Leaving behind a path of destruction bad enough to be called a federal disaster area, a tornado ripped through Cardington, Ohio one Saturday afternoon in June,1981. Over 150 families were affected directly by its deadly winds, and nearly 30 businesses were damaged or destroyed. Fifty people were treated for injuries and four, including a nine month old boy, died as a result. After touring the destruction caused by the tornado, then Ohio Governor James A. Rhodes called the damage in Cardington “per capita…the worst we’ve had in the state of Ohio.”
The tornado hit with no warnings. Due to a technical problem, the National Weather Service was unable to relay the message of imminent danger to the Mansfield station. The tornado came and went unannounced.
Disaster can strike at any moment. Weather catastrophes, car accidents, fires, health problems all claim lives every day. What if the next one is yours? Are you prepared to face death or destruction? The good news is that you can be prepared for tragedy and death by understanding and properly responding to the truth of God’s Word, the Bible.
Creation & The Fall
The Bible’s message begins with the creation of all things by God (Genesis 1:1). Though created in a perfect state, Adam and Eve, the first human beings, made a deliberate choice to disobey God’s law. This act plunged the whole human race into sin as the Bible explains, “Wherefore, as by one man [Adam] sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Romans. 5:12). Today, all people are born with a sinful nature because of Adam, and they deliberately break God’s law as Adam did.
Sin & Punishment
Sin prevents people from having a relationship with God because God is holy, that is, He cannot tolerate sin (Habakkuk 1:13). Not only is God intolerant of sin, God’s justice demands that He punish people because of their sin. Just as a human judge should not overlook the violation of a federal law, so God’s justice demands that He cannot overlook the violation of His law.
Man’s punishment for sin is death as God says, “For the wages of sin is death…” (Romans 3:23). Sin, therefore, is the cause of physical death, but the Bible also describes a “second death” which is the result of sin (Revelation 21:8) . In this death, sinners will experience severe punishment in “the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone.” Jesus described the punishment and fire of this place as “eternal” (Matthew 25:41, 46). For those who are unprepared, punishment will begin immediately upon physical death (Hebrews 9:27). When Jesus described what happened after a certain man “died and was buried,” without any other comment Jesus said, “And in hell he lift[ed] up his eyes, being in torments.” (Luke 16:22-26).
A Plan for Restoration
God did not abandon His creation. From the beginning, God planned to restore His fallen people (Genesis 3:15). The Old Testament shows how God chose and used the nation of Israel to carry out His plan for the restoration of sinners. From this nation God promised to send the Messiah to “save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).
The Lord Jesus Christ
Jesus is the promised Messiah who came to earth and was born as a human in the humble village of Bethlehem. Though He was fully human (1 Timothy 2:5 “the man Christ Jesus”), the Bible shows that He was also fully divine. For example, Colossians 2:9 clearly states, “For in him [Jesus] dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.”
Jesus had to be fully human and fully divine to complete His mission on earth—to save people from sin. He accomplished this mission when He died on the cross. Though tragic and devastating from one perspective, the cross was the fulfillment of God’s plan to restore people to a right relationship with Him. On the cross Jesus was man’s substitute, taking the punishment that all people deserve as the Bible explains in 1 Peter 3:18, “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God.” God now offers all people Christ’s perfect record in exchange for each one’s own record of sin (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Because of the work of Jesus Christ, God offers to restore the relationship that was lost at the Fall giving man forgiveness of the punishment for sin and eternal life with Him. This offer is of grace; it is a gift. People can do nothing to earn eternal life or gain forgiveness of sins. The Bible explains, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8).
Respond in Faith
God calls all people everywhere to respond to the truth of the Bible. This response is most often described as belief. For example, Paul instructed a man to “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ” in order to be saved from sin and punishment (Acts 16:31). This faith is more than knowledge of Bible facts; it is a personal commitment to Jesus. For example, Jesus invites a personal response when He says, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). In another passage, God explains that those who “receive him [Jesus]” are given “power to become the sons of God.” Those who receive Jesus are then identified as “them that believe on his name” (John 1:12). The word “receive” points to the importance of a personal response of faith.
Respond in Repentance
Another way the Bible describes this response is with the word “repentance.” For example, one preacher in the Bible encouraged his listeners to respond to God by saying, “Repent ye…and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out” (Acts 3:19). To repent means to change your mind about sin. You must accept what God says about sin and be willing to submit to His rule in your life.
God’s Plan for Good
Not only does God offer restoration to all people, but He also promises the security of His perfect plan. Any person who truly believes and accepts God’s truth can be confident of God’s plan for good in his life, no matter what happens. God promises that “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). “The called” are those who respond to God in faith and repentance.
What To Do Next
Will you respond to God’s truth with true faith, personally depending on Jesus Christ alone and turning from sin in your life? You must respond before it’s too late. Don’t put off responding to God’s truth. Perhaps you may think, “Someday I should think about this more, but right now I’m not worried about it.” You may not have another opportunity as the Bible says, “Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth” (Proverbs 27:1).
Perhaps you still aren’t sure about this response. Why not give time to study the Bible seriously? Here are two suggestions:
- Read the Bible for yourself. You could start by looking up the Bible references on this page, and then read more of the Bible such as Romans or the Gospel of John. Ask God to help you understand as you read.
- Find a church that believes and teaches the Bible. Go to the services, and listen to God’s Word. God’s promise is that “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).
If you have other questions or would like to talk with someone about having a true relationship with God, please contact us.