Back in 2013, while working at Pizza Hut in Elk City, OK, I started working on a series of tracts to hand out to my approximately 60 coworkers. Out of 13 possible tract topics (the tracts focus on the attributes of God), I ended up writing four. This post contains an introduction letter that I wrote and handed out to all my coworkers before I started giving out the tracts. I pray you’re able to benefit from the good news contained in this series of messages! Here’s the introduction letter:
It looks like my family and I will be leaving Oklahoma soon. It is my earnest prayer that, before that time comes, I might be of some service to you, and that, by the grace of God, that service might result in your eternal benefit.
I am not an expert on these things. There is a lot that I do not know. Of what I do know there is much that I do not understand. Of all that I understand, I am convinced that I do not yet understand it nearly well enough. There are countless other men and women out there who are far more brilliant than I, who would be far more qualified to write to you on these subjects. Though that is the case, I do feel a responsibility before God to share with you some of the things that I have learned in my recent years of study before I leave. Though my knowledge is limited, I want to share with you, in a series of letters, a few things that I do know with confidence – things that, if received, will be a priceless benefit to you. In all that I intend to say to you, please understand, I am nothing more than a beggar trying to tell another beggar where he found some bread.
What is this thing that is so important that I am writing these letters to you? Some of you know how I lived when I came to Pizza Hut the first time in 2009, and how drastically my life was changed overnight. I am writing to you about that very truth that has so totally changed me. So what is it that I am, by God’s grace, going to say to you in these letters? Just this:
God is a great, glorious God, we are great, wretched sinners, and Jesus Christ is the great, all-sufficient Savior.
That being my goal, I intend this series of letters to be divided into the following three sections: The Glory of God, which will focus on an aspect of God’s character, The Bad News, which will focus on how the truths of who God is apply to us; and finally, The Good News, which will focus on the amazing provision God has made for the forgiveness of our guilt, and the healing of our rebellious hearts through the person and work of His Son, Jesus Christ.
God bless you. I earnestly pray that God uses these feeble efforts of mine to bring you to know and enjoy Him now and forever through salvation in the only Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen (let it be).
Your servant for the sake of the Gospel,
The Bible teaches us that “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth”1. Contrary to the unthinking assertions of some, the universe is not a causeless effect. Everything did not come from nothing. Just as the existence of a building demands a builder, and art points to an artist, so creation requires a Creator2. God created all that is, whether visible or invisible3, and sustains everyone and everything effortlessly4. God was the creative force behind all that is, while He Himself was neither caused nor created5, but exists eternally6, outside of time (which is part of His creation)7. God alone is the Creator; none other rightly bears that title.
God is your Creator as well8. As your Creator, you belong to God, meaning He has every right to breathe life into you and take it away, to set limitations and define His expectations for you, to give commandments and hold you accountable for your obedience to them. Because God is your Creator, it is right that you would live your life with gratitude before Him in an attitude of absolute humility, reverence, and obedience. Your life has a purpose – you were created to worship and give thanks to your Creator – the One who has given you life and every good pleasure you have ever enjoyed9, sustaining you to this very day.
The Bad News
When God finished His creation, He said that it was “very good”10. God and man dwelt in perfect fellowship with one another. There was no death or suffering in the world; it was perfectly sustained by God in a flawless state. But man rebelled against God11 and the world was plunged from its “very good” state into darkness and decay12. Since Adam’s first act of disobedience, every one of his descendents has inherited death13 and a sinful nature14 that continues his rebellion against God. It is because of that broken and unsound sin nature that you love what you should hate (sin)15 and hate what you should love (righteousness)16.
To show us our sinful state, God has given us His Law (the Ten Commandments)17. God has commanded us to love Him supremely18 by worshiping only Him19, reverencing His name20, and honoring His holy day21 – commandments that most people’s sinful hearts, contrary to all virtue and reason, drive them to break constantly. God has also commanded us to love our fellow man22 (who is made in His image23) by honoring our parents24, not committing murder25 (God considers hatred to be murder26), or adultery27 (God considers lust to be adultery28), and not stealing29, lying30, or being greedy31 – commandments that most people unreasonably break every day.
God is reasonable and just to command these things and it is sane and right for you and I to obey them. Our disobedience to God’s commands is no small thing. Disobedience is high treason against our Creator, and that throws contempt upon His infinite glory. Since God is infinitely worthy of our love, any sin is infinitely offensive; therefore our just Creator will give the correct punishment for it – infinite, eternal destruction in the fires of hell32. Breaking God’s Law shows us that we are sinners, in desperate need of a Savior. Have you broken your Creator’s Law? Will you be found innocent or guilty on the day of judgment?
The Good News
The truth is bleak; however there is amazingly good news for guilty sinners! The Bible says that because God is kind and merciful, it was His will to save for Himself a people. God can offer all sinners forgiveness because His Son, Jesus Christ, Who is of the same essence as the Father33(fully God yet fully man), entered time, came to earth, lived the sinless life34 no one else was able to live35, and gave Himself up as a sacrifice for sin36. Jesus allowed Himself to be nailed to a cross where the Bible says He took upon Himself the sins of every man, woman, and child who will turn from their sin and trust in Him alone as Savior and Lord37. As He hung on the cross, He was crushed under the full weight of the wrath of God that rightly belonged to His people38. Jesus died forsaken of the Father39, was buried40, and rose again three days later41, giving proof the He is God, and that His sacrifice was accepted.
The sacrificial death of His Son was the only way God could forgive our offenses without being a corrupt judge who perverts justice by “justifying the wicked42” without their due penalty being paid43. If you will trust Christ’s work as your only hope for a right standing before God44, on the day when you’re judged45, it will be seen that justice has already been served – the penalty for your sin will be considered as paid by Jesus46. In fact, God will treat you as though you had lived Jesus’s perfect life47, and will take you into His glorious kingdom for all eternity48! Repent and believe the Gospel today49! You might not have a tomorrow50.
“Vengeance is Mine, and retribution, In due time their foot will slip; For the day of their calamity is near, And the impending things are hastening upon them.” (Deuteronomy 32:35)
The Bible teaches us that there is only One true God. Deuteronomy 4:39 says, “Know therefore today, and take it to your heart, that the LORD, He is God in heaven above and on the earth below; there is no other.” The God of the Bible is the One true God, and there is no other. Though this claim is viewed as narrow minded by many, it is not unreasonable. Isn’t the very nature of truth narrow? If your car is a Honda, it is not a Chevrolet. If the God of the Bible is the Living God (and He is), then no other god worshiped by man is in reality a god at all, whether one or many. It is the One true God who has created and sustains all that is1, has established His Law2, and has promised to righteously judge mankind by it3. He is also the same God who, being rich in mercy, has made a way for guilty sinners to be forgiven through the blood of His own Son4.
The Bible shows us that while God is One, He exists as a Trinity5. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are One, and are yet separate from one another as three different persons. We freely confess that this is a great mystery – how God can be One, yet He is three, but the fact that something is mysterious does not make it false. I personally do not understand the details of how gravity works, but that doesn’t mean I don’t remain firmly attached to earth by it! Human understanding does not define truth, God does, and God’s revelation of Himself in the Bible is that God is One, yet He is referred to as three persons.
The Bad News
Since Yahweh is the One true God, His Law rightly demands that we worship only Him, and no other6. God has, since the beginning of time, had His people who worshiped only Him, but since man’s fall into sin we tend to go after other gods of our own making. Men make gods out of wood and metal, or gods in their own minds. Many today worship only one god, but the god of the Qur’an is not the same God that is revealed in the Bible. Even the followers of modern Judaism claim that their god is the God of the Old Testament, but the modern Jews’ god is in reality a blasphemous denial of Yahweh of the Scriptures, since they (along with all other world religions except Biblical Christianity) worship a god that man can earn a right standing before with his good deeds, and that, if man does well enough, God will not punish his evil deeds. This is a sick denial of the holiness and righteousness of God8. Further, the God of the Old Testament is the God of the New Testament9, and most Jews today deny Jesus Christ, who is the God of both Testaments incarnate. Worshiping false gods is idolatry, and idolatry is sin.
Making a god in one’s own imagination is the most popular form of idolatry in the United States today, where many say they believe in the God of Scripture, yet they twist their view of God, to tame Him, and make Him feel harmless – a God that simply overlooks sin. People do this because God’s revelation of Himself in the Bible makes them uncomfortable10. They must do something to soothe their burning consciences, and silence the knowledge of judgment and eternity that they were born with11. Many people give lip service to “God”, but in reality, the god they’re thinking of looks more like a careless, generous old grandpa than the God of the Bible. God is as He has revealed Himself to be in Scripture – generous, merciful, kind, and patient, yet righteous, holy, and just, seeing our deeds at all times, and purposing to bring our every thought, word and deed into judgment on the last day12.
Loving anyone or anything more than the One true God is also Idolatry. If you would take an honest look at yourself, you would likely find at least one thing that you are putting before God in your life. Are you loving a significant other, a hobby, money, the pleasure of drugs, sex, music, self image, or video games, anything more than God? Even loving your own life more than God is creating an idol before Him. Placing anything, good or bad, above God is sin. God will punish all sin on the day of judgment.
The Good News
Though you and I have dishonored God by ignoring, or even remaking Him to our liking, and giving other things the love that only He deserves, He, being rich in mercy, made a way for us to be forgiven13. He sent His Son to die in the place of sinners14. Before Jesus’s arrest, knowing the great sufferings that He was about to endure, went to a place called Gethsemane15, and “being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground”16. The Bible says He was praying, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done”17. What was in this cup that was so disturbing to our Lord that “His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground”? Was it the physical torments that Jesus was about to endure? No! History tells us that many thousands of Christian martyrs through the ages have went to their deaths, even being burned alive at the stake, in a state of perfect calm; even singing praises to God in the flames! If people who know the benefits of Jesus’s death, burial, and resurrection could face such tortures calmly, or even with joy, why would the “Author of their salvation” be so scared of the physical pain He was about to face? No, while the physical tortures Jesus faced were unimaginably severe, they are not what filled that dreadful cup God offered to Jesus Christ (spiritually speaking) in the garden of Gethsemane. Revelation 14:10 speaks of “the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger”. If God were to succeed in His mission to save a people for Himself, and remain a just Judge while forgiving them, all the punishment that was earned for their sins had to be paid by someone. Someone has to pay!
If God’s justice says that sin deserves eternity in hell, and Jesus made a full satisfaction of the wrath of God on the cross on behalf of His people, that means Jesus suffered an eternity’s worth of wrath in that relatively short space of time18. He did not just suffer the eternity of wrath earned by just one individual, but by every man, woman, and child through all of time who had, or would ever come to Him for forgiveness19! Figuratively speaking, the wrath of God is what filled the cup that Jesus feared to drink, and Jesus obediently drank it all, making a full payment for the demands of justice.
The God of the Bible is the One true God, and the sacrifice made by the Jesus of the bible is the only one that God has ever, or ever will accept20. God proved this by raising His Son from the dead. Please do not continue in your idolatry; acknowledge God for Who He is, acknowledge yourself for what you are, repent of sin and flee to the only Savior, today.
“Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth; For I am God, and there is no other.” (Isaiah 45:22)
The Bible teaches us that God is great and perfect. “For I proclaim the name of the LORD; Ascribe greatness to our God! The Rock! His work is perfect, For all His ways are just; A God of faithfulness and without injustice, Righteous and upright is He.”1
God alone is great. It is true that men have done great and amazing things, but any greatness in the creature ultimately points to the greatness of the Creator and Sustainer. No man has inherent greatness.
No one is perfect like God is perfect. Even the perfection of sinless angels does not compare to the perfections of God2. Since God is an absolutely perfect being, all that He is and all that He does is perfect3. In the end, all of creation will bow before God and confess His perfections4. Depending upon your standing before God (being either in Christ, and thus justified, or without Him, and thus condemned), you will see, either with unspeakable dread, or unimaginable delight, how perfectly all things throughout human history were brought together to display God’s glory. You and I will prove to be examples of God’s perfection, either glorifying the perfection of His grace as vessels of honor in heaven5, or glorifying the perfection of His justice as vessels of dishonor in Hell6. God is absolutely perfect in all that He is, says, and does.
The Bad News
Since God is perfect, we should honor Him by fully trusting and obeying Him, knowing that His will, as reveled in the Bible, is as perfect as He is7. Despite God’s greatness and perfection, our nature is to reject His will and fulfill our own desires instead. This is sinful since in doing so we deny His perfection, and the perfection of His will, and insist upon the absurd notion that we know what is best for ourselves. Our sin is no less than a rejection of the lordship of God; an attempt to seat ourselves upon His throne, in His place. This is not only unspeakably unwise, since our perfect Lord’s will for us is perfect8, but it is also unspeakably evil, since our great God, seated upon His throne in heaven, deserves to have His place upon the thrones of our hearts as well. God – the only being in existence who is truly worthy to be called great, and worthy to be bowed down to and obeyed, is in effect told to subject Himself to our desires every time we sin. Since God is our great Lord, there is no such thing as a “small” sin because there is no such thing as a small God to sin against.
If there is one truth most people will agree upon, it is that no one is perfect. Perhaps one in ten thousand would be so far removed from reality as to try and say that they have lived a perfect life. The Bible gives us the standard of “goodness” when it says: “the LORD is good”9. If God is the standard of goodness, and God is perfect, then a good person is someone who has been absolutely, sinlessly perfect in thought word and deed from the time of their birth to the moment of their death. While most would agree that they are not perfect, very few realize that our imperfection is a dreadfully serious problem10! God is perfect, and as such He rightly demands perfection from each of us11. On the day that you and I are judged, if you would be justified outside of Christ, you must have lived the absolutely perfect life that God demands12. Do you measure up to God’s standard? Have you lived a perfect life, or have you lied, blasphemed, and worshiped the god of pleasure? Are you a goodperson, or are you living in sin even as you read this? The Bible says that if you have not lived a perfect life, God cannot even bear to look at you13! Outside of Christ, our perfect Creator’s eyes are too holy to even look at your sinfulness, much less share the intimacy of His favorable presence with you, in this life or in heaven for eternity! Even if we were able to stop sinning at this very moment, and never sin again, justice would still demand the eternal destruction of our souls for our past sins.
“They have acted corruptly toward Him, They are not His children, because of their defect; But are a perverse and crooked generation.” (Deuteronomy 32:5)
The Good News
Our situation is truly hopeless on our own, but there is hope for any who will humble themselves before God, and come to Christ by faith14. By God’sstandard, Jesus is perfect – He is the only good person that has ever walked this earth15. Also, since God the Son is equal in every respect with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit16, Jesus is great – He is of infinitely greater value than any other person. Our Lord left His glorious throne in Heaven17, and was born of a virgin18 into this fallen, hateful world, being fully God, yet fully man19. Jesus’s greatness and perfection uniquely qualified Him to be the only acceptable sacrifice for the sins of His people. Our Lord, being the infinitely valuable Son of God, is great, and being sinless, is perfect, just like God the Father.
Under the Old Testament ceremonial law, the Jews observed certain feasts, designed by God to help them to remember past events, and to illustrate things for them that had not yet happen. One such feast was established after God, through a series of plagues, brought the nation of Israel out of Egypt, where they were held as slaves for four hundred years. Though God sent many severe plagues, Pharaoh would not let the nation of Israel go. After the final plague, the death of every firstborn person and animal in the land of Egypt, Pharaoh was finally persuaded to let the people go20. Four days before that final plague, God instructed the nation of Israel to take a one year old, unblemished lamb from their flocks and keep it in each of their houses until twilight on the fourth day, when each family was to kill their lamb, put his blood on the doorposts of their houses, roast him, and eat him21. As the death angel went through the land of Egypt, he would pass over any home that had the blood of a lamb applied to its doorposts22.
After God brought the nation of Israel out of their captivity through that final plague, God commanded that the people continue to observe the passover feast to commemorate the children of Israel’s miraculous Exodus from slavery in Egypt. Though it certainly did a good job of reminding the Jews about God’s work on their behalf in Egypt, the feast also had another meaning; an even greater significance – to point the Jews to their coming Messiah, Jesus Christ, who was to be the “…Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”23.
Taking their lambs into their homes for four days means that the family develops emotional ties with their lamb – they’re making a valuable sacrifice when they kill their lamb. This pointed the Jews to the future reality of God’s sacrificing of His own, infinitely great, infinitely valuable, infinitely loved Son. Another requirement for the Passover lamb is that he be unblemished. This clearly pictures the sinless perfection of the Lord Jesus that no one has ever (or ever will) come even close to. As the feast illustrated – if the judgment of God was to pass over anyone, the only sacrifice that God would accept is a sinless one – a condition that only the Son of God met. The Passover lamb is killed, picturing the spilling of the Lord Jesus’s blood that God’s justice required, and the lamb is then roasted, picturing the pouring out of the wrath of God for the sins of His people upon Jesus in their place. The application of the lamb’s blood to the doorposts, which originally resulted in the Jews being protected from God’s plague upon the Egyptians, points us to our desperate need to have the blood of Christ applied to us.
Jesus, the church’s Passover Lamb24, made the only sacrifice God will accept on behalf of sinners. God, being perfect, demanded a perfectly spotless sacrifice – a demand that only Jesus could meet25. And God, being infinitely great, and thus infinitely offended by sin, demanded an infinitely valuable sacrifice – A demand that only Jesus, being God in the flesh, could meet. If you will turn from your sin and trust Christ alone to save you, His blood will be applied to you, and the second death, which is the final judgment of God – eternal destruction in hell, will not touch you26. Moreover, the perfect God who cannot even bear to set His holy eyes upon you, will look upon you with unending love, because instead of seeing the wickedness of your past, He will see His Son’s perfections when He looks at you27. Forsake all sin today and come to Jesus, showing your faith in Him by your changed, obedient life. He is the only true passover Lamb! If you ignore such a wonderful free gift of salvation, like the hardened Egyptians, you will certainly face the judgment of God.
“Jesus Christ … 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.” (Acts 4:10, 12)
“For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty, how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?” (Hebrews 2:2-3a)
The Bible teaches us that although God is a person (meaning He has an intellect and a will, being self-aware and knowable), He is not limited to a physical body. John 4:24 says, “God is spirit.” No other being is unhindered and free like God is. The Bible describes God in physical terms at times, but such imagery is used to teach us difficult truths about God in ways that we can understand; it is not teaching us that God possesses an actual physical body. For example, “How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! And the children of men take refuge in the shadow of Your wings.”1. This is clearly a metaphor talking about the comfort and security that a believer has in God; it is not teaching that God has literal wings that His people hide under. God is spirit, and is thus totally free – unconfined by a physical body.
God, being a spirit, is invisible2, which means that any image we could come up with would not be able to accurately depict Him. In fact, efforts to make an image of God greatly dishonor Him, since such actions both deny the truth of God’s spiritual nature, and suppose that the creature (man), with his limited knowledge, imagination, and abilities could accurately depict His Creator. These are some reasons why it is wrong to make images of God3. God is invisible, so we should not try to represent Him with images. How then could we ever hope to know an invisible God? The wonderful truth is that “[Jesus] is the image of the invisible God…”4. John 1:18 (ESV) says of Jesus, “No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.” Our wonderful Creator is revealed to us by His Son.
Jesus said, “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent”6. You canknow your Creator. Knowing God is the greatest pleasure man is capable of experiencing, and God desires you to experience the matchless delights and ravishing pleasures of fellowship with Him, now and for eternity5!
The Bad News
One reason God gave us the gift of sex is to illustrate the pleasures of intimacy with Him9. We are not suggesting that anyone enters into a physical relationship with God, but that sex was designed, in part, to beautifully illustrate the spiritual pleasures of fellowship with and worship of God. This is one reason why the misuse of sexuality is sinful10. Sex was designed and blessed by God to be enjoyed by one man and one woman in the context of a marriage covenant before Him11. This side of man’s fall into sin, we are deeply broken, and tend to misuse our sexuality. Our good sexual desires are bent in directions they were never meant to go. Perhaps you, driven by lust, have sex outside of marriage, or with another person’s husband or wife. Maybe sin has bent your sexual desires toward the same sex, or toward the use of pornography. Regardless of how loudly the world may applaud fornication, adultery, pornography, or homosexuality, loving or acting upon any unrighteous lust (sexual desire tolerated or acted upon outside the marriage covenant as defined by God), is turning something He designed to beautifully display His glory into something perverted and sinful.
The fact that you can sin without feeling the horrible weight of that sin, and God’s judgment against you for it is because unless you have been born again, you are “dead in the trespasses and sins in which you walk”12, and are “darkened in [your] understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in [you], due to [your] hardness of heart”13. Even though we know God exists because nature clearly reveals Him to us14, and that He will hold us accountable for our sin15 (our God-given conscience tells us this), and though many of us have read the truth in the Bible, and have had the truth spoken to us, unless you’ve been born again, you will take your knowledge of the truth, and “suppress the truth in unrighteousness”16. Outside of Christ, God will not have fellowship with you because of your bad record, and you will not seek after Him because of your bad heart17. This is what the Bible calls spiritual death.
Unless God acts on your behalf, raising the dead to life – changing your heart, and enabling you to respond to Him18, you will die in your sin and spend eternity in a state of death19. Far from being unaware or unconscious in eternity, you will know the unspeakable agony of being totally separated from the favorable presence of the one from whom all goodness and well-being comes20. Because God is loving, merciful, and kind, you have known goodness and all kinds of pleasures in your life21. You have not yet known what it means to be completely cut off from His generosity. If you remain in your sin, you will surely know that dreadful separation from Him. God’s kindness does not extend past the gates of hell – only justice is given there. If you will not repent of all sin, including sexual sin, you will not enter heaven22. You cannot have both sexual sin and Christ. Our Lord will not welcome someone who reaches to Him with only one hand while the other is still firmly attached to sin. This is why Jesus said, “if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire.” 23
The Good News
In an act of amazing grace, Jesus was sent to provide the way for sinners like you and I to be healed of our deadly sin disease. In Christ, these precious words will be a reality to you: “When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross”24.
Through the Son of God’s death and resurrection, His people’s bad record is wiped away since justice was served to Him in our place on the cross, and His resurrection life is our life. In that way God “forgives us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us”. God gives Jesus’s righteousness to those who come to Him as their only hope of salvation25. In Christ, our bad record is buried and forgotten26, and instead of being treated as we deserve for our wickedness, we are loved with the love that Christ deserves.
Jesus also made the way for His people’s bad hearts to be made new. “He made you alive together with Him”. When God truly saves someone, the Bible teaches that they are “born again”27. This means that we are given a new heart that desires to come to God through His Son28, to turn from all sin29, and to love the God we once hated and ignored30. In the second birth we’re changed from the inside out – we begin to hate the sin we once loved and love the righteousness we once hated31. The regenerate (those who have been born again) have both the desire and the ability to “…present [ourselves] to God as those alive from the dead, and [our] members as instruments of righteousness to God”32. Turn from your sin today and come to Christ before it’s too late.
“Say to them, ‘As I live!’ declares the Lord GOD, ‘I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil ways! Why then will you die, O house of Israel?’” (Ezk. 33:11)