The First Step

THE FIRST STEP

Radio Message / Tract #3M



clipart of a mountain climber
The first step into the frigid water; the first step out of the deep mud.… The first step is often the hardest to take, but it's the best step possible if it's in the right direction! Both Jesus Christ and John the Baptist agreed on what everyone's very first step should be. What step did they insist on? Let's let them speak for themselves.

"In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, and saying, 'Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand'." (Matthew 3:1,2). And, "From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, 'Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand'." (Matthew 4:17). The very first recorded word that both Jesus Christ and John the Baptist spoke to the people was "repent". It must be an extremely important word! Do you know what "repent" means?

Luke 13:1-6 will help explain it. "There were present at that season some that told him [Jesus] of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices."

This verse describes a tragic, barbarous event. Some people from Galilee were offering animal sacrifices to God. Pilate, the governor of Judea had these people butchered while they were butchering their animal sacrifices. Their blood and the animals' blood all flowed together. The people that were telling Jesus about that event understood it this way. They thought that those people from Galilee must have been very bad people. They must have somehow deserved from God the horrible treatment they received. And the people who were talking to Jesus felt that they themselves must be better, nicer people than those 'wicked' Galileans who were cut to pieces by Pilate.

We have all felt that way about ourselves at times. We all sincerely believe that we are nicer, better people than some people we know of. Do you know anyone who is more cruel than you are? Certainly you do. Do you know anyone who is more selfish than you are? I'm sure you can think of someone. Do you know anyone who lies more than you? Sure you do. Isn't it a little bit comforting to know that we are not the worst people on earth. We are all better people than some people we know of. And we would also all admit that there are those we know who are better people than we are. We know people who are more honest, more caring, more faithful than we are. When we want to judge how good of a person we really are, we compare ourselves to other people we know of. But how does God judge how good we really are?

When God is deciding who he will allow into Heaven, does he compare us all to each other, and then let the nicest 25% of the people in? Or the top 10% of the people in? Jesus' answer to these people in Luke 13 will teach us how God judges our goodness. They had just told Jesus about those 'awful' Galileans. Verses 2-5. "And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose you that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, No: but, except you repent, you shall all likewise perish. Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think you that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, No: but, except you repent, you shall all likewise perish."

Jesus said, "You think these people must have been so sinful because they met such an awful death. But they were not one bit more sinful than you are, by God's standards. You think they should have repented and turned from their evil ways. But God knows you, too, should repent. You have evil ways also. You yourselves do things that you know are not honest, or pure, or kind. And unless you once and for all change your ways, you too will perish, just as surely as those Galileans perished, and those 18 the tower fell on perished. When death comes for you, you too will die and face the horrors of eternity outside of Heaven "except you repent".

Jesus didn't come to earth to flatter us and make us feel good. He came to earth to tell us the truth. When God judges us, and measures how good we are, God does not compare us to each other. He does not divide us into categories of naughty and nice; of bad, better, and best. He compares each one of us to one unchangeable, everlasting standard, the perfect Law of God recorded in the Bible, the Commandments.

What Jesus said on that day to those people, he says today to all of us. "Except you repent you shall all likewise perish". Heaven is pure, holy and perfect. No one with a less than perfect record in this life can be accepted into Heaven when they leave this world. Yet, the very best of us on earth is far from perfect. One little sin, unforgiven, will keep us out of heaven just as surely as 100 horrible sins, unforgiven. Think carefully about what the Bible says in James 2:10. "For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend (disobey) in one point, he is guilty of all." Friend, have you kept all of the Commandments of God? Have you only disobeyed a few of God's Commandments? God says that breaking even one of his Commandments makes you just as unfit for Heaven as if you had broken all of God's commandments. Everyone of us has broken some portion of God's law at some time. We are all guilty before God. "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God." Romans 3:23. Because we all have sinned against God, we all deserve to be executed, put to death. "For the wages of sin is death." Romans 6:23.

Friend, you have sinned against God. And you know it. And you will die. And you know that. And when you die, you will perish forever from the presence of God. You have earned the everlasting punishment, because you have sinned against the everlasting God. You have broken his everlasting Commandments. And what can you do about it now? Jesus, the Judge of all the earth, says, "Except you repent, you shall all likewise perish." "Repent" or "perish" are the only two choices God has given us.

How do you repent? Are you sorry that you've sinned against God? Do you wish you had never ignored any of his Commandments? Humble yourself right now and tell him that you're sorry. Do you mean it? Are you sincere about it? Have you told someone a lie? Now you must go tell them the truth. That's repentance. Have you taken something that's not yours? Now you must go return it to its owner. That's repentance. Have you hurt someone? Now you must apologize and make up for it. Have you hated someone? Now you must love and forgive them. That's repentance. Don't say you can't do it. You take the first step, and God will give you the strength and courage to follow through and finish it. The only other choice is everlasting death and Hell. Jesus said, "Except you repent you shall all likewise perish."

Though you have sinned against God, and deserve to die for it, God would much rather die himself than see you perish in Hell forever. That's why he came to earth 2000 years ago. He was taking the full blame for your sins while his bloody, battered body hung from a wooden cross. "Christ died for our sins." Show him that you believe it. Take this very first step. Obey the first commandment of the gospel. "Repent". You owe God an apology. Bow your head now, and make this your prayer.

"Dear Jesus, thank you for loving me so much. Forgive me for ignoring you for so long. I know I'm a sinner deserving of death and hell. But I know also that you died in my place to pay for all my wrongs. Today I turn away from all that I know is wrong. I accept the blood you shed for me. My heart is open to you. Come in and be my Master, and my Savior. In Jesus' name. Amen."

If you meant that prayer with all your heart, you have just taken the first step on the road to Heaven. God has just forgiven all your sins. The Bible promises, "If we confess our sins, he (God) is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9). Pray everyday. Read your Bible everyday. Find a Bible believing church and attend there regularly.   BT

P.S. Feel free to print out, copy or distribute this page to those you love and pray for. Please include the information below. 

Roadmap To Heaven
Your Bible Is Your Roadmap!
Radio Message #3M

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