(Scripture references from the NLT tanslation unless noted differently)
I want to say upfront that this was a difficult article for me to write; and, it may be difficult for you to read. The four stories that I share can be the kind that we would rather not hear about, but God put all of this on my heart and just would not let me go. Honestly, the subject is just too important to avoid. I do hope you will stay with it until the end, because there is an important and upbeat ending. So first let us get to the stories I want to share with you.
Story #1 – Approximately 45 years ago our young family lived in Amarillo, TX where we attended church regularly. There was a couple in our Sunday school class that was just a bit older than us – they were in their early 30’s. The man – I will call him Joe for the sake of this story – was a very active guy and the picture of health. One particular year he decided to go back to Pennsylvania where he was from to take his elderly father deer hunting. His Dad, whom I believe was in his 80’s, loved hunting and Joe feared he might not have many more opportunities to enjoy such an outing. They snagged a deer and as Joe was dragging it to their truck he fell over and died on the spot – right in front of his elderly father.
Story #2 – About 10 years ago the son of a friend of mine was out for a motorcycle ride with some friends. He had a rather unexplained accident and was killed. He was in his late 20’s or early 30’s.
Story #3 – About 5 years ago another friend lost her 30-something year old son to his own self-destructive addictions.
Story #4 – A few days ago on September 26, 2019, my daughter called me crying hysterically with “horrible news”. A young man of 43 murdered his 43 year old girlfriend/partner in Denver, CO. They were both attractive, personable, highly successful young professionals with everything to live for. They were very good friends with my daughter and son-in-law – even going on a short vacation together just two weeks prior. Now she is dead and he is sitting in jail charged with first degree murder.
What do these four stories have in common? Well, obviously all of the people were relatively young. But more importantly they also all died very unexpectedly.
“For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die…” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-2a)
Every single day people are born and people die. I have no doubt that every person reading this has been touched by deaths of people they loved. It is a fact that none of us are going to live forever on this earth in these bodies. Some die very quickly after birth and some die at a ripe old age. Some die suddenly of natural causes or unexpected accidents while others linger. Some die at the hands of someone else and some because of their own self-destructive behavior. We need to face the reality that there are no guarantees when it comes to our time here on earth.
When I hear stories like those above, I cannot help but wonder if that person that is no longer here on earth knew Christ – were they saved to enjoy a beautiful eternity? I always feel sad to even think that they may have died only to live a life of torture in hell for their eternity.
I realize that belief in Christianity can be a hard thing to grasp for some people, for others it is an easy thing. As I have told in a past article, I seemed to have had a natural pull toward God as early as 7 years old. I basically nurtured that pull by going to Sunday school and church alone as a child and teenager. (My parents at that time were not church goers.) I was probably about 10 years old when I accepted Jesus as my Savior at church camp and was first baptized when I was 13. I have certainly had ups and downs in my spiritual walk all these years. I have gone from being very dedicated in my Christian walk to drastically falling away from God; but, I was always confident of my salvation. But for others they do not have that kind of pull and are not introduced to God or church early in life – some not even later in life.
However, sometimes when people are introduced to God, there are many reasons why they will object and resist becoming a Christian. I read an article by Don Stewart titled “What Objections Do People Have about Becoming a Christian” and I want to list here the objections he discussed:
- “I Don’t Need It – Christianity Is Just A Crutch”
- “There are Too Many Hypocrites”
- “I’m Already Good Enough”
- “I’m Not Good Enough Yet”
- “I’ll Never Be Good Enough”
- “Maybe Someday I’ll Believe, But Not Now”
- “I Don’t Want My Life Change”
- “I Don’t Want To Believe”
- “I Don’t Want To Be Religious”
- “What Would My Friends Think?”
- “I Don’t Understand The Issue”
- “It’s Not Relevant”
I am not going to give my personal opinion on each of the objections above, but I do want to zero in on some of them:
#2 The excuse about hypocrites is one of the biggest cop-outs there is, in my opinion. I have had personal friends, co-workers and business associates that were hypocritical. We see hypocrites every day when we turn on the news and watch reporters twist stories. We see hypocrites all over the political spectrum and in the business world, etc. Actually, I myself have been hypocritical; and, I would venture to say that you too have been a hypocrite. Why would we expect ordinary people that just happen to be attending a church to be any different than everyone else? The church is a microcosm of society. Attending church does not make you a perfect person. What other people think, do and say should have no bearing on you – their relationship with God and all their life decisions are theirs to make. You should only be concerned about yourself – what you think, do and say and your relationship with God. I may very well be wrong, but I believe that considering others as hypocritical pretty much makes you a hypocrite yourself. Luke 6:37 “’Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven.’” Luke 6:41-42 “’And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying, ‘Friend, let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.’”
#3 Already good enough? Seriously? I have heard people talk about how they do not need to get saved/be religious or attend church to make it to heaven because they believe that they are a “good person”. They live a good life and do not do bad things to other people. They make donations to worthy causes and do charitable work, etc. Just suffice it to say – none of us are “good enough”. No matter how hard we try to be good we will fail when we try to do it on our own. What we need is God’s forgiveness to make it to heaven, not good works. Ephesians 2:8-9 “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.” Ecclesiastes 7:20 “Not a single person on earth is always good and never sins.”
#4 & #5 Not good enough yet or never will be? Those statements are assuredly true. Left to our own devices, none of us will ever be good enough and never can be. That makes it all the more obvious of why we need God in our lives – as our Savior and our guide through life. Do not compare yourself to others that you consider to be good enough. 2 Corinthians 10:12 (NIV) “We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.” Romans 3:10 (NIV) “As it is written: There is no one righteous, not even one…” Romans 3:23 “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.”
#6 Maybe someday…..Okay think about those four stories I told. Those people never had the chance for a “someday.” None of them got up one day thinking it would be their last day on this earth. Death unexpectedly claimed them all – ready or not. Why would anyone want to take the chance that their “someday” will only arrive when they have planned on it? Do not procrastinate thinking everything will work out fine in the timing you have planned. Ecclesiastes 11:4-6 “Farmers who wait for perfect weather never plant. If they watch every cloud, they never harvest. Just as you cannot understand the path of the wind or the mystery of a tiny baby growing in its mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the activity of God, who does all things. Plant your seed in the morning and keep busy all afternoon, for you don’t know if profit will come from one activity or another—or maybe both.” Luke 12:40 “’You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected.’” Proverbs 27:1 “Don’t brag about tomorrow, since you don’t know what the day will bring.”
#10 Worried about what people will think of you if you decide to attempt living a Christian life? Really? You want to put your eternal destiny on hold because of other people? Take the young man in Denver that is now sitting in jail. What do you suppose his friends think of him now? I do not know if he is a Christian or not. But if he had been trying to live a good life with God at the center of it maybe he would not now be in jail and his partner dead. When you live your life worrying about what other people think of you, you rob yourself of peace. It does not allow you to truly just relax and be yourself. Learn to love yourself – just as you are – then let others love the real you. Proverbs 29:25 (MSG) “The fear of human opinion disables: trusting in God protects you from that.” Psalm 118:8 It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in people.” Galatians 1:10 “Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.”
So where are you in your spiritual walk? What do you believe in? This is an over-simplification of belief levels because there are others, but first you have those people out there that are atheists – they just do not believe in the existence at all of any God. According to the Bible, unless they change their ideas about that, their destiny is hell – no ifs, ands or buts – John 14:6 “Jesus told him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.’” I hope none of you fall into that category. Next you have the agnostics – those people that are neutral, lukewarm, fence sitters. They do not believe it can be proven either way – that God does or does not exist. They need to get off the fence and make a decision one way or the other. There is a definite danger to being lukewarm as stated in Revelation 3:16 “But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth!” The choice is to end up in heaven or to end up in hell. Hopefully, none of you are in that group either. Next there are Christians – they believe the Bible is true; that God created the universe; that Jesus came to this earth to live, teach and then die for their sins. They believe there is life after death with a glorious eternity in heaven with God – saved from a torturous eternity in hell. Their decision to be a Christian does offer them a guarantee for their eternity. Yes, all there is to know about Christianity and salvation can be difficult to grasp; but, it is worth it to study it, think about it and learn the lessons.
Knowing that I am a Christian gives me peace. Knowing for a fact that my Dad was saved and I am certain my Mom was as well, it gives me the assurance that when my time comes to leave this earth, I will go to heaven and be reunited with them and hopefully many more of my family members that have gone on before me. But right now, every single day, as I pray for each and every one of my family members, my prayer is that they too will know God and receive His salvation so that I can look forward to spending eternity with them also. I shudder to think that any of them would perish and spend eternity in hell.
I have quoted this saying before because I really do love it and I find it fitting to put it here: “I would rather live my life as if there is a God and die to find out there isn’t, than live my life as if there isn’t and to die to find out there is.” (Albert Camus – who by the way was an atheist)
As I finish up this article, my prayer is that each of you reading it will know God as your Savior and that you will reach out to all of your family and friends drawing them too into the loving arms of Christ. “If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.” (Romans 10:9-10)
So I must ask this – is today your “someday”? Are you ready? Where will your afterlife be spent? If you know for a fact that you are not a Christian, or have any doubts at all, it is easy to resolve. There are no guarantees for any of us about how long our time on earth will be, but there is definitely an absolute guarantee about where we will spend our eternal life and the choice of where that will be is ours and ours alone. I am going to share a prayer with you here that you can pray for yourself to guide you to salvation:
“The Sinners Prayer (by John Barnett)
The following prayer expresses the desire to transfer trust to Christ alone for eternal salvation. If its words speak of your own heart’s desire, praying them can be the link that will connect you to God.
Dear God, I know that I am a sinner and there is nothing that I can do to save myself. I confess my complete helplessness to forgive my own sin or to work my way to heaven. At this moment I trust Christ alone as the One who bore my sin when He died on the cross. I believe that He did all that will ever be necessary for me to stand in your holy presence. I thank you that Christ was raised from the dead as a guarantee of my own resurrection. As best as I can, I now transfer my trust to Him. I am grateful that He has promised to receive me despite my many sins and failures. Father, I take you at your word. I thank you that I can face death now that you are my Savior. Thank you for the assurance that you will walk with me through the deep valley. Thank you for hearing this prayer. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.”
Please do not procrastinate about this decision. Your “someday” to leave this earth could arrive at any time and you should be prepared. Being a Christian is a fun and fulfilling life. It does not have to be boring and overly restrictive as some people think. As you give your life over to God, He will be there with open arms every step of the way to help and guide you.
Written by Karran Martin – October 2, 2019 ** If you are interested in reading the full article by Don Stewart about people’s objections to becoming a Christian, (and I would encourage you to do so) here is the link that will take you there: https://www.blueletterbible.org/faq/don_stewart/don_stewart_1361.cfm