The Whole Bible in a nutshell?

So what is the Bible really all about? Is there a single theme—a major message—that can be worded concisely, to help someone quickly understand the point of God’s message for us?
Perhaps the point is: “Be good. God is watching.” Or maybe, “Be unselfish to please others, and you’ll be happy.” Or something like, “It will all work out in the end. Justice will prevail, with bad people punished like they deserve, and good people rewarded the same.”
Well, those are some ideas of what people might think the Bible is about, but they all miss the real point.
The good news is we don’t have to guess. Because the Bible already provides an accurate summary description of itself. Calling itself “the Scriptures,” in a passage Paul wrote, the Bible has this to say about just what God’s most important truth is: “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.” (1 Cor. 15:3-4)
That’s the bottom line. That Christ died for our sins, and rose from the dead. It was prophesied in the part of the Bible written before it happened, and it is the banner theme of the part of the Bible written afterward. Christ died for our sins, and rose again.
Notice that it doesn’t just say He died and arose. A lot of nice, religious people know He did that, but still don’t get the point of the Bible, and still don’t have a relationship with God. You need to understand WHY Jesus died to know what God is saying. He died “for our sins.” He didn’t die to found a religion. He didn’t die to set an example of sacrificial living that will please God. He didn’t die for “original sin” or for “the sins of Adam.” He didn’t die to show you how to live, and He didn’t die to show you how to die.
He died for your sins.
He died in your place.
Now, whether you’ve ever read the Bible or not, you already knew all about sin. It’s the reason you lock your doors before going to bed at night. And you already knew that you are a sinner. It’s the reason you wouldn’t want anyone to know about a lot of the secrets you keep.
And when you stand before God, God wants you to know that He isn’t okay with the fact that you have sinned. He isn’t willing to overlook even one of your sins, much less the whole load of them you’ve built up over a lifetime. God is holy. He is perfect. He is totally righteous in all He does. And He will not accept even a little bit of sinfulness into heaven under any circumstances.
But He loves you and me, and wants us to live with Him forever, even though we can’t if there are any sins on our record.
So He did what was necessary to satisfy both His righteous justice and His merciful love. He became a Man—the Man Christ Jesus. He lived a perfect life in our place. And then, even though there was no guilt in Him, He died on the cross. He died for our sins. The Bible had said He would hundreds of years before He came. And in accordance with the Scriptures, He did just what He had promised. He died for our sins.
That means He absorbed all of the punishment of God that we deserve for our sins. So that God could justly punish all of our wrongs, big and small, and still forgive us. Even though we can’t earn the forgiveness for ourselves. He earned it for us by not sinning and by taking the punishment in our place.
But He didn’t just die for our sins—He also came back to life. Because of that, He can be our Savior today, and give to us the eternal life in heaven that He earned in our place by living a perfect life.
You already knew you have sinned. You already knew sin deserves punishment. Now, thanks to God’s word in the Bible, you also know that you can escape the punishment you deserve because of what Christ has done for you.
That’s the message of the Bible for you, in a nutshell. And you must respond to it by personally trusting Christ as your Savior, in order to receive the benefits of Christ’s death in your place. Just knowing about it isn’t enough. You have to make the decision to trust in Christ alone to save you, and commit yourself to that belief. Those who don’t trust in Christ alone as their Savior will die with their sins unforgiven, and they will go to hell for eternal punishment.
Come to Jesus today for salvation. Tell Him you believe you have sinned and deserve punishment. Tell Him you believe that He loves you and died in your place on the cross. Tell Him you are trusting in Him alone to forgive you, cleanse you of sin, and give you eternal life in heaven, just as He promised.
Indeed He does promise that to everyone who comes to Him believing that message. The message God wrote for you in His word. “Christ died for our sins… and He was raised.”

The Good Shepherd that does WHAT?!?

So last week, as we were in the village of Timpa and Lili was sharing the gospel with a 22-year-old woman in front of her house, my mind started to wander because of a flock of sheep that was behind us.  I live in a city of near half a million people, so I don’t see sheep every day.  And for half an hour or so, I was just noticing things about sheep: 1) All they really ever do is stand around eating; 2) They aren’t very attractive; 3) They don’t keep clean and they smell almost as bad as pigs; 4) They’re pretty easily scared and not that bright.  A motorcycle goes by and hearing the sound they run in a panic in every direction, including toward it.

Then, suddenly, the Holy Spirit brought to my mind the verse from John 10.  The one where Jesus identified Himself as “the Good Shepherd, Who lays down His life for the sheep.”  I had never realized what a radically shocking statement that was before.  When you just look at the verse with the Sunday school flannelgraphs of cute little lambs and a smiling, bearded shepherd, you think, “So Jesus gave His life for us.  Good.”

But when you’re standing there looking at sheep, and that verse comes to mind, it jars you.  You think to yourself, “the good shepherd who did WHAT?  If I were ever to suffer the misfortune of having to live my life taking care of this flock of dumb animals, and a wolf or lion wanted to make lunch of them, I wouldn’t even for a moment consider sacrificing myself to save these worthless bags of wool.”

The thing is, that’s how the people Jesus was speaking to must have responded.  And really, if anything, He was understating His love for us.  The difference between me and a sheep is tiny compared to the difference between my Savior and me.  And yet, He really did it.  He gave His life for the sheep.

Indescribable.  Unbelieveable.  Inconceivable, this gospel message is.  And yet totally true.  I stand amazed.  And hope you do, too.

Are you good enough to escape hell & go to heaven?

If you’re like most people, you would look at your life and say, “I’m a basically good person. A lot of people I know do bad things that I don’t do, and most of the things I do are good and decent. I’ve been baptized and I go to church, so I’m a Christian. And I believe that God should let me into heaven, instead of sending me to hell to suffer forever.”

If God let people who were “more good than bad” into heaven, and sent only the most violent, wicked people to hell, then you might be right to think such things. But God’s standard is much different. And it’s what He thinks of you, not what you think of yourself, that will matter on judgment day.

You see, God isn’t just “basically good.” He is perfect. He is holy. The Bible says, “God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all.” He is completely without sin, so He requires of you absolute, perfect sinlessness. And God says you haven’t lived a good enough life to make it. No one has. “There is no one righteous,” says the Lord, “no, not one.” That’s how the perfect and just God evaluates us in His word. “All we like sheep have gone astray, turning, every one, to his own way,” according to the Bible. That means that none of us lives the way of righteousness and pleasing God. That’s bad news to hear. But better that you hear it now, while you can do something about it, than to wait until your life is over and it’s forever too late.

Finding the solution

God is holy, and must punish all of your sins. But even though you are unworthy as a sinner, God loves you. So He made a way to punish your sins and still let you escape hell. “The Lord has laid on Him (Jesus Christ) the iniquity of us all,” the Bible says. When Jesus was on the cross, He was dying for every sin you have ever done. Your sin was laid on Him, and He absorbed all of the punishment of hell in your place. Then He rose from the grave, showing that His sacrifice was enough to pay the price for all of your sins against God.

God cannot lie, and He keeps every promise He makes. And today He promises you that if you will trust not in yourself or your religion, but only in what Jesus did for you by dying in your place on the cross, you will be forgiven of all your sins. You can have that forgiveness of sins and receive eternal life in heaven as a free gift from God right now.

If you believe these things God has said, you can tell Him so now in prayer. Tell Him, “Lord Jesus, I am a sinner. But I believe You love me and died on the cross to be punished for my sins in my place. Thank You for sacrificing Yourself, so that I could live with You forever in heaven, instead of facing the punishment my life has earned. I’m trusting You now to cleanse me and forgive all my sins, because You promised You would if I asked You in faith. Thank You for making me a child of God and assuring me salvation forever. Help me now to live the rest of my life as an offering of thanks to You. Amen”