You’re not here by accident. God loves you. He wants you to have a personal relationship with Him through Jesus, His Son. There is just one thing that separates you from God. That one thing is sin.
The Bible describes sin in many ways. Most simply, sin is our failure to measure up to God’s holiness and His righteous standards. We sin by things we do, choices we make, attitudes we show, and thoughts we entertain. We also sin when we fail to do right things. The Bible affirms our own experience – “there is none righteous, not even one.” No matter how good we try to be, none of us does right things all the time.
People tend to divide themselves into groups – good people and bad people. But God says that every person who has ever lived is a sinner, and that any sin separates us from God. No matter how we might classify ourselves, this includes you and me. We are all sinners.
“For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23
Many people are confused about the way to God. Some think they will be punished or rewarded according to how good they are. Some think they should make things right in their lives before they try to come to God. Others find it hard to understand how Jesus could love them when other people don’t seem to. But I have great news for you! God DOES love you! More than you can ever imagine! And there’s nothing you can do to make Him stop! Yes, our sins demand punishment – the punishment of death and separation from God. But, because of His great love, God sent His only Son Jesus to die for our sins.
“God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
For you to come to God you have to get rid of your sin problem. But, in our own strength, not one of us can do this! You can’t make yourself right with God by being a better person. Only God can rescue us from our sins. He is willing to do this not because of anything you can offer Him, but JUST BECAUSE HE LOVES YOU!
“He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy.” Titus 3:5
It’s God’s grace that allows you to come to Him – not your efforts to “clean up your life” or work your way to Heaven. You can’t earn it. It’s a free gift.
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9
For you to come to God, the penalty for your sin must be paid. God’s gift to you is His son, Jesus, who paid the debt for you when He died on the Cross.
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 6:23
Jesus paid the price for your sin and mine by giving His life on a cross at a place called Calvary, just outside of the city walls of Jerusalem in ancient Israel. God brought Jesus back from the dead. He provided the way for you to have a personal relationship with Him through Jesus. When we realize how deeply our sin grieves the heart of God and how desperately we need a Savior, we are ready to receive God’s offer of salvation. To admit we are sinners means turning away from our sin and selfishness and turning to follow Jesus. The Bible word for this is “repentance” – to change our thinking about how grievous sin is, so our thinking is in line with God’s.
All that’s left for you to do is to accept the gift that Jesus is holding out for you right now.
“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. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.” Romans 10:9-10
God says that if you believe in His son, Jesus, you can live forever with Him in glory.
“For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16
Are you ready to accept the gift of eternal life that Jesus is offering you right now? Let’s review what this commitment involves:
- I acknowledge I am a sinner in need of a Savior – this is to repent or turn away from sin
- I believe in my heart that God raised Jesus from the dead – this is to trust that Jesus paid the full penalty for my sins
- I confess Jesus as my Lord and my God – this is to surrender control of my life to Jesus
- I receive Jesus as my Savior forever – this is to accept that God has done for me and in me what He promised
If it is your sincere desire to receive Jesus into your heart as your personal Lord and Savior, then talk to God from your heart:
Here’s a Suggested Prayer:
“Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner and I do not deserve eternal life. But, I believe You died and rose from the grave to make me a new creation and to prepare me to dwell in your presence forever. Jesus, come into my life, take control of my life, forgive my sins and save me. I am now placing my trust in You alone for my salvation and I accept your free gift of eternal life.”
If you have trusted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, please let us know. We want to rejoice in what God has done in your life and help you to grow spiritually.
Once you have done this, here are three important next steps for you to take:
1. Attend a weekend service regularly. By hearing a message from God's Word and spending time in worship of God, you can begin to explore the claims of Jesus. We meet every Sunday at 9:30 and 11:00am at Dos Pueblos High School in the Elings Performing Arts Center 7266 Alameda Avenue, Goleta, CA 93117.
2. Join a Go2Group. Life is meant to be shared. God intends for us to experience life together and having authentic relationships is vital to spiritual growth. Being in a Go2Group, we "do life" together and in the process, we find that we grow to become like Christ. In a small group, people study God's Word together and discuss the issues and challenges of life. It's also where they pray, care for one another, and are missed if they don't show up. Our Winter Small Group Sessions begin this week. Click here for information about groups and how to join one.
3. Attend the Discovering Hope class. God has purpose for your life, and this class is an opportunity to begin to discover what that is. In this class we talk about how you were formed for God's family. This is a basic introduction to our church family. You'll discover what we believe as Christians, why we do what we do, our vision, values, mission in Santa Barbara, and how to join the church. To register for the next Discovering Hope class click here.
And also very important: you'll want to get a Bible in a translation that is easy to understand and start reading, beginning with the Gospel of Matthew. We would suggest a New Living Translation (NLT) or a New International Version Bible (NIV). If you do not own a Bible, please stop at our Welcome Center next time you are at church and pick one up. It's our gift to you.
Here are some suggestions for excellent reading material as you start your journey of building a relationship with Jesus.
The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren This is a wonderful book of daily devotions and will answer questions you may have.
More Than a Carpenter by Josh McDowell, c.1973, Living Books, Wheaton, Il. Good philosophical and logical reasons why the Christian message is true.
Knowing God by J. I. Packer Hodder & Stouten, c.1973, UK, A comprehensive theological work -tough reading, but well worth it.
Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. A literary classic which gives good reason to believe in the Christian faith.
Out of the Salt Shaker by Rececca Manley Pippert, c.1979, InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL. A practical help in faith sharing.
How to Read the Bible for All It's Worth by Gordon D. Fee and Douglas Stuart, c. 1993, Zondervan Publishing House. Stimulating and helpful for the earnest Bible student in understanding the Old and New Testaments.