AN OPEN LETTER TO ALL WHO SEEK THE TRUTH
Dear friend in Christ:
If you are seeking the truth, be assured that I was once in your place. There was a time in my life when I was actively seeking answers to my deepest questions, but did not know where to look. Although I had been raised in a Christian home, Satan was somehow able to keep me from understanding what my church was teaching. As a result, even though I attended church regularly and thought that I was doing all the right things, I felt an inner emptiness and hunger for peace with God.
One of the ways that Satan blinded me, was by making me think that what the Bible said was deep and mysterious. Because of that delusion, when I read the Bible I did not look at what the words actually said. Instead, I looked for hidden meanings and mysterious truths that I hoped would give me the peace I so earnestly desired. Therefore, one of the big breakthroughs in my life came when God showed me that the message He wanted me to get from His Word was not deep and mysterious, but was plainly stated. It was the plain meaning of the words; the meaning that is obvious to anyone reading the text.
One of the Bible passages that God used to show me that truth was 2Corinthians , “Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech.” Another passage was, 2Corinthians , “For we have not written anything to you, other than what you read or understand.” Both of these passages tell us that the message God wants us to get from His Word is the plain grammatical meaning of the words, the same meaning they would have in everyday conversation. At the same time, God used the words of John 8:31-32, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; And you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free,” to tell me that I could never find the truth by looking outside of His Word. He also made it clear to me that all of the explanations and interpretations I had come up with were outside of His Word, and, therefore, a hindrance to finding the truth (2 Peter 1:20). God does not want us looking for explanations! All explanations are an addition to His Word. He wants us to look at what His words actually say.
God has not given us His truth in the language of the philosophers and scholars of this world, but in the language of shepherds, farmers, fishermen, and tentmakers. And, the central core of His message is history. The Bible gives us a history of the world, from creation to the time of Christ. At the same time, it also tells us the spiritual significance of that history in words so clear that they need no explanation. The central message of Scripture, the message of sin and salvation, the message of God’s love for mankind and His promise of forgiveness and eternal life in Christ, is plainly stated for all to see.
The Bible begins with God’s own record of how the universe, including this world and everything on it, came into existence. At present, Satan is attacking that record as never before. Therefore, it is important to realize that God has told us that He made everything in six days, and even added a lineage of the generations from Adam to Abraham, because He does not want us to be deceived by those who claim that the world is “millions of years old”.
Instead, He wants us to know that we are His creation. That He created us without sin. And, that the sin and suffering we see in the world is here because of sin, not because God made it that way. God did not want Adam to sin, and He does not want us to sin. On the contrary, He intended from the start for us to live in fellowship with Him, as His dear children. However, because our first parents were deceived, and sinned, Satan gained dominion over us, as it is written, “sin entered into the world by one man, and death by sin” (Romans ).
The Bible tells us that God created man in His own image, “in righteousness and true holiness” (Ephesians ). But, through sin man lost that image, embodying instead a nature that is, “deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9). Because of that nature, we are all sinners. The Bible tells us that, “There is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans ). God is so holy that all of our efforts at righteousness are as “filthy rags” in His sight (Isaiah 64:6). And, because we are all sinners, we all deserve His wrath and eternal punishment. However, “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes on him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John ).
The Bible tells us that Christ’s conception was a miracle of God. And, because of that miracle Mary was still a virgin at the time Christ was born (Matthew 1:23, Luke 1:26-35). Moreover, because of that miraculous birth, Christ was born as the sinless Son of God, both true God and true man (Isaiah and 9:6, John 1:1-18).
Furthermore, because Christ was without sin, He was able to take our place under the law, and die in our place, so that through His death we might have eternal life. That is what the Bible means when it says, “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes on him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John ). That is also what the Bible means when it says, “Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8), “the just for the unjust” (1 Peter ). And, “being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.” (Romans 5:9).
We don’t understand how this takes place, God doesn’t tell us. But, He does tell us that Christ’s death was the sacrifice that atoned for our sins. And, because He died in our place, forgiveness and salvation is already there for all who look to Him trusting in His sacrifice to take away their sin. We need to place our faith in what He did, not in what we do. We need to believe that our sins are washed away by His blood. As it is written, “The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us of all sin” (1 John 1:7).
Christ not only died for our sins, He rose again the third day in victory over sin, death and the grave (1 Corinthians 15:1-3). His resurrection is God’s own testimony that He has accepted Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf. And, because God has accepted that sacrifice, Christ could say, “I am the resurrection, and the life: he who believes in me will yet live, even though he is dead. And whoever lives and believes in me will never die” (John -26).
Forty days after His resurrection, after spending time with His apostles and being seen by over five hundred witnesses, Christ ascended into heaven, where He now sits at the right hand of God the Father making intercession for us (1 Peter 3:22, Romans 8:34). Nevertheless, the Bible makes it clear that He will return in glory to judge both the living and the dead. And, when He returns everyone will be judged, everyone must account to Him for all their evil thoughts, words and deeds. However, although no one will escape the judgement, all who trust in Christ will escape condemnation (Romans 8:1). For all who trust in Him have God’s own promise that, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness // and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us of all sin” (1 John 1:7,9).
God has given us His law in order to show us our sin and need of the forgiveness that Christ obtained for us (Romans ). And, God wants us to admit our sins, be sorry for our sins, and to come to Him confessing those sins while looking to Christ for mercy. To many, that seems simple. But, it was not simple for Christ who had to die in our place, and it is not simple for the millions who delude themselves by denying their sin, or trusting in some excuse for it, instead of trusting in Christ.
Therefore, if you are sorry for your sin, and ready to embrace God’s promise of forgiveness in Christ, you might pray this prayer:
O Almighty God, merciful Father, I, an unworthy sinner, confess unto You that I have sinned in thought, word, and deed and deserve only Your condemnation and wrath. But I am sorry for my sin, and believe your Word when it tells me that Christ took my sin on Himself, and paid the penalty for that sin. And, I pray that you will forgive my sin for the sake of His bitter suffering and death, and be gracious and merciful to me a poor sinful being.
God’s word to David when he repented, and to all who repent, is, The Lord “has put away your sin.” Because Christ died for our sins, we have God’s own promise that there is, “no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus // For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one who believes.” (2 Samuel 12:13, Romans 8:1, 10:4.)
Now having said this I want to make it clear that there is no forgiveness apart from Christ (Acts ). We are not saved because we pray a prayer, but because Christ died for our sins. Without His sacrifice we could never be forgiven. However, because He took our sins upon Himself (on the cross) and died the death that we deserved, the forgiveness that He won for us is freely given to all who trust in Him (John , Romans ).
Gary Ray Branscome