A Plea to Consider believing on Jesus
This Letter was written to the best friend of my husband and I for over 17 years at the time of the letter. My husband had passed away, and our friend was undergoing his second heart surgery without believing on the Lord… I had already lost two friends since my husband and didn’t want him to be next without knowing where he’d end up.
I didn’t know what to do except write this letter, as previous attempts to talk to him, didn’t last very long. He got tired of hearing the same old thing from me, angry even. My thoughts were, maybe he would consider this over time in the hospital waiting for his surgery.
By the way, John is Jason, who came to believe upon the Lord 3 years ago in August. He asked me to marry him January of 2016 (and no I wasn’t dating him back then or even dreaming of it). We got married October 2016.
This letter is available in Spanish too should you want to email me for it. I don’t know how good the translation, but willing to share.
My soul clings to the dust; Revive me according to Your Word. My soul melts from heaviness; Strengthen me according to Your Word. Ps 119:24,28
Sorry for the formatting issues, I cannot fix them, no matter how I try.
MY PLEA NOW IS FOR ANY ONE READING THIS THAT MAY NOT KNOW HIM. PLEASE CONSIDER READING WITH AN OPEN MIND. TALK TO GOD AND ASK HIM TO SHOW YOU HE IS REAL, AND TO SHOW YOU TRUTH IN ANYTHING I HAVE WRITTEN.
This will probably be long, (we’re talking about me after all). I didn’t know where to begin and end. I don’t want to overwhelm you, but I know too, that you need evidence, proof, something tangible or some real reason to believe, you cannot just believe without knowledge. I hope you will have time to read this; my heart and my prayers are with you always. But this is a matter of life and death and you matter to me and my kids, and many other people of course, and your standing with God is so very important to me.
Why should you believe on Jesus Christ?
Big pause here as I think on you and what you have meant in our lives. You are one of my closest friends; you are like my brother… Best friend of my own best friend, my husband Gilbert. Like an uncle or stand-in dad to my kids.
Why should YOU personally believe in Jesus as your Savior now?
Probably not because of any great example I have been over the years (to my shame). I do hope you have seen changes in me for the better, I pray you have seen and recognize it. My heart has softened greatly. He is helping me change from the inside out. Sometimes it seems slow, but surely things are changing as my mind gets renewed by His Word and prayer.
But that is not why you should believe, good works is not what makes ONE a Christian, (although good works should follow someone who has believed on His name, they don’t always).
You know, looking at the Bible as if it were only a historical piece of literature… the evidence is still pretty amazing. Many people parrot what they’ve been told over the years, (i.e. how many errors it supposedly contains, how many translations, its man-made etc.), but I believe if they gave it a fair perusal, they might think quite a bit differently after a time. It’s why I ask you all the time to read it.
If one would actually look into the amazing facts of the Bible, I believe they would be in such awe. Besides having ten times more manuscripts in the Old Testament than the next most historically accepted piece of literature (Homer and the Iliad), the New Testament has (I believe) approximately 30 times the amount of manuscripts or pieces of them. The proof and dating is pretty staggering.
…is a fantastic compilation of history at the very least, as well as prophecies that have been phenomenally fulfilled. Over 300 prophecies fulfilled in Christ alone. One statistician laid out the odds. I couldn’t understand the immensity of his “to the power of”, until he gave this example. One you might appreciate since it is Texas. He said something like this, “cover the land mass of Texas with silver dollars 17 inches thick. Mark one. Blindfold a man giving him one chance to pick the right one. That is the statistical “odds” on Jesus fulfilling all the prophecies He did”.
Besides the virgin birth, and the place He would be born, the person of John the Baptist, telling about Him before He came or before John even knew Him. In fact John himself was prophesied of before centuries he was ever born as the one that would prepare the way for the Lord. Elderly parents, a barren mom, (well advanced in years), Gabriel appeared to the father a priest, to tell him they were to have a child. Even then Zechariah didn’t believe (a little like you). So the Angel told him he would be unable to speak until John was born because he didn’t believe.
The disciple Judas’s betrayal was written of in the Old Testament, down to even the exact amount of money he would betray Him for. The method of death prophesied — centuries before it was even a form of execution. Jesus being despised and rejected of men, the mocking and scorn He endured, the scourging/whipping, shame, oppression and affliction — they even yanked out of the hair of His beard. And He kept silent. He was stricken for us, for our sins, mine and yours. (See Isaiah 53 for a lot of the Messianic prophecies, how the Jewish people don’t see Jesus there I’m just in awe). Lots were cast for His clothing, that too was prophesied. The Scriptures told in advance of the darkness that would fill the land when He died, including even the last words He spoke before He died. There are many hundreds more prophecies, but if you ever looked into them, I think it might truly amaze you, or actually beyond that.
The Bible is made up of 66 books, written over a span of 15-1600 years, by at least 40 different authors. (Not all were named). Why is that such a big deal? Because there is such harmony in the Scriptures, writings were done even in exile (as in John on the Isle of Patmos in Revelation), it is powerful in side by side readings to see the complete accuracy and flow of not just the Old Testament revealed in the New, but the gospels and the epistles, and the prophecy seen in the last book of the Bible, Revelation, more to come…much more…and yet people still will not look into it.
Any secular author, writing up a follow-up sequel to his own book doesn’t display that type of harmony in just a short time span of a few years on the writing of his next book. Either forgetting details, or not meshing the story well. How can such a vast number of authors over time, places, occupations, countries, and different languages have this kind of complete harmony? Wouldn’t many of those prophecies fail if man made?
There are eight different literary styles the Bible was written in (I believe-I’m speaking from memory), yet contain within them prophecies that have either been fulfilled or are yet to be fulfilled. Some fantastic ones, like the goings on in Syria we see happening today. (The Bible foretells the upcoming destruction of Damascus in one day (Isaiah 17 and Jeremiah 49). It is one of the oldest standing cities in history, but this will happen.
The different books in the Bible were written by men from various walks of life; fishermen, Kings, Physicians, Tax Collectors, Prophets, Priests, Tentmakers. These were professional writers. Look at even Moses, who was a shepherd, and the adopted son of the Pharaoh of Egypt. He also was a foreshadowing of the Deliverer to come. So many things to tell, I don’t know where to stop and yet I don’t want to leave out anything.
Besides the different styles and personalities in authorship of the Bible, there were three different original languages the Scriptures were penned in (Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek). By authors in six different countries, (without an availability to coordinate their efforts via the internet), but then again, the Bible says all Scripture is inspired by Him.
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Tim 3:16-17
The book of Daniel is an astonishing example of proof that the Bible is God’s Word. It was written around 540 BC concerning the time of Babylon’s capture of Jerusalem. What is so amazing is the historical accuracy his prophecies entailed. Being written in Hebrew and Aramaic Daniel has been attacked the most. “Scholars” tried to post-date it around 160 BC, in order to say that Daniel (when he wrote the book), was looking backwards in time historically, versus prophetically speaking what God had shared with Him in advance (They tried to do the same with Isaiah’s prophecies).
However when the Dead Sea scrolls were found, copies, (not even the originals), of Daniel, with the dates of around 300 or so BC, this again shot their theory full of holes. Daniel is a book of prophecy with 100% accuracy of the prophecies that have already happened, yet people waste their time with Mayan prophecies and Nostradamus and the like… Seems so odd to me they would pick such failures, over a standard set of 100%.
I would think it would be well worth reading His Word once you know something astonishing like that, but many of those “scholars” stubbornly held their position, even with the evidence presented and no leg to stand on. Why?…
Daniel not only foretold of the historical kingdoms to follow Babylon, the Medo-Persian Empire, the Greek and Roman Empire, but he even foretold of events within the events, such as the time period of the demise of the Medo-Persian empire, as well as the rise to power of Alexander the Great and his death at an early age. In that same vision, it shows how many kingdoms exactly would emerge from Alexander’s empire, and all this prophesied centuries in advance. He even named one of the future rulers, Cyrus, 150 years before he was born.
Much of this just used to be boring to me, especially these types of books in the Bible. Actually it likely just went over my head, as much of history I heard. These stories disinterested me much like the documentaries Gilbert used to watch. Until…I saw there was much more than just a lot of historical facts, but serious literal fulfillments of things written centuries beforehand. I began to see the Word of God as a living thing as it says it is in Hebrews 4:12. My eyes were being opened to the veracity of His Word.
I don’t know if you remember from your childhood, the stories of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego and the fiery furnace? Or Daniel being put into the lions’ den?
Both of those stories were what are called a foreshadowing of the salvation or deliverance that is provided by Christ. These three men defied the King’s order to bow down to a false god, instead, they declare their God was able to deliver them (Daniel 3:17). And we see God did indeed do just that in verse 25, King Nebuchadnezzar was shocked to see four men when he looked into the furnace and said,
“Look!” he answered, “I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.”
Who is the Son of God?
Jesus is prophetically spoken of in advance in several Scriptures with the title the “Son of God” or “Son of Man” or “Son of David”. Also later in the gospels, He is called by the Father “My beloved Son”.
Jesus said of Himself, “I am the Son of God”. (John 10:36)
The Angel Gabriel announced “the Son of God who was Christ the Lord” to Mary and the Shepherds, in Luke 1:35 and 2:11. John the Baptist testified that Jesus was the Son of God. Of course His disciples gave their lives testifying that Jesus was the Son of God and John the one apostle who was not murdered, was sent to the Isle of Patmos, and exiled. You’d think at least one of them might recant these stories while being tortured to death. Peter denied Christ at His crucifixion, but after Jesus rose again, and they were given power from on High (the Holy Spirit), none of them ever denied Him again. Peter himself was crucified upside down and did not deny Christ then. Their strength would come from the Lord.
Many more came to believe that He was the Son of God – of note, the Centurion in the account in Mark 15. The crucifixion of Jesus is an historical fact whether people believe the reason, or that He was God, Jesus was indeed crucified. And His method of death was also prophesied centuries before crucifixion was even a method of execution.
The Centurion, after seeing the darkness that came over the land when Jesus hung on the cross, and hearing Him cry, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken me”, also saw the veil of the temple tear in half from top to bottom…he knew and said that, “truly this Man was the Son of God!” (It would be another long story on how impossible it would be to tear this thick woven veil (some say 4 + inches in thickness, I believe it was reported by Josephus (the Jewish historian) who also said it could not be torn apart by teams of horses. The method of making this veil was recorded centuries earlier in the Bible). The accounts are found in Mt 27:51; Mk 15:38; Lk 23:45. Again, this foreshadowed how Jesus made a way for us to be reconciled to the Father.
The Jewish Apostle Paul
….a Roman citizen of high standing, who previously murdered, tortured and persecuted the church, hunting them down like animals… he went out right away to preach Jesus as the Son of God, after the incident of meeting Jesus and being blinded on the road to Damascus. Truly a story of the blind seeing (in more ways than one). God gave him both his spiritual sight and his physical sight back.
Can you imagine hearing this man preach Jesus, knowing that he had caused and approved of people being murdered for this same faith? These people knew Paul, and even the believers were afraid of him in the beginning. The top of the Jewish hierarchy, going to all lengths, to find and hunt down these Christians. And then they see this same fierce man in the Synagogues preaching that Jesus Christ is indeed the Son of God that was prophesied to come? Wow, that must have been met with shock, disbelief, fear, marveling…
Jesus is God, the Son of God, who was the fourth man protecting the three in the fiery furnace, not allowing a hair on their head to be singed. That same Jesus, who has also provided us a way of escape from the eternal fire, that all who reject His free offer of salvation will face. He suffered in our place, the Just for the unjust. (1 Peter 3:18). The wages of (penalty for) sin is death. Jesus is the one who was our substitute, who willingly took the punishment for our sins, and died in our place. He is the only way.
Only Jesus can make us righteous in God’s eyes when we believe upon Him as our Savior. He died for us on the cross, the only acceptable sacrifice in God’s eyes (perfect). And He rose again from the dead, just like the Scriptures said He would. This not only showed us that He was God, (because obviously only He has power over life and death), but also in His victory over death, he showed us, that we too will rise again from the dead (see 1 Cor 15:50-58). He was innocent, He had committed no wrong, the only perfect man since Adam, yet He was fully man and fully God, giving Himself for us. If we will only believe on Him to save us.
He was the Passover Lamb spoken of in the Bible, foreshadowed in the story of Abraham offering up his son Isaac as a sacrifice. So many did not understand that story, But it was a picture of The perfect Father (God) who loved the world so much, that He sent His only begotten and beloved Son to die on the cross for us, that whosever would believe, would not perish, but they would have everlasting life… (John 3:16pp).
In this story, God stopped Abraham from sacrificing Isaac, instead providing the sacrifice Himself (a ram caught in the thickets by his horns). This was a foreshadowing of God also not withholding His beloved Son Jesus. God, desiring that none of us should perish, gave us His Son, the Lamb of God (Jn. 1:29). Abraham demonstrated his faith in God knowing that God promised him a lineage through Isaac. He would either stop him or raise him from the dead, he did not know but he believed God. He was called a friend of God.
What will be the outcome of those who reject Him as their Savior?
Jesus Himself said many times simply what we must do. Here, we are told whoever believes has eternal life, but the one that does not, will face God’s wrath.
He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him. John 3:36
We see here that whoever does not believe is condemned already. Pray. Ask for Him to show you the truth, He will, He is faithful. Some believe He is there, and yet they still believe on themselves, or their church or their good deeds or sacrifices to contribute to being in heaven one day. Not so.
Death and Loss
Things started to change for me when my grief and pain overtook me, as I faced Gilbert’s death (along with my dad’s stroke and my mom’s stage 4 cancer to come).
Facing my own death would have been easier I believe, than the idea of losing Gilbert was for me at that time. I didn’t think I could make it through, but with the help of the Lord, family, (and good friends like you) I did. My comfort, and my confidence and peace began to come as I began to read the Bible daily (Rom 15:4, Ps 119:25,28) and tried to pray for more things. I didn’t know where I was going, but I knew I should do these things, and God has rewarded me for seeking Him with so much comfort, peace, joy and assurance in my life.
Here are a few verses that comforted me, besides the picture above.
For I have satiated the weary soul, and I have replenished every sorrowful soul. Jeremiah 31:25
The Lord your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing. Zeph 3:17
Deep calls unto deep at the noise of Your waterfalls; All Your waves and billows have gone over me. The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime, And in the night His song shall be with me—A prayer to the God of my life. Psalm 42:7-8
I don’t know if I shared this with you, but following were the two verses I prayed while I waited outside the emergency room as they worked on Gilbert as I was shocked and without words. I usually use KJV or NKJV, but this day, I had made a Bible verse picture, and accidentally looked up NASB. So, the word ‘cling’ stuck with me, for that was exactly what I was doing…
O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly; My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, In a dry and weary land where there is no water. My soul clings to You; Your right hand upholds me. Psalm 63:1,8
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. John 3:16-18
(Jesus said) Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life. John 5:24
WHAT IS OUR PART?
Then they said to Him, “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?” Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.” And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.” Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me HAS everlasting life.
John 6:28-29, 40, 47
HE JUSTIFIES US
He is our righteousness; we cannot do it ourselves. We need to believe on Him and let go of any faith in our dead works, religion, or unbelief, instead place our trust (belief) in only Him as our Savior. Jesus is the only Way by which we can be saved. Believe upon Him.
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. John 14:6
For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. Romans 10:4
If we believe on Him, the Bible says our sins though they are like scarlet will be washed and made white as snow. (Isaiah 1:18 PP).
The gospel, (means good news) is really simple, but the Bible is clear, “how can you believe if you have not heard”? Faith comes by hearing the Word of God. (paraphrased from Rom 10). If you will not look into what it says you cannot believe. If you will not hear, you can’t believe.
In the beginning, God created us to commune with Him. And if we are fortunate in our lifetime, some of us have come to know the joy of a good friend, maybe even a great friend. (As you did with Gilbert and Harry). But no friends in this life are perfect, and not too many would lay down their life in your place. And none can guarantee they will stay with us forever… Except for Jesus. Gilbert certainly wanted to stay with me, but our days are numbered. But Jesus promises, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Jesus laid His life down for us. The Bible says in Rom 6:23, that the wages of sin is death. We are also told in the Old Testament that the soul who sins shall die. In Romans 3:23 we are told that everyone, every single person sins and falls short of His Glory. This is why we are separated from God, our willing choice to sin.
But Jesus loved us so much, that He gave His own life in our place. Willingly. No one took His life, although we all caused it with our rebellious ways. He said laid His life down and He would take it back with His power as God. And He did.
In John 10, Jesus said He laid down His life for the sheep (that’s us who have believed, and of course initially His Jewish sheep-disciples who believed)…furthermore, He said,
“Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.” (vs. 17-18)
He saw you and me, John, when He died on the cross. He saw every sin you or I have ever committed, ones we have forgotten… and even more than that, He saw the sins we will commit and He forgave us all, dying in our stead, all because of His great love for us.
Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. John 15:13
For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures. I Cor. 15:3-4
You had a special friendship with Gilbert. He loved you deeply also, and although you know he was in no way perfect, he was a Christian by faith. Not through any works he had done himself, but because of the love of God, His kindness and mercy. It was all God… Gilbert believed on the Lord Jesus Christ as His Savior and he was given the free gift of eternal life. I know where he is now, not because of anything good he has done, but because he believed the work that Jesus did on the cross, He believed the debt was paid in full. Simply put, he believed God’s Word, His testimony of His Son (1 Jn 5:9-13). I know more than anything, he would want the same for you, and I do this, not for myself (because you will probably be mad about this), but because of love for you. It’s much easier for people to stay silent in order to not offend, or to not be mocked. But no matter the cost, I want you to experience His loving-kindness and I don’t want you to be separated from God forever.
But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. Titus 3:4-7
The Bible is pretty clear that no person who has ever lived, is good enough to face the Holiness of God. He is a just God and all sin causes death and separation from God eternally. All sin is against God, and it grieves Him. One sin leads to another, we are helpless to do anything about it.
Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. Genesis 6:5-6
All religions try to get to God by “being good”, even many of the Christian religions who teach different rituals or who might unknowingly teach us to think that regular church attendance, or baptism, or doing certain things might make us saved. True Christianity, (not those who just put their religion under that umbrella), unlike any other faith, teaches us through His Word that none of us are good. Without Christ, we are unclean in His sight and unable to do anything good in His eyes.
But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away. Isaiah 64:6
Why am I going into such detail? Because I know you are a thinking man, and are not going to just believe out of thin air. In fact you barely hear two words from me about it without getting mad. In addition to that, like I shared with you awhile back, Faith comes by hearing the Word of God. You cannot have faith in something without knowledge of it. It won’t be by my words, but by the truth. You cannot love someone without knowing anything about them, without talking to them, hearing about them… The only way is through the hearing of His Word, the Bible.
OUR FRIEND HARRY
Harry heard from me for years about my belief, sometimes when he asked, sometimes when he didn’t… 🙂 I prayed for him for a long time, as I have for you. When Harry called me down to talk to him the last week of the restaurant being open here in town, he asked me questions, many I barely remember. But it was all God related. By the manner it happened, it was clear he wanted to know the truth. He asked, “Why did I believe in God? What did I believe? Why did I believe the Bible was true? Did I believe that my faith was the only true faith?” etc. I can’t remember much else that he asked, (he peppered me with one question after another so rapidly), except that I did try to do my best to answer openly and honestly as I could. And as quickly and intensely as it began, (seemed to be about 30 minutes), Harry suddenly just sat back, and nodded his head as if he were pondering all that I had shared. Then, he patted me on the back, got up, and asked me if I’d like to have a glass of wine with him, and we sat there, and nothing more was said about it. He got to hear the gospel at Gilbert’s funeral when I spoke, no one had a choice but to listen…
But as you know, he took us out as a family a couple of times and stopped by the house shortly before he suddenly died.
It was his sister-in-law Ha, who brought the Bibles in Chinese to the family when Harry was sick, and began to read Him the Word of God (that he needed to hear in order to believe). Ha was the only Christian out of fifteen siblings, they called for her in a panic because Harry had dreamt about Gilbert, and to the Chinese, that meant he was going to die. Of course we know superstition means nothing, but God used that I believe, for Harry to see the seriousness of his situation (like yours now) and to also hear the truth of what Ha shared with him, a witness to what I had shared too.
I think you may recall me telling the story (as we all drove back from the after funeral get-together at the restaurant. Ha said, he took a turn for the worse the following day, and she asked him if he believed in Jesus. She recounted to me that she told him, all he had to do was believe in his heart and he could just tell her “yes” if he had believed.
But he said nothing.
So she continued to explain that if he was too weak to speak, he could just nod his head, because Jesus knew his heart, and he would be saved.
But he didn’t nod.
So Ha carried on with the story.
She then told him that if he did believe, that was enough, (she got it correct, it’s a free gift) and he could just believe in his heart/mind. At that moment, Harry told her “YES”. And that is when we hugged each other in tears, as she told me that Harry (pointing upwards) and Gilbert, “were drinking the new wine with Jesus”. (From the Last Supper passage below)
Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.” Matt 26:27-29
God created this earth, in perfect splendor, no flaws, with no sin, no sickness, no sorrow, no murder, no death… yet we had a choice to freely obey Him or not. Given only one choice, everything else was given to us to enjoy. So it should not have been hard. But I believe it was provided so that we would indeed have free will to choose to obey/love God or not. Who wants a puppet to love them? And yet with that one choice, man’s disobedience brought sin into the world, and sin from that point forward separated us from God, our Creator, and our Maker. Who loves us and made us in His own image, desiring to commune with us.
But from the moment sin entered the world, God made a promise — a prophecy (Genesis 3:15) that foretold of the solution; the One who would come and provide salvation. It would all be a matter of those who believed the message and those who rejected the message.
The Bible tells us that the truth is clearly seen, shown by Him, even in His invisible attributes, His Creation, the marvel of how our bodies are knit together. The truth of God whose glory is declared day by day from the expanse of the sky to the sphere of the earth, and people have no excuse whatsoever for not believing.
The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, And night unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech nor language Where their voice is not heard. Their line has gone out through all the earth, And their words to the end of the world. Psalm 19:1-4
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools. Romans 1:18-22
I think on these people throughout time, and ponder stories in the Bible; some you may recall from Sunday School. Some maybe you didn’t really think on, as I know I did not, yet these too now mean so much more to me than just a story or a parable.
The Apostle Paul – A murderer, a persecutor of those that loved Christ, and were loved by Him… yet what mercy Paul was shown, and how greatly God used him. He wrote a good part of the New Testament under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
The Jewish Historian Flavius Josephus – I wonder about him quite a bit, not believed by most to have believed in Christ as his Savior. He was an important Jewish Historian, considered a traitor by most Jews, yet he presented a lot of the historical evidence of Christ, including the crucifixion and more. How he can make this statement as a piece of history, yet not believe in Christ as his Savior is beyond me.
At this time there appeared Jesus, a wise man, if indeed one should call him a man. For he was a doer of startling deeds, a teacher of the people who receive the truth with pleasure. And he gained a following both among many Jews and among many of Greek origin.
He was the Messiah.
And when Pilate, because of an accusation made by the leading men among us, condemned him to the cross, those who had loved him previously did not cease to do so. For he appeared to them on the third day, living again, just as the divine prophets had spoken of these and countless other wondrous things about him. And up until this very day the tribe of Christians, named after him, has not died out.
[Jewish Antiquities, 18.63-64]
Agrippa – Partial rejection is rejection…. He “almost was persuaded to be a Christian?”(Acts 26:28) How sad is that?…
The Ethiopian Eunuch (Acts 8) – Very influential and wealthy, sitting in his chariot, reading the prophecy of Isaiah 53, not having knowledge or understanding of what it meant. Phillip got up and that chariot and told him that where He was reading was speaking of Jesus, the Messiah. He believed.
The Jailer in the story of Paul and Silas in prison: When the earthquake happened and the prison doors were shaken open, he was ready to kill himself. They told him not to harm himself, and he asked what he must do to be saved.
So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household. Acts 16:31
The story of the fishes and loaves and the feeding of the 5000: They had been fed, and they were seeking Jesus, but not for who He was, but for physical things. He told them what they needed to do instead. How often do we all labor for the things that will not last? See below that they still think they have to work for it, He tells them they don’t, they need to BELIEVE.
Jesus answered them and said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him.”
Then they said to Him, “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?” Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.” John 6:26-27
The Rich Young Ruler Didn’t admit (or know) he was a sinner, nor did he recognize any need for a Savior or realize that he even lacked anything. His trust was in his own goodness and his wealth. Yet still I marvel at one portion that is so touching. This man said he had done no wrong, but Jesus still looked at him and LOVED HIM. (Mark 10:21) That’s gets to me…
I guess that was probably me. Marriage, kids, a house, friends, a fairly successful business, really didn’t feel like I lacked much of anything. But once my whole world got turned upside down, I realized how much I needed God. Knowing “who” Jesus is, cannot be the same as KNOWING Him. I began to see the profound wisdom in the question, “what does it profit a man, if he gains the whole world, but loses his soul”? Life is so short, I had believed, but I was stunted in my growth for so long.
Which leads to the prodigal son (Luke 15) That’s who I was also, and maybe still am partially like him. Took my inheritance and squandered it all these years. Slopped with the pigs, and finally came home exhausted, unable to do much other than say “Help me Father”. The prodigal son came home because he was spent, done, hungry and knew he was going to perish. Even though he deserved nothing, when his father saw him, he had great compassion on him. He ran to him, embraced him, put the best robe on him, place a ring on his finger, and shoes on his feet. He prepared a feast for him, exclaiming in joy, “he was lost and now is found”… That’s who I was, His child, lost for quite a while, so happy He came for me in love and had such great compassion on me. I once was lost, but now I’m found…I might have been His daughter a long time, but I sure wasn’t living close to Him. But I want you to know Him.
Finally, these are a couple favorite stories of His mercy, no matter what time in our lives we believe.
The criminal hanging next to Jesus on the cross, who believed at the end (Luke 23) Well, there were two, but one obviously was going to stubbornly hang on to his hardened heart and unbelief, even mocking Him, blasphemously. The other rebuked the man, knowing Jesus had done nothing wrong, and yet recognized he was a sinner. He believed that Jesus was Lord, and asked Him to “remember him when he came into His kingdom”. Jesus told him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”
The Parable of the workers in the Vineyard (Matt 20) The man who owned the land, hired workers for a denarius a day. Several hours later (the third hour) he saw some others and sent them out to work in the vineyard. Then the sixth and ninth hour of the day he hired some more and sent them to the field. At the 11th hour (we all know the saying the “eleventh hour”), he hired some more workers that no one had hired. At the end of that day, he called the last workers first. And he gave them all a full days’ wages (denarius) no matter when they had come. The others complained to the landowner, but he had done no wrong, for he could do what he wanted.
The moral of this story? It’s never too late while we are still here on this earth to believe. Salvation is a free gift, available no matter how long you waited. I hope you won’t wait any more because we are not promised tomorrow.
You remember my time with Nancy at the hospital? Two days before you die is cutting it too close. And what if she had died before I could share the gospel with her?
So, it doesn’t take much.
You need to believe. Here are some simple truths. 1) you are a sinner who needs a Savior because the penalty/wages for sin is death-eternal death 2) Jesus is God in the flesh, that Savior who died and literally rose again from the dead in your place 3) He is the only way to receive eternal life (save you from eternal death). 4) You can do nothing to earn it. It is a free gift that He graciously gives. We have to receive it by believing His Word, believing upon Him to save us.
Some suggest praying, (of course we need to talk to Him), so praying is one way of telling Him you believe on Him to be your Savior but prayer doesn’t save. The One who (if you believed), has now reconciled you to the Father. Believing on Him as your only way to heaven is how we are saved. Of course there is much more to come to know in our life with Him afterwards, but the gift of eternal life is FREE.
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. Ephesians 2:8-9
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 5:1
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name. John 1:12
Humble Sinner (Tax collector) – Contrast the two men here; one thought himself to be righteous, the other recognized he was a sinner that needed God’s mercy. (This is before the cross, however it shows the just shall live by faith. We must have faith in Jesus Christ as our Savior, no other name by which we can be saved, Acts 4:12)
Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’
And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Luke 18:9-14
I hope that somehow you’ll read this and pray about it. We’re all praying for you. We love you, and we all want you to be well.
In His love, Holly and the kids…