Many years ago, I sat on the end of my bed with my mom asking her questions about what I had been hearing at church. She opened a Bible and patiently answered my questions by pointing me to the words of truth found in its pages. That night I asked Jesus to be my Savior. I still remember the feeling. It really wasn’t like any other moment in my life – a mixture of joy, peace, and an unforgettable sense of awe and gratitude flooded over me as I went to bed that night. I am forever grateful to my mom for her patience and love and faithfulness in that moment and as she has continued to teach me how to walk in faith ever since.
Another day years later, I sat looking at my grandpa’s Bible with its well-worn pages and protruding sticky tabs. It was opened to what I’m sure was one of its most often read books, Romans. Its translucent pages were peppered with careful underlines marking key verses. My grandpa was a humble servant of Christ who spent his life pointing others to Jesus. My dad fondly recalls growing up watching his father mentor and disciple young people, using that same Bible to lead soul after soul through verses outlining their need for a Savior and the one and only path to salvation. Grandpa carried that Bible with him and was always prepared to share his faith.
Upon my grandpa’s death, many people shared with our family their personal testimonies of how Grandpa’s ministry, love, and friendship helped grow their faith and shape their lives. He was no famous evangelist. He just loved Jesus and loved others. With the power of God alive in him and an unassuming gentleness and kindness that put everyone at ease, he forever changed the world through his faithful words and actions.
My grandpa is certainly not the only ardent believer in my family tree. I am blessed to be surrounded by a legacy of faith. As an adult, I have come to realize what an exceptional thing that is. When I was young, I took for granted the faith of my family, the abundance of Bibles and Christian literature at my disposal, and the constant hum of song and prayer that became the soundtrack for much of my childhood. I thought it was the norm, not the exception. I realize more and more just how exceptional it was.
Today my desire is to help others experience what I did growing up. Perhaps you are reading this today and haven’t ever held an heirloom family Bible. Maybe your family tree isn’t filled with pastors and preachers. You might have no idea what it means to find forgiveness and joy in Jesus. If that’s you, I’d like to share with you the same four verses that Grandpa would share with you if he were here.
1. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23 (NASB)
Grandpa would start with the bad news first: none of us are good enough to live up to God’s standards of holiness. Bad as this may be, it is crucial to understanding the Good News of Jesus. Unless we realize our sin and how entirely we are divided from God because of it, we can’t fully accept our need of a Savior. To grasp the vastness of the divide between us and God, we have to start by recognizing who God is.
Read John’s description of God and its implication: “God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth” (I John 1:5-6 NASB). God is Light. He is holy and blameless and unconditionally just. Sin is darkness. It cannot endure the Light, and Light will always cast out the darkness.
2. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 6:23 (NASB)
The second verse my grandpa would turn to underscores the calamity we find ourselves in apart from God. It makes little difference to know that we’re sinful if we don’t also realize the result of our sin. Sin = death. It’s that simple. We all sin, therefore we all will die. It’s not how God intended life for His creation, but it’s the inevitable result of our selfishness and pride. It is inevitable, that is, without God. In His infinite mercy, God has provided us a path to salvation through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This salvation grants us access to an abundant, hope-filled life and an everlasting spiritual union with God.
When we accept God’s gift, physical death is no longer seen as the end but as the beginning. The darkness of this world – the fear, the pain, the tragedy, and chaos – are all overwhelmed and overtaken by the Light of Christ. See again what John has to say: “But if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin” (I John 1:7 NASB). The radiant light of God’s holiness eradicates the darkness. Light will always cast out dark.
3. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name. John 1:12 (NASB)
Here I think Grandpa would point out two important things. First, all are welcome – “As many as received Him!” Secondly, salvation requires belief. This is spelled out a little further in Romans 10:9: “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (NASB). To confess Jesus as Lord and believe in His name is to acknowledge our own sinfulness, Jesus’ deity, and the perfect goodness and sacrificial love of God born out in His plan of salvation.
Jesus states plainly in John 8:12: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (NIV). A few chapters later in John 12:46, Jesus repeats his claim: “I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness” (NIV). As children of God, our darkness has forever been replaced by His Light.
4. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him. Revelation 3:20a (NASB)
The final verse my Grandpa would open to is this personal invitation. Jesus is calling you. He’s knocking for you. He wants a relationship with you. Will you answer His call and accept His free gift? Here’s His promise to you today: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9 ESV).
I don’t know where you’ve come from in this world or how you’ve happened to arrive at this blog today. But I know it was by divine appointment. Hear His voice speaking in the words of these verses. The Bible says Jesus is the Living Word of God. These verses may have been written a couple thousand years ago, but there is nothing ancient about their words. They are the words of Jesus spoken to your heart today.
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?”John 11:25-26 (NASB)
If you would like to accept Christ’s free gift of salvation today but aren’t sure how, all it takes is a simple prayer from a repentant heart. There are no special words you must use. The state of your heart matters much more than the articulation of your words.
Dear Jesus, I know that I am a sinner. I confess this to You now. I know because of my sin I am separated from You. I believe Your words, that You are the only way to salvation and everlasting life. I ask You, Lord, to forgive me of my sins and be my Savior. I submit my life to Your authority. You are the truth, and I rejoice in the new life You have given me. Thank you, Jesus! Amen.