What is truth? Is it really possible to know God in a personal way?
Maybe you are a lot like I was: a wayward teen searching for the big answers to life. Why do I exist? What is my purpose? Is what's true for others, true for me? Does absolute truth even exist at all? Or, are each one of us responsible for charting our own course?
After initially denying the existence of God, I decided to put Him to the ultimate test. If He was real, and as good and loving as people claimed He was, then surely He would open my eyes and heart to the truth if I asked Him to do so: in sincerity and humility. So that's precisely what I did. I prayed and asked God to show me the truth about Himself (and myself) if, indeed, He was real.
But my earnest prayer was also not selfish in any way. I was not asking God to reveal to me what I wanted to learn or believe about Him. I was asking Him to show me the truth: even if, initially, it was difficult for me to accept. But I desired it fervently, above all, because I did not want to build my life upon lies. What God ended up showing me about Himself, and myself, changed the direction of my life entirely: and it is this very same truth that has been changing the lives of people for roughly 2,000 years.
To start with: God revealed to me that the Bible is His Holy Word and that I can trust its revelation 100%. The Bible teaches that God created all things perfect (including mankind) and that His desire was to walk in eternal fellowship with man, unmarred by the curse of sin. In Genesis chapter 3, both the man and woman are tested and fail to obey God. Because of their decision to disobey, both humanity, and creation as a whole, are plunged into suffering and death. For mankind, this spiritual death was immediate and eternal in nature. Immediately, man was separated from fellowship with God and His presence because of sin. Eternally, the unrepentant will be separated from God forever, and become subjects of His divine wrath and condemnation in hell.
This fate awaits all who reject the "glorious gospel of Christ," and is the primary reason the Bible states that Christ Jesus did not come "to condemn the world, but that the world, through Him, might be saved." He came to save the world because it was condemned already (John 3:18). But these are generalizations, that, unless applied specifically and personally, mean next to nothing. You see, I grew up hearing all of these things: but I did not yet know them to be real and living truths for me!
I needed to come to the understanding that, yes, "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners." But the Apostle Paul then goes on to say, "of whom I am chief." In other words: Jesus came into the world for the whole world. It was the whole world, full of sinners, that was the object of God's love. But it was also me, full of sin, that desperately needed His saving. I had broken divine law and was deserving of divine wrath: that much was certain. But it was also certain that Christ Jesus took my place, bearing my sins "in His own body on the tree." He died in my place, and conquered sin and death by rising from the dead, so that I could "walk in newness of life."
All that was required of me, and all that is required of you, is faith from the heart in these absolute truths and confession with the mouth unto salvation. Now, you may ask, "faith in what?" Faith in what God has revealed about Himself and His sinless nature - through His Word. Faith that God became "flesh" or, man, and died in your place as a sinless and spotless substitute for our sin. Faith that He then rose again to conquer sin, death, and the grave.
You must also confess Him as Lord and Savior, verbally, with your mouth. That means in earnest prayer and humility that you come to God broken and honest about your sin and need for salvation. You readily admit that you cannot save yourself through religious works, good deeds, or even in abstinence from sinful behaviors. Instead, you see yourself as drowning in your sin, without hope, and completely worthy of divine judgement and the eternal condemnation of hell. And as one adrift in a raging sea might cry out to the nearest vessel, passing by, for a life preserver: you must do the same with God.
He promises to save all who believe and call upon His name by faith: this includes you! (Romans 10:13) It does not matter how far you've fallen, or how many times you've crashed through another floor onto a new, "rock bottom." When you are at your lowest, He is at His best. He saved me, changed my life, and answered all my questions about the meaning of life and truth. Furthermore, He still walks beside me every single day as my very best friend. He will do the same for you, "weary and heavy laden" sinner. Won't you come to Him, today? - Pastor Mark