This past Thursday morning I was out for one of my numerous walks up to the top of White Oak Mountain. I was walking along Edgmon Road on the sidewalk. They are building a new house there, and the pickup trucks were parked right on the sidewalk where I was supposed to walk, so I had to weave and dodge around. And thought, "You know, if they didn't park those things in my way, I could get a little more benefit out of my walk. Why does that have to happen to me?" They slow me down! Anyway, I got to going again and the next thing I see is a pickup truck coming sideways down Edgmon Road! A young boy, late to Collegedale Academy. The truck smashes into the telephone pole right in front of me and whips around, and darts across the sidewalk where I would have been in just a few seconds. The boy was okay. I was okay.
I got to thinking about that. You know, I could have been killed Thursday morning, easily. Especially if I hadn't been delayed by those trucks on the sidewalk and all that stuff. I got to thinking about my eternal life. Would I have been saved? I suppose my funeral would have been this coming Monday, here in our church. Maybe Pastor Kent would have the funeral for me. Would anybody come? Would my relatives come? What would they say about me? Would I have been saved? You know, that's all kinds of thoughts.
How many here are lost? Let's see your hands.
How many are saved?
A bunch of you didn't raise your hand on either one! I guess you don't know. You should know. You can know. You should be sure. And this is a problem: You will never be truly saved unless you realize that you are truly lost. Apparently here in our church, very few are lost or admit to it.
Today could be your opportunity to be saved. Do you remember reading about the battle of Gettysburg? On July 1, 2, 3 in 1863, troops of the North and the South clashed there at Gettysburg. Nobody was winning. And finally the tide turned against Robert E. Lee. The Confederates began to retreat to the South during the night of July 4, and it rained hard that night. Rain drenched the area. When they finally reached the Potomac River it was swollen with rain and they could not cross. Right behind was the Union army, under the leadership of General Meade. So, Lee was trapped. He couldn't go across the river, and he couldn't go back. There he was, wedged in with all of his army.
Abraham Lincoln gave the order for Meade to attack immediately. But Meade delayed. He waited. He held a council. He delayed more. And after several days the water receded and the Confederate forces escaped. The Civil War went on for two more years when it could have been ended right then and there. All because of a missed opportunity.
We are all players in an Uncivil War, aren't we? It is known as the Great Controversy between Christ and Satan. Each of us has been given a life that we might live long enough to establish a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. If you miss that opportunity, you have missed much. You have missed eternal life.
You know, how long are we going to tread around the periphery of a real experience with Jesus Christ? How long are we going to have one foot in the world and one foot in the church? We are going to be half way Christians. We need to realize that time is short and is getting shorter. We need to admit that we are lost.
The very first step in being saved is to admit that you are lost.
Let's look over here at Proverbs 28:13. He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy. If you are not saved, acknowledge it. A man found a woodsman wandering aimlessly in the deep woods and asked him: "Are you lost?" and the woodsman said, "No. I'm not lost! My campsite is lost!" We are a lot like that man, aren't we? We are too proud to admit that we are in a lost spiritual condition. We are too proud to ask God to forgive us. We are too proud to admit to our family that we are interested in studying the Bible and praying. We need to confess your sins to the Lord!
We are like some men who, when they are lost, drive their car around and around...they are not going to stop to ask for directions. They would drive until they run out of gas before they would ask for directions! You are not like that, fortunately. We need to admit that we are lost. We need to ask for directions. We need to follow those directions. We need to admit our wickedness and not try to cover up our sins.
Paul Harvey tells a story of four young men who were late to school one morning. Very, very late. They walked in, and the teacher asked "where have you been?" "Well, we had a flat tire." And the sympathetic teacher smiled and told them, "Well that's too bad you are so late, you missed the test. But I'll tell you what. I will give you a paper and a pencil, and if you can answer one question I will give you a hundred percent on the test." So she put them in the four corners of the room. They each had a pencil and a white piece of paper, and she said "Just tell me this simple thing. Which tire was flat?" They flunked.
Why do human beings like to cover up our sins? Maybe we try to save face. But God says, "Confess your sins" "Forsake your sins." It takes an honest person to be saved.
Charles Colson's book, "Born Again," is about the Watergate era. He talks about Richard Milhouse Nixon. Richard Nixon could never admit that he was wrong in anything. Colson was at a meeting one time with Nixon. Nixon obviously had a cold. His nose was running, his face was red, he was sneezing. He had all the symptoms of a cold. But he would never admit it. He never admitted anything wrong.
This is unlike David. Look at Psalm 32:5. David could honestly say: I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, 'I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,' and You forgave the iniquity of my sin.
I think sometimes we are like the woodsman who lost his campsite. We almost enjoy our lost condition. We don't want to admit it. We're out there. We actually love the world and it makes us feel secure. We feel safe out in the world. But we live in a doomed world. All who do not come out of it and come to Jesus their Saviour will die in their sins. Like Lot's wife, we could be lost.
Luke 17:33 says, Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.
Lot's wife felt secure in Sodom. She was probably the spice of the party by night, and the salt of death by day. Admit that you are lost. Admit that you can't save yourself.
The second step is: Realize that only Christ can save you.
Come over to Hebrews 7:25, Therefore He is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because He always lives to intercede for them.
Do you remember Peter Marshall, the famous Scottish preacher and chaplain of our Congress? As a boy he worked one summer in the English Village of Bamburgh, 16 miles from the border of Scotland. One very dark night he had to walk home and decided to take a shortcut. He knew there was a deep, deserted limestone quarry in the area, but he thought he could avoid the danger. The night was dark, there were no stars. It was a black as the inside of an ink bottle. He had walked slowly for some time when he suddenly heard someone call: "Peter" in an urgent tone. He stopped and all he could hear was the wind. He called out, "Who is there?" There was no answer. He thought he was mistaken and walked on a few steps and then he heard that voice again, even more urgently: "PETER!" This time he stopped dead still and tried to peer into the impenetrable darkness. He stepped forward and fell over something and reached out to catch himself but there was nothing there! He groped around to the left and to the right. Then he realized that he was right on the edge of the quarry. One more step and he would have fallen to his death! There was nothing there. Right on the edge of death. He was saved, but just barely in the nick of time. Peter never forgot that voice all his life. And he always listened to that voice through the rest of his life. God had warned him and he shuttered that he almost did not listen.
Has something like that ever happened to you? Has God ever said to you, "There is a time when you need to wake up. There is a time when you need to realize something. Has some sign happened to you that you didn't listen to? How many times will God warn us? How many times will we not listen? God is capable of saving us to the uttermost if we will just respond to Him. Don't put off responding to God, to listening to God.
It is dangerous to put off responding to the leading of God. The road to spiritual loss is usually greased with the slime of indifference and neglect. We shut God off. We need to hear God's voice calling. You could be walking down the sidewalk on Edgmon Road next week. You could die. Something could happen to anyone of us during this next week. Would you be saved? Would you be lost? Would you be 99% saved and 1% lost? You ought to be all the way saved!
Let's suppose that you and I are walking out in the desert. It is hot. We are dry and thirsty. There is no water anywhere. Finally we see an old gas station in the distance. We get up to it and it is closed. No water faucets. Nothing. But there is a vending machine well stocked with wonderful refreshing drink. The price is $1.00. You have 50 cents and I have nothing. Which of us stands the better chance of getting a cold drink? Neither one of us, right? Fifty cents will not get you a drink and nothing will not give me a drink.
Just so, the person who is a half-way Christian, one foot in the world and one foot in heaven, stands no better chance of being saved than the outright sinner. Why don't we see this? 2 Corinthians 4:4 says, The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers. Apparently, the devil wants you to think that you are secure right here in this world just as you are.
Let me illustrate: You know, there is a lot of stupidity out in the animal world. I have always marveled at the stupidity of the mountain lion. One day the word was out in Livingston, Montana, that a mountain lion was spotted at a nearby ranch. So, a group of zealous hunters came with their dogs and soon the chase was on. Within a few hours two large mountain lions were treed and shot by the hunters. One measured over seven feet long!
Now, why do these powerful lions almost always head for the false security of a tree? Those mountain lions could have shred those dogs and ha them for breakfast. Why do they do that? Yet they wait there in the tree like a sitting duck until the hunter comes along and shoots them. They cannot reason this quandary out.
But you know, we are just as stupid, if I could use that word. Vast numbers of people reason as poorly in the important matter of eternal life. We think we are secure. "I have money in the bank. I have an IRA. I have invested in stocks." A man is a failure who goes through life earning nothing but money. It will soon be gone and so will he. The short term security of worldly things will not last. Me must make sure of our eternal life! Matthew 16:26 (New Jerusalem Bible) says, "What, then, will anyone gain by winning the whole world and forfeiting his life? Or what can anyone offer in exchange for his life?"
Money is fine. Get all you need. But don't make material things the number one priority in your life. All too often the Train of Eternal Loss rides on the Track of Selfishness. Make Jesus the goal of your life, not things or pleasures.
The third step is: Surrender Your Life To Jesus.
Give Him 100%. Keep your life yielded to Jesus Christ. Matthew 16:24, Then said Jesus to his disciples, "If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me.
What if you wake some dreadful day and hear Jesus say:
"I am the Way you did not take, although I died for your sake. I am the Truth you did not heed. You were not sure you had a need. I am the Light you did not see, and now you are lost for eternity!"
You know, there is a vast difference between a statistical Christian and a born-again, totally yielded, lover of Jesus Christ. It is like standing on the sidewalk and peering in through the storefront window. You are a window shopper. You are enjoying it, but only vicariously through the glass. You sit in church and get a glimpse of the good life with Jesus Christ. You understand you ought to read the Bible. You ought to come to Jesus, you get a glimpse of it. But you are spiritually window shopping because you never really enter into the good life. That is what I am begging you to do. Leave this sidewalk, and go in to Jesus where the real life is. Enter into it. Don't be a spiritual window shopper.
Just because you yielded once several years ago, were born in the church or baptized in the church does not mean that you yourself are a real Christian today. You must daily continue to yield your life to Jesus.
Point number four: You Need to Know Jesus.
You need to experience Jesus. Look at 1 John 5:11, 12. This is our text for today. This is one of my very favorite portions of scripture. And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.
You know, when you get married, part of the wedding vows that you speak to each other are to have and to hold. To have and to hold. And unless you have Jesus, unless He has a hold of you and you have a hold of Him, you don't have eternal life. That part of the wedding vow is equivalent to salvation in Jesus.
Get that saving relationship. He who has Jesus and continues to have Jesus, has and continues to have eternal life. It is beautiful. As long as you have Jesus, you have life. You are 100% saved! And if a truck comes skidding toward you tomorrow morning as you walk up there on White Oak Mountain with me, would you be ready for eternity?
I went to a funeral last night down at Georgia-Cumberland Academy. A young man was killed out here on Interstate 75 this past Monday. Brandon was 22 years old. A chaplain at our academy. His single, number one purpose, they brought out last night, was to show people Jesus. He was killed by a truck. Killed Monday. His memorial service was last night.
Our time can come any moment. Let's be 100% saved by the grace of Jesus Christ! Don't put it off!
Hymn of Praise: 21, Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise Scripture: 1 John 5:11-12 Hymn of Response: #187, Jesus, What a Friend for Sinners
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last updated February 5, 2005 by Bob Beckett.