"Nancy and I could never have gone through this crisis without the Lord's help," I shared with a Jewish family member. "God gave us His peace in the midst of the most difficult and painful time of our lives. If He had not comforted, strengthened, and encouraged us--even carrying us through it all--we would have given up."
"I'm glad you're both okay," he responded. "Just take care of yourselves. Stay well and be happy."
"Yeshua ha Mashiach [Jesus, the Messiah] can help you, too," I said, hoping that perhaps this time the Holy Spirit would open his eyes and make the message of salvation clear to him.
"If it works for you, that's wonderful. I'm glad," he replied.
"But you can have a relationship with our Messiah for yourself," I ventured.
"I'm doing okay. You're happy your way, and I'm happy mine. My way has worked for me all my life. I'm not changing now."
We live in a world of countless shades of gray.
Hardly anyone seems to believe in absolute truth. Our culture focuses on the fulfillment, happiness, and success of the individual. Many people do not believe that there is a clear-cut right and wrong that applies to everyone. Something may be morally wrong for one person and right for someone else. The God of the Bible has been pushed to the sidelines, replaced by a new beneficent God who accepts people of all religions and allows each person to choose his or her own pathway to self-actualization and, eventually, to some form of pleasurable eternal existence or annihilation.
Those who subscribe to a literal interpretation of the Bible and teach that accepting Jesus as one's Savior is the only way that a person can be saved are often viewed as narrow-minded and even bigoted. However, when two viewpoints differ on fundamental issues, they cannot both be right. If I believe that after death we will go to either heaven or hell, as Jesus clearly taught (Matthew 22:23–32; Luke 16:22–23), and you believe that we will simply cease to exist or that we will be reincarnated as another life-form and return to live on earth, both of our views cannot be correct.
When Peter and John preached about salvation through Jesus and about the resurrection of the dead, the temple priests and Sadducees became furious and threw the disciples into jail. Like many people today, the Sadducees denied the resurrection of the dead, the immortality of the human soul, the existence of angels, and the doctrine of reward and punishment (Matthew 22:23; Acts 23:8). As Peter told the Sanhedrin, "‘Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved'" (Acts 4:12, NIV).
The Bible clearly teaches that the choices we make while we are on earth will determine our eternal destiny.
When we die, we cannot take a makeup exam, repeat our earthly course, or change the decision we made about Christ. Hebrews 9:27 states, "Man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment."
God does not want to cast anyone into eternal darkness and punishment, but He cannot force a person to accept His gift of salvation. Every individual must of his or her own free will choose God's way. "The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23). For many people, Jesus is the big stumbling block. However, as I tell my skeptical friends and family members, "Wouldn't it be better to consider His claims and accept His gift of grace now, than to wait until you meet Him as Judge after you die? Then, it will be too late."
© by Howard W. Stevens