Some years ago, I sat across from a good friend of mine, a woman, whom I'll call Jane. She had gone to church her entire life, and was now with our church. She was suffering from terminal cancer, and she was terrified to die.
She confided in me that even though she had gone to church her whole life, she had terrible doubts about going to heaven. Would she? What would happen when she died? Was she going to enter into heaven, or judgment?
Her prior church experience had been with a "fire and brimstone" type of preaching that left her very uncertain as to her destiny.
I could have said, "Of course you're going to heaven!" and dismissed her questions. I could have said, "Nobody knows if they are going or not. I don't know."
Instead I said (to myself), "What is wrong with this picture? I know I'm going to heaven, and I'm certainly not as good a person as she is." I puzzled over her statement for a very brief moment, and then I said,
"Jane, if I could explain how to know certainly that you ARE going to heaven, would that help?"
She responded, "Yes!" So I proceeded to tell her how to actually believe in Jesus for herself, and receive Him as her Lord and Savior. Now, I know all the theology, but it didn't help here. What helped was me guiding her into an actual relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ. Once I was done with my brief explanation (she actually knew everything intellectually), I asked her if she would like to pray, and receive Christ as her Lord and Savior. Once again, she answered "YES!" eagerly. So we prayed.
It was a brief moment in time. I was doing pastoral visitation. I had NO inkling that she didn't have any assurance of what would happen to her when she died. This was not a time where I put another name in my "conversion book;" it was a day when Jane really got the understanding and assurance that belief in Christ is an event that carried her forward into eternity, and eliminated the judgment she feared so much. She told me later, when she was in the hospital for the last time, "I'm not afraid anymore." There is so much fear of dying. It's the unknown, the fear that God will reject us at the final hour, the fear of judgment, the memory of all the things we've done wrong...
I also think there are lots of people like this--they "know," but they aren't sure for themselves. I've met many of them. Some have been friends for quite a while before they confided in me, for you see, it's kind of an admission of failure not to understand what to do to believe in Jesus, or why you feel so afraid and everyone else seems "OK," and you go through life thinking that you are really different than all those Christians who sing songs like "Blessed Assurance," and "My Faith has Found a Resting Place," and "More Secure is No one Ever..."
If this is you (and please forgive me for being so direct), there is good news. You have no reason to fear any longer. Here is what to do. If you understand the message of Christ (He came to earth, died for your sins according to the Scriptures, and rose again the third day), all you need do is say to Him directly, "I want to be Yours, Lord. I invite you into my life forever. I want to follow you." It is that simple, and you can do that anywhere, any time. You don't have to be in a special place, or with a special person. Alone is fine. On the other hand, if you've not ever heard this teaching before, and you want more information or instruction, you are welcome to write. I will help you however I can. Questions are fine as well, and there is no stupid question, unless it's not sincere.
Remember: Jesus came so that we might HAVE LIFE, and have it to the full; He came so that everyone who believes in Him would not perish but have everlasting life.
He did NOT come to make you uncertain, or to fill you with fear, or to deprive you of life, or to judge you. He came to give you eternal life. That was, and is, His purpose.
It's yours if you want it.
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.
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