Focus: On sinners and salvation
John 6:39-40 (NKJV) (Jesus said) “This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. 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.”
It has been said that some people will be surprised to see who is in heaven…and who is not. I agree. It’s painful enough to lose people we loved in this life. When someone dies, the ones who are left behind might agonize over whether or not their loved one went to heaven or hell.
People have a way of making salvation so complicated. According to Jesus, it was very simply stated. In His own words, “Everyone who looks to the Son and believes in Him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” Done! Nothing to wonder about.
No deep, dark secrets or crooked paths to navigate.
Now, you can listen and/or read!
When God and Holy Spirit and Jesus made the plan for Jesus to come to earth to offer His life as a sacrifice for the sins of mankind, they weren’t trying to devise a scheme that would be nearly impossible for people to achieve—as though to see how few might actually make it into heaven and how many they could ‘keep out’. Their goal was not to make it difficult—it was to keep it simple.
They didn’t want to lose anyone. Jesus said, “The Lord…is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).”
People have put so many restrictions and requirements on something that was never meant to be that way.
It’s very difficult for some people to believe a person could go to heaven if they hadn’t been faithful in attending church or hadn’t actually recited the ‘sinner’s prayer’. Truthfully, the Bible doesn’t suggest such things. It is people who have made salvation a ‘system’.
I hate it when someone I know passes away and people ask me if they were ‘saved’. If the person believed in Jesus as the Messiah and was willing to say so, I’d say Jesus would raise that person up at the last day. That’s what He said He would do. Jesus was clear about the importance of people being willing to admit they believed in Him. He said if people were not willing to admit they believed in Him—He would not admit He knew that person when they stood before God (Matthew 10:32). But even the act of denying Jesus can be reversed.
Look at the Apostle Peter, who was one of the twelve disciples. Peter denied Jesus three times the night before Jesus was crucified. Some people might have thought Peter had struck out by doing that. But Jesus was more than willing to forgive him and restore him. Peter went on to spend the remainder of his life spreading the good news—and I’m pretty sure he’s in heaven, even though at one point he denied he knew who Jesus was.
It’s not for any of us to say whether a person goes to heaven or hell. God alone is the One who decides. How can we know if a person may have acknowledged Jesus during their dying breath?
Jesus was merciful to the thief who was crucified on the cross next to Him. It was a ‘last minute’ decision for the thief—but Jesus was still merciful to him. There was no ‘sinner’s prayer’, no church attendance, no baptism, no giving of tithes and offerings—none of that. Yet, that sinner was just as ‘saved’ as you or I, because he believed and he said so.
All the man did was acknowledge that Jesus had done nothing to deserve death. The man asked Jesus to remember him when He returned to His kingdom. Jesus answered and told the man he would be with Him in Paradise that day! (Luke 23:39-43)
Just before Jesus ascended back to heaven after His resurrection from the dead, He said to His followers, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” (John 20:21-23) In other words, if we are able to forgive a person—so will Jesus.
Declaration: I will find new strength by believing the Words of Jesus. If His death was a worthy sacrifice for the sins of the world, then the simple way He explained ‘salvation’ and ‘being saved’ should also be sufficient. I choose to give every sinner the benefit of the doubt and let God be the final judge of all mankind.
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All NEW STRENGTH posts are Copyright by Christina Cook Lee 2012. Please request permission to re-post or re-blog.