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Why You Need A Savior

By Steve Lim

Jesus said that He came to save the world. Many people, however, believe that they don’t need a Savior. They assume that they are good enough, or that there is no such thing as sin, or even that there is no God to judge them. Let’s look at these assumptions and their weaknesses.

“God accepts me as I am.”

Eighty-eight percent of respondents in one survey held this conviction, (Barna update, Aug. 9, 2005). the large majority of whom do not make God their priority in life. Typically they believe, “I’m as good or better than most people I know — such as my neighbors, co-workers and relatives. This includes my Christian acquaintances.”

The majority of people have confidence that they will make it into heaven (ABC News poll, cited by Today’s Pentecostal Evangel, April 16, 2006). Only a tiny percent think that they deserve to go to hell.

If God truly accepts people as they are, obviously they don’t need a Savior. If in error, their belief becomes the most dangerous delusion imaginable.

Writer C.S. Lewis wisely observed, “When a man is getting better, he understands more and more clearly the evil that is still in him. When a man is getting worse, he understands his own badness less and less.”

After former Cambodian dictator Pol Pot led the slaughter of 1.5 million of his countrymen, his government was overthrown. He fled into the jungles. When finally captured several years later, he declared, “Am I a savage person? My conscience is clear.”

When I speak about Christian faith to college groups, the question often arises, “What about Gandhi? He was one of the most moral persons who ever lived. Certainly you don’t mean to say that he won’t make it to heaven just because he didn’t accept Jesus as Savior?”

I respond by quoting Gandhi’s own words: “It is constant torture to me that I am so far from Him whom I know to be my very life and being. I know it is my wretchedness and wickedness that keeps me from Him” (Gandhi, An Autobiography).

“There’s no such thing as sin.”

The large majority of people believe that there is no absolute right or wrong. If they are correct, then they can’t be guilty of wrongdoing or sin, since all claims to right and wrong would be relative. Their logical conclusion would be that they don’t need a Savior. They assert, “It’s up to the individual or culture to determine what is moral and what isn’t.”

Yet when pressed, the most ardent moral relativists acknowledge that they believe certain things are wrong — such as torturing children, rape and genocide.

In fact, people often express outrage at the gross injustices and suffering in the world. They even rail against God, even while claiming not to believe in Him: “I can’t believe in a God who would allow these things to occur.”

But where did they get their passionate conviction about injustice? If we live in a universe without God, as they claim, and we came into being by chance, then any concept of right and wrong or justice would be meaningless. By their outrage, they affirm a standard of justice that is not relative. Recognizing a standard of justice points to a Lawgiver, or God, who established that standard.

“There is no God.”

A growing number of people live as if there is no God, or as if God doesn’t matter. If there is no God, there is no one to judge their wrongdoing. Again, if they are correct, there would be no need for a Savior.

With the developments of science in the past several generations, however, atheism has become a position difficult to defend. The discovery of an instantaneous beginning to the universe and the incredible “fine-tuning” of so many factors in the cosmos to enable life on Earth are hard to explain without God.

Esteemed physicist (and agnostic) Stephen Hawking admitted, “It would be very difficult to explain why the universe should have begun in just this way, except as the act of a God who intended to create beings like us” (Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time).

Several years ago, one of the world’s leading philosophers and atheists, Antony Flew, renounced his atheism. He came to recognize the “almost unbelievable complexity of the arrangements” needed to produce life. He concluded that “intelligence must have been involved in getting these extraordinarily diverse elements to work together” (Antony Flew, There Is a God: How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind, p. 75). As a result, he wrote the book There Is a God.

In recognizing God, however, we need to consider our relationship with Him and whether or not we are accountable to Him for our actions and our lives. Through His revelation in the Bible, God clearly indicates our need to live by His laws and standards.

Sin and the need for a Savior

Moreover, God’s Word says that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23, NIV), and that the result of sin is separation from God and a sentence of eternal death (Romans 6:23). We are guilty, not only of sinful actions and attitudes, but of rebellion against God by choosing to live for ourselves instead of for God (Romans 1:21). We cannot rationalize away our sin and need for a Savior. And we cannot make ourselves good enough for God. We need a Savior.

The good news is that God provided a Savior for us. “Not wanting anyone to perish” (2 Peter 3:9) eternally apart from Him, God himself became a human being in the person of Jesus and took the penalty for sin by dying on the cross. Now God freely forgives those who repent of their rebellion and makes us His beloved children now and eternally (John 3:16).


Lack of fulfillment and the need for a Savior

We were created for relationship with God — to know, love, worship and serve Him. In this purpose we find our highest fulfillment, for God is the greatest Person and Reality in the universe. To live contrary to reality distorts and diminishes our life, and ultimately destroys it. To live according to reality brings wholeness and human flourishing. Jesus said, “I have come that [you] may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10).

Tom Brady, quarterback for the New England Patriots, was interviewed on 60 Minutes. He stated, “Why do I have three Super Bowl rings and still think there’s something greater out there for me? … It’s got to be more than this. I mean this isn’t, this can’t be, what it’s all cracked up to be.” When interviewer Steve Kroft asked, “What’s the answer?” Brady replied, “I wish I knew” (CBSNews.com, Nov. 6, 2005).

The emptiness in our hearts and our ability to achieve only partial, temporary fulfillment point to our need for God. We need to deal with the problem of self-centeredness or sin so that we can experience the forgiveness and the abundant and eternal life that God wants us to experience.

We need a Savior.


STEVE LIM serves as academic dean and professor of leadership and ministry at Assemblies of God Theological Seminary in Springfield, Mo.

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