By Pastor Thad Gifford Contributing Columnist
March 7, 2014
Did you hear about the elderly pastor who was searching his closet for a shirt before church one Sunday morning? In the back of the closet, he found a small box containing three eggs and 100 $1 bills.
He called his wife into the closet to ask her about the box and its contents. Embarrassed, she admitted having hidden the box there for their entire 30 years of marriage. Disappointed and hurt, the pastor asked her, “Why?”
The wife replied that she hadn’t wanted to hurt his feelings. He asked her how the box could have hurt his feelings. She said that every time during their marriage that he had delivered a poor sermon, she had placed an egg in the box.
The pastor felt that three poor sermons in 30 years was certainly nothing to feel bad about, so he asked her what the $100 was for.
She replied, “Each time I got a dozen eggs, I sold them to the neighbors for $1.”
I am sure that you, like me have heard what we might term a “poor” sermon in our life. As a matter of fact, I have probably delivered my share of “poor” sermons over the course of the last 33 years of ministry. But have you ever given thought to the sermon or message that you hear on Sunday morning…it’s meaning, the purpose that God’s wants to fulfill in your life because of a particular message?
Back in 1975, I heard a message that literally changed my life. After I heard it, I thought about it for two weeks. I couldn’t get it out of my mind. I kept thinking about it and thinking about it and finally, I went back to the church where I heard the message, and guess what? I heard the “same” message again. The next Sunday, I went back and heard another message just like the first two messages. I thought to myself, “Does this Pastor only know one message?” Hasn’t he prepared for Sunday’s sermon throughout the week? Why is he preaching the same message?
See, I had been raised in a denomination that didn’t preach what this Pastor was preaching and his message was “new” to me. I had never heard a message like he was preaching and it got my attention. It got me to thinking. I mean, what if I was being taught was not the truth and what if what he was preaching was? So, I listened and I compared his messages to what the Bible had to say, and you know what? His messages were the truth. I had been listening to a “false gospel” for almost 25 years of my life and when I heard the truth of God’s Word, it opened my eyes and my ears and my heart to understanding just what the Bible had to say. In particular, what the Bible had to say about eternal life.
Many churches teach that Jesus died for our sins because God loves us. And that because of Jesus death on the cross, our sin debt has been paid and we are all children of God. And because we are children of God, we will go to Heaven to spend our eternity with God when we die. Close…but no cigar. Sorry to step on toes here…but unless you are Born Again…you will not see the Kingdom of God much less enter into it. (Read John 3:1-7)
Many people are going to miss Heaven by 12 inches. The distance of your mind to your heart. Just because you believe with your mind in God and Jesus and Heaven, does not mean you are going there. Just because you believe God loves you and Jesus died for your sins, will not get you into Heaven. Neither will church membership, baptism, good works, giving of your money or your time or your talent to God’s work. The only way you will be allowed to enter in Heaven is if you have asked Jesus to forgive you of your sins and invited Him into your heart to be your Savior. (Romans 10:9-10, 13) Salvation must be received in order for it to be yours. It’s like a gift, unless you receive it, the gift is never really yours. There has to be a time where you reach out and take the free gift of salvation before you become a Christian and before your name is written down in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
I’m glad I learned the truth and I want to ask you this question, “If what you are believing is not the truth would you want to know the truth?” I know many, many people who are fully expecting to go to Heaven when they die. But, unless they are born again, it’s not going to happen. I know I am shaking the apple cart this week, but we have no idea when we will meet our Maker and if we are not ready when we draw our last breath, it will be too late.
Question, “If you were to die today, do you know where you will spend your eternity?” This is not an “I hope so” response. You either do or you don’t know. Period. If you are “hoping” you will spend your eternity in Heaven, you will probably not. “Pastor Thad, how can you judge me and know where I am going to spend my eternity?” I am not judging anyone. I am simply telling you if you are not born again, you will not spend your eternity in Heaven. Matthew 7:23, “Depart from Me, you workers of iniquity, I never knew you.” Jesus spoke these words to people who had witnessed in His name and done many wonderful things in His name.” Why? Because they believed with their heads (minds) and not with their hearts.
You only get one opportunity to make things “right.” After this life, there are no more chances — no purgatory, no holding places, no having others pray you into Heaven. If you wake up and find yourself in Hell…it’s for eternity. There is no way out — no way of escape. And the sad thing about that is this — you didn’t have to go there. You can be saved today. Right now. And know that you will spend your eternity in Heaven. (I.John 5:13)
“Dear God, I know I am a sinner. And I believe that Jesus died for my sins. Today, I repent of my sins, and I ask Jesus to save me. I believe Jesus is God’s Son, and that His death paid for my sin debt and today I receive Him as my Savior. Come into my heart, Lord Jesus and save me today. Thank You. In Jesus Name I pray, Amen.” Praying that prayer or one similar to it is your first step to the Christian life. Now…follow in Christian baptism (baptize = immersion), find a Bible-teaching, Bible-believing church and get involved in it.
I cannot believe what God is doing at Crossroads lately. If you want to join a growing church, check us out. God bless you and if you have any questions about your salvation, please get with me. And that’s Something To Think About for this week.
Pastor Thad Gifford is the founding and lead pastor of the Crossroads Community Church, 62 E. Second St., London. He can be reached at (740) 852-7800, e-mail him at m.thad.gifford.com or at their website www.3c-church.org.