A Very
Short Story
. . . with Long Lasting Implications

     John's head.   He glanced at his watch, amazed at how
     quickly the day was turning.   He looked at his hand.   The
heat, combined with the oil from his skin, was causing a
fingerprint on one of the colored brochures.   As he studied the
damage, the corner of his eye caught a woman leaving the store.
   "Excuse me, Ma'am, have you given any thought to where
you're going when you die?"

   She walked faster, waving him off with her free hand.
   John quickly captured the next person exiting.   "Sir, if you
were to die today, where would you--?"
  The man kept moving,
without looking back, while a teenager with enough mousse in
her orange hair to choke a real moose, reached for the other
door to go inside.   John scurried over, but not fast enough.
   He stopped, caught his breath, and looked back toward a
parking lot now granting him a rare moment of inactivity.
   John wiped his brow, walking over to where the glass and
metal entrance converged with the massive brick wall to form
an oasis of cool shade.   He began counting the remaining
   "You selling something?"   A deep voice took John by surprise.
   "Ah . . . Yes, Sir . . . I mean not really-- "
   The older man gave John a stern look.   The worn out brim on
his fishing cap shaded part of his eyes.   He had the look of
retirement; a man who had worked all his life and was now
finally seeing what the rest of the world did during the middle
of the day.   "What you got in your hands, then?"
   "This?"   John finally got in sync.   "Sir, if you were to die today,
where would you go?"

   "You said you're not a salesman."
   "I'm not, Sir."   John held out a brochure, timing it with a smile.
   "So, what's with the sales pitch?"
   "Sir, I'm talking about eternal life; Heaven; spending the rest of
your life with God . . . You do believe in God, don't you?"

   The old man angled his head, exposing his deep green eyes
from below the cap's rim.   He took a brochure and began reading
   "Sir, you may not be aware of how much God loves you."
   The man nodded as he read.
   "Sir . . . if you have any questions--"
   The green eyes came off the brochure and pierced John.   John
stood quietly for the next two minutes, while the man finished
reading another flap.   "What do I have to do?" he said.
   "You wanna get saved?!"
   "That's not what I said, Son."
   "Sorry, Sir.   You just believe in Jesus; He'll save you."
   "Then what?"   The man examined the back of the brochure,
noting a church's address.
   "He becomes your Lord; you do what He says . . . you stay
faithful to Him."

   "What if I don't stay faithful?"   The green eyes were piercing
   "Well . . . then, you lose your salvation . . . but I'm sure

   "Don't bet on it, Son."   The man folded the brochure, shoving
it back in John's direction.
   "But, Sir--?"
   "Why should I trust my soul to Christ . . . You just admitted
He's not a very good saviour."

   "I don't understand?"
   "Well, then, let me explain it to you.   Your little pamphlet says
Jesus Christ died to pay for all our sins.   Now it seems to me,
that means there's nothing left for me to pay for . . . It's
finished; I don't have to try to earn my way into Heaven . . . Is
that right?   Talk to me, Boy."

   "Yes, Sir."
   The old man took a step forward, intensifying the shade of
green.   "Yet in spite of Christ paying for it all, you're saying I still
have to earn Heaven by staying faithful."

   "Oh, no, Sir.   I didn't say you can earn your way to Heaven--"
   "But you said I could lose my salvation."
   "Yes, Sir, of course."
   "You're not thinking, then," the man said.   "If it's within my
power to hang on to my salvation, then isn't in my power to
earn it in the first place?   Come on, Son, this isn't rocket science."

   John hesitated, trying to respond.
   The man continued.   "In the end, if I make it into Heaven
because I stayed faithful, why couldn't I then claim to have
earned my way in?   In which case, I saved myself, in spite of what
Christ did.   Fact is, Christ can't really save me, if all along I can
un-save myself.   Am I getting through?"

   John began to sweat around the forehead.
   "That's right," the old man said.   "You keep thinking about it."
   The old man went inside the store, immediately staking a spot
close to the entrance.   He looked outside, peering back at John
through the smoked glass.   The people going in and out were no
longer being accosted by a brochure.   Instead, John stood there,
reading the brochure himself, shaking his head from time to
   The old man continued spying on John from his vantage point
when someone tapped him from behind.   "Morning, Reverend.
How's retirement treating you?"

   The old man turned to look at Henry Penkel, an old church
member.   "Oh, hi, Hank.   I'm doing fine.   But you know, soldiers of
the cross never retire.   Fact, Lord willing, I might just go into
evangelism and preach Christ and Him alone."

   The reverend turned his attention toward John again, who
was still outside reading the brochure.   "Too many people out
there, Hank; still trying to earn their way to Heaven . . . and
don't even realize it . . ."

IF you were to die today, are you 100% SURE
you would go to Heaven?
  The Bible says
YOU CAN BE SURE (1 John 5:13).

BUT FIRST, you must realize that what keeps you
from going to Heaven are your sins, because:
"...your iniquities [sins] have separated
between you and your God,"
Isaiah 59:2.
In fact, in God's eyes YOU ARE A SINNER: "For
all have sinned, and come short
of the glory of God;"
Romans 3:23.

SECONDLY, you must realize that there is
NOTHING you can do to save yourself and earn
Heaven: "For by grace are ye saved through
faith; and that not of yourselves: it is
the gift of God: Not of works, lest any
man should boast."
  Eph. 2:8-9   Baptism, good
deeds, church membership, self-righteousness are
all examples of good works that cannot save you,
because: "Not by works of
which we have done, but
according to his mercy he
[Christ] saved
Titus 3:5.

THE ONLY WAY you can get saved is through
Jesus Christ.   He said: "I am the way, the
truth, and the life: no man cometh unto
the Father, but by me."
  (John 14:6)   THAT'S
: "...while we were yet sinners, Christ
died for us
  (Rom. 5:8-9)

THEREFORE: You must REPENT (change your
); admit that you are a Hell deserving sinner
and can't save yourself.   And call upon Christ, and
Him alone, to save you.   "if thou shalt confess
with thy mouth the Lord Jesus
[REPENT], and
shalt believe in thine heart
[TRUST] that God
hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be
  Romans 10:9

P.O. Box 815   Fargo, ND 58107

[Christian Helps Ministry (USA)] [Christian Home Bible Course]