John 3:15: That whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.
Years ago, I sat in a small church and listened to a pastor explain the truth of grace. He started with the above verse. It is an awesome promise. No matter what you have done, no matter where you have been, no matter how far you have strayed from Jesus, as long as you believe in Him you will live in eternity with Him. Just as that truth was beginning to settle over me, providing warm fuzzies galore, the pastor finished his thought by saying, “that goes for everyone; even Charles Manson.”
I sat bolt upright in my chair. Just the name alone conjures fear. If there is a personification of evil, Charlie Manson is it! Could the promise of salvation really be for him? is there a possibility that we might see Manson in heaven? If we believe the words of Jesus as He spoke to Nicodemus then, yes. The word used by Jesus is whosoever, meaning everyone who believes. The Greek for believes or believeth (KJV) is pisteno meaning to commit. So, put another way: Anyone, who commits to Jesus will have eternal life.
It was John 3:15 that came to mind when I received and article from a friend this week. from time to time, people do send me articles, book recommendations, and the like. I have never commented publicly on anything I have been sent, until today. the author of the piece is of no consequence except to say that he identified himself as a pastor. The topic of the piece is also of no consequence except to say that it dealt with a report that was released by the government recently outlining certain activities undertaken by members of our clandestine services in the days and weeks directly following 911. The article was more political than spiritual; dealing with perceived moral equivalence that in my humble estimation can not be drawn.
I will not speak on politics here. I will not speak on left or right, conservative or liberal, or concerns over national security.. My goal is to preach the gospel of Christ to all that would hear it, to do my small part to plant the seed of truth in a sinful world. In reading the piece, I could not get past the first sentence, “You can’t be a Christian if…” From here you can fill in the blank because, in truth, it doesn’t matter what you choose. Pick the first sin that comes to mind. Is it pride? If so, then I am out of the club and so is the apostle Peter. Go ahead and mark out First and Second Peter in the bible and nullify the over 3000 conversions on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2). Some of you might think I’m being cheap in my sin selection. After all, everyone is guilty of a little pride now and then, that’s not a deal breaker. James 2:10 reminds of the truth. For whosoever shall keep the whole law yet offend in one point is guilty of all. In God’s eyes there are no moral equivalents. Sin is sin. We, a broken and sinful race can never overcome that. We can never get across the chasm that separates us from God. There is good news: Romans 5:8 But God Commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners Christ died for us (KJV).
That is great news! that is news that has the power to change lives, to change the world! But, in order to be saved by the word of God one must first hear it. When christians make blanket statements such as you can’t be a christian if, we are missing an opportunity to preach the gospel. We lose the chance to share the love of God and what Jesus did for all people. Does that mean that as Christians we should accept everyone, never showing them the sin in their lives? No. Lead people to Christ with tact as your tool not a sledge-hammer. Sharing the gospel is not about winning an argument or a debate. After beating someone down we can’t throw in a cursory, “Jesus loves you.” It will not be received as unto the Lord. Jesus is in the salvation business not us. Mathew 7:1 Judge not that ye be not judged (KJV). It is as I heard one pastor say, “the unbelievers favorite verse.” it is what they use to get you off their back. The Greek word for judge is intersting.it is krino meaning to condemn or damn.
That is a far cry from calling someone out for an immoral lifestyle choice, or coming alongside a backsliding brother or sister with a rebuke in love. We must seek the Lord in all things and when called upon, speak the truth in love not damnation. Are the truths still uncomfortable? Yes, at times, but they are always to be tempered with the love of Christ. Lead them through the open door of repentance and salvation and let the Holy Spirit make the changes that are necessary.
Grace & Peace,
*If you would like to know more about a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, email me at savedIIserve@gmail.com and let me know! I will be happy to lead you through what the bible says about salvation and accepting Jesus Christ as your savior.*