I remember, over 40 years ago, when I was a young pastor...
I was out doing cold-calling (people actually used to be home back then), and I was trying to build up the little church I had begun to pastor...so I was out door-knocking in the afternoon, after classes had let out (I was in Seminary), and a young woman answered the door. She was about my age. I had not really worked up a presentation, so I just said to her, "I'm a local pastor, I pastor the Community Church in the next town, and I'd like to talk to you about eternal life." Not exactly the smoothest introduction, but she looked at me with the oddest look on her face, and said, "Eternal life? Come in." So I went in, she offered me a glass of water, which I accepted, and then she said, "So tell me about this eternal life. I've been going to the Baptist church over in Columbus, and I know there is something I need to do about this, but I don't know how to do it."
You could have knocked me over with a feather. Most times, I got skepticism, rejection, annoyance, and so on. Here was someone who knew there was something more than she had in life, and she wanted it.
She lived in a nice house, I might add, and (if I remember correctly) had at least one little one roaming around the house. So she was a stay-at-home Mom, her husband made enough to keep the family, and life was good.
She knew she was missing something. She thought it might be what I was telling her about--eternal life.
As an aside, I've known many people like this. They want to live forever, and receive what God has to offer, they just don't know the path. They don't know the way to get into the group of people who have eternal life, and they can't seem to understand what the preachers are saying.
So I sat with her, and explained the following:
1. Eternal life is a gift. It is not something you earn, or buy, or be "good enough" for. It is "The free gift of God." (Reference for this teaching is Romans 6:23)
2. Eternal life comes through the Son of God, Jesus Christ (she already believed in Him). You can study forever, but eventually it comes down to a decision--"Yes, I want to follow Him"--or "No, I don't want to follow Him."
3. Eternal life, like any other gift, must be received in order to possess. Gifts are funny things. Someone can offer a gift to you, but until you have actually taken it, it's not yours. We are all familiar with the scene where a man brings a ring to his girlfriend, and asks her to marry him. We've seen it replayed on national TV many times. Most times, she takes the ring, and accepts the gift of his love. Sometimes (and we've seen this as well), she returns the ring, and says "NO." Receiving eternal life is just like that. God, through His Son, offers eternal life as a gift. You can take it. You can reject it.
How do you take the gift? It's a spiritual act--that's what I told the woman. I told her, "You can receive eternal life right now, simply by bowing your head and telling God that you believe in Jesus Christ, and that you want the everlasting life that He offers you.
I admit, I did emphasize the "now" aspect of this, because it should be emphasized. Most times, a decision like this needs to be done right away, because although the offer is always there, we as humans let lots of "other stuff" intervene, and we don't ever respond--we just let the offer "hang there," and spend our lives in other ways.
So what did SHE do? She wanted to receive eternal life that day, and she prayed to God--almost immediately, she told me later, she KNEW God had received her request and given her what she asked.
How did she know?? I can't say. I can only tell you that this is the common experience of Christians the world over and from the beginning until now. They KNOW they have received eternal life--that they have taken the free gift of God, which He offers, and that God, in turn, has accepted them into His family.
Why can't I communicate this properly?? Because it can't be fully explained. It is something you have to do to understand.
What is interesting is that I've run into this exact situation many times in my life--the man or woman who wants eternal life, wants God in their life, KNOWS that there is something missing, but doesn't know how to act on their desires.
If that's you, feel free to contact me. I will do my best to answer any question.
And of course, if you want to live forever, Say "I do" to God, and mean it.
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Ever wonder what God might have to say to YOU today? Here are things to ponder, and things to receive into your heart. If you have a question, put it in the comments. I respond as much as I can.
A note for all my readers: I've been experimenting with YouTube videos for Bible teaching, and now I'm working my way through the New Testament. I encourage you to subscribe to my YouTube channel for better coverage. I'm still writing, of course, and my written posts appear here.