Saturday, April 16, 2011


By Pastor Bruce Oyen
      I see Joe from my church office window a few days a week, as he walks down the street in front of our church in Rochester, WA. When we met, he told me he had moved from Alaska to Washington when he was very young, maybe five years old. Now he is in his 60’s or 70’s. My guess is that his ancestors lived in Alaska long before there was an Alaska, and maybe long before there was The United States Of America. He is a likable, soft spoken man who wears a uniquely-shaped cowboy hat.
    One day, Joe was walking past the church. I quickly went out to visit with him again. But this time it was so I could speak to him about his eternal destiny. I had been wondering where Joe would go: to heaven, or to hell? So, I asked him directly about this matter. He shrugged his shoulders and told me that was up to God, not him.
    Joe’s answer revealed to me that he had a basic misunderstanding about his part in where he will spend eternity. He had a fatalistic attitude about it. Therefore, I proceeded to tell him some important information from the Bible, which is God’s infallible Word, on the subject of salvation.
     I told Joe that God wants everyone to go to heaven, but the final decision rests with us. The Bible provides ample evidence of this. 2 Peter 3:9 says, “ God is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. Acts 17:31 tells us “God now commands all men (persons) everywhere to repent.” Luke 24:47 says “repentance and remission (forgiveness) of sins should be preached in his (Christ’s) name among all nations.”
     Biblical statements about Jesus Christ’s death for us sinners also prove God wants to save everyone. For example, 1 Timothy 2:5, 6 says, “For there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.” Hebrews 2:9 speaks of Christ tasting death for everyone. 1 John 2:2 says this of Jesus Christ: “And he is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” But the final decision rests with us, just as we are told in Acts 16:31: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved.”
     Other Biblical statements also prove God wants to forgive and save everyone so that they will go to heaven. Consider the following examples: 1 Timothy 1:15 says, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” That means he came to save you and to save me, for we are sinners in need of salvation. 1 Timothy 2:4 says, God “will have all men (persons) to be saved and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” That little word “all” is a big word, for it includes everyone. But the final decision is left to us. We can either be saved by believing on the Lord Jesus Christ in this life. Or, we can reject him until we are dead, and by doing so end all further opportunities to be saved and, therefore, spend eternity in hell.
    As I spoke with Joe about the importance of salvation, I reminded him that either one of us could be dead before the day ended. It might be from a heart attack, in a car wreck, or by some other unexpected means. And I urged him to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ at once, so he is ready whenever death comes. Unfortunately, he was not ready at that time to become a Christian, and he has not told me since then that he has accepted Christ as his Savior. From time to time, I water the seed of the Gospel that has been sown in his heart. May he soon respond to the truth by believing in Jesus Christ for salvation.
    How about you? Where will your soul go at death? God has left that decision in your hands. If you receive Jesus Christ as your Savior before you die, he will receive your soul into heaven when you die.

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