As Jesus was dying, he uttered his final words from the cross: “It is finished.” The sacrifice that provided for the salvation of the world was complete. Christ gave himself—his own life—as payment for our sins. But did Christ’s sacrifice apply only to those after his death? Did Jesus come just for us today? What about those who lived before his death and resurrection? Could those people also find salvation? If so, on what basis?
Salvation in Christ
Jesus taught that to enter God’s kingdom, we must become like children. Clearly, he was not teaching that we should be like little children in every way, but only in certain ways. What are the attributes of children that Jesus was referring to?
What does it mean to repent? Does it mean we suddenly become religious or decide to join a church? No. Or does it mean you vow to never sin again? Hardly. But then what is it? Is it a once and for all act? And is it essential to do before we have a relationship with God? Because repentance is such an important word in the Christian faith, we need to know the answers to these questions.
Many of us, when we consider our lives, the problems we have, and the pain we suffer, wonder: “Where is God?” and “Does God care for me?” We may just be disoriented from the chaos of life, or have anxiety and fear building up from all of the uncertainties we face. Some of us may have intentionally taken wrong and destructive paths, and are suffering from it. Whatever our condition, we are all in need of a shepherd—one who cares for us, leads us, and protects us from danger. And not just any shepherd, but Jesus the good shepherd.
All people everywhere need forgiveness. We have all sinned against others and against God, and fallen short of his expectations of us. Is there hope for us, and can God forgive us? No one has lived a life free of sin. Even those we consider “good” fall far below God’s standards. The Bible talks about both forgiveness and atonement. What is atonement and what does it mean to us?
I’m sure you’ve heard the following questions before, or even asked them yourself: “So, if I don’t believe in Jesus, then I will be punished in hell forever?” “What about those who have never heard about Jesus, are they going to hell?” “Does God torture people forever?”