The Gift of Immortality
Before I received eternal life, I was very active. I did a lot of things. Still I felt unfulfilled and unchallenged. Oh, I went to church, but all I seemed to get out of it was a desire to sing with the choir so it would go faster. I was not a good singer, either. Even when I completed Navy flight training, at the top of my class, I felt an emotional emptiness and letdown. The achievement wasn't as fulfilling as expected.
Then at a seminar one Sunday in Washington D. C., I received the gift of immortality.
Since then, I no longer look upon my achievements in this life as the reason for living. I'm not trying to prove myself or to impress others anymore. I have seen myself becoming somebody I can be more comfortable with each day. Being more confident about tomorrow, and with much more peace inside, I am more relaxed, especially around people. I've learned what a true friend is, and have found a few I can really appreciate and cherish. May I ask you a question?
Have you come to the place in your spiritual life where you
are 100% sure that when you die you go to heaven?
"These things have I written to you ... in order that you may know that you have eternal life." (1 John 5:13) (NAS)
May I take a few minutes to share with you how I know I have immortality, or
May I ask you another question first?
Suppose you were to die today and stand before God and He were to say to you, "Why should I let you into My heaven?" What would you say?
So you would tell God that ...(again verify their answer. if necessary, get them to be specific as to who / what they are trusting for the right to enter heaven.)
I thought that I might have some good news for you, but now that you’re here, I know that I have some great news for you!
Did you know that the Bible says that heaven is a free gift?
We have all heard that ... "The wages of sin is death...” but rarely do we hear people finish the sentence, which reads...
"For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 6:23) (NAS)
The Bible also tells us that none of us can earn it, either!
"For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast." (Ephesians 2:8 9) (NAS)
Friend's gift illustration.
I'm sure that in the past you've received a wonderful, even expensive gift from someone. I feel confident that they were not looking for you to say, "Hey, this cost you a lot, let me give you some money to cover the expense" as you handed over a few bills. No, they wanted you to enjoy the gift, to make the most of it and to appreciate it. As soon as we pay anything for it, it’s not a gift anymore! That's how eternal life works!
We can see this more clearly when we understand what the Bible says about people.
"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23) (NAS)
And that basically tells us that we're not perfect. Sometimes I wonder how many times a day I sin. I'll bet it's a lot more than I realize. Modern psychologists tell us we have forgotten 99% of everything we've done wrong. We suppress them because we don't like to think about the unpleasant. But...
Three sins a day illustration
What is sin? It is those things that we are not so proud of, nor eager to let others know about. Like the thoughts we have towards that person in the grocery line ahead of us, that pays by check, instead of cash. Or the way we react internally when someone cuts us off in traffic. It also includes the things that we don't do, that we knew that we should have done. Looking at it that way, you could probably see that it would be easy to get a whole bunch of sins in an hour, especially in Monday morning traffic! Well, let's look at a milder case; say someone averages only three sins a day. That's pretty good isn't it? Well in one year they would accumulate a thousand sins, or about 70,000 in their life. Imagine what the judge would do to the person that had that many parking tickets? Well that's how God would look at my life if I were to be judged by what I did or didn't do. If 70,000 are too many, how many is still good enough? The Bible does let us know what God's standard is to get into heaven.
"Therefore, you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." (Matthew 5:48) (NAS)
Well, if one sin is too many, we're really in a tight squeeze. Is there something that we can do about it? After all, many of us are basically pretty good people. Let me illustrate...
We cannot save ourselves, bad egg omelet illustration
Let’s say that I invited you over to my house for breakfast one Saturday morning. Suppose we decided on omelets that day, and I was to cook them. I easily find the first five eggs, they were in the carton, but the sixth egg I get out of the door, where it has been for as long as I can remember, and after I put it in with the others, we discover that it was past its prime, so to speak... a rotten egg. Having five good eggs and one rotten one, I don't think that either one of us would consider that omelet acceptable, would we? What if we added a lot of spice? No matter what, the omelet would stink! Well, if my life was to be judged on the merits of what I did, that is the way it would appear to God. Mostly not too bad, but that one rotten egg really contaminates the whole thing, and ruins it all.
"There is way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death." (Proverbs 14:12) (NAS)
As the rotten egg would make the omelet unpresentable to you, so have my sins made my life unpresentable to God. This comes into sharper focus when we see what the Bible has to say about God.
God is merciful, therefore doesn't want to punish us.
You have heard people say that 'God is Love' haven't you? Well that is true. The Bible says
"... God is love" (1 John 4:8b) (NAS)
"I have loved you with an everlasting love;" (Jeremiah 31:3b) (NAS)
The same Bible also tells us the other side of God, the part that hates sin and will not tolerate it, no more than we would tolerate the rotten egg in that omelet I mentioned earlier.
"Yet, He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished" (Exodus 34:7b) (NAS)
Bank Robber Illustration
Say that I got caught robbing a bank. There were plenty of witnesses, a video camera, and they found me with the money. If I would say to the judge, "Hey, I blew it. I'm sorry, I won't do it again. I promise, just let me go, and I'll never rob a bank again." Would he be doing his job if He let me off the hook, completely?" Most people would agree that I deserved some sort of punishment. That's were I am with my life, and when I stand before God. I'll deserve punishment!
So you see, we're caught in a dilemma between God's freely given love, and the justice we deserve, and also unable to do anything about it! Well, God solved this problem in the person of Jesus Christ!
I'm curious, who do you say Jesus is? Who is Jesus Christ?
Many people don't realize that Jesus was there from the start, and didn't come into existence that Christmas Eve in Bethlehem. He goes back a lot further!
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God ... and the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of Grace and Truth" (John 1:1,14) (NAS)
After His resurrection, He appeared to His disciples while Thomas wasn't with them. Thomas didn't believe them later when they told him about it. Jesus later reappeared to all of them, and challenged 'Doubting Thomas,'...
"Thomas answered and said to Him, "my Lord and my God." (JOHN 20:28) (NAS)
So the Bible tells us that Jesus existed from the start, and that He came down to earth for us. Why did He come down? What did He do?
He died and rose again to pay the penalty for our sins and to purchase a place in heaven for us, which He offers as a gift.
The best way I can show you what He did, is to illustrate using a booklet
Record book Illustration
Let's assume that my left hand represents God, and my right hand represents mankind. (Left hand above right, each finger touching it's opposite on the other hand. Right hand is palm up, left hand is palm down. Imagine a spider doing push-ups on a mirror!) We were created by God to reflect back to Him His glory and love. Now let this little book represent the book of my life. It has everything that I've ever done written in it. Needless to say, I'm not going to let you see a lot of what is in here. The Bible does tell us that ... "What is whispered in secret will be shouted from the rooftops," and that "the books will be opened." (Book now placed between the hands, fingers no longer able to touch their opposites because the book is in the way.)
You can see how with the sin that is in this book, it cuts off that relationship with God, and doesn't allow the two-way flow of communication.
What Jesus did was to come down from heaven and become man. (Left hand moving downward and palm up) The Bible tells us that ... "all we like sheep have gone astray, each to their own way, and He has laid upon Him the iniquity of us all." (Book placed from right hand onto the left, raising the now empty right hand higher in the air, palm up.)
So for those that are willing to accept that, we are free to have that relationship with God again. (Using the left hand, put the book down, and turn the left hand palm down, above the right hand, as when you started.)
G. R. A. C. E. illustration
Another way to put it, is the way the Chaplain to the Queen of England did when addressing a council of world leaders. He used the acrostic G. R. A. C. E., which stands for God's Riches At Christ's Expense. God's riches eternal life, a home in heaven, eternal bliss and joy, at Christ's expense the beating, the torture, the painful death.
You've heard that as Christ died on the cross He said, "IT IS FINISHED." That's a good translation of what He said, but a more accurate translation would be "Paid in Full", just like the stamp used by businesses showing that an item is paid for. The word Tetelestai was a marketplace term used to signify the end of a transaction. The end of negotiations. Jesus was saying that the price had been paid, that the dealing was over with. He bought eternal life for us, and offers it to us.
This gift is received by faith
The key to heaven, illustration
What is this faith that gets us into heaven. There are many kinds of faith, like the keys on this key ring ... All of these keys are useful to me, but only one of them will get me into my house. Before I talk about that key, let's talk about some of the others, that look very similar, but they simply won't fit that lock.
Not intellectual assent
Let this first key represent knowledge, or intellectual assent. Knowledge of God is good, and I believe important. Just as we can say that we know that George Washington existed, as did many other historical figures, some people think that acknowledging God's existence is the key to heaven. Not quite. Even the devil believes that God exists ...
(James 2:19) (NAS) "YOU BELIEVE THAT GOD IS ONE. YOU DO WELL; THE DEMONS ALSO BELIEVE, AND SHUDDER."
Also, when Jesus was approaching two demon-possessed men, the demons responded in an interesting way ...
(Matthew 8:29) (NAS) "AND BEHOLD THEY CRIED OUT, SAYING 'WHAT HAVE WE TO DO WITH YOU, SON OF GOD? HAVE YOU COME HERE TO TORMENT US BEFORE THE TIME?
These two demons knew who Jesus was, even recognized Him at a distance, they knew what He was going to do, they even believed that He would do it, yet they also knew that they didn't have eternal life.
So we see that knowing that God exists is a good thing, it is also good to know more about Him, but it is not the key to heaven. Another thing that is not the key to heaven, but is still an important part of life, is trusting God for the little things.
Not Temporal faith
Let's call this "temporal faith". We have heard of people that pray, "God please take care of Johnny's cold" or another one, "O God, help me through this test so that I can get my driver's license." Its good to trust God for our day to day lives, and we encourage that, in fact it is part of having a personal relationship with God, however that is not the key to heaven. What is?
The Bible tells us ...
"Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved" (Acts 16:31) (NAS)
What we are talking about can be explained like this ... Please, humor me, answer these simple questions. Let's assume there is another chair in the room with you right now, and if not, think about a chair elsewhere in your house, or at work.
- Do you see that chair or know that it exists?
- Is that chair capable of supporting you?
- Is that chair supporting you?
- Why not?
Because you're not sitting in it! That's the way I used to be with Jesus. I knew He existed, (knowledge, or intellectual assent) and that He could support me if I asked, (temporal faith) but did not actually transfer my trust for eternal life from what I could do for me, to what He already did for me.
If what we do doesn't get us into heaven, why care about what we do? Several reasons: You probably will do a favor for someone that has already done a favor for you, wouldn't you? A past president of Princeton University put it this way ... "I received eternal life as a young man, and the rest of my life has been a P.S. to God, thanking Him for the gift He had given me."
Another reason to 'do good works', is because we know that very often the only introduction to God that other people have is ... us. The Bible tells us
"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in Heaven." (Matt 5:16b) (NIV)
Yet another reason for 'good works', and to not sin, would be the respect we have for our relationship with Jesus. We enjoy the relationship so much, we don't want to hurt or hinder it in any way. How many of us have a relationship with someone we love, and do not want to hurt that relationship? It's the same way with our relationship with God!
Beggar's hand illustration
It's as if a homeless person was begging on the street corner, and a wealthy person, a king even, came by. Without daring to look up, they extend their hand, humbly hoping to receive a gift to survive on.
Back in 1982, this beggar (author of this website) reached out to the hand of the king, to receive a gift that I was unworthy of then, and am unworthy of now. However, I have received that gift and still have it, and know that without a doubt. I know I have eternal life, I know that I have a personal relationship with God, and a standing invitation to Heaven.
Does this make sense to you?
You have just heard the greatest story ever told about the greatest person that has ever lived. The Bible tells us that "WHENEVER TWO OR MORE ARE GATHERED IN HIS NAME, HE IS THERE". He's been here with us as you have read my words. I've felt His presence and am sure you have, too. The question He is asking you, right now, is...
Would you like to receive the gift of eternal life?
Let me clarify this for you again; what we are talking about is:
- A transfer of trust to Jesus; from anything that you could do to what he has already done.
- Receiving the resurrected and living Jesus. He's alive today and wants to be a friend to you.
- Accepting Jesus as Savior. Realize that He gives eternal life. The Bible quotes Jesus as saying:
- "Behold I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him and he with me." (Revelations 3:20) (NAS) To eat with someone is to have a personal relationship with them!
- Accept Jesus as Lord. Let Him take control, He's so much better at it anyway.
- Repent. Repent means to be sorry for what you have done, and it also means a lot more. It means a turning away from. It means no longer desiring to do those things that we repent of. It means to stop living a self-centered life and start working on living a God-centered life. Just like at a job. There we do what the boss wants, not what we want.
If that is what you really want, let me lead you in prayer and you can tell Him what you just told me. Use either the words below, or others as God gives you!
"Lord Jesus, thank you for being with us today. Thank you for helping me understand that what's happening here is real. Help me repent of all my selfish sins, those rotten eggs, and believe that what Jesus did is also real. Heavenly Father, I am a sinner worthy of death. Yet you love me so much that You let Jesus die for me. The debt for my sins is paid in full, the title to my soul is free and clear. Thank You for letting Jesus into my life and my heart. Thank you so much for hearing me, your child. Thank you for helping me to realize that this is real, that I've turned their life over to you, and that I now know that I have eternal life. In Your name we pray, Amen."
I would like you read something that Jesus says about what you have just done.
"Truly, truly I say to you that whoever believes has eternal life." (John 6:47) (NAS)
Let me ask you now, in the light of what you have just prayed, and considering what Jesus says here, if you were to die tonight, where would you go?
And if God were to say to you, "Why should I let you into my heaven?", what would you say?
Just as a new born babe gets a lot of help from the parents, you need people to help you. You have just been 'born again', and let me tell you about some of the things that will help you from here.
In case you have any questions at all about what's happened, please feel free to email me.
When we want to get to know somebody, we want to spend time with him or her: to learn how he or she think. The Bible is God's love letters to you, personally. It would really help you to better understand what's happening if you read, about a chapter a day, from the book of John.
Reading the Bible is one-way communication, but prayer, like we prayed tonight, is two-way communication with God. Talking to Him, like you talk to a friend, to someone who cares about you.
You grow not only as you pray, but as you worship. Tell Him in the way He wants to hear it, how grateful you are for what He's done. It is important for you to find a local church that wants to serve the needs of new Christians.
Imagine going through classes being the only student! Well, you're not alone, and a church is the best place to find others going through and learning the same things you want to learn. We find that with friends, it is easier to go through life. We can help each other
As you feel led, you may feel the urge to tell someone about what happened tonight. You can start by emailing me.
"And the things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, these entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others, also." (2 Timothy 2:2) (NAS)