Editor’s note: “Matters of faith” is a column that provides local religious leaders a place to write about how their respective faiths provide hope, courage and strength in these modern times.
There are all sorts of special days on the calendar each year. Which of those days are more special varies from person to person. For me, there are three very special days each year, other than the ones having to do with when I met and married my wonderful and precious wife.
The first is my spiritual birthday, the day I met Jesus and gave my life to Him in faith; the second is Christmas Eve, the night our church gathers to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior; and the third is Resurrection Day, otherwise known as Easter.
Resurrection Day is a great day because the Resurrection is a celebration for all humanity. I say that because the day of Jesus’ resurrection brought hope to those who put their faith in Christ. That day gave the opportunity to all who had, or who will, put their faith in the promises of God to be set free from the enemies of sin and death that Christ had defeated on the cross — and by His resurrection.
What a wonderful thing Jesus has done for us. Sin is something we all have in common. Every single one of us are sinners. (Romans 3:23) None of us can claim to be without sin, and the Bible makes it clear that none of us can get rid of the sin in our lives, nor can we ever do anything to pay for our sin. The righteousness we need to be allowed to dwell in God’s Presence can only be attained through faith in Jesus Christ. There is no principle or law within the universe apart from faith in Christ that enables us to deal with sin, or elevate ourselves in God’s sight.
Jesus’ resurrection is God’s way of showing to the world that Jesus was victorious over sin and death. Yet due to unbelief and rebellion, sin and death continue to claim victims every day.
One of the things we need to realize about God is that He is a good God. By that I mean He never forces His salvation on us. He allows us to choose which way we want to go in our existence. If you want to dwell with God, He has made the provision for you to accomplish that; all you need to do is admit your sin to God, and put your faith in the Person and work of Jesus Christ, believing that He took care of it through the cross, and displayed that victory by rising from the dead three days later.
On the other hand, if you do not want to put your faith totally in Christ, if you want to work things out to your satisfaction, by your efforts, God allows you that freedom. The only problem is that will result in you being separated from God for all eternity. God’s Word tells us none of us are capable of attaining righteousness; only Christ could do that.
There is another great day on a future calendar, but we don’t know what day that will be. That will be the day of our Lord’s return. When Christ returns at the end of this age, He will bring relief from suffering and death for those who believe in Him for eternal life. That will truly be a great day of celebration. But sadly, it will be a day of great distress for many because it will bring a beginning of separation and torment for those who have continued to disbelieve, for those who believed they could earn all or even a portion of the righteousness God requires for them to dwell in His eternal Presence.
What a sad contrast those two days represent. The day of Resurrection represents hope, an opportunity to be set free from that which has been a plague to the human race since sin entered our world through Adam and Eve. In contrast, for those who have not put their faith in Christ and Christ alone for salvation and eternal life, His return will be a day of endless misery.
Resurrection day represents the day of eternal life, but His return represents the day of endless separation from God for those who did not put their faith in the only way of salvation appointed by God.
Jesus said he came that we might have life. He came to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many. The Lord makes clear that although many will perish, He does not desire that they do. The Lord has provided a way to be brought into fellowship with the Father, and all it requires is the humility of true repentance, and faith in the One who became sin for you so that you could receive the righteousness of God through Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
I encourage you to prepare for a truly joyous celebration of Easter, Resurrection Sunday. Put your faith in Christ, and receive all that He has done for you, and all that He desires to do in you and through you.
Choose life. Choose Christ.
Jon McCartney is pastor of First Baptist Church of Tooele.