The Turning Point
For all Christians alive today, the turning point of our lives began with the events that happened before we were even born. Those events tell a powerful, true story ... one that completely changed our lives.
Nearly two thousand years ago, a child was born. His birth was unlike any other before or since. His mother was a virgin who, through God's power, became pregnant without ever having sex. This child was Jesus — God's one and only Son.
Jesus grew up just like anyone else, except for one important thing. He never thought, or said, or did anything wrong. When Jesus was thirty years old, he began telling people what God his Father was like. He told people how they could have a relationship with God by turning away from sin and believing in him. And he showed God's great kindness by healing the sick, restoring sight to the blind, and even bringing dead people back to life.
Everything Jesus did was good and right, but some people still hated him. They falsely accused him of crimes. Finally they persuaded their ruler to kill him by nailing him to a rough, wooden cross. Jesus hung from that cross until he died. Heartbroken, his friends buried him. But three days later an astounding thing took place ... God raised Jesus from the dead! During the next forty days, over 500 people saw Jesus — solid proof that he really was alive again. Then, with many watching, he rose through the skies to his Father to take his place as ruler over all the universe.
But before Jesus left the earth, he promised to return. When he does return, the world as we know it will end. Jesus will then judge every person who has ever lived. Some will receive eternal life with him. Others will suffer eternal punishment in hell.
But what does this have to do with Christians today?
The story you have just read is known as the gospel, or "good news." You'll be able to understand why this good news changed us after you read some bad news.
God created men and women to honor, serve, and enjoy him. But from the very beginning people have chosen to live their own way, rather than obeying the desires and commands of God. That's called sin. Though every human being sins, God himself is sinless. He hates sin, and he has warned that everyone who sins will be severely punished. There's not a thing men and women can do to save themselves from the punishment they deserve. That's bad news.
But Jesus has done what no person ever could.
You see, Jesus died for a reason. It wasn't simply because men hated him. He died because his Father lovingly decided to punish him instead of us. In other words, Jesus took our place. He became our substitute. God's sinless Son received the punishment we deserved, so that we might receive the reward He deserved. How can we be sure God accepted his death in our place? By the fact that God raised Jesus from the dead and took him up into heaven.
Jesus is not just another religious leader telling us what to do. He is God. Because he has freed us from the power and punishment of sin, he deserves our total trust and obedience.
Let's get personal ...
THE TURNING POINT in our lives came on the day we heard these things and believed them. That day, each of us asked God to forgive our sins and to help us start living for him. God granted these requests — but not because we deserved it or did anything special. He mercifully forgave each of us on the basis of what Jesus did on the cross.
The good news of the gospel changed our lives. God has turned us around and given us a sense of joy and fulfillment that keeps growing. Though we're far from perfect, God is helping us live the way he always wanted us to live.
THE TURNING POINT of your life could be just ahead of you, too. Maybe you think that none of this applies to you. But God sees things differently. He sees you living your own way rather than living for him. He sees you heading for eternal punishment, and he knows there is nothing in your own power you can do to change.
But God will have mercy on you — just as he had on us — if you will:
• trust in Jesus' death as the only thing that can pay the penalty for your sin;
• and turn away from your sins and live to please and obey God rather than yourself.
God is eager to forgive you. He wants to have a relationship with you as your Father. And he offers you the power to live the rest of your life honoring, enjoying, and serving him. ---