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On Faith: God loves you

God loves you. It is probably the simplest thing to know about Christianity, and yet it's the most profound and important thing. God loves us so much that he was willing to leave heaven, and come down and be born as a helpless baby, and experience all the things that we do — all of the disappointments, griefs, sorrows, heartaches and temptations — yet, without sin.

But much more than that, God loves you so much that he was willing to die on the cross for you. There, he took on all our sins. He paid the punishment for them because he knew that we could never be sinless, and God didn't want us to suffer the punishment for our sins.

You see, God doesn't start loving us when we start acting good or doing all the right things. Jesus died for us — each of us, just the way we are. Yes, God loves you just the way you are, but he loves you way too much to leave you like that.

But we have to want God to take away our sins. We have to come and ask God's forgiveness, and we have to repent. To repent means to turn completely around. To turn away from sin and doing our own thing, and turning to God, to let him come and be the Lord of our lives.

As Jesus died on the cross, he saw the very worst in each one of us, and he said: "I love you; I will take the punishment for all of those sins; and I will give you the opportunity to be free from them."

That's how much God loves you, and it's a love that is too great to leave you lost in your sins, and away from God.

When Jesus rose to life on that Easter Sunday. He won the victory over sin, death and hell, and that is the victory that God's salvation brings into our lives. It's such a complete change in our lives that Jesus said it is being born again. But we have to accept God into our lives, and let him be the Lord.

How can we not help but to love a God who sees our failures, struggles and sins, and still loves us, and loves us too much to leave us like that? As we begin a new year, I hope that you will accept God's offer of love by coming to God, asking forgiveness, turning away from sin and turning to God, and living your life for a God that loves you so much that he died for you.

You see, this is what Jesus meant when he said to us, in John 3:16: "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him does not have to perish, but have eternal life."

"On Faith" is a weekly column in the News-Chronicle written by area religious leaders. Scott Nelson has been the pastor at First Baptist since 1993.