Pascal tells us that happiness “is the motive of every action of every man, even of those who hang themselves.” If a genie gave us three wishes, many of us would choose fame, wealth, relationships, or sex. But ask yourself a question: If you received everything — everything! — you ever wanted, and if all your dreams came true, would you be happy? Or would boredom and anxiety return? Getting old, like a clock winding down, lamenting days gone by. Watching your friends and relatives die as the years pass. Emptiness. And then the end. There’s no getting around it: death is coming!
We want a lot more than worldly pleasures and more than a good family. We were created by God with a “God-shaped hole” in our hearts. Do you want eternal life? Do you want a unending joy and surpassing beauty? Do you want to love purely, without guile, truly finding joy in bringing joy to others? An wars and boredom and pettiness? The Bible says that we can have it one day. More than that, we can have the Author of it all. We can know God and feast at His table. All earthly things are a lame substitute, or as C.S. Lewis said, a shadow of the real and lasting joy of heaven. It is the equivalent of accepting a few pennies on earth because we do not want the endless riches of knowing and enjoying God forever.
If you are reading this, you are alive and it’s not too late to learn what matters infinitely more than anything else: The God who created you is loving and yet also holy; he hates sin and expects perfection. Everything we have and every breath belongs to Him. We owe everything. And yet we are not infinitely thankful or obedient. We are rotten in God’s eyes, deserving of His eternal wrath in Hell.
Enter Jesus Christ. God’s love was so great that He sent Jesus to save those who believe in Him. Adam, our representative, sinned and brought condemnation, while Jesus lived a perfect life and died for sin to bring pardon for those who believe.
What must you do to be saved? Simple: Believe on the Lord Jesus. This faith involves knowledge (right understanding), assent (agreement), and trust (not just believing a chair will hold you up, but sitting on it). J.I. Packer continues:
[W]hat does it mean to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ? its reply is: it means knowing oneself to be a sinner, and Christ to have died for sinners; abandoning all self-righteousness and self-confidence, and casting oneself wholly upon Him for pardon arid peace; and exchanging one’s natural enmity and rebellion against God for a spirit of grateful submission to the will of Christ through the renewing of one’s heart by the Holy Ghost.
And to the further question still: how am I to go about believing on Christ and repenting, if I have no natural ability to do these things? it answers: look to Christ, speak to Christ, cry to Christ, just as you are; confess your sin, your impenitence, your unbelief, and cast yourself on His mercy; ask Him to give you a new heart, working in you true repentance and firm faith… that you may never henceforth stray from Him. Turn to Him and trust Him as best you can, and pray for grace to turn and trust more thoroughly; use the means of grace [word and sacraments] expectantly, looking to Christ to draw near to you as you seek to draw near to Him; watch, pray, read and hear God’s Word, worship and commune with God’s people… The emphasis in this advice is on the need to call upon Christ directly, as the very first step… [D]o not postpone action till you think you are better, but honestly confess your badness and give yourself up here and now to the Christ who alone can make you better; and wait on Him till His light rises in your soul, as Scripture promises that it shall do.
When you have faith in Jesus, you want to learn more about Him. The fruit of true faith is a desire to align your life with the Bible, not as a way to “earn” anything, but just because it’s the way you want to be. Read the Book of John and see His greatness, His authority, His spiritual beauty. Repent, believe, and have eternal life! As the old musical goes:
The sun is shinin’ come on, get happy
The Lord is waiting to take your hand.
Shout Hallelujah, come on, get happy
We’re goin’ to the promised land.
We’re headin’ cross the river,
Wash your sins away In the tide.
It’s all so peaceful
on the other side…
Sing hallelujah come on, get happy
Get ready for the judgement day.