UpBuilding Men, Women, and Children in Practical Christianity

August/Sept 2005 Monthly Letter

Dear Partner in Winning One!

This is a contemporary "What must I do to have eternal life?" story!

It happened not in a New Testament setting but in an old historical Pennsylvania oil town. The main character was not "a rich young ruler" but an elderly former mayor!

As I entered the room where the men were gathering for the Saturday morning session, I noticed a distinguished gentleman. He had a "lost" look on his face. I greeted him and introduced myself. The first words out of his mouth were, "My wife died two weeks ago. I know she is in heaven. I don't think I am going to be."

I inquired into his thinking. He explained, "Well, I have been the mayor of this fine city and served on the city council for 14 years. During my term on council, and especially as mayor, I sought to make many changes for the betterment of our historical community.

But, deep down inside of me, I know that all my good works will not get me into heaven. Since my wife's death, I'm in a quandary as to how I can make it to heaven with so little time left in my life."

Thanking him for his candidness, I explained that this was one topic we would discuss today. "In fact," I said, "I will use a visual aid that will shed some light (pun intended as you will see) on how a person can know for certain that he or she will go to heaven and have eternal life."

After the opening session, I used his comments to pose a familiar question: "If you were to kneel before God right now and He were to ask you, why should I allow you into heaven, what would you say? How about these answers: Because I've tried my best. Because I was baptized as an infant. Because I've not killed anyone. Because I've sung in the choir; taught Sunday School, tithed, etc. Would you trust any of these answers to get you into heaven?"

Taking two candles, I lit one and asked, "Are these two candles the same? (No) One is lit and the other unlit. Jesus is the light of the world and is represented by this lit candle. He says that we are to believe in Him as the one God has sent to bring us into heaven. He is the Way to get to heaven."

John 1:12 says "Whoever believes in Jesus, or who He is-the Way-and receives Him as a personal Savior, is born spiritually." John 3:16 also adds "does not perish but has eternal life." "What does this unlit candle need to do to become lit?" (Receive the flame from the lit one.)

After asking the question: "Which candle represents your life now?" I encouraged each man if applicable to pray silently with his eyes open: "Jesus, I'm like the unlit candle. I have no power to make myself right in Your sight. By faith I believe You are the Way of forgiveness for my sins and the Way to eternal life. By faith I receive You as my Savior. By faith I claim that I am a child of God and that I have eternal life according to the written Word of God."

Mr. Mayor prayed this prayer and became Mr. Child of God and recipient of eternal life! He said afterwards, "You have answered all my questions." Knowing that he was also a former school teacher, I replied, "Remember the old math books that had the answers in the back of the book?. Well, I've only pointed out the answers to your burning question in the back of THE Book!"

I left the Mr. Newborn Mayor in the care of a fellow parishioner and friend. When I called him weeks later, he informed me of the Newborn's growth and "a peace that passes all understanding."

Thank you for allowing me to share God's gift of Jesus and His Grace to those searching!

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