I often struggle with the way traditional Christianity has claimed that “salvation and going to heaven is the greatest deal on earth.”
According to this line of thinking, only the lucky, the blessed, the preordained who agree with me (whoever “me” happens to be) get a country club estate along one of heaven’s finest avenues.
I’m sorry, but I didn’t win the lottery when God gave me the gift of faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. Instead, God “won” me by paying the steepest price possible. And He paid that price for everyone (1 John 2:2), not just me.
Please hear what I’m not saying. I’m not saying that in the end everyone will be saved. I’m also not saying that I don’t rejoice that God has promised heaven when Jesus returns (for me when I die or for all of us in one fell swoop, if He so chooses during my lifetime). Scripture is clear that Jesus commanded 72 of His disciples to “rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” Believe me, on my good days I find that one of the easiest commands to obey.
But I don’t rejoice in my salvation and future in heaven in a worldly, juvenile sort of way as if I’ve won the lottery — and as if “you and you and you” haven’t (insert plenty of attitude here).
The same Jesus who said “rejoice” also wept over those who rejected God’s gracious gift of faith, mercy, grace, and salvation from the coming judgment here on earth (at the hands of the Roman Empire) and even greater judgment beyond this life (at the hands of the Almighty Creator and Governor of the universe).
No, I didn’t win the lottery. Instead, I received something infinitely better when God gave me the gift of faith and brought me to my knees. And the same God who saved me doesn’t want anyone else to perish. Instead, He wants all to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).
I know many will reject Jesus Christ to their dying day. But I’ve seen too many saved in their dying days to believe God somehow stops caring about the unrepentant after age 20 or 30 or 40 or 50 or 60 or 70 or 80 or 90 or 100.
Never give into the fear that one of your loved ones or friends hasn’t won the heavenly lottery yet. No one ever has — or ever will.
David Sanford and his wife, Renée, founded Sanford Communications, Inc., which recently joined Credo Communications LLC. In his new role at Credo, David continues to work closely with leaders, organizations, and publishers to develop life-changing books and other resources.
Over the years, David has been featured or interviewed and quoted by leading news services, national broadcast networks, numerous Web sites and blogs, stacks of magazines, and scores of newspapers including USA Today, The Los Angeles Times, and Wall Street Journal. His detailed biography appears in Who's Who in America and Who's Who in Media and Communications.
David and Renée live "on the road to Damascus," outside Portland, Oregon, where David serves as a lay teaching pastor at Spring Mountain Bible Church. David and Renée are the parents of five children, and have two grandchildren.
Nearly a dozen speaking engagements (churches, conferences, colleges and universities) and media interviews (TV, radio, print, and online) are confirmed or pending across the U.S. and Canada. Invite David Sanford to talk with your audience about “If God Disappears: Why People Leave the Faith and Come Back.”
For media inquiries or to arrange an interview please contact: Katie Anderson, Tyndale House Publishers, (630) 784-5426 or e-mail her today.