Next to the Word of God and the power of the Holy Spirit, your personal testimony is probably one of the most powerful ways to witness to someone. Yet many Christians do not know how to go about giving one. They know they are saved, but perhaps do not know how to tell someone else about how becoming a Christian has changed their life. They don’t know how to “verbalize” their salvation experience. In this article I will lead you through some simple steps you can take to learn how to give your Christian testimony to others.
Preparing Your Testimony
You will first want to write out your testimony on a sheet of paper. At the top, write:
“Before I became a Christian, I…“
Proceed to write a paragraph or two describing what your life was like before you became a Christian. Perhaps it was a problem you continually faced or things you were struggling with in your life. Perhaps it was a sense of meaninglessness or not having a purpose in life. Whatever it was that made you take stock of your situation, write a paragraph or two about it. Try to avoid using terms which I call “Christianese”. Those are terms which would probably not be well understood by a non-Christian. For example, the term “born again” in recent years has been used by a lot of people, especially celebrities, and has come to mean different things to different people. Many people in the media these days have taken up Oriental religions or had some type of experience they consider spiritual, but which are not biblical. So a term like being born again probably would not be understood in its true biblical sense. Try to use terms an everyday non religious person would understand.
Next, in the middle of the page write:
“After I accepted Christ as my Savior…”
Then write a paragraph of two about how your life has changed, since becoming a Christian and some of the benefits you have now. Remember to include how receiving Christ has helped you with the problems you wrote about in the first half of your paper.
Once you have these two sections written, read over them and revise them as you think best. If you have ended up with several pages, condense them down to one page. The reason is that you want to be able to give this testimony in one or two minutes at the most.
Learning To Give Your Testimony
When you have it polished like you want and it says what you want it to say, read over it a number of times to fix it firmly in your mind. You don’t want to actually memorize it. Doing this will make it sound rehearsed or like a “canned” presentation. You don’t want it to sound like you are reciting it. Tell it to several friends to practice giving it. As you tell it to people more and more, it will start to become second nature. You will also be able to change it according to the needs of your listener. Then, it becomes a great launching pad for presenting the gospel to those who seem interested.
Perhaps as a Christian, you would like to witness to others, yet just don’t know how to go about it. That’s understandable. We all feel that way when we are just starting out. In this article, I want to strip it down to the essential nuts and bolts of how to go about the task of presenting the plan of salvation to someone. With two or three hours of preparation, you can be ready to lead someone to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Before we begin, though, it is essential that you have assurance of your own salvation. You can’t very well tell someone else how to be saved if you are unsure about your own salvation. In a nutshell, salvation consists of the following:
1. You realize that like all people you have sinned in your lifetime.
2. You realize that Jesus Christ who was God in the flesh, died on the cross and paid the entire penalty for your sins. (The resurrection was proof that Jesus actually was God and not just a man. If he was just a man, he would still be dead just like any other man. Romans 1:4 tells us the resurrection was a powerful declaration of this.)
3. You have trusted Him to apply that payment to you personally. That is, you have trusted Him to save you.
There you have it. Salvation is simply trusting in Christ to be your personal Savior- plus or minus nothing. He did it all and all you just have to do is just accept it by personal faith in Him. The assurance of your salvation is not dependent on feelings, but is based solely on the promises of the Bible.
Now, here is how to present it more fully to someone else. There are many different ways to present the plan of salvation to someone. As you gain more experience, you will find the Holy Spirit leading you in different ways to approach the subject to someone with whom you are talking. However, it is good to start out with a basic presentation you can learn with which to start witnessing. As you gain more experience, you will find yourself being able to expand on this basic presentation as the need arises.
The Basic Two Step Presentation
Here are the two main steps:
1. Be able to give your own personal testimony.
2. Present the plan of salvation using what is commonly referred to as “The Romans Road”.
Preparing Your Personal Testimony
You can find a helpful article on preparing to give your testimony here.
Creating a Road Map: The Romans Road
The Romans Road is like a road map you can draw in a small New Testament to present and explain each step of the plan of salvation to someone.
1. Get a small New Testament Bible you can keep with you in your pocket.
2. Turn to Romans 3: 10. You might want to write this reference down in the front of the New testament to begin with so you will always know where to start.
3. In the margin by Romans 3:10, write Romans 3:23. This is the next verse you will turn to.
4. In the margin by Romans 3: 23 write “Romans 6: 23”.
5. In the margin by Romans 6:23, write “Romans 5:8”.
6. Turn to Romans 5:8 and in the margin write “John 3: 16.
Note: Most people, when using the Romans Road will turn to Romans 10: 9, 10. I will explain in a moment why I prefer using John 3: 16 instead.
1. When you have the permission of the person you would like to witness to, turn to the first verse at Romans 3: 10. Read this verse to the person and explain to them that in God’s sight no one is righteous. We have all done wrong things in God’s sight. Even though to ourselves, we don’t seem to be all that bad, God’s standard is perfection because God is a holy God.
2. Next turn to Romans 3:23 and read the verse. This verse tells why we are not right with God. We have all sinned. The word sin means to “miss the mark”. The idea is that God’s standard we have to meet is perfection. In linear measurement, a yard is exactly thirty six (36) inches. Thirty five (35) inches is not a yard. It falls short, or “ misses the mark” of being a yard by definition. In the same way, God’s measure by which He must judge us is His own perfection. This is because He is completely holy and cannot allow sin in His presence.
3. Next turn to Romans 6:23 and read the verse to the person. Explain that this verse tells us that the wages (results) of our sins is death. Physical death is when the soul and spirit of a person is separated from their body. Spiritual death is when the soul is separated from God. This verse goes on to say that the gift of God is eternal life in (through) Jesus Christ.
4. Next turn to Romans 5:8. Explain that this verse tells us that God loves us and has provided a way by which we can escape the penalty of sin. Jesus Christ, God’s Son died and paid the penalty for our sins. The Bible teaches that Jesus, the Son of God, is fully God just as much as God the Father. When He died on the cross, He paid the entire wages (penalty) for our sins which we normally would have to pay, . He was our substitute in paying for our sins.
Here you could give an illustration:
Suppose you broke a law and went to court. The judge finds you guilty and you must pay a fine. But the judge is a personal friend. As a judge, he must pass sentence on you. But then, he takes off his robe and steps down from the bench. He says to you, “I will now act as your friend instead of your judge. I will pay your fine if you will let me. That way, justice is served for your offense and you can go free as I will pay the penalty for your offense.” You then have a choice of accepting his offer or rejecting it. That is what God did for us. Jesus paid for our sins and we can accept that payment and be made right with God, or we can reject it and suffer the penalty ourselves.
Note: Here is a optional verse you can also give:
I Corinthians 15: 3,4 says that Christ died for our sins, that He was buried, and that He rose from the dead. This resurrection proved that He was indeed the Son of God and paid the price for our sins. If He had been only a man, he would still be dead and buried just like every other man who has died physically. These two verses contain a full summary of what the Gospel is all about.
5. Now turn to John 3: 16 and read this verse to the person to whom you are witnessing. This verse tells us that we only have to believe in Jesus as our Savior to be saved. The phrase, “ believes in”, means to “trust in, rely upon, cling to”. If we truly believe that Christ died for our sins and He is the only way to Heaven, we will just rely on this to be so. When we do this we are saved. (Note: if someone doesn’t trust Christ to be their Savior, then this is really an indication that they actually don’t believe the Gospel. It could be that they don’t believe they are a sinner, or that there is no penalty for their sins. Or it could be they don’t believe that Christ actually paid the price for their sins, or something else about the Gospel message. If a person truly believes this message and the plan of salvation, all they have to do is rely on Christ to apply the payment for their sins, to them personally, which He made when He died on the cross.)
6. At this point, you can ask the person if he believes this plan which you have presented to him or her. If they say yes, simply ask them, “Will you trust Christ now to save you?” You can then lead them in a simply prayer thanking Jesus for saving them.
7. After you have prayed with them, show them how they can know they are saved. Tell them the assurance of their salvation is not based on feelings, but on the authority of God’s Word, the Bible. Turn to John 3: 18 and read it to them. Ask them which two classes of people they see in that verse (hint: those who believe and those who do not believe). Ask them which class they are in. If they have understood your presentation, they should say, “Those who believe”. Then ask them what it says about those who believe. The answer is that those who believe are not condemned. Explain to them that this means that now, God will never condemn them for their sins. Christ died and paid the full penalty for all their past, present and future sins.
At this point you might want to refer them to material on how to grow as a Christian. You might also want to do a search on the web for other material resources to which you can refer them.
If they refuse to accept Christ or are not yet fully convinced of the truthfulness of the Gospel, leave the door open for them to consider it later. Encourage them to think about what you have told them and to look into it further. Leave your contact information with them and possibly a tract, so they can get in touch with you should they later want to do so. Then thank them for their time and let them know you will be praying for them.
There you have it. A simple, yet complete way to present the plan of salvation to someone.
Why I Like to Use John 3: 16 instead of Romans 10: 9, 10 after Romans 5:8 (Step 5 above).
In Romans 10, Paul is writing in a slightly different context. To use these verses requires a little explanation. Here is what it says:
Romans 10: 8-10
8 But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: 9 That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.
In verse 10 it says that it is the believing with the heart that justifies (saves) a person and confessing with the mouth is simply confessing what was already done in the heart of the person. It is the believing which saves a person. The resurrection of Jesus was proof that Jesus was indeed who he said He was- the Savior. The verse about believing in the resurrection of Jesus, means that a person believes that Jesus was who he said he was and that He accomplished the payment for our sins when He died on the cross.
Explaining this to someone whom you are trying to lead to the Lord can be confusing however. These verses are part of an presentation Paul is using to develop certain teachings about the Jewish people and their view of Christ. I personally find it easier to use John 3: 16 to explain receiving or trusting Christ to someone to whom I am witnessing instead of these verses in Romans 10.
Witnessing Without The Answers
One fear we sometimes have is that the person we are witnessing to will ask a question we don’t have the answer to. There is a simple solution to that problem. Just admit you don’t know the answer. You can tell the person you will try to find out and get back with them. Then you can do some studying or call a Pastor for help.
A new Christian wrote me regarding his struggle with temptation in his life. Here was my response:
Regarding the issue of temptation, keep in mind, temptation in itself is not sin. We are all tempted as Christians. Even Christ was tempted. Temptation only becomes sin when we give into it. James 1:15 tells us when temptation has conceived, or given into, it becomes sin. In Psalms 119:9 it tells us the way to keep our lives pure and clean is to live according to the Word of God, the Bible. Regular Bible reading each day washes and renews our mind. In this way, we become stronger Christians so that over a period of time we will give into temptations less. As Christians, we now have two natures. We have the old sinful nature, but we also have the new spiritual nature, sometimes called the “new man” or “new self” in scripture. As you feed this new man by reading and meditating on scripture, that new nature becomes stronger just as exercise strengthens our physical muscles. As Christians, we will continue to struggle with the desires of the old nature as long as we are alive. The good news is that we can strengthen that new nature inside of us to become stronger than the old nature. The Christian life is not a static one. You are either going forward or slipping backward. There is no standing still.
If you are struggling with a particular sin that seems to really be entrenched in your life, I suggest you talk to a pastor or Christian counselor. God gave such men to us to help us in these areas. Sometimes just reading the Bible doesn’t help us completely. We need the input of other Christians to help us see our blindside sometimes, in regard to various issues in our lives. Sometimes problems in our lives come from past experiences we have had. This is where a good counselor or pastor who is knowledgeable about such things can be of benefit to us.
Judges 16:28-30 tells us of the end of Samson in the Old Testament.
Then Samson called to the Lord and said, “O Lord God, please remember me and please strengthen me only this once, O God, that I may be avenged on the Philistines for my two eyes.” And Samson grasped the two middle pillars on which the house rested, and he leaned his weight against them, his right hand on the one and his left hand on the other. And Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines.” Then he bowed with all his strength, and the house fell upon the lords and upon all the people who were in it. So the dead whom he killed at his death were more than those whom he had killed during his life.
During certain times in the Old Testament, God would raise up leaders to defend his people, Israel, from their enemies. These leaders were know as judges. Samson was one such judge or leader. We read his story in the book of Judges, chapters 13-16. These chapters tell us of the victories which Samson had in protecting Israel over their enemies, the Phiistines.
At last came the day when, through deception, Samson revealed the secret of his strength and was delivered over to the power of his enemies. The last verses in chapter 16 tell us how Samson was blinded and taken to the idolatrous temple of the Philistines so they could make fun of him and celebrate their victory over him as leader of the Israelites.
But God still had a plan for Samson. Samson prayed to God and God gave him his strength again. Samson had himself positioned between the two pillars supporting the temple and pressed against them until the whole temple fell destroying him and his enemies.
Then scripture tells us that in this event, Samson destroyed more of his enemies at the last of his life than in his entire lifetime.
Older Believers, your mightiest victories in the Christian life may still be ahead of you.
I remember my Dad telling me that sometimes God will prepare a person for most of his or her life to use that person in a much mightier way towards the end of their life, perhaps for a few short years.
Moses is a good example of this. God spent two thirds of Moses’ life in Egypt and the back side of the desert to prepare him for the monumental work God had for him to do in delivering the Israelites from bondage. It took that amount of time for Moses to learn to depend on God and not his own human abilities.
Dear, Christian brother, don’t think that just because you may be up in years and nearing the twilight of life that God is finished with you! He still has a task for you to perform and it may be only now that He has His greatest work to accomplish through your life. Keep plodding along, obeying Him, and seeking to advance His kindgom here on the earth.
It may be in imparting the wisdom you have gained to a younger generation.
It may be spreading the gospel to those you come in contact with or training others to witness.
It may be in counseling and encouraging other believers and helping them avoid the pitfalls you found in life.
Whatever it is, get busy and stay busy! YOU STILL HAVE WORK TO DO!
H.A. Ironside (known as Harry or H.A.I.) was a famous Bible teacher from the previous century. He preached and taught all over the United States and was pastor of the famous Moody Memorial Church in Chicago for a number of years. In his biography entitled, Ordained of the Lord, by E. Schuyler English, his biographer tells a story which must have had a transforming effect on Ironside’s ministry. Here is the excerpt:
Occasionally, in his travels up and down California, Harry sought the communion and counsel of servants of God who were reported to know Christ intimately and to be well acquainted with the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings. To this end, on one of his visits to Los Angeles he walked out far beyond the city limits to gain the acquaintance of an aged servant of the Lord who lived in a tent among the olive trees. His name was Andrew Fraser. He had been a friend of Sophia several years earlier but now, because he had contracted a contagious and terminal illness, he saw few people indeed. When Harry reached Mr. Fraser’s tent and introduced himself, and after certain amenities were observed, the young man told his host that he was trying to preach the gospel and teach the Word.
“Well,” said the aged servant of the Lord, “sit down for a while and let’s talk together about the Word of God.” He then opened his much-worn Bible and for some time, in fact, until his strength was about gone, earnestly presented truth after truth of the precious Word of God, turning from one passage to another. He did this in so simple and so sweet a manner that young Ironside entered into these truths in a way that he had never done before. Tears began running down the cheeks of the young preacher.
“Where did you get these things?” he asked. “Can you tell me where I can find a book that will open such wonderful truths to me? Did you learn these things in seminary?”
He waited for Mr. Fraser’s answer, which he never forgot, “My dear young man, I learned these things on my knees on the mud floor of a little sod cottage in the north of Ireland. There with my open Bible before me I used to kneel for hours at a time and ask the Spirit of God to reveal Christ to my soul and to open the Word to my heart. He taught me more on my knees on that mud floor than I ever could have learned in all the colleges or seminaries in the world.”
To know God better. The better we know God, the better we can follow Him.
The Bible is the only book which is totally reliable and without error- unlike philosophies written by men.
What Bible study will do for us:
- It will make you a strong Christian- 1 John 2:14 (The young men strong because Word of God was in them.)
- It assures of salvation.1 John 5:13
- It will give confidence in prayer- John 15:7, 1 John 5:14,15
- it will cleanse us from sin.-John 17:17
- It will give you joy.-John 15:11
- it will produce peace in your life. Luke 11: 28
- It will guide you in making important decisions in life- direction and wisdom for daily living- Ps. 119:105
- It will help you share your faith with others.-1 Peter 3:15
- It will guarantee your success and make you more fruitful in your life. Joshua 1:8, Ps 1:1-3
- It will transform our lives. The Bible is the tool the Holy Spirit uses to transform our lives and make us more like Christ
- It will protect us from false teaching. By knowing the truths of the Bible, we will be able recognize false teaching when we see it.
After we’ve been a Christian for a while, it is easy to get in a rut. Our work and personal lives tend to get more complicated and more distractions come our way. After a while, it seems we are spending a lot of time just putting out fires and trying to cope with life on a daily basis. Our Bible reading and prayer life starts to slide without our realizing it and we find ourselves trying to cope with life through our own wisdom and ingenuity. That’s when things can snowball and life can really end up a mess.
When you realize this is happening in your own life and life seems to have more questions than answers, that’s when you need to step back and take a good look at what you are doing. How are you trying to handle everyday life with all it’s tasks and responsibilities? This is especially important in our high tech world with all its gadgets and distractions. We find ourselves overwhelmed with things we feel need to be done with little time to do them. That is when you need to start trying to simplify your life again. Step back for a while and re-evaluate things. Do you really need to answer all those emails and phone calls? Are all those tasks you think you need to do really that important?
Someone once wrote a little booklet entitled, “The Tyranny of the Urgent”. The author’s premise was that many times we have things which seem urgent to do, yet in reality, they are unimportant. We need to sort through things and do what is really important, not just what seems urgent at the time.
One of the best ways to get rid of the unimportant and get our priorities straight is simply to set aside a little time each day to read and meditate on scripture. If you do this over a period of time, I think you will find a lot of things will fall into place where they should be. You will be able to sift through you responsibilities easier and eliminate those things which really don’t have to be done.
Get Back to Basics
You have to decide what is really important in your life. There are several steps you can take to simplify your life and do what is really necessary without wasting a lot of time doing the unimportant. Here are several steps you can take.
1. Reading the Bible and meditating on it on a regular basis has a way of automatically washing the clutter out of your mind.
2. Praying on a regular basis will help calm you mind and help you focus on what is really essential.
3. Witnessing, passing out tracts, or in some way ministering to and helping others is the main purpose to which God called you. No matter what occupation God has called you to, He wants you in this field for certain reasons which have to do with your spiritual development and ministry to others. This is your primary purpose in life…not just making money to pay the bills. Once you realize your job is just the means to this end, your work life will take on a different dimension.
Take Time to Analyze
Take some time over the next few days, to have a good look at your daily life. Try to identify the areas which are important and which are unimportant. Start practicing the above three steps and in a short time, I think you will see a major difference not only in what you accomplish, but also in your attitude toward your life in general. These three steps are the basis for building a solid Christian lifestyle and accomplishing what God has for you to do.
Years ago, one of my earlier mentors told me, “Everyone should have a Paul and a Timothy”. What he meant was that every Christian at different times in their lives should be being discipled by an older Christian and also discipling a younger Christian themselves. Discipling a younger Christian does not necessarily mean someone younger in age, but one less mature in their development as a Christian. There are many younger Christians around who would love for someone more experienced in the Christian life to come alongside them and help them grow to spiritual maturity.
It doesn’t take a college or seminary degree or special training. And as someone who has been a growing Christian for years, you have a lot of knowledge and wisdom to impart to a younger Christian. You’ve learned how to have a devotional time reading and studying the Bible. You’ve spent hours in prayer and have seen answers to those prayers. You’ve made mistakes and have learned at least somewhat how to avoid the pitfalls. You have been through discouraging times and found that God was there taking care of you all along. That type of knowledge and experience is just what a younger Christian needs to grow and mature in his or her walk with Jesus Christ. Our own church is blessed with a group of older Christians who can disciple and mentor a younger person, whether it is a new convert just starting out or someone who has been a Christian for years, but has always had problems knowing just how to go about growing in Christ. I personally know what it is like to flounder around like a fish on a beach in my Christian life until some dear older Christian came alongside me to help point the way.
Some people have the mistaken idea that you just win people to Christ and invite them to attend church. Somehow we think having them sit through years of listening to sermons and Bible studies will be all that it takes to develop a robust Christian life. It doesn’t work that way, however.
What is Disciplemaking Anyway?
Let’s start with a definition. This one is mine, although you can probably find a better one somewhere else. Disciplemaking or discipling is a process of bringing a new or immature Christian to the point where he can grow on his or her own in the Christian life towards full maturity in Jesus Christ.
What Does It Involve?
It might be better to give some examples to show the process of making disciples. Some people think discipling someone involves having a weekly Bible study with the person they are discipling. This may be part of the process, but not necessarily. For instance, a new convert may need a weekly study on such things as:
- How to read and study the Bible.
- The importance of prayer and how to do it.
- How to deal with sin in their life.
- How to share the gospel with someone else.
- And many other related things necessary to grow in the Christian life.
However, a weekly Bible study format is not always what is needed.
Discipling another person involves literally building your life into theirs. Not in the sense where you are building a duplicate version of yourself. Your purpose is to help them grow into the image of Christ. It means sharing your life with them as you teach them and help them grow. It involves being there for them when they need you. It means sharing your victories as well as your defeats, your failures, and your trials and to help them avoid the pitfalls you found in life. It means encouraging them and rejoicing with them in their successes. This involves teaching them the Biblical principles needed to successfully live the Christian life. The whole purpose is to help them learn to grow into the likeness of Jesus Christ.
That’s the way Jesus taught His own disciples. They lived with him for three and a half years. He taught them, admonished them, and they saw how he reacted to various situations they came across in life during His ministry on earth. Much of His teaching was on the spot application of principles for situations they ran across in daily life.
Different Styles and Different Formats for Different Needs
Not everyone teaches the same way. Nor does everyone learn the same way. Some people learn best in a structured format such as a Bible Study. Some learn best sitting in a restaurant over a cup of coffee receiving on the spot encouragement and Biblical instruction on how to apply a Biblical principle to whatever problem they are facing. Some forms of discipling will take the form of hands on experience such as taking a person out and showing them how to share the gospel with others.
This is the Real Purpose of the Church
The Great Commission in Matthew literally says, “Going into the world, make disciples”. That is why the church exists on earth and that is the way our church can grow.
Imagine this: What if our church became known in our community as the church which creates and nurtures disciples and helps Christians grow by one on one instruction in the Christian life? Personally I think that kind of reputation would cause a lot of growth in our church.
What to Do
If you are an older Christian, look around for someone who seems to want to grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ. Develop a relationship with them. Spend time with them. Invite them over to your house to get acquainted. Let them know you are there for them whenever and for whatever reason there is.
If you are a younger Christian who would like to be more successful in your Christian living and have a closer walk with God, find someone in your church whom you think could help. Pull them aside and ask them if they would be willing to spend some time meeting regularly with you to help you learn and grow. Don’t be shy. There people in our church who would love to be able to spend time with you and help you develop in your Christian life.
Christianity is not a religion. It is a relationship. Many people call themselves Christians these days, but that does not make it so. These people believe that simply following the moral teachings of Christ is what makes them a Christian. Nothing could be farther from the truth. For example, suppose I went down to the Army surplus store and bought a soldier’s uniform. I could dress up in fatigues, helment, carry a rifle and act the part, and call myself a soldier. Would that make me one? Of course not. I have to become a soldier by signing up with a recruiter. Many people act the same way when talking about Christianity. They believe that if they try their best to live a good life according to the teachings of Christianity, that automatically makes them a Christian.
Acts 11:26 tells us that the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch. The disciples were believers. They believed that Jesus Christ was the Son of God and died to pay for the sins of the world. Jesus Himself said in John 3, that a person has to be born again in order to even see the Kingdom of Heaven. It is not our actions which make us a Christian, but whether we believe that Jesus died for our sins.
In Corinthians 15, the apostle Paul tells us it is this believing the Gospel (good news about Jesus) that saves us:
Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. 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, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,
It is when we believe in the Christ as our Savior that we are born again- this time into God’s family. Thus Christianity is a relationship we have to God through our faith in Jesus Christ as the payment for our sins. I John 5:1 tells us that whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God. The word “Christ” is simply the Greek word which is the translation for the Hebrew word “Messiah” which means “the annointed one”. Jesus was annointed by God the Father to be the satisfaction for the payment of the sins of the entire world.
The Bible teaches in numerous passages that trying to work your way to Heaven based on living a moral life is doomed to failure. Sadly many people will stand before God at the final judgement hoping to get into Heaven based on their good works in life, only to hear God’s response:
On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ (Matt 7: 22, 23).
With the exception of Christianity, all other religions in the world have one thing in common. That is the belief that people have to work to gain Heaven. (For whatever type of Heaven a particular religion teaches.) Christianity is different from all the rest in that good works will not get you to Heaven or even help you get into Heaven.
In Christianity, all the work necessary to gain our entrance into Heaven has already been done by Jesus Christ. We simply accept that to come into full possession of it. D.L. Moody, the great evangelist of the 19th century was talking to a train engineer one day. The engineer was a religious man from a different religion. Moody told him:
There is not much difference between your religion and mine…just two little letters.
The train engineer looked at him and asked for an explanation.
Moody replied, “You spell your religion ‘do’. In other words, you believe if you do enough you’ll go to Heaven. My religion, on the other hand, is spelled “done”. Christ has done all that is necessary for me to go to Heaven.”
And there is all the difference in the world in those two little letters.
Sometimes Christians say they can’t forgive themselves for something they have done. If you ask them if God has forgiven them, they will say, “Yes, but I have a hard time forgiving myself.” What they don’t realize is that they are basically saying they have a higher standard of holiness than God Himself !
When a person accepts Christ as their Savior, all their sins, past, present, and future are forgiven and wiped away. When we sin, those sins are already forgiven. But sinning as a Christian breaks the fellowship we have with God. We don’t feel right in God’s presence because we have unconfessed (unacknowledged) sin. We can also lose the joy of our salvation, but not salvation itself. Confession of those sins restores the fellowship we have with God.
God’s holiness is infinite; beyond what we as humans can conceive. Yet because of the payment Jesus made for our sins, God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) can forgive us our sins and we are clothed in the righteousness of Christ Himself. And in forgiving us, God remains just as righteous and just as ever.
When we say that God has forgiven us for our sins, yet say we cannot forgive ourselves, in essence, what we are saying is that we have a higher standard of holiness to which we hold ourselves than God does. Do you see how wrong this is?
So if you are a Christian, forgive yourself. God already has.