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If you died right now, what's next?

This is inarguably the single most important question you can ask yourself.   We are alive for only a short time, and dead for sooo much longer!   George Washington has been dead for over 200 years.   How much longer will he be dead?   Where you go depends on what is called "The Gospel".

What is the Gospel? It's the Good News!

The word "gospel" literally means "good news". Before you can really understand what's good about it, maybe first we should talk about some bad news.

If the Gospel is good news, what is the bad news?
It's sin, and the consequences of sin...

To put the bad news simply, we can look at some verses in the Bible.

In Romans 3:23 we can read that everybody sins and falls short of God's perfection. The word "sin" means to miss the mark. It's actually an archery term. Think of the archer who looses his arrow and it falls short of the target. Or maybe it lands a little to the left or right of the bulls eye. That's sinning. Without hitting the center of the target you've missed the mark. When it comes to missing God's mark, that sin has dire consequences...

James 1:15 says that sin brings forth death.

Romans 5:12 says that death passes to all men because they have sinned.

Proverbs 14:12 says there is a way that seems right to a man, but the end thereof is the way of death.

So, everybody sins, and sin brings forth death... But everybody dies, so what's the big deal? Well, the death mentioned in these verses isn't talking about the same death you're probably thinking about! The death of the soul is what they are referring to.

Matthew 10:28 says that our body and soul can die separately. It says the soul is put to death in a place called Hell.

Revelation 20:14-15 is talking about what happens at the end of time. It says Death and Hell are cast into the lake of fire, and it calls that the second death. It also says those who are not given eternal life are also cast into that fire.

Psalm 37:20 says the wicked shall perish. In case you're unsure what perish means, it describes it as consuming away like smoke. Smoke vanishes away. This happens in the lake of fire described in the verse above.

OK! Nobody wants to perish... so now what's the good news?

The good news then, the gospel, is that we can overcome this death!

Romans 6:23 describes it well:
For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

God offers us a free gift! The gift of everlasting life!

...how can you receive that gift? It's so simple! It's so easy for some, but unfortunately for some it's so hard. Either way, it is still very simple.

The Bible makes it so plain over and over again - all that's required is belief. That's why Christians are called "believers".

Belief in what?

One of my personal favorite verses for this is Acts 16:31:
And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.

The context of this is found when reading Acts 16:16-40. Basically Paul and Silas were thrown into prison unjustly. While there an earthquake tore open the prison cells and their bonds were loosened. The Roman jailer saw that the prison had been opened and was about to kill himself, knowing that the penalty to a jailer who lost prisoners is a worse fate than death. Paul saw this and told him to not worry because they were all still there. This impressed the jailer so much that he asked Paul how to be saved from Hell. Paul told him to believe on Jesus and he'll be saved!

Note that Paul didn't say "believe and get baptized", or "follow the commands of God", or "do good, and refrain from evil". He made it clear that there is nothing he has to do except for believe!

Also note the promise of "believe and you'll be saved" applied to his house as well. If they believe, they will be saved also. It applies to everybody!

So that's only one spot in the whole Bible that mentions believing is the only requirement. Are there others?

You bet! Another one of my favorites is Ephesians 2:8-9:
8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Faith is belief! We are saved through it. We are saved by God's grace, because we have faith in Him!   Note that baptism, or any other "work", is not included as a stipulation.   He didn't say make sure your good works outweigh your bad works, or "try to do good things".   Only "you are saved through faith".

Probably the most popular Bible verse explains it well. John 3:16:
16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

I love this verse. It's so clear. It explains the who, what, where, when, and why of salvation.

WHO is salvation for? This verse says "whosoever"! That's EVERYBODY WHO WANTS IT!

WHAT is Salvation from? This verse says it's from "perishing"! You are saved from perishiing, and are instead given eternal life!

WHERE is salvation? In the "world". It's everywhere. All people everywhere.

WHEN does salvation occur? This verse says "whosoever beleiveth...HAVE everlasting life"! The moment you believe you have (present tense - not "will have") everlasting life! Yout don't have to wait until death to have everlasting life. As soon as you believe you are presently given eternal life. Note that if you are given something that's everlasting... can somebody take it from you? NO, if it could be taken then it would be called "temporary" life, or "contingent" life, or "potentially eternal" life!

WHY do you get it? Because God loves you, you beleived in Jesus Christ (God's son), and he gave it to you as a result!

HOW do you get it? You BELIEVE IN HIM! (...so simple!)

OK, what does "believe on Jesus" actually mean?   What specifically do I have to believe about him?

Great question.

Certain things must be understood and believed in order to say you believe in Jesus. However, to say that you have to know everything about him to be saved is ludicrous. How could we know everything about a person? There are things in your own life that you've forgotten, let alone the life of another person.

Even to say you have to know everything written in the bible about Jesus is ludicrous. The Bible is a very large book and it's chock full of information about Jesus. In fact the entire Bible is written about him! If you have to know and believe everything then nobody could be saved. People study the Bible for a lifetime and still can't recall all of the things written in it. If you could, why continue studying it?

In fact there is a very interesting part of the bible that gives some insight into what one has to believe. It's about a man known as "the thief on the cross". When Jesus was being crucified there was another person being crucified next to him. He was being crucified for his crimes, while Jesus was being crucified for the sins of mankind.

The thief said something interesting. What he said can be read in Luke 23:39-43. He essentially said Jesus is innocent, he himself was guilty, and Jesus was going to enter into his Kingdom when he dies. 3 very interesting things that can be broken down.

1. Jesus Christ is God.
        By saying "remember me when you enter your kingdom" the thief was saying that Jesus had a kingdom in the afterlife. Who has that except for God?

        In John 10:30-33 Jesus says "I and the Father are one." Just looking at the Jews' response to this and other statements made by Jesus show they thought he was being blasphemous.   They said he was calling himself God.

        In John 8:58 he says that "before Abraham was born, I AM!" I AM is the name God gave himself, and Abraham is their ancestor that died a couple thousand years before Jesus was born.

        In John 1:1,14 it says the Word was God, and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. That's referring to Jesus Christ.

        In John 20:28-31 Thomas calls Jesus "My Lord and my God", and Jesus doesn't argue with him - in fact, he encourages him.   It then says that everything Jesus did that was written was to show the reader that Jesus Christ is the son of God!

        In Revelation 19:10 angel tells John that only God is worthy of worship, and there are multiple instances of people worshiping Jesus and he never stops them.

All of this is important because of the second reason in this list. Jesus laid down his life for us. Only a sinless God could do this for us. Believing in Jesus means believing he is God.

2. We are sinners, but Jesus laid down his life for us
        The thief knew that he was guilty and that Jesus was innocent. He declared it. He asked for his mercy. He was asking for Jesus' death to take the place of his own. He was declaring that Jesus had the authority to save him.

In John 10:11 he says "He gives his life for us."

Isaiah 53 is about Jesus Christ. It's a prophecy that was written hundreds of years before Jesus was born.  . Specifically:

4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

I think this a beautiful chapter of the Bible.   It's very poetic, but still literal.   God laid on Jesus the iniquity, or the sin, of every human being.   That means whether or not you want to accept it, Jesus was PUNISHED, he DIED, for your sins, and for mine.   He literally died for us.

Jesus says his blood will be shed for the sins of many in Matthew 26:28.

I don't want that to go without saying that just because Jesus died for all people, that doesn't mean everybody will be saved from death.   As you can see from the other information on this page, you MUST believe.   The fact that Jesus died for us all just points to the truth that ANY and EVERY person has the opportunity to believe, and his sins will already be paid for.   Jesus does not have to die again, it's already finished.

3. God raised Jesus from the dead.

This is commonly known as the resurrection. The resurrection is how Christ saved us. The thief implied that Jesus death wasn't the end! He knew he would take hold of his Kingdom after his bodily death.

A verse mentioned above says

Romans 10:9 says:
if you believe that God has raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  

Are you willing to believe these things about Jesus? If you are at all doubting in your belief, please ask God to reveal himself to you!

2 Peter 3:8 says that God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. That includes you! Repentance is just an acknowledgment of your lack of belief in the finished work of Jesus, and turning from it by believing in the truth about Jesus Christ.   The entire book of John doesn't even mention repentance.   It only speaks about belief.
This is the right frame.   I'm not sure what I'll do with it right now, but it seems like it could come in handy for something.