. . . with Long Lasting Implications
THE KID stood there, both hands in his pockets. I guess he wasn't really a kid, but at my age, everyone seems like one. He must have been mid-twenties; old enough to think for himself, yet too young to be set in his ways. He had sat through the whole sermon, a good sign, considering the preacher let it rip today. . .
"So, what can I do for you, Son?"
He smiled, half-embarrassed, and said, "The preacher said I should come forward and meet an altar-worker if I want to get saved."
"Well, you've come to the right place. I'm Wendell Jones." I shook his hand and motioned him toward the second chair in the room. He sat and introduced himself as Jacob Englers.
"Is this the first time you've attended our services?"
"Second," he said. "The first time I thought of coming forward during the invitation, but . . ." He hesitated; maybe afraid of sounding cynical and offending me. I smiled and continued.
"So you want to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Saviour and get saved?"
I took 20 minutes to show him what the Bible had to say about getting saved and then reached into my coat pocket for my date book. "Now that you've seen what God requires, how about if we make an appointment for you to get saved?"
He shrugged and said, "Sure."
That was not a good sign.
"Okay," I said, "how about next Sunday? Same time, same room."
He stood up and shook my hand.
"Hold on, Jacob. Before you go I have something for you." I led him to the Church's tape room. We record every sermon that's preached. "Here," I said, handing him an audio cassette. "There are two sermons, one on each side. Listen to them between now and next Sunday. Make note of any questions you have." I shook his hand again and sent him on his way.
I know what you're thinking: a lost, hell-bound soul wants to get saved and I told him to play Russian roulette for another week. But trust me, he wasn't ready . . .
The following Sunday, he didn't respond to the invitation but waited around afterwards. We sat in the same room.
"So, what do you want to talk about, Jacob?"
He shrugged, half surprised. "You told me to come back, remember?"
"No one else told you to come back?"
"Huh? What do you mean?" He had no idea what I meant--not a good sign.
"Did you listen to those two sermons?"
He thought for a while. Nothing must of hit home--yet.
"Okay," I said. "I have another tape for you. You want it?"
He shrugged and took it.
"We'll meet again next week, okay?"
"Same time, same room?" he said.
"Yes. . ."
The following Sunday he showed up again. This was definitely a good sign. I had prayed all week that he would ask questions. My prayer was answered.
"On one of the last two sermons you gave me," he began, "the preacher said that God has enemies that deserve Hell. Who's he talking about?"
I opened my Bible and asked, "Did you hear him use this passage: But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life (Rom. 5:8-10)."
"Yeah, that's it," he said.
"If you had to guess, who do you think God's enemies are?"
He thought for a moment. "The verse makes it sound as if everyone is, but that can't be."
"Why not?" I asked.
"Because not everyone goes around fighting God."
"And you're saying that most people don't deserve to go to Hell because they're not fighting against God?"
"And, of course, since you're not fighting God, you don't deserve Hell, either."
"Yeah," he said, with an air of complete assurance. Not a good sign.
"So, why did you say two Sundays ago you wanted to get saved? Saved from what?"
He raised his eyebrows. The wheels were finally turning. I wasn't about to interrupt him, no matter how awkward the silence in the room became. After a while he looked at me, dumbfounded, expecting me to answer the question for him.
I pointed back to the verse. "Here's what you need to get saved from: . . . justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath."
He blinked; a good sign. "But why do I deserve God's wrath? I'm not His enemy!"
"Here, I'll show you." I flipped to another verse but he stood and said, "No . . . forget it . . . I think I should go."
I reached for another tape. "These next two sermons should--"
"No! No more tapes. No more sermons. I've heard enough."
"Tell you what," I said, "take this last tape, and I won't bother you again. I won't call you or visit you. It'll be as if I fell off the face of the earth. Just take one more tape."
He drew in his eyebrows. "This means that much to you?"
"Actually, it means a lot more to you than it does to me. I'm already saved." I extended the tape toward him.
He slowly took it, turned it over in his hand twice, then charged out the door. I know what you're thinking: he came that close to realizing his hell-bound state, and I promised never to see him again. But trust me, he still wasn't ready. . .
The following Sunday there was no sign of him. It concerned me, but I kept my word; he didn't hear from me. The Sunday after that . . . well, I'll admit . . . when I didn't see him in church I began second guessing my judgment. Maybe he had talked himself right out of conviction. Conviction is important. It makes the difference between a simple prayer and a genuine repentant attitude. Too many times I've seen the person suddenly get "comfortable" after God had been dealing with them for awhile--definitely not a good sign.
After services, and halfway to my car, he pulled up to me in the parking lot.
"I want to talk," he said. He wasn't smiling.
"Sure. Let's go back inside--"
"No!" he said, reaching over to unlock the passenger door. "Let's talk right here."
I climbed in. "So, Jacob, how have you been?"
"I want to get saved!"
"We went through this a month ago--"
"No, no, this time I mean it."
I examined him. He looked tired. Perhaps from lack of sleep--a very good sign.
"It hit me, three days ago," he continued, "I finally realized what you meant; what the Bible means!"
"It's like . . . when you get caught--" He stopped and stared out the windshield. "I've offended God . . . I can sense His angry stare. I've been ignoring Him up to now, yet He created me. If it wasn't for Him, I wouldn't be here." He looked back at me, "none of us would!"
"That's right, Jacob. The Bible says that, All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way... (Isa. 53:6). A rebellious attitude against his Creator is what made the devil God's enemy . . . and we're no better than the devil."
He bowed his head as his eyes welled up. "I'm sorry. I didn't--"
"You have two choices, Son. Either keep rebelling against your Creator, or repent; change your mind. Surrender to Him as Lord and Saviour. That means from now on HE calls the shots. He runs your life according to what He's laid out in His Word. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. Jesus said, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God (Luke 9:62)."
He raised his head to look at me and wiped his eyes on his sleeve. You could see the remorse all over his face. "How do I make it up to Him?" he said, still wiping his eyes.
"You don't. In fact, you can't. Bible says: Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he [Jesus Christ] saved us... (Titus 3:5). That's part of what you have to repent of: trusting in your good deeds to save you. Only Christ can save you. Only He paid the price for your sins. That's why He died on a cross, in your place."
I stopped and looked at my watch. "So, you wanna come next week and get it settled?"
"NO!" he said, grabbing the steering wheel for dear life. "I might die before then. I'm not leaving until I get saved!"
I smiled as my eyes watered. This was definitely a good sign.
Dear Reader, has God been dealing with you about getting saved? Are you refusing to repent and trust Christ as Saviour, calling upon His name to save you? The Bible warns: "To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts," (Heb. 3:15).
There may not be another chance tomorrow.
The Bible teaches that, "your iniquities [SINS] have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear." (Isa. 59:2) "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;" (Rom. 3:23). And there is a price to pay for having sinned before God, and that price is death. "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Rom. 6:23)
"and without shedding of blood [DEATH] is no remission [FORGIVENESS]." (Heb. 9:22)
Of course, this means that BAPTISM cannot pay for your sins since no one dies while getting baptized, nor can CONFIRMATION, COMMUNION, KEEPING THE TEN COMMANDMENTS, CHURCH MEMBERSHIP, SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS, or GOOD DEEDS. Anything other than death CANNOT and WILL NOT pay for any of your sins. That's why:
"Christ died for our sins" (1 Cor. 15:3).
He paid the price. He died in our place and if we don't put our trust in His death to save us,
Jesus warned that: "ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he," (John 8:24). And that means eternity in the Lake of Fire (Rev. 20:15).
To claim what Christ has done on the cross for you, you must REPENT. That means: change your mind, and agree with what you have just read from the Bible and place all your trust in Jesus Christ, and Him alone, to save you. So "if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus [i.e. REPENT], and shalt believe in thine heart [TRUST] that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved" (Rom. 10:9).
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