Do you understand that Jesus loves you? Yes, you — you are important to God.
John wrote, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16 KJV). When someone truly loves another, they are willing to do things for that person. Jesus has done something for us (Philippians 2:5-11).
Have you ever thought about what Jesus gave up because he loved you? In his book “Written in Blood,” Robert Coleman tells the story of a little boy whose sister needed a blood transfusion. The doctor explained that she had the same disease the boy had recovered from two years earlier. Her only chance for recovery was a transfusion from someone who had previously conquered the disease. Since the two children had the same rare blood type, the boy was the ideal donor.
“Would you give your blood to Mary?” the doctor said.
Johnny hesitated. His lower lip started to tremble. Then he smiled and said, “Sure, for my sister.”
Soon, the two children were wheeled into the hospital room —Mary, pale and thin; Johnny, robust and healthy. Neither spoke, but when their eyes met, Johnny grinned.
As the nurse inserted the needle into his arm, Johnny’s smile faded. He watched the blood flow through the tube. With the ordeal almost over, his slightly shaky voice broke the silence.
“Doctor, when do I die?”
Only then did the doctor realize why Johnny had hesitated, why his lip had trembled when he’d agreed to donate his blood: Johnny thought giving his blood to his sister meant giving up his life. In that brief moment, he’d made his great decision.
Johnny, fortunately, didn’t have to die to save his sister. Each of us however, has a condition more serious than Mary’s, and it required Jesus to give not just his blood, but also his life. (Thomas Lindberg, Stevens Point, Wis. Leadership, vol. 5, no. 1)
God’s love is given freely to mankind, but man must take advantage of the gift given to him. If we partake of the gift, we can go to heaven. We must obey God and not man. Jesus taught, “But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:9). God’s word teaches that man must obey the gospel in order to be saved.
What is the gospel? A simple definition is “good news” (I Corinthians 15:1-4). Paul also told us that we are saved by the gospel. He put it a different way in Romans 1:16: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. Seeing how important the gospel is may help us to see just why Jesus desired that the gospel be carried to all the world” (Matthew 28:18-20).
Since we can get to heaven by obeying the gospel, then we must learn how to obey the gospel. There are three things that are needed in order to obey the gospel: knowledge, understanding and an obedient heart.
Having knowledge about the gospel is good, but something more is needed — understanding. To gain understanding, more study is needed. It is the same with obeying the gospel. We must continue studying the Bible to find out how to obey the gospel. In the book of Acts, we have several accounts of how people did just that. Acts 2 tells us how Peter preached to the multitudes in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost and told them of the “good news” of Jesus. By his teaching, they received knowledge about Jesus and their need for Him. Verse 37 tells us that they wanted to know what to do. Peter told them, “Then Peter said unto them, ‘Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost’” (verse 38).
So we see they had knowledge and understanding, but one more thing was needed — an obedient heart. Luke tells us that about 3,000 had such a heart. They were willing to obey the gospel in order to be saved.
We can get to heaven, but we must follow God’s way!