Series: If You Died Tonight Would You Be Ready? (1)
Episode: Sitting in the Chair
Okay, so here you are. Today’s a happening thing, tomorrow’s pretty much planned. In fact, perhaps you’re even a bit like me, with a diary that’s cram packed and a to–do list longer than your arm. But what if tomorrow never comes? What if tonight, your life is demanded of you? Then what
Got a question for you today. How do you know, how do you know you have the gift of eternal life? I mean some people kind of say, ‘Well yeah, I believe in Jesus, I think, or a least I did once. I prayed that prayer of salvation all though I don’t quite remember the words’.
It’s an important question. I mean, if you died tonight would you be ready for eternity? Well, how do you know? Well, that’s what today is all about on the program. When we go our separate ways in just under 10 minutes, we’ll be able to know with absolute certainty whether or not we have the gift of eternal life.
And it’s all about entering into the promise and here’s the promise. It starts in John chapter 3, verse 14:
Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness so must the Son of man be lifted up. That whoever believes in Him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son so that everyone who believes in Him may not perish but have eternal life. Indeed God didn’t send His Son into the world to condemn the world but in order that the world might be saved through Him.
Those who believe in Him are not condemned but those who do not believe are already condemned because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God.
So what does that mean? How do you and I know if we’ve actually laid hold of that promise?
The inference here is clear. Yesterday on the program, we talked about the fact that God is both love and justice. And you think about it, if He was only love then He wouldn’t need Jesus to die on the cross for us. He could just forgive us without the requirements of justice being met. If He was only justice, who needs Jesus? All God would have to do is punish us and that’s the end of it. But because He loves us so much He sends Jesus, not to judge us but to save us from the coming wrath by taking the punishment on our behalf.
And the way we appropriate this free gift is fairly straightforward. Have a listen again to what is perhaps the best-known verse in the whole Bible.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son so that everyone who believes in Him may not perish but have eternal life. (John chapter 3:16)
So the clincher is believing in Him but exactly what does that mean? Best way I ever heard it explained was by a great man, Pastor Phil Littlejohn. Here’s the gist of what he said. He said that ‘in’ this phrase ‘believes in Him’ the original Greek word for ‘in’ is ‘eis’. And it literally means ‘into‘. So lets read it again with its real meaning.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son so that everyone who believes into Him may not perish but have eternal life.
Okay, what does that mean? Phil explained it to us this way. He said, ‘Imagine a chair sitting over yonder in the corner over there. If I stand here and look at that chair and say, ‘Yes, I believe the chair is strong enough to hold me’, then I’m believing in the chair. But if I walk across the room and sit down on the chair then I’m believing into the chair.’
Makes a lot of sense. The first is believing with your head. The second one is trusting with your life. And so what Jesus meant wasn’t that we would be saved by believing in Him with our heads but by demonstrating that belief by trusting Him with our lives.
Faith in Jesus is about living out that faith. Not making some vague promise one day that we forget the next. Jesus explained this so well in a parable. Let’s pick it up in Matthews Gospel, chapter 22, starting at verse 2, Jesus said:
The Kingdom of heaven can be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his slaves to call all those who had been invited to the wedding banquet but they didn’t come. Again he sent his slaves saying, ‘Tell those who’ve been invited, look I’ve prepared my dinner, my ox and my fatted calves have been slaughtered and everything’s ready. Come to the wedding banquet’.
But they made light of it and they went away. One to his farm, another to his business while the rest seized his slaves and mistreated them and killed them. The king was enraged, he sent his troops to destroy those murderers and burn their city. Then he said to his slaves, ‘The wedding is ready but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore into the main streets and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet’.
The slaves went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both good and bad, so the wedding hall was filled with guests.
But then the king came in to see the guests and he noticed a man there who was not wearing a wedding robe and he was speechless. The king said to the attendants, ‘Bind that man, hand and foot, throw him into the outer darkness where there be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called but few are chosen’. (Matthews 22: 2-14)
Now what’s Jesus trying to teach us here? First, there were those we were invited but didn’t attend. Getting the invitation, in other words, isn’t enough. Accepting the invitation isn’t enough. Saying that you’re going to go isn’t enough. You have to show up. You have to live out the invitation by attending the banquet.
See, so many people pray the prayer and say, ‘Yup, that’s me, I’m in’. But if you don’t go, you don’t get. Let me say it again – if you don’t go, you don’t get. If you don’t live out the invitation, you’re not in. Listen again to Matthew chapter 7, verse 21, where Jesus said:
Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the Kingdom of heaven but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.
So what about this guy who came along but didn’t wear the right wedding robe? That seems a bit harsh, doesn’t it? Well, some years later the Apostle Paul wrote these words to his friends in Galatia. Galatians chapter 3, verse 27:
As many of you as were baptised into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.
See here’s the problem, some people accept the invitation but they never show up. They’re not prepared to change their lives to live out their faith, to demonstrate their salvation by the way they live. We don’t much want to know about the man who didn’t prepare for the wedding. Oh no, we don’t want to know about him but these are Jesus’ words, not mine, I’m not making this stuff up.
The faith in Jesus that saves is clearly demonstrated by a transformed life. By a man or a woman or a child that’s turned away from what they know to be wrong. Have a listen again to Jesus’ own words. Listen carefully:
At that very time there were some present who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with the sacrifices.” (This is coming from Luke chapter 13).
And Jesus asked them, ‘Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were worst sinners than other Galileans? No, I tell you. But unless you repent you will all perish as they did or those eighteen who were killed when the Tower of Siloam fell on them.
Do you think they were worst offenders than all the others living in Jerusalem? No, I tell you. But unless you repent you will all perish just as they did.
The person who has the gift of eternal life is the one who has walked across the room and sat in the chair – the one who accepted God’s invitation to eternal life; the one who showed up; the one who repented; the one who’s living a life clothed in Christ.
How do I know if I have the gift of eternal life? By looking in the mirror. By seeing a changed life. By knowing that I’m living out my faith in Jesus because faith without works is dead.