Mortification of Sin – A Beginning

Image result for john owenJeremiah 6, verse 14, “They have healed the wound of my people lightly, saying, ‘peace, peace,’ when there is no peace.” This verse, in its context deals with the nation of Israel and their turning away from the commands of the Lord.  But a closer reading finds that this is chiefly directed at the leaders of the nation, those charged with teaching the nation the commands of the Lord.  Looking back at verse 13, we see that the Lord, through the prophet Jeremiah, condemns them all, “from the least to the greatest.”  All of them dealt falsely, there was no justice in them.  Micah 6:8 reveals that the Lord “required justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with God.”  These were not suggestions that the nation of Israel could take or leave, they were commands that were to be obeyed.  Because the leaders in Jeremiahs time were soft on sin, the entire nation slowly fell into corruption.  Much can be said of a comparison to the times we live in.

Now, I know that some will say that we live in the age of grace and the nation of Israel was under the law and hasn’t Christ freed us from the bondage of the law? Yes He has. But if you think that the law was abolished and done away with, then I suggest that you do not know much about the holiness, righteousness and justice of the sovereign God of heaven, not to mention the fact that He doesn’t change.  Ephesians 2:10 states, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” God, through the mystery of our union with Christ, has ordained that we walk in good works.  Works that He ordained before the foundation of the world.

What are these good works?  Justice, love, mercy, humbleness, compassion, gentleness……and the list could go on and on and on.  Jesus did not come to abolish the Law of God, he came to fulfill it, something we in our sinful nature could never do.  If we have been saved, truly saved, we will realize that not only do we abhor sin, but we want to fulfill the Law.  That is God writing His law on our heart!  Will you or I succeed in fulfilling God’s law?  Not in this life.  Oh, and on a side note, I have met people who have told me that they do find a way to fulfill God’s law on a regular and consistent basis.  I even had one gentleman tell me, without even batting an eye or showing any shame whatsoever, that he could go days without sinning.  Pffffff…….  That is a man who has no idea the depth of his sin, nor the holiness of God.

So, if we do know God, we will get a sense of His holiness and the depth of our sin and realize that there is a great gulf that no human could ever cross in his own works.  It is only in Christ’s absolute obedience to the entire Law of God, and his death on the cross, where Gods just wrath was poured out, to the last drop, on his Son, that the gulf that separated us from God was bridged.  Because of that perfect sacrifice, “we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

When this “peace with God” floods our soul, it isn’t long before we realize that while we have peace with God, a battle still rages.  That battle is sin.  Unfortunately it has been my observation that many pastors, and laity as well, do nothing to look into the battle with sin.  Instead, pithy little slogans are preached, “Let go and let God,” or “it’s ok, no one is perfect,” or “just be controlled by the Spirit.” But in the end, if we truly understand the scriptures, we will understand that as a new creature, a new creation, we WILL bring forth fruit.  Using the analogy in John 15, Christ is the vine who will supply the life giving nutrients for the fruit that we will bear. Fruit will be born of us, but it will not be “our” fruit, but we will be the conduit through which Christ displays that fruit.  And at this point, it’s easy to say, “well then, sir, all I have to do is let God do the work.” Yes, you do, but Christ also said that we are to strive to enter the narrow gate in Luke 12:24.  We are to strive to overcome all sinful tendencies, which will show the world who we belong to.

Having dwelt on this for quite some time, I have come to the conclusion that sin, in my own life, is a putrid, horrific thing.  And yes, I use words that put sin in a very bad light, but, since I am surrounded by nothing but sin, I cannot even begin to grasp the utter sinfulness of sin as seen from God’s perspective. Paul himself could find no worse word for sin, than sin, see Romans 7:13.  Yet, when was the last time you heard a sermon or a preacher talk about sin, and it’s sinfulness?  When did you last read the Bible and fall under conviction of the horrendous nature of the sin in your own heart when held up to the righteousness of God through His Word?  We take sin so lightly.  We “heal the wounds of the people lightly,” which was the exact same case in Jeremiahs day.

This is why I consider Owen to be so important and I have embarked on this journey. My hope is that I will better understand the holiness of God, His righteousness, His perfections, as well as see the depths of the sin my flesh wallows in and desires.  Am I saved?  Most assuredly yes!  Am I perfect?  Yes, and no…….  Perfect in that I am Justified and because of Christs active and passive obedience, I am one with Him.  But on the other hand, imperfect in this life because I am captive to this fleshly, sin craving body and have not yet been glorified, Romans 8:28-30.  Sanctification has happened, is happening, and will ultimately happen, which is another way of saying, I was saved at a point in time, I am being saved daily, and I will ultimately be saved either when Christ returns, or when I die.  So, I need the Gospel every day, every minute, every second, and I need to strive by the power of the Holy Spirit to “be killing sin, or sin will be killing me,” to paraphrase one of Owen’s most famous quotes.

Also, as I blog through my study of The Mortification of Sin by John Owen, I want to mention that I am using the work that Owen originally wrote, as well as supplementing that with another book, Overcoming Sin and Temptation.  As my pastor has said about his preaching, you preach from the overflow of the sources you study, I will be using other sources to clarify and better grasp this important work of Owen.  I will try and make sure I provide citations and references to them when I use them.

 

Assurance

PrayerI started attending church in 1982 on a regular basis.  Before that, I would only attend when my parents made me go, and what is funny about that is we only attended at Easter, I can’t remember once going at Christmas time, so I guess you could say we were just annual Christians (can you guess which geographical area I’m from). But in all the years I went to church regularly, I can’t tell you how many times I walked down to the altar and re-dedicated my life.  I had no assurance of my salvation!  When I could “feel” God, I knew I was saved, but when the heavens were closed and my prayers seemed to be unheard, salvation was so far away.

Then, about 4 1/2 years ago, during a casual conversation with an associate minister of the church my family and I attended, the topic turned to God’s sovereignty.  I had heard the word, I had even heard preachers teach on what it meant for God to be sovereign, but it’s fullness never really registered in my mind.  This time, however, something changed.  I actually started thinking about what it meant for God to be sovereign.  This lead me to start thinking about His absolute sovereignty.  After just a week or two of dwelling on the ramifications of what it meant for God to be absolutely sovereign, the Word of God opened up to me in an unexpected way.  I started seeing God’s sovereignty in scripture like I had never seen before.  I read Jonah 2:9b where the Word says, “Salvation belongs to the Lord.”

Like a floodgate being opened, the truth of the doctrines of God’s marvelous grace came flooding into my life.  For the very first time, I had complete assurance in the salvation of my Lord and God.  What had only weeks before been a heart of stone, was now a regenerated heart of flesh that had a new found desire to serve God.

It has not been without struggles because what happened to me caused me to leave the church my family and I attended, the friends we had, to find a church where the doctrines of grace where taught.  It caused a rift with some members of my family which is still there today.  I praise God that my wife saw the change and was inquisitive enough to ask questions of me and I was able to take her to the Word of God and show her the scripture that had so transformed my life.  Her life too was changed and it is amazing to see the transforming power of God in her life too.

I say all of this because I know it is possible to have assurance of one’s salvation.  I know it is possible because I have experienced it and watched it in my wife and with my own mother, both of whom I was also able to talk to and open the Word to.  Now, lest you think that I think it was me that lead them to Christ, rest assured that I am a firm believer that salvation truly does belong to the Lord, I was just the instrument that God used to speak His Word’s into their lives. So, I want to share a website that has embarked on a series entitled:  Assurance of Salvation.  To this point, there are only two entries in the series, but they are definitely worth looking at.

Part 1 – Assurance of Salvation: Why study on the topic of Christian assurance?

Part 2 – Assurance of Salvation: Foundation for Perseverance of the Saints.

Head on over to The Domain For Truth website and check these articles out.

And a huge UhRah! to SlimJim.

Bethlehem Wasn’t the Beginning

By David Burnette:

nativity-scene1As you reflect on the significance of Christ’s coming this Christmas, allow me to make one suggestion that may actually add to your holiday cheer: Don’t begin in Bethlehem. That may sound scrooge-like, but hear me out.

Bethlehem looms large in our minds during Christmas, and rightfully so. The prophet Micah had predicted centuries earlier that a ruler would hail from this obscure town (Mic 5:2). As King David’s birthplace, Bethlehem would also be the scene of the Messiah’s birth. In that sense, it’s difficult not to think of Bethlehem this time of year.  That’s fine, but don’t forget that the Christmas story was set in motion long before the nativity scene.

Bethlehem wasn’t the beginning.

Jesus spoke of the glory he had with the Father “before the world existed” (Jn 17:5). As the Second Person of the Trinity, He was in communion with the Father and the Spirit from all eternity. We’re even told that the world was created through Him (Jn 1:1; Col 1:16). To be sure, He took on flesh at a point in time, but His role in God’s plan of redemption did not begin in a manger in Bethlehem nearly 2000 years ago. Christ was not thrust on the scene unexpectedly. Out of His own free grace He set His sights on rebellious sinners like you and me before the foundation of the world. The eternal Word became flesh for us and for our salvation (Jn 1:14). This is the infinite grace of the Incarnation. And the nativity scene was our first glimpse.

As you reflect on Christ’s birth this Christmas and as you talk about it with others, be sure to include the little town of Bethlehem. But don’t start there: go back, much further back, and marvel at the One who planned the nativity scene from the beginning in order to rescue us from the judgment we deserve. Marvel at the grace of the Son of God who, as Paul says, “loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal 2:20).

Give thanks that in those dark streets of Bethlehem shone the Everlasting Light.

The Fire – A Blog Repost

scenicwalktohellI ran across this 12 minute video today and decided it needed to be shared.  While at first it may appear to be a message for the lost, make no mistake about it, this is a message for those who call on the name of Christ. 

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’ Matthew 7:21-23

All Things Created For Christ – A Sermon

  This is another sermon by Edward Payson.  I stand amazed at the relevance of this sermon that was preached almost 200 years ago and the way it speaks to the high view of God that seems to be prevalent in Paysons’ day and age, but is sadly lacking in our day and age.  As I was reading through this sermon, I determined that I wanted to know a little more about Edward Payson and the life he lived.  As it turns out, he died at the age of 44.  That is shocking to me as I am 4 years older than that right now and am just blown away at the depth of thought that is contained in this sermon.  It is rare that a preacher today has this kind of depth at the age that Payson must have been when he originally preached this message. 

  My prayer and I’m sure that of Praying Payson, as Edward Payson came to be known, is that this sermon open your eyes to a new depth of glory in Christ.  May God bless you richly –

ALL THINGS CREATED FOR CHRIST.

 Colossians 1:16.

 All things were created by him and for him.

 By whom were all these worlds and beings made, is, probably, the first question, which a view of the created universe would excite in a seriously inquisitive mind. For what purpose and with what view were they created, would no less probably be the second. There are two inspired passages, one ill the Old Testament and the other in the New, which contain a direct answer to both these questions. In the Old Testament we are told, that Jehovah hath made all things for himself, yea, even the wicked for the day of evil: and in the New, that all things were created by Christ and for Christ. At first view these passages appear to differ, not only in language, but in sentiment. The former asserts that Jehovah made all things. The latter declares that all things were created by Christ. The former assures us that Jehovah made all things for himself; the latter that all things were created for Christ. To those, however, who believe that the Jehovah of the Old Testament is the Jesus of the New, these apparently different assertions will appear perfectly consistent. They will recollect and readily assent to the declaration of our Lord, He that hath seen me hath seen the Father; I and my Father are one; and will feel that the expression, Jehovah hath made all things for himself, is synonymous with the declaration in our text, All things were created by Christ, and for him.

In discoursing on this passage, we shall endeavor to illustrate, particularly, the general assertion, that all things were created for Christ. That none may suspect us of EdwardPaysonasserting more than our text will warrant, it may be proper to quote the remaining part of the verse which contains it. “By him,” says the apostle, speaking of Christ, “were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him.” From this passage it appears that there are invisible, as well as visible creatures; things in heaven, as well as things on earth. But whether visible or invisible, whether in heaven or on earth, they were all created for Christ; all created to promote his glory and subserve his purposes. This I shall now attempt to illustrate in several particulars.

1. Heaven was created for Christ. That there is a place called heaven, where the presence of God is specially manifested, and which is, in a peculiar sense, the habitation of his holiness and glory, is abundantly taught by the inspired writers. Some, it is true, have supposed that heaven is only a state of happiness, and not a place; but the supposition may be easily shown to be groundless; for, though God is everywhere, and though his presence would render any place a heaven to holy beings; yet the glorified body of Christ cannot be everywhere. A body, however purified and refined, must be in some place; and the place, where now exists the glorified body of our Redeemer, is heaven. Agreeably, St. Paul informs us, that Christ has entered into heaven itself; that he is seated at the right hand of God in the heavenly places; and he elsewhere speaks of desiring to depart and be with Christ. Our Saviour himself, in his last prayer, says, “Father, I will that those whom thou hast given me be with me, where I am, that they may behold my glory.” In addition to these proofs we may observe, that the bodies of Enoch and Elijah must have been in some place, since their removal from this world, and that the glorified bodies of the saints, which are to be raised at the last day, must be in some place after their resurrection. Heaven is, therefore, not only a state, but a place, as really a place as this world. And the same arguments Continue reading

Intimacy of the Church

I can’t say that this is an original thought because it isn’t.  I shamelessly ripped it off from a facebook post by Elizabeth C.  She posted, “I don’t pretend to know what loving others is like for everyone, but I can tell you what it is for me; to love others is knowing everything (good and bad) about someone, and still wanting to be there for them!”
So, why am I even writing this?  Well, it could be because a couple of days ago I didn’t even know who Elizabeth was.  Had I seen her picture or seen her in person, I would have known her face as someone who has recently started coming to the same church I go to.  I remember looking into one of the classrooms this past weekend and seeing a new, dark headed volunteer in there working with my children, but I didn’t know her name.  Can you imagine that, someone working with my kids and I don’t even know who they are.  Then, this morning, she asks to be my friend on facebook.  I had to ask my wife who she was because I didn’t know her.
So, that got me to thinking off and on as I sat at my desk this morning about how we know those around us, yet we know so little about them.  The older I get, the more convinced I am that the only way we as a church are going to shine the light of Christ to this lost and dying world is to be more involved with those around us.  I’m not saying that we have to conform to the lifestyle of the world, but there is a huge separation of those in the Church and those outside of it.  There is a pastor I know who says, “found people find people!”  The only way to find those people is to get involved in their lives and personally minister to them.
Now it’s confession time!  I don’t get involved with people very well.  I used to, but along the way, I’ve been injured, hurt, stomped on and a whole host of other things.  So, I’ve pulled myself into a little shell and drawn up boundary lines that will only allow people to get so close to me.  Yet, the funny thing is, I crave the closeness that can happen when people open themselves up to another.  You read in the Bible about Jonathan and David how they were so close to each other.  You read about Jesus getting into the lives of his disciples.  I mean, think about it, he literally spent 3 years with 12 men, traveling the countryside, teaching, talking, eating, and sleeping beside these men.  I realize that the Bible talks about the inner 3, Peter, James and John, but I don’t think for a minute that when Jesus rebuked Peter, He did it privately (Mark 8:33 kind of bears that out).  So, the disciples all knew each other’s business.  They knew Matthews good points and bad points as well as the rest of them.
So, my question is why is it so hard for us to “Do Life” like that today?  Why are we so easily offended or put off when someone starts opening up to us with the hurts and trials of life?  Sure, we love it when they share the triumphs and highs they experience.  But we don’t want to hear about the lows.  I am so guilty of this!  Here is the sobering thing about all of this.  Sure, Jesus went to the cross to be the sacrifice for our sins, and I’m not making light of that, but he also gave his life to his disciples before He went to that cross.  He “Did Life” with them so that when He was gone, they would believe in Him and continue what He started.  Why in the world would they go on putting themselves in danger if it wasn’t real?  They saw what happened to their leader.  Some of them stood at the foot of the cross, and I really believe that others hid amongst the crowd that had gathered.  They saw the agony; they saw the shredded body; they saw the blood; they heard the anguish; they watched the life leave Christ.  Why would they continue on after having seen that?  Because it was real.  They had experienced a life that was real when they walked with Jesus.
I believe that our enemy wants to keep us, at all costs, from having those kinds of relationships because if we do, God will be freed up in our lives to move in ways that we can’t even begin to comprehend.  I heard it said not long ago that if we will just do what the Bible says, God will begin to entrust us with more.  While I have found nowhere in the Bible where it says, “Thou shalt have close relationships with those around you,” the implication is there.  God chose a heathen by the name of Abraham to have fellowship with.  What?  Abraham a heathen?  Yeah, take a close look in the book of Genesis and see for yourself.  In Genesis 11, the people all came together to build a tower.  God intervened and caused a language barrier to come upon the people and scattered the people over the face of the earth.  Now, I may be wrong, but I’m not thinking that God did that because he was happy with what was going on.  So, Abraham descended from one of the dispersed groups.
Then, in Genesis 12, God chose Abraham.  Can you imagine that?  The God of the entire creation coming and choosing one man!  That is astounding to me.  He didn’t need to, He wanted to.  He desires close intimate fellowship with us.  We are His creation and from the limited account in Genesis 3, God appears to make it a habit of coming into the garden and “Doing Life” with His creation.  He wants us to have real life.  Our enemy does not want us to have that real life, which is why we struggle with it so much.  It is definitely why I struggle with it so much.
Maybe it’s just me, but this struggle confirms my belief in who God is.  It seems like I always try and look at the why of the struggle.  If some part of me wants to have close relationships and another part of me doesn’t, to me, that somehow bears out the Bible as being true.  I know that sounds crazy.  But put your mind into it a moment and ask yourself a few questions.
1.       Why do I desire close relationships?
2.       Why do I struggle with them when they are available to me?
I have never yet seen a baby that after a couple of months of life didn’t reach it’s tiny hands up to it’s mother and signal in a way that is impossible to miss that it wants to be held.  That child wants to be near it’s mother or father.  That child craves the attention, the affection, the closeness.  Studies have shown that children that are neglected have major issues later in life (read more here:  http://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/factsheets/long_term_consequences.cfm).  So, that makes me wonder why it is later in life we push back so hard and don’t want to have that closeness, that intimacy.  Oh, but I don’t have that problem, I desire that closeness and intimacy, you might say.  Really?  Seriously?  Have you been divorced?  Have you had sex with someone outside of marriage or someone other than your spouse?  Right there is proof that you don’t really mean that.
Now before you go jumping off the deep end, don’t think I’m condemning you for any of these things.  Matter of fact, I’m divorced myself, so don’t think I don’t have a little bit of insight into this issue.  If you think about it, the reason divorce takes place is because of sin.  What?  Yeah, sin!  Divorce stems from sin because it is a lack of intimacy with God first and your spouse next.  Seriously, strip it all away and you know I’m telling it like it really is.  Maybe you didn’t want the divorce, but can you not see the lack of closeness that lead up to it. And sexual relationships before marriage and outside of marriage are just our attempt to find intimacy that will never be found outside of God.
So, to wrap this all up, our relationship and intimacy with God has to be solid before we can develop close, proper relationships with those around us.  But, this kind of leads to circular logic because we don’t develop a closer relationship with God without developing closer relationships with those around us.  Those around us help hold us accountable so that we can grow closer to God, which in turn, helps us grow closer to them.  By choosing not to develop close intimate relationships with those of like faith, those we are supposed to “Do Life” with, we are basically snubbing our nose at God and telling Him we don’t want a relationship with Him.
Wow, sometimes I hate thinking out loud and putting fingers to keyboard because I just made myself accountable for what I have written.  What about you, are you accountable for what you have read?

Condemnation

Romans 8:1-11(ESV)
1There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.  3For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.  5For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.  6To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.  7For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.  8Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.  10But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness.  11If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

‘Condemnation’ is a word of tremendous import; and it is well fairly to look at its meaning, that we may the better understand the wondrous grace that has delivered us from its power.  Echoing through the gloomy halls of a human court, it falls with a fearful knell upon the ear of the criminal, and thrills with sympathy and horror the bosom of each spectator of the scene.  But in the court of Divine Justice it is uttered with a meaning and solemnity infinitely significant and impressive.  To that court every individual is cited.  Before that bar each one must be arraigned.  “Conceived in sin, and shaped in iniquity,” man enters the world under arrest – an indicted criminal, a rebel manacled, and doomed to die…He lies down and he rises up – he repairs to the mart of business, and to the haunt of pleasure, a guilty, sentenced and condemned man.  And should the summons to eternity arrest him amid his dreams, his speculations, and his revels, the adversary would deliver him to the judge, the judge to the officer, and the officer would consign him over to all the pangs and horrors of the “second” and “eternal death.”  “He that believes not, is condemned already.”  My dear reader, without real conversion this is your present state, and must be your future doom.

But from this woe all believers in Christ are delivered.  The sentence of death under which, in common with others, they lay, is absolved; the curse is removed; the indictment is quashed; and “there is, therefore, now no condemnation.” – from No Condemnation in Christ Jesus by Octavius Winslow

I read this that I have quoted above yesterday and my heart was just filled with thanksgiving to my God who has saved me by His awesome power.  And what a wonderful time of the year to be thankful.  Also, since reading this, two hymns of the church have flooded my soul ever since.  “Amazing Grace” is one that just about everyone knows.  I am so thankful for His Amazing Grace.  Those of us who have called on Him and have been delivered from the condemnation we used to live under have so many reasons to thank the One who brought us new life; a life without condemnation.

The other hymn that came to me has the following lyrics:

  1. When I survey the wondrous cross
    On which the Prince of glory died,
    My richest gain I count but loss,
    And pour contempt on all my pride.
  2. Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
    Save in the death of Christ my God!
    All the vain things that charm me most,
    I sacrifice them to His blood.
  3. See from His head, His hands, His feet,
    Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
    Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
    Or thorns compose so rich a crown?
  4. Were the whole realm of nature mine,
    That were a present far too small;
    Love so amazing, so divine,
    Demands my soul, my life, my all.

-Isaac Watts – When I Survey the Wonderful Cross

This song was written 303 years ago and it still holds true today.  It is packed full of so much truth and I just stand in awe that the God of all creation loved me enough to reach down into my life and love me.

Has he touched your life?  Even if you don’t acknowledge Him, he has.  Every day that you live is a gift of His graciousness.  We so often think that to acknowledge God requires us to give up so much, and it does!  But what we gain is far greater.  Eternity is a long time and spending it in the presence of God is a much better reward than what we have to give up in these few short years of life here in this world.

Won’t you call on him?  Won’t you reach out and survey the wondrous cross?  I realize that it is foolishness.  It makes no sense.  Somehow we think that we just need one more thing in our lives to make it to heaven.  We are good people.  All we need to do is a little more and we will make it to heaven.  But that just isn’t the case.  What is that ‘one more thing,’ that little bit more?  No matter how much we ‘do,’ it will never measure up to perfection which is what God is.  That is why He came into this world and died upon the cross.  He became the sacrifice to bring us back to Him.

I’ll admit that for me the hardest part of coming to Christ was admitting that there was nothing I could do to reach God.  That is what makes Christianity so different from all the other religions of the world.  All the other religions make heaven, enlightenment, nirvana, etc, something that man can obtain by doing something.  Mankind will never reach that perfect state by anything he does and if we will take a deep look inside, the condemnation we feel when trying to do that thing makes it abundantly clear that that is the truth.  Elvina Hall wrote a hymn in the mid 1800’s that sums it up:

Jesus paid it all

All to Him I owe.

Sin had left a crimson stain

He washed it white as snow.

When you survey the wondrous cross, you will begin to see that the sacrifice that God made that day thousands of years ago, paid our debt.  He is the one that came to us and made a way for us to come back to him.  He took all the guilt and shame and condemnation upon Himself to allow us to live free.  If you already have this freedom, thank Him for it!  If not, all you have to do is ask Him for it.  It is a free gift.