I’m 73 years old. A lot of my friends and associates also hover around that age. But many of them say they don't believe in God. None of them can say for certain what will happen to them after they die.
During my time of prayer this morning, as they each came to my mind, I sadly shook my head, for I KNOW what it’s like to not believe in God. I KNOW what it’s like to not know what will happen to me when I die.
I lived that way – quite contentedly, I might add – when I was young. But now, and perhaps especially because I’m old, I can’t imagine myself living without hope of something good after I die. I can’t imagine myself without confidence that I have – right now – eternal life, that to be absent from my body is to be present with my Lord (see 2 Corinthians 5).
I DO wonder sometimes how people live without hope – although I think I know how they do it. They do it the same way ‘I’ did it when I was younger. They just don’t think about it. They push the thought from their minds each time the Holy Spirit pricks their conscience and asks the pointed question: What will happen to you after you die?
As I prayed for them this morning, I thought about this text in John’s gospel: “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe in him already stands condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only-begotten Son of God.” (John 3:17-18)
Jesus did not come to condemn my friends and associates. He came to deliver them from eternal death. He came to rescue them from the Father’s wrath that already rests on them because of their sins. And – to you who read this, please hear this also: Jesus came to deliver YOU and to rescue YOU.
I so much thank my God and Father of my Lord Jesus Christ for opening my eyes 50 years ago to the truth about myself and my sin nature. He opened my understanding about His holiness, and His demand that I also be holy. I thank Him that He showed me Jesus, whose blood completely, totally, and absolutely eradicated my confessed sins. He showed me that Jesus became my substitute, that He took on himself the full wrath of God for my sins, sins which are too many to count and to heinous and despicable to even think about.
God revealed to my heart that I could be forgiven – if I wanted forgiveness. I could have eternal life instead of eternal hell – if I wanted eternal life. All I needed to do was to give my life, my soul, my mind, my obedience to Jesus as my lord, king, master, ruler, redeemer, and savior.
That is why today, at 73, I say as I have said for 50 years: “Thank you, Lord for saving my soul. Thank you, Lord for making the whole. Thank you, Lord for giving to me your great salvation so rich and free.”
I hope some day my friends will be able to say that along with me. And I hope that now – at this moment, as you read this – you can say it with me as well.