How to Find Life's Greatest Treasure

 
   The key to opening this treasure starts with the understanding that we are all helpless sinners before God. Sin is "missing the mark" for the purpose God created us. Originally, our first parents Adam and Eve, were created in God's image and likeness - reflecting His holy character, without sin.

   When Adam and Eve rebelled against God's sovereign rule and dethroned Him from their lives, they began to reflect character that was opposite of God's. This is what sin is, and it has caused mankind to be separated from God as if by a chasm. Because of God's holy nature, sinful man could not stand in God's presence and deserved His punishment. Adam, Eve, and we their descendents, therefore, came under God's righteous judgment.

   A sin-diseased couple had now begun to propagate a sin-diseased race resulting in the evil, injustice, sickness, suffering and death that has gripped our world ever since. Through Adamís "fall," we all became a slave to sin1 and to Satan,2 and in need of someone to save and deliver us from this condition.  God devised a way for mankind to be reconciled with Himself. That way is through Jesus Christ, Godís Son, Who chose to come to earth by entering our human race as the sinless God-man to rescue us. He came to be the bridge over sin's chasm, and the substitute that God required, to bring us back into right relationship with God.

   God is a God of infinite knowledge and possibilities. Surely, there must have been another way to deal with the problem of sin other than Jesus Christ having to die in our place on the cross for our sins. Yet God reviewed every possibility and decided that this was the only way - His best way of dealing with human sin. In fact, Jesus earnestly prayed three times, asking that if it were possible, would His Father consider another way and exempt Him from going to the cross? His Fatherís answer was still ďNo.Ē

   God tells us in the Bible that the only payment He will accept to satisfy His judgment upon sin is the shedding of the blood of a sinless, innocent victim - done in place of the guilty.3 Christ is the only sinless One who qualifies to deliver mankind from his seemingly hopeless situation.4

   None of us can, or need to, do anything to add to Christ's work on the cross. But when we approach God on our terms, in a way that seems right to us, aren't we actually saying to Him, "My way is as good as, or better than the work that Jesus accomplished on the cross?" Of course, that is foolish. No amount of good deeds we could do could ever offset and pay our debt of sin we owe to God and earn our way into heaven. Religious activities such as church attendance/membership, being baptized, taking communion, charitable giving, receiving sacraments, or saying ritualistic prayers cannot, in themselves, atone for our sins. Their importance lies as acts of obedience and worship. 

   Good deeds done to pay for or merit forgiveness of sins simply can't qualify because, for one reason, they lack the critical element of a blood sacrifice. For another, they imply that Christ's work fell short - as if we have to do more. And none of us would want to suggest that when God gave us His only Son, that somehow He did not give enough, or that Jesus did not do enough. Therefore, we can only obtain salvation by trusting in Christ's work for us, and not in any of our own works to merit salvation.

   You may be thinking to yourself, "Surely, there has to be something I must DO!" And there is - with God's help. This is what the Bible says you can do to receive forgiveness of sins and go to heaven:

  CHANGE DIRECTION

   Jesus called this repentance. It involves a change of heart and mind. It is a decision to turn from walking in sin to walking with God. It also involves confessing our sins to God and asking Him for forgiveness. Producing good fruit after this will prove our change of heart. We can change direction only with God's help, and we cannot do it without Him. It's like traveling on a bus, and suddenly realizing that you are headed in the wrong direction. At the first opportunity, you must get off and get onto the right bus.

(Luke 13:3; Acts 2:37,38; 26:20; Matthew 3:8)
  BELIEVE IN JESUS

   When asked what works God required a person to do to satisfy Him, Jesus replied, "...to
believe in the one he has sent." In fact, Christ went on to say, "...if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins." 6

   The word believe in the New Testament Greek does not mean just a mere acceptance of facts, but a continuing, lifelong trust and reliance upon Christ for salvation. It is also our commitment to do God's will. This story illustrates the difference between mere belief in facts and the kind of trust and commitment the Bible speaks of.

   In 1859, Charles Blondin walked a tightrope 1100 feet across Niagara Falls. The next year the Frenchman returned with his agent Harry Colcord. This time he wanted to increase the theatrics. Imagine the experience as Blondin challenges the crowd below: "Does anyone believe that I can carry one of you across the rope?" "Yes, I believe you can!" comes a reply. "Then, come up here!" he demanded. But the man backs out. Charles calls out his question again. Finally, he challenges his agent, "You tell everybody that I can carry a man on my shoulders across the Falls. If you really believe it, will you be that man?" And before the eyes of thousands of gasping spectators, including the visiting Prince of Wales, Harry rides on his shoulders over the mighty Falls and back again as the thundering cascades plunge over the rocky cliffs below. Both men said they "believed." But only his agent demonstrated genuine belief by trusting and committing himself to Blondin's tightrope ability. The other man showed only a mental agreement.

(John 3:16,36; Mark 1:15; Hebrews 3:12,14, 17-19;
Acts 16:31; Jude 5; Luke 18:17)

     Like the different facets of a diamond, the word "believe" in its Biblical sense includes all of the following:

Being fully persuaded that Jesus is the Son of God and that He has been raised from the dead.
                                                                                                     (John 8:24; Romans 10:9-11; Hebrews 11:6)
Transferring our sins onto Jesus as our substitute and sin bearer. 
(Leviticus 3:2)
Receiving Christ into our hearts. We do this by inviting Him to reside in us so that the Spirit of Jesus, the Holy Spirit, literally comes into our being.7 Our spirits become "born again." We then step down from the throne of our self-will and allow Christ to rule, and to take full control of our life. He demands first place in our love and as we submit to Him, this results in the fruit of obedience to do His will. When we receive Christ, we receive all the treasures He provided on the cross.
                                                                                            (John 1:12; 3:3; Revelation 3:20; Matthew 10:37-39;
                                                                                            James 2:5; John 15:1-10,16; Philippians 1:29)
Declaring an open, public confession to others of our allegiance to Christ that He is our Savior and the Lord of our life! The Biblical command for water baptism is part of this acknowledgment.
 (Romans 10:9,10; 6:3-6; Mark 16:16; 
Acts 2:38; 1 John 4:15; Matthew 10:32,33)


    When you think about it, there really is no greater "work" we could do to satisfy God than to believe in the work that Jesus did  for us. By repenting and believing, we begin our Christian life in the power of the Holy Spirit, and enter into a covenant relationship with Jesus. But this is only the beginning of the process of being conformed to the character of Christ.

SEPARATION

    This is a lifelong process of separating ourselves from sin and setting ourselves apart to God for His use. The Biblical word for this is sanctification. As part of the New Covenant, Jesus calls a Christian to "walk worthy" and to take up his cross and follow Him. He is talking about when our will crosses His will - but we submit to His will - no matter what the cost. This involves a daily denial and the putting to death of the evil selfish desires that arise out of our fallen sinful nature in order that God's life in us can grow. It involves hating those things that appeal to our fallen nature and that are a part of the world system that is in rebellion against God. Nature itself teaches us the principle that life comes through death - something must always die so that something else can live.

    As God empowers us through His Holy Spirit, He gives us the desire and the ability to do His will. When we walk in the power of the Holy Spirit, He produces the fruit of the Spirit in our lives - such as love, joy and peace. Thank God for His wonderful promise that He who has begun a good work in us will complete it to the end.8

(Luke 9:23,24; Hebrews 12:14; 2 Corinthians 6:16-18; 
Galatians 5:19-25; Colossians 3:3-15; Romans 8:13;
Revelation 3:5,21; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-7; Galatians 2:20)

    The Bible explains that Christ's treasures from the cross are a gift from God 9 - to be received or rejected. The moment we begin to work for it, it ceases to be a gift. And, to be of any benefit, this gift must be received. You may firmly believe that God wants to give you this gift, but unless you reach out and take possession of it by faith, you don't have it.

     If you have not yet received Christ, His Holy Spirit may be drawing you right now. Indeed, if you cannot remember a time when you made a decision to receive Him, then perhaps you haven't . This is your opportunity.

    Christ is now asking you to make a decision - to repent and believe - receiving Jesus into your heart. This is the most important decision you will ever make in your life, for it will determine where you will spend eternity. You have so much to gain by saying "Yes," and yet so much to lose by saying "No." And to make no decision is a decision. It's the same as saying, "No!"

    Nor will God force you. Instead, Jesus lovingly says as he knocks at the door of your heart, "If anyone hears my voice and opens the door I will come in..."10 Again, He invites you, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.."11  Now by His Holy Spirit, Christ is calling you out from the masses - pursuing you to become his child and a part of His kingdom. How can you turn down His royal invitation?

    God does not want anyone to perish and go to hell, but that all would come to repentance and be saved from judgment.12 You can receive Jesus Christ right now. The following prayer will help you make this decision. In effect, it's like turning the key that unlocks the treasure. These words have the power to transform your life. If you sincerely mean them, God will certainly respond to your prayer. He is waiting!
 
A PRAYER TO RECEIVE JESUS CHRIST

    Dear Lord Jesus, I am a sinner. But I believe You died in my place on the cross and were raised to life again. Forgive me of all my sins. I turn my back on my past sinful life - vowing never to return to it. I renounce the devil and all of his works. I open the door of my heart to You. I invite You to come in and rule my life. I give up all rights to my life, and I submit to Your lordship. I receive You, by faith, as my Lord and Savior. I receive everything You provided for me on the cross. Show me Your plan for my life. Thank You for dying in my place on the cross and for forgiving all my sins. Thank You for making me Your child, and for giving me eternal life with You forever. Amen. 

    If you have just received Jesus by praying this prayer, you have now entered into a covenant relationship with God. Your name has been written before God in His Book of Life.13 The Bible says that you have become a new creation in Christ.14 Though there may be ongoing consequences that continue from your former sins, your past has been forgiven. You are now able to make a brand new start! Just as a newborn baby has a new life ahead of him, so it is true for you as well - you have been "born-again" spiritually. Not only this, but all the wonderful spiritual treasures Jesus purchased by his death on the cross have become yours. Please explore my book, Discovering Treasures from the Cross, for a further in-depth explanation (www.discoverministries.com).

    In order to maintain the growth of your new Christian experience, be sure to break off any sinful relationship you are in, and get rid of anything that would keep you under sin's control. In addition, feed your spiritual life daily by practicing these spiritual disciplines: Communicate with your Heavenly Father in prayer. Read and study the Bible, esteeming it as the infallible revelation of God to man (www.thebiblechannel.com, www.thestreamtv.com). Get involved in a church that teaches and preaches the Bible. Tell others about Jesus and what He's done for you. Have regular fellowship with other Christians. Most of all, love God with your whole being by pleasing Him in all that you do, and love your neighbor as yourself.15

   Welcome to God's Family! Now tell someone else about the wonderful discovery you have made!


1.  Genesis 4:7; John 8:34-36; Romans 6:6
2.  2 Timothy 2:25, 26
3.  Leviticus 17:11; Hebrews 9:22
4.  Acts 4:12
5.  John 6:28, 29
6.  John 8:24
7.  1 Corinthians 6:19 
8.  Philippians 1:6
9.  Romans 6:23; Ephesians 2:8,9
10. Revelation 3:20
11. Matthew 11:28 
12. 2 Peter 3:9
13. Revelation 20:12-15; 21:27
14. 2 Corinthians 5:17
15. Acts 2:41, 42; Matthew 22:36-40