I am a Christian – the kind of Christian that some people take offense to: a “there is only one way to heaven and that is Jesus” Christian; an “all people who do not accept Jesus as Savior are doomed to an eternity in torment” Christian; a “being good is never good enough” Christian. I have been a Christian since I was 17. I’ve written a little about my salvation story here. My salvation story is not what I’m writing about now.
I’m writing about why, after being a believer for almost 40 years, I’m still worried about offending people (especially family) by proclaiming the Truth to them with boldness and love (and what to do about that). I am worried about offending them. And I’m afraid that I’m going to NOT offend them so effectively that they’ll never hear the message of grace – that all people are sinners in need of salvation, and that salvation is only found in Jesus alone.
The message of grace is that all the “I’m so thankful for the blessings of God” that you post on Facebook will never save you. The message of grace is that just believing in God is not enough. The message of grace – the message of Jesus – is that He, and He alone, is the ONLY way to salvation and an eternity in heaven. Anything else, anything less, anything more, is a lie and one that will lead to a Christ-less eternity.
I’ve lived my faith before my family by choosing to honor my marriage vows even when it was really, REALLY hard. I’ve lived my faith before my family by choosing to spend vacation time sharing the Gospel message with others on mission trips instead of traveling around the world. I’ve lived my faith before my family by choosing to live a ‘clean’ life: no drugs, alcohol, tobacco, or swearing. Being a ‘goody-goody’ gets me more derision that kudos. But I’ve doubted that I’ve ever clearly and concisely shared the FACTS of my faith with my family.
FACTS like, there is more evidence to support the existence and claims of Jesus found in the Bible than there is to support the existence of almost any other person of antiquity, such as Julius Caesar or Alexander the Great.
FACTS like, there is more evidence for the reliability of the Bible, and its message, than any other writing of antiquity – including other ‘holy scriptures’ such as the writing of Confucius.
FACTS like, the Bible talks more about hell which is for those who don’t repent and believe – than about heaven which is only for those who do repent and believe.
FACTS like, claiming to believe in God – even being thankful to Him for His blessings – is not the same as repenting of your sin and believing in Jesus as the only way of salvation; it is not enough.
Other people have written much more thoroughly and eloquently on these matters that I can. What I can do, however, is be crystal clear about what the gospel message – the message of grace – is and what it is not. So, this is my attempt to (1) be crystal clear and (2) start an honest conversation with both friends and family.
CRYSTAL CLEAR message of grace
- God is real.
- All people are sinners – one look at the world should confirm this truth.
- Heaven is real and so is hell – and all people will end up in one or the other when they die.
- No sin can enter into heaven, because it is God’s dwelling place and He is perfectly holy and cannot abide sin’s presence.
- God loves people – all people – so much that He made a way for sin to be dealt with so that people could enter heaven and spend eternity with Him.
- The way sin was dealt with is that God Himself became a man, Jesus Christ, lived a sinless life, and died to pay the punishment for all humanity’s sin. As proof that the sin debt was paid, Jesus came back to life three days after dying a horrible death by crucifixion.
- All sin is paid for – so the way to heaven is clear. There remains only one thing for any individual person to do: accept the fact that Jesus paid that debt, repent of his/her sin, and commit his/her life to Jesus as Lord and Savior.
- Anyone who truly does this WILL have a life change that shows that Jesus is Lord of his/her life.
This, then, is my challenge to my friends and family who do not believe – or who think they do, but don’t agree with what I’ve outlined above as the crystal clear message of grace:
Be honest with yourself, ask and answer these questions in your own heart:
- Are you a sinner? If yes, do you need a Savior? Why/why not? If no, what makes you think that?
- Did Jesus really exist? If yes, was He God? Or a con man? Or crazy? (really no other choice will do). If no, why do you think that?
- Do you think you will go to heaven when you die? Why/why not?
I challenge you to PM me your answers or answer in the comments if you’d like. But at the very least, answer them in your heart. And pray that God will reveal to you the truth. Nothing else in this life matters nearly as much as this does. I love you all.