Daily Devotional for Thursday September 20, 2012
When Someone You Love and Care about Refuses to Accept the Lord
(John 3:16, 14:6, Ephesians 2:8,9)
***ASK BILL: Pastor Bill, I believe that there is a devil and demons. I know Jesus cast out demons. People tell me 'there are no demons', 'they are just dead souls who haven't gone to the light yet' and so on. My reply is Jesus cast out demons, Paul did the same, so when did demons stop their dirty work on earth?
ANSWER: One of satan's greatest scams is to get people to believe he is just a mythical figure, that he doesn't exist. Satan is VERY REAL, and so are demons, the third of the angels who got booted out of Heaven with him for their rebellion! Until God ends this world as we know it, satan and his demons will continue, but we already know their fate, the Lake of Fire for all eternity. That is why it is so sad when a person dies rejecting Christ. They end up in the same place, a place that wasn't created for man, but satan and his demons.
When someone you love and care about refuses to accept the Lord. One of the things that makes me so sad, are the people in my family, friends of mine, who have rejected Jesus and if they died today will spend all eternity in hell. God has used Liveprayer to bring over 600,000 people we know of around the world to faith in Jesus Christ. I have been honored for God to use me in over 20 years of ministry to personally lead thousands of people to faith in Jesus in almost every kind of setting you can imagine.
Despite having the joy of seeing people every day rerouted from the conveyor belt heading for hell to the road heading for Heaven, there are still many in my family, many dear friends who have refused to acknowledge Christ's love and rejected His free gift of everlasting life. Knowing if they die with Jesus that they will be lost for all eternity hurts me a great deal.
I know that you also have family members, friends, those people in your life who are lost and living without the Lord. I get the desperate emails every day from people who are distraught that a family member or friend is lost and asking me how they can save them. The one thing I have to remind myself each day and that you need to understand is that we can't save anyone. Getting saved, being born again, is an act of faith each person has to choose to do for themselves. I can't do it for them. You can't do it for them. Their pastor can't do it for them. Accepting Jesus into your heart and life is an act of faith each person has to decide to do for themselves. It is a choice they and they alone have to make.
What we can do and are commanded to do is to tell them HOW they can be saved. We are all called to share with those people in our lives the hope we have in Christ. After you share the Gospel with a person, at that point all you can do is pray for them to open their heart to Christ's love and to make that decision to invite Him into their life by faith. There is nothing wrong with having that conversation with them over and over, since you never know when they might be at a place in their life when they are finally ready to listen.
Again, the key is prayer since they have to be willing to open their heart to hear about Christ's love for them, at which point it is the Holy Spirit who brings them under conviction and to that place of surrender. We are simply God's human instrument, one link in a long chain of people along the way God uses to bring a person to give their lives to Jesus.
Of everything I discuss with you each day, the most important subject there is is salvation. I want to use this time today to clarify for many out there who will be in Heaven. It drives me crazy to hear gutless pastors, especially in the media, say that we don't know who will be in Heaven. THAT IS NOT TRUE SINCE GOD TOLD US CLEARLY IN HIS WORD WHO WOULD AND WHO WOULD NOT BE IN HEAVEN!!!
The salvation equation is very simple. It is: by God's grace, our faith, plus NOTHING. There is only ONE way to Heaven...a personal faith in Jesus Christ by faith. There is only ONE road to Heaven. That means that the type of church you belong to will not get you into Heaven, no amount of good works will get you into Heaven, you can't buy your way into Heaven...the only way to Heaven is through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. That is God's plan as He clearly lays out it in the Bible.
The church is a place where people should be able to find a personal relationship with Christ, a place of fellowship, a place to be fed spiritually, a place where people can use their talents to serve God. Membership in a church WILL NOT get you into Heaven when you die. There are many people who go through life doing wonderful things, helping people, and living good lives. There are no amount of good works you can do in this lifetime to eliminate the sin we were all born with and the ones we commit each day. Being a good person WILL NOT get you into Heaven when you die since the Bible clearly tells us, "That there is none that are good, no not one."
There is only one way to get to Heaven, and that is through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ by faith!!!
My friend, the message I want you to understand today is that God has made a simple way for His fallen children to be reconciled back into an everlasting relationship. Many have tried to complicate the issue of salvation. It is actually very simple. Recognize that you are a sinner. Repent, turn away from your sins, and ask God to forgive you. Accept by faith Jesus Christ into your heart and surrender your life to Him.
Why Jesus? Because in God's plan, it was His sacrifice that paid for our sins. That is why there are no amount of good works, no amount of money, nothing you can do on your own because He already paid the price. Some feel baptism is part of the salvation experience, but baptism is simply an outward sign of the inward work of salvation. It is an act of identifying your life with Christ AFTER you are saved. In essence, baptism would be a "work" and today's scripture clearly tells us that salvation is by grace, through faith, and NOT of works.
Some ask about those who accept Christ on their deathbed, and how unfair it is for them to go to Heaven after a life of sin and rebellion. First of all, in perspective, this life is but a "vapor", as the Bible calls it, in comparison with eternity. You have to remember that those who rebelled during their life and come to Christ at the end, missed the joy, peace, and blessings of this life, and must have suffered greatly on the inside living apart from God during those years on earth. The important fact is, that like you and me they are sinners who are saved by God's grace.
Many ask if you can lose your salvation. I am not going to get into the age-old theological debate of "once saved always saved." Part of the salvation equation is God's grace. To lose your salvation means that God would withdraw His grace. I have never been able to find any place in the Bible that says God will withdraw His grace, and of course the question becomes, at what point would He?
The Bible teaches that if you make a sincere commitment to Christ by faith you are saved. Only God knows for certain if a person has done this or not. If you rebel, you lose the blessings, the peace, and the joy. The prodigal son never stopped being His father's son, but lost out on the blessings of living in submission to his father, and endured much pain and heartache for rebelling. The bottom line is if you follow Christ you will never have to worry about losing your salvation.
I love you and care about you deeply. It pains me to know that there are people in my family, dear friends, who if they died this moment would be lost and spend eternity in hell. I have done my best to share the Gospel message with each of them, done my best to let them know how much Jesus loves them, but they have refused to surrender their hearts and lives to the Lord. While satan lies to me and tells me I am a failure for members of my family and dear friends not accepting the Lord, the truth is, it is a choice I can't make for them, they have to make it for themselves. All I can do, all you can do, is tell them how to be saved and pray for them to make that choice.
I pray that this word today helps many of you clarify in your mind and heart the most important issue of our life, determining where we will spend eternity. If you are reading this today and do not have the assurance that you will spend eternity in Heaven, or you have never accepted by faith Jesus Christ into your life, than let me encourage you to do it today. The Bible tells us that TODAY is the day of salvation. Don't wait another minute since tomorrow is promised to none of us!
Ask God to open your heart to His truth and love, than take a few minutes and go http://www.liveprayer.com/plan.cfm . Watch this short video on salvation, read the words, then as the Holy Spirit brings you under conviction, pray the special prayer to accept by faith, Jesus Christ into your heart as your Lord and Savior. Email me and let me know you have accepted Christ into your heart, and I will be happy to send you at no charge some special information to help you in your new-found relationship with Christ.
In His love and service,
Your friend and brother in Christ,