...who made the sun and earth and moon?
Who made the trees and animals, and all the beautiful birds and flowers and things?
Maybe you even wonder where the first people came from. The Bible, which is the Word of God, tells us in the very first verse (Genesis 1:1):
"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."
The very first chapter of the Bible also teaches us that God created the first two people, the man (Adam) and his wife (known as Eve). Through these two people the whole human race came about. You could say that Adam and Eve are your great- great-great (plus about another 200 or so more 'great') grandparents.
God also tells us in His book (the Bible) that he is righteous and just:
"For the Lord our God is righteous in all
the works that He does" (Daniel 9:14).
This means that God has never done anything wrong. He is without sin, and all his thoughts, decisions, judgments and actions are perfect.
What is sin?
Sin is saying no to God. Anything we think, or say, or do, which God disproves of, that is sin, whether we know it is a sin or not. You might ask yourself – have I sinned against God? If you have ever been jealous, angry, bitter, gossiped, lied, judged someone, or disobeyed your parents in any way, then you have committed personal sin. This is just a small list of sins, but there are many other things we think, say or do which God doesn't like. God has also judged that every person born into the world is a sinner, so unless you want to argue with God (not very wise) you should probably accept that God is right – you are a sinner.
"There is none righteous, not even one."
"For all have sinned, and fallen short of the glory of God."
These verses from God's book tell us that no-one is good enough to have a relationship with God. God is perfect, and we are sinners, unable to enter into heaven and have an eternal relationship with Him. Some people say – "I know that God and His heaven is perfect, but if I try really hard to be good then surely God will let me into heaven, won't He?" This explains why many people get involved in religious acts and good deeds, so that they can make themselves acceptable to God. Being religious and good might look good to other people, but God clearly explains to us that trying to be good to get into heaven is still not good enough for Him:
“For all of us have become like one who is unclean [we are all sinners],
and all our righteous deeds [religious works and good deeds]
are like a filthy cloth.’
Now you might say: "Well, what can I do to get to heaven?"
The answer is nothing. There is NOTHING you can do to get to heaven. However, God loves you very much, and so He has done EVERYTHING for you, so that you can go to heaven to be with Him forever.
So what did He do?
God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, from heaven to earth to take the punishment for our sins. This means that instead of you taking the punishment for your own sins (which would become an eternal process, due to the sins you would manifest toward God from that punishment), Jesus took your place, and was punished instead of you, on the cross. In fact Jesus took the punishment for the sins of every person in the human race, from Adam to the very last person. (God knows all things, including the future, so He knew exactly what sins everybody was going to do).
"He was pierced through for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment which bought reconciliation [between God and man] was upon Him, and by His scourging we are drawn together."
"For God demonstrates [shows] His love toward us,
in that while we were yet sinners,
Christ died [was punished] as a substitute for us."
Jesus was the only person in history never to sin and so only He was qualified to be the perfect sacrifice in our place. Jesus Christ has always been God, and when He also became man [the "God-man"] He became our only mediator:
"For there is one God in essence, and one mediator
between God and mankind, the [unique] man Christ Jesus,
who gave Himself as a ransom for all..."
(1 Timothy 2:5-6)
How did Jesus come to be nailed to the cross?
The coming of Jesus into the world had been known by the Jewish people for over two thousand years. God had sent his messengers (sometimes called 'prophets'), to tell people about the coming Savior (the name Jesus comes from a Hebrew word which means "Savior"). God promised that the Savior would come to save the people from their sins. One prophet named Isaiah lived in Israel about 700 years before the first advent (coming) of Jesus Christ. Isaiah was instructed by God to write down the following words:
"By His knowledge the Righteous One,
My Servant, will justify the many,
as He will bear their iniquities."
Other prophecies told that Jesus would be born of a virgin, that He would be born into the family of King David, that He would be born in Bethlehem, that He would heal the sick, make the deaf hear, the blind see, and raise up the dead. We even read of prophecies written long before Jesus was born that He would "be nailed to a tree" (the cross), and that He would be resurrected from the dead three days later. All of these prophecies, and many, many more, came true in Jesus Christ.
When Jesus was 30 years old He began performing many miracles, and announcing that He was the Savior and the future King of Israel (the name "Christ" is translated from the Hebrew word "Messiah" which speaks of God's anointed King.) The religious people did not like Christ's salvation message of grace, and were very jealous of Him because He was popular with the Jewish people, many who believed that Jesus was the Savior and Messiah that the Old Testament prophets had written about. The religious leaders then planned to kill Jesus, and so accused Him of blasphemy (discrediting God) and insurrection (inspiring to overthrow the government).
Because of these false accusations against Jesus, He was unjustly nailed to a cross, a common form of capital punishment in those times. This was all part of God's plan though. On that most important day in history, God the Father imputed (put) all the sins of every person in the world to the body of Jesus Christ and then punished Him for our sins.
When the punishment was over, and all the sins of every person in history had been accounted for, Jesus shouted out "It is finished!" and then He bowed His head and voluntarily gave up His soul and His spirit. When Jesus shouted "It is finished!" He was referring to the punishment of all our sins.
"And He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross,
so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness,
for by His wounds you were healed [reconciled to God]."
(1 Peter 2:24)
"And He [Christ] is the propitiation for our sins
[His sacrificial work on the cross pleased God],
and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world."
(1 John 2:2)
Because the sins of the world had been punished, God's perfect righteousness had been satisfied (propitiated) by this perfect sacrifice, and He was now free to give His own perfect righteousness to all who believed in His Son.
Now you might ask: "How does just believing in Jesus get me to heaven?"
When you make a decision to believe in Jesus, and believe that He took the punishment for your sins, it means you are trusting God for your entry into heaven, and not trusting in your own good works. If you decide in your soul that Jesus is your Savior, it means you have given up believing in your human good 'imperfect righteousness' (which to God is like a filthy cloth) and now God can impute (give) to you His very own (perfect!) righteousness.
"But to the one who does not work [by trying to do good deeds to please God], but believes in Him who justifies [makes right] the ungodly, his faith [believing in the Lord Jesus] is credited to him as righteousness." (Romans 4:5)
Believing in Jesus Christ means that God can justify you, in other words He makes you 'right' in His eyes. Being justified also means that you are now able to have an eternal relationship with Him in heaven, not because of anything you have done, but because you believed in what God has done for you.
"Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." (Romans 5:1)
"He made Him who knew no sin to be sin our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." (2 Corinthians 5:21)
So what happens if I don't believe in Jesus Christ as my Savior?
The Bible clearly states that if you choose not to believe in Jesus Christ you must face God at the 'Great White Throne Judgment'. This event takes place at the end of human history, when all the souls of everybody who never believed in Jesus Christ will be brought before God. They will be judged by God as having rejected God's love and His grace plan of salvation, and because they do not have God's very own perfect righteousness, they must be sentenced to eternity in the Lake of Fire:
"And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life... ...and if anyone's name was not found in the Book of Life [everybody who believes in Jesus Christ has their name sealed in the Book of Life], he was thrown into the lake of fire." (Revelation 20:12, 15)
"...dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the Gospel of our Lord Jesus. These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power." (2 Thessalonians 1:8-9)
However, if you do believe in Jesus Christ as your Savior, you can have absolute confidence in God's promises that you will never go to the lake of fire, but that you will live with Him in heaven forever. There are hundreds of verses and passages in the Bible which confirm your eternal salvation in Jesus Christ. For just a few more examples:
"For God loved the world so much
that he gave his uniquely born son [Jesus Christ was born from a virgin, along with other unique attributes],
so that whosoever should believe in Him [Jesus Christ]
shall never perish but have everlasting life."
"For by grace you have been saved through faith,
and this [salvation] is not of yourselves,
it is the gift of God,
not as a result of works,
so that no one may boast."
"He who believes in the Son [Jesus Christ]
has eternal life;
but he who does not obey
[God's command to believe in the Son]
will not see life [eternal life in heaven],
but the wrath of God abides on him."
"[Jesus said] I am the way, and the truth, and the life,
no one comes to the Father except by me."
"And there is salvation in no one else;
for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved."
"For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus."
"There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."
"Believe on the Lord Jesus,
and you will be saved."