gospels that shows that when Judgment Day comes, God will judge each person on the basis of 1) their heart, and 2) how much they knew about the Way, the Truth, and the Life. If a person had never heard the Gospel in their lifetime, God will take that into account, and He will judge them based on what they did with however much they knew of Him. There are more nuances to this, but I won’t address it here. I encourage you to listen to Keller’s sermon about Judgment Day called “Accepting the Judge,” posted on 2/8/15.)
We Can’t Earn Our Way
No matter how disciplined a person is or how much they meditate or how many holy pilgrimages they undertake or how many good deeds they do, none of it is powerful enough to heal the rift between God and the human soul. This is because all human deeds have already been tainted by the divorce that occurred in the past. If a person cheats on their significant other, no amount of flowers or love notes afterward can change the fact that the “covenant” was broken when the person cheated. This is why no man-made religion can heal the divorce.
The solution cannot begin with man. Only God can initiate the ultimate solution that will heal the divorce.
And the Good News is that He has done this very thing.
In fact, other than Moses and the prophets in the Hebrew Scriptures, Jesus is the only religious leader in history who even acknowledges that a divorce occurred — that God defined His relationship with humanity as that of a bridegroom and his bride. No other religion portrays such a tender picture of God’s relationship with people; and Jesus claimed that the imagery was God’s idea, not a human thought.
And He is the only one who offers a solution to this broken marriage covenant that comes by faith, not good deeds — His death in exchange for our freedom and forgiveness. He willingly went to His execution for that purpose. According to Jesus, He is the only one who has the authority and power to wash away all of the “sins” in our lives.
The Word “Sin” Is Actually Just an Archery Term
The word “sin” is actually just an archery term. It’s not even a religious term, at least not originally. It simply means you missed your target. Jesus defined sin as anything we do that breaks God’s divine Law. He summarized the Law this way: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, and strength and love your neighbor as yourself.”
Can Any One of Us Claim to Have Loved God With All of Our Heart, Mind, and Strength, and Loved Our Neighbor as Ourselves?
We’ve all broken this law. Jesus taught that no human has ever kept the Law perfectly. The purpose of
the Law, according to Jesus, was to establish the terms and conditions of God’s covenant with humankind, much like how a marriage comes with vows that specifically state what each party intends to do to be committed to the other. This is why the Bible is overrun with wedding language. As already mentioned, and as wild as it might sound, God loves the human soul like a bridegroom loves his bride.
But Wait, There Was One Person Who Kept the Law Perfectly
Jesus claimed that He was sent to solve this seemingly unsolvable problem of divorce between God and us. No one on earth is righteous enough to keep the Law perfectly from the time they are born until the time they die. Apart for Jesus’ solution, only perfect obedience to the Law can give someone the ability to re-enter that broken covenant. That is impossible for all of us. Jesus stated that in His teachings.
The Only Perfect Law Keeper Has Chosen to Serve Our Sentence For Us
Jesus, the only person who has kept the Law perfectly His entire life, willingly gave up His life as a substitution for us, thus receiving the “penalty” for our sin. This penalty was the separation (divorce) from God. The Bible actually says that the spirit of Jesus went to Hell after he died. He went there in our place. However, because He was God, when he arrived in Hell, he overcame the powers there. Hell could not contain Him. Three days after His death, Jesus rose from the dead, walked on the earth for another 40 days and was seen by over 500 people, and, according to the Gospels and the book of Acts, He ascended into Heaven where He is waiting to someday return to earth. He is still alive today. He can interact with you in your spirit. He knows when you pray to Him. He knows your name. He knows the number of hairs on your head.
Only One Person is Capable of Forgiving Our Debt to God
Because of Jesus’ divine perfection, He is the only one capable of forgiving our debt to God. He basically took the punishment on Himself. He took the sentence that we earned by breaking God’s perfect Law. If God is the judge and we are on trial for breaking His divine Law, Jesus is the judge’s son who willingly volunteers to serve our sentence for us so that we can go free. This summarizes all of Jesus’ teachings about His identity and purpose on earth.
But We Are Not Robots; He Allows People to Freely Reject Him and Embrace Evil If They So Choose
He never forces this on anyone. He doesn’t want us to be robots. He wants us to freely choose to receive the gift of being forgiven. If you go to Jesus in prayer, believe that He is alive and able to perceive your prayer in a spiritual way, tell Him you believe all of the claims about Himself, and then ask to receive that gift of forgiveness that He offers, then it’s a done deal. He promises to respond to every heart that prays that kind of prayer. There are no magic words. You don’t recite some incantation. You just reach out to Jesus in your heart, believing all of these things, and in your own words ask for His gift of forgiveness.
The Liberation of Humility
This of course requires humility. You have to admit to God that you’ve messed up, that you haven’t and will never be able to do enough good deeds to make up for breaking His divine law. You have to admit to Him that you need Him. You can’t do it on your own. You can’t get into Heaven by your own efforts. It takes sincere humility to believe and admit these things to someone. But it’s essential. God resists the proud. But once you humble yourself and seek Jesus in that way, He will respond.
And It’s All Just the Beginning
But that’s just the beginning. I reached out to Jesus over 25 years ago and, since then, He has proven to me over and over again how aware He is of me personally and how He is active in the day-to-day events of my life. Somehow, in some spiritual dimension that I don’t understand, Jesus is able to be present. He is alive and well, and the moment you begin reaching out to Him, He is there with you.
One of the ways He reminds me that He’s there — though it’s certainly not the only way — is through miracles.
Jesus once healed my lungs miraculously in January 2003. I had been having trouble breathing. I had planned to go to a doctor on a Monday. The day before the doctor visit, I went to church. During the service I suddenly felt Jesus’ presence near me, and I sensed He was standing in front of me. The next moment, I felt two hands push against my chest so hard that I stumbled backwards and almost fell. No physical hands were near me when it happened. The shove came out of nowhere. The moment it happened, my breathing opened up and my lungs were healed instantly.
I will never forget it as long as I live.
These miracles aren’t the reason a person should seek Jesus. They’re just the amazing by-product of having a relationship with Him. Jesus was very clear though: we each have to make a choice if we are going to open our hearts to Him and “follow Him,” as He put it, or if we are going to reject Him and reject His claims about Himself. We each have to make a decision. He was very bold about that.
The Misunderstood Reality of Hell
With all this talk about Heaven, does that mean Jesus believed there was a Hell? He did. He was very clear about that. Hell is permanent separation from God. And God is the source of all goodness. That’s why Hell is a terrible place. God’s presence is withdrawn completely from it. While we’re on earth, His presence lingers and we still have a chance to make a decision to receive Jesus’ gift of forgiveness. But we can only choose while we’re alive. Once we die, the opportunity to make a decision has passed.
At least, that’s what Jesus taught. It’s all in the Bible. These principles and truths about the Messiah (Jesus) are everywhere in the Bible — from Book 1 (Genesis) to Book 66 (Revelation).
I hope you will consider the following words of Jesus, and then reach out to Him in faith:
“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” — Revelation 3:20