"He chose us before the creation of the world, to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love, He predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will -- to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the One He loves. In Him, we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that He lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding." ~Ephesians 1:4-8 (NIV)
"I am the Lord, who has made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth for myself. I summon you by name and bestow upon you honor, though you do not acknowledge me. I am the Lord, and there is no other. I form the light and create darkness. Woe to him who quarrels with his Maker...turn to me, and be saved." ~Isaiah 44:24, 45:4,9,22
My answer for the hope that I have (I Peter 3:15)...
I believe our universe and everything in it were miraculously created by an all-knowing, ever-present, all-powerful God (Genesis 1-2). We were irrevocably separated from God's physical presence through sin (Genesis 3). In His grace, God sent His Son to become human and take on the burden of the sins of the world, past, present, and future (the Gospels). Christ was crucified unjustly by the Roman government, a historical fact, and through His crucifixion, paid the penalty for the sins of the world. Through faith in Jesus Christ and His work on the cross, each and every one of us can once again be reunited with God in heaven after death (John 3:16, Ephesians 2:8-9).
Heaven and hell are literal and real, yet exist outside our perceivable universe. Heaven is a place of peace and joy, a dimension in which the soul can transcend time and the confines of space (Revelation, John 14). In heaven, we will be in the presence of God, His Son Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, and will communicate with Him and experience awe and joy in His power and majesty (Revelation). If we reject God and His free gift of salvation, or attempt to earn salvation through our own actions, we are destined for hell (Galatians 2:16; Ephesians 2:8-9). In hell, the soul will suffer the eternal torment of separation from the presence of God, and will suffer enormous pain, being burned by flames continuously in a lake of fire (Matthew 18:8-9, Revelation 20:11-15).
What I have to offer, as a constantly failing human, however beautiful my spirit or soul may seem when viewed in their entirety, is trash...filthy rags. Yet what Christ credited me, through His death on the cross, is beautiful, snow-white purity...snow. "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool." (Isaiah 1:18)
Every person born on this earth will have the opportunity to accept or reject the reality of God and the undeserved gift of salvation from the penalty of our sins. There is only one true God, and only one way to obtain salvation. Consider these words from the Bible:
"Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but by His mercy, He saved us, by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost, which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by His grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life." Titus 3:5-7 (KJV)
"God our Savior wants everyone to be saved and understand the truth. There is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and his people. He is the man, Jesus Christ. He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone." I Timothy 1:3-6 (NLV)
God purchased freedom for everyone on earth. My prayer for you is that you will accept His gift of salvation and understand the peace and joy of living as a freed man. Once accepted, salvation is yours forever, regardless of mistakes you make along the road (John 10:28). Jesus Christ purchased you with His blood, and He has already forgiven you for all your sins...past, present, and future. When He died for you, all of your sins were in the future, so it would be illogical to assume that He paid for only the sins you commit before accepting salvation. All you need to do is accept His forgiveness by acknowledging His presence and admitting you are in need of His help. You can do this in the privacy of your own home, or in the middle of a crowded room. It only takes a few moments to talk with God and accept Him as your personal Savior. Running the race set before us without fear of death is a wonderful gift.
"Whoever believes in the Son of God has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him." ~John 3:36 (NIV)
The majesty and mystery of the creation is most potent proof of a powerful Higher Being. As someone who appreciates and explores the great outdoors, I have examined many theories of how the world came to be. The astounding variety and beauty of God's creation is the foundation of my belief that he exists and cares deeply about his creation. Creation also confirms that I am in great need of salvation and a reconciliation with my Creator:
"All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fade away, but the word of our God stands forever." ~Isaiah 40:6,8 (NIV)