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I had grown up in the Anglican church in Jamaica, was christened as an infant, catechized, confirmed at the age of 13, and a communicant member of the church, but at the age of 21 I became aware of the fact that God is a holy God, and that He was offended by my behavior and my mind-set. In an effort to appease God I made Him promises about the things that I would "give up" and the good works that I would do. None of these promises brought me any peace.

In desperation I called a missionary to come and tell me the way in which to bridge the gap between me and God. The first thing he pointed out that sin was causing the gap. According to the catechism, sin means not being or doing what God requires, or doing what God forbids. The Bible says that "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" [1]. "All have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one" [2]. "The fool has said in his heart, 'There is no God.' They are corrupt, they have committed abominable deeds; There is no one who does good. The Lord has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men, To see if there are any who understand, Who seek after God. They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; There is no one who does good, not even one" [3].

My promises to do good works, even if carried out, would still not have been able to bring me to God, "For all of us have become like one who is unclean, And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; And all of us wither like a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away" [4]. "Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins" [5].

Faced with the dilemma of my sinfulness and my inability to do anything to correct the problem, I was then told the bad news/good news: "the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" [6]. "For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" [7].

The words I had heard in the "Messiah" oratorio came to my mind: "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all" [8]. A verse from the gospel of John, which I had often heard, but which had meant nothing to me personally, suddenly took on new meaning. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life" [9]. God had sent His Son to pay the penalty for my sin, knowing that there was nothing that I could do that would be an acceptable payment. I received the good news joyfully.

The apostle John began that gospel with the following truths: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being by Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. . . There was the true light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God" [10]. [The 'Word' to whom this refers is Jesus Christ, the manifestation or expression of God, through whom He revealed Himself.]

God has made us certain promises: "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life" [11]. "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" [12]. "And the witness is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, in order that you may know that you have eternal life" [13].

It is based on God's word that I can know that I have eternal life, and that I am assured of going to heaven when I die. What about you?

Except for one exception noted below, all quotations have been taken from the New American Standard Version of the Bible, which is written in clear contemporary language while remaining true to the text of the original languages.


[1] (Romans 3:23 NASB)

[2] (Romans 3:12 NASB)

[3] (Psalm 14:1-3 NASB) (For the choir director. A Psalm of David.)

[4] (Isaiah 64:6 NASB)

[5] (Ecclesiastes 7:20 NASB)

[6] (Romans 6:23 NASB)

[7] (Romans 5:6-8 NASB)

[8] (Isaiah 53:6 KJV)

[9] (John 3:16 NASB)

[10] (John 1:1-4, 9-13 NASB)

[11](John 5:24 NASB)

[12](1 John 1:9 NASB)

[13](1 John 5:11-13 NASB)

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