UI – Part 147 – The Free Gift of Eternal Life
We are human. We live in a world of 6.7 billion, or so, people, with an expectation of over 9 billion by the year 2042.[i] In the United States surveys have noted that about 80% of the population call themselves Christian, or believe in Jesus Christ.[ii] Approximately 1/3 of the world’s population are Christians.[iii] That would put the number at 2.2 billion Christians, people who have Christ as part of their lives, having, one might assume, accepted Christ into their heart, recognizing Christ as their savior. One source qualifies a Christian when trying to gain an accurate fix on a number with the following: “Add to this the fact that no-one can really tell if a person is a Christian at heart, or if they are just paying lip-service to the name.”[iv]
To the question as to the number of Muslims in the World the answer provided was “its about 1.62 Billion …. Islam is the second largest religion of the world and is the most fast growing religion in whole of the world.”[v]
The Gospel Unknown in Many Areas
On January 4, 2009 Bob Tebow, the father of the New York Jets back up quarterback (previously Denver Broncos, and before that University of Florida (Gator) quarterback) and Heisman Memorial Trophy winner in 2007 Tim Tebow, spoke at Spanish River Church, Boca Raton, FL. Bob lives in Jacksonville, FL, but has since 1985 been active in the Philippines bringing the gospel to an area of the world that has never been exposed to the gospel. He spent about 5 years in the Philippines and now supports his efforts from Florida[vi] with an annual 5-6 week trip in July to be directly involved in the ongoing program. His claim is the organization has brought over 12 million Philippine’s to Christ, but needs more volunteers and leaders to continue to follow-up with these individuals. He noted also that having traveled to other areas of the world, including India, there are locations, villages, where the gospel has never been heard. How many have never heard the gospel or been precluded from hearing the gospel numbers is in the countless millions.
Share The Gospel – Biblical References
There are many biblical references that are most useful when sharing the Gospel with a third-party, an individual that has never really heard the good and bad news. Here are some:
1 John 1:8-10 – “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be liar and his world has no place in our lives.”
1 Corinthians 10:31 – “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”
2 Timothy 13 – “If we are faithless, he will remain faithful.”
2 Corinthians 5:17 – “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation; the old have gone, the new has come!”
John 6:29 – “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”
John 1:1-2 – “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.”
John 6:35 – “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.”
John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
Matthew 28:18-20 – “The Great Commission – All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of age.”
John 6:40 – “For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
John 11:25-26 – “I am the Resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies, and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.”
John 12:47 – “For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it.”
John 14:6 – “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Romans 5:5 – “And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit whom he has given us.”
Romans 6:23 – “For the wages of sin is death but the (free) gift of the God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord.”
1 Corinthians 1:5-9 – “For in him you have been enriched in every way – in all your speaking and in all your knowledge – because our testimony about Christ was confirmed in you. Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.”
The Free Gift
Accepting Christ, believing in him and the message that he died for our sins, taking him into our hearts and knowing now that a life eternal with God is a free gift, is the essential step. Once accepted must one repeat the process on succeeding days? “No.” Recognizing Jesus starts the walk that only leads to further fulfillment and knowledge of the promises made and the future ahead. Accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior brings the Holy Spirit into your system. “The Holy Spirit…will remind you of everything I have said to you” said Jesus while comforting his disciples (John 14:29.)
For a new believer in a foreign land, and/or locations with little known exposure to the Word, or in areas where accepting other religions can lead to death, once people have come to Christ, understood the message, follow-up and repetition of the “good news” and “bad news” is essential. But just knowing that Christ is alive and lighting a way to a better place, a kingdom with a loving God, can sustain. Accessing the Word and growing through the Word can be most useful and provide the guideline for keeping the faith, maintaining one’s belief. The Word also reveals God.
From my personal experience, related in my book Wake Up! Wake Up! The Testimony of a Layman, I can say that reading the Bible is uplifting. Each new read, or reread, provides greater understanding and only acts to increase ones appetite for more. There is a hunger and a thirst for learning, hearing, and experiencing the Word that takes over. Having God in your life, knowing his Son is God incarnate, and acknowledging the free gift, the saving grace, His sacrifice that removed the shackles of sin from us, only makes us more loving. We understand persecution; we come to tolerate so much more. The door to peace opens. We were provided the liberty to reveal our hearts to God. The Word gives us the assurance that God is in us to the fullest extent we desire. The Gospel is the only publication we need to see the light and know our needs.
Even when there are times of faithlessness, once Jesus has been accepted in your heart, he will remain faithful; the eternal kingdom will be your reward. Disown God and it is another story. But doing that is almost impossible once you have accepted Jesus and believe in him. Jesus will do everything possible to keep you in his flock.
Coming to Christ, responding to the Altar call, can be moving, uplifting, and overwhelming. When Christ is accepted by you your heart, mind and body will be transformed. Will your sinful nature end? No. We are all sinners and we will continue to sin. Sin is wired into our libido. Adam, perfect when formed, fell victim to Satan’s charms and temptation corrupted him. He passed his sinful nature on to all of mankind. But knowing good and evil will begin to change us. Resisting evil and focusing on good will become our daily habit. Will we fall, yes! Old habits are hard to break. Will we continue to transgress even knowing that God will not be pleased? At times, yes! But prayerfully less and less. God loves the sinner. God loves the sinner that has accepted Christ and understands salvation is at hand. Repentance is key. Acknowledging your sinful self, repenting for that which compels us to do wrong, and exposing ourselves in all humility to what God commands makes way for His forgiveness. It is the best present we can possibly receive. It sits in the store window; it is not there just to look at; it is there for the taking.
Conversation with God on Judgment Day
What we do with that free gift of eternal life is between us and God, between you and God. When you come face to face with God on judgment day what will God say to you? “Bill, you did a great job. Wow. You were a believer. I want to congratulate you. You are a most faithful brother and servant; with you I am well pleased!” ” Or will he say, “You know me, you knew my plan, you believed, and yet you struggled everyday and did not work very hard. You gave but maybe 50%. You stayed with me, but certainly you could have done better.” Or will God say, “You know me, but refused to accept me. You denied my Son’s sacrifice. You choose to live without me in your heart. You condemned the one who could save you. You never denied yourself. You chose the material world.” What will God be saying to you?
Why are there are so many rooms of varying sizes in the Kingdom. “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust is God, trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.” (John 14:2)
Believe and there is a place for you in heaven.
Deny him, enjoy the empty pleasures of sin, never recognize your weaknesses, never repent and you will reside in eternal damnation, expelled from the house of the Lord. Before the Judge you will have no advocate.
You Will Change
No one needs to do anything except take Christ on in their hearts to gain entry into God’s world eternal. It is a free gift. But in so doing the one accepting will change. Sin will continue, but the mind is more aware and can stop. Sins of the past can be forgiven. No matter the severity of the sin, the magnitude of guilt that resides within the person, asking forgiveness and atoning for the sins, repenting, will succeed in erasing those sins. This action need not be repeated. The Spirit of the Lord will fill your vessel and constantly remind you of His presence and the guarantee of an eternal life with God. You can select His world or this world.
Once Christ has been accepted into one’s heart, you need not ask for him to come in again. He knocks, you open the door, and in he comes. Just open the door. If he does not come in he would be lying. “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him and he with me.” (Revelations 3:20) And as with sin, ask to be forgiven, repent and you will be forgiven. You need not ask again. Forgiven is forgiven. Then go on your way and try not to sin anew, try not to repeat the old sin. Is this possible? Yes! And No! The old sin may not repeat, but there will be other sins. Tell others, share your new found freedom.
A person with a penchant for adulterous affairs comes to Christ. Prior to this event, the individual repeatedly sought out other bed mates and entertained them in many locations, many cities, on numerous travels, for years, the partner never aware of this penchant to seek a physical outlet with others, but now the adulterer wants to stop and asks God for help, prays for the strength to not fall back on such a vile habit, and seeks forgiveness. An altar call changed the person, they accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and realized the sacrifice the Son of God and his Father made for sins committed, past, present and future. Having Christ in their heart they now had access to God, free access to his eternal kingdom, and sought help. Just ask. Just repent. For those adulterous events, all of them, true repentance will gain God’s grace and all will be forgiven. Best not do it again, as then, only then, will a new request be required, and additional repentance necessary.
Once forgiven, no matter the magnitude of past transgressions, God will be accepting of the individual, but the individual will find his internal organs responding differently to actions that may be taken. The Advil moments may increase. The pain of wrong doings that have not been forgiven will increase. Look up and God is there, and by looking down you may miss him. Prayer will become of greater value and the relationship with God, the Son and the Holy Spirit working inside will grow. The more the sins of the past are not repeated God on judgment day will be there to proclaim to the sinner-now-believer “good job, well done, you have served me well!”
God knows you will sin again. But his hand is outstretched to take you in and help you deal with your struggles, with your stumbling and bumbling. He also provides the Word, the Bible as a means to gain direct access to what he has to say, to answer questions, to reflect on his abilities, his judgment, his wrath and most importantly his love.
Be open to what God has shared and made possible. It is the free gift of eternal life with Him. For those that need proof there is much – to include Jesus dying on the cross and most essentially His Resurrection. These events were witnessed by hundreds and hundreds. Jesus appeared in the resurrected state, prior to ascension, for over a month. It was not just believers seeing. It was done not just as proof, but because of God’s plan. God’s plan was to free man from the constraints of his own sinful nature. We are born with a sinful nature. No one is born perfect. It was only Isa, the Muslims’ term for Jesus, that lived a perfect life. Why – he was God. The miracles showed compassion for women, children, the dying, the blind, the infirmed and the hungry. They were evidence of his divinity. They exemplified Jesus and God’s focus on all of us who need His Grace. We can all be saved.
In your state of crisis reach out for His tunic and touch Him. The demons will disappear. “Return home (then) and tell how much God has done for you.” (Luke 8:39)
God loves you. Yes, you. Whether you love Him is your option. That is your choice. It is freely given, to be freely received and freely accepted. Have faith in God. Trust in Jesus. Trust in God.
Grace and Peace.
[i] Wikipedia Online Encyclopedia
[iii] WikiAnswers.com, to the Q. “How many Christians are in the World?”
[iv] WikiAnswers.com, to the Q. “How many Christians are in the World?” with the fuller answer: Many sources mention 2.1 billion Christians in the world (about one-third of the total population of the planet), but estimating numbers is fraught with difficulties. What is included among the definition of ‘Christian’ is not agreed upon by many of the groups involved. Drawing the line between ‘Christian’ and those who belong to ‘sects’ is problematic. Add to this the fact that no-one can really tell if a person is a Christian at heart, or if they are just paying lip-service to the name. This is impossible for any but God who sees the heart to judge. The numbers can be taken, then, as a best estimate of how many identify with Christianity in some way.
[vi] Btea.com, The Bob Tebow Evangelistic Association has been serving in the Philippines since 1985 with five major priorities: Evangelism, Church Planting, Pastor Training, an Orphanage, and the Training of the Next Generation of Evangelists. It is the primary goal of BTEA to make the Gospel of Jesus Christ available to every person in the world. In 1998, BTEA began to implement a plan to preach the Gospel in every barangay (village) in the Philippines. There are approximately 42,000 barangays in the Philippines and it is estimated that over 64% of them do not have a single evangelical church. In a country of 87 million, the number of people who have never heard the Gospel is staggering. These statistics do not even take into account the dozens of ethnic tribal groups that have been living on obscure islands and in remote mountain villages for centuries. It is our goal to go to each and every barangay and give the people the opportunity to hear the Gospel at least one time. In addition to preaching the Gospel, we are endeavoring to plant indigenous churches with the new converts and train national pastors. It is a tremendous task that must be completed.