Thursday, August 21, 2003
I have to confess, I didn't exactly go running into the Computer Age. It was more like I was carried into it. Several years ago I was returning from my first trip to an Indian reservation, and I had a heart full that I wanted to write into a report. So, as usual in those days, I pulled out my trusty pen and paper and hand wrote my report. It took the whole trip from Arizona to New Jersey. Well, after one of my friends read my report, he called my wife and said, "I don't want Ron wasting any more time writing things like this by hand. He has to get a computer!" She agreed but she indicated that we didn't have the funds to get a computer. Well, my doctor friend said, "That doesn't matter. I intend to buy a computer for him!" I was stunned. And, shortly thereafter, the owner of a wonderful personal computer - which has greatly impacted my life!
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Biggest Spiritual Mistake In The World."
I couldn't have afforded to buy a computer. The only way I got one was that someone who cared about me gave it to me as a gift. Had I tried to pay my friend for it...had I tried to work for my friend to earn it somehow - well, of course, it would have no longer been a gift.
Tragically, most of the religious people on this planet are making the mistake of trying to earn from God what He says we can only have as a gift. In fact, I believe that's why so many people observe their religion's ceremonies, attend their religion's meetings, try to live by their religion's rules - they're trying to earn eternal life in heaven by doing good things and being good people. Now, it's a good thing to live a good life, but it's a deadly thing to depend on your good life to get you into heaven.
That's the message of much of the Bible, including our word for today from the Word of God in Romans 6:23. God says, "The wages of sin is death." In other words, what we get paid for running our own lives is spiritual death - eternal separation from God. That's the bad news. But then God says, "But the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." Now, notice - eternal life isn't the reward of God that we earn with a good life. It's the gift of God which we cannot possibly earn. We can earn hell - we can't earn heaven.
In fact, God says in Ephesians 2:8-9, "It is by grace" -- that's undeserved love - "you have been saved...it is the gift of God - not by works..." We can't get to heaven by Protestant works, Catholic works, Jewish works, Moslem works, Buddhist works, Hindu works. God couldn't make it any clearer - it is not by works! The computer my friend gave me could have only been mine if someone else paid for it. The heaven you want to go to when you die can only be yours if someone else pays the death penalty for your sin, and that is what Jesus, God's Son, did for you.
All I could do to get what my friend had purchased was to accept it. All you can do to have the eternal life Jesus purchased with His life is to accept it. So the eternity-deciding question is, has there ever been a time when you have told Jesus, "Lord, You're my only hope of having my sins forgiven; of going to heaven when I die. I'm welcoming you into my life right now. Jesus, I'm putting all my trust in you."
If your trust is in anything else, including your religion or your goodness, you'll never see heaven. Only Jesus can take you there. If you're ready to put your total trust in Jesus, would you tell Him that right now? And I'd like to send you the booklet that I wrote about this relationship called "Yours For Life." Just let me know you want it.
You'll never be able to earn heaven. It's a gift -- one that God's Son paid for with His life. But the gift won't be yours until you reach out and receive it.