Today’s post is going to be just a bit different than normal. Today – one day before Good Friday and 3 days before Easter – may I share with you the story of “3 Questions” that led me to become a “Follower of Jesus?” Please know that if you would prefer to not read any further – no offense will be taken.
Tomorrow is Good Friday – the day over 2000 years ago when Jesus – falsely accused – was sentenced to the most cruel death ever invented – death by crucifixion on a cross! That day Jesus paid the penalty for the sins of every woman and man who had or would ever live. After he died he was taken down from that cross and laid in a borrowed grave through the generosity of a friend. The day after the Sabbath – on the first day of the week – 3 woman came to his tomb to anoint his body and they found the stone that had covered his tomb rolled away and the tomb was empty. An angel appeared to them and said, “He is not here – He is Risen!” That was of course the first Easter – the day that millions of followers of Jesus will celebrate this coming Sunday.
This story did not touch my life until the fall of 1967 when I was a freshman at the University of South Dakota – home of the Coyotes! One Monday evening a group of fraternity men from Iowa State, who were involved with Cru, joined us for dinner. Our president introduced them and invited us to join him in the living room immediately following our dinner to hear them share about a student movement they were involved in at Iowa State. The first 3 men shared their stories of how they had become Followers of Jesus at Iowa State. It was the first time in my life that I had ever heard anyone my age share how they had made a personal commitment to trust Christ.
As the final speaker shared “The Four Spiritual Laws” (copied at the bottom of this post) he asked “3 Questions (highlighted in BLUE below) that Changed My Life!
Here were his questions and my answers: (for context please read “The Four Spiritual Laws” below)
Which circle best represents your life? The one on the left – the self-directed life.
Which circle would you like to have represent your life? I was not sure!
Does this prayer express the desire of your heart? He explained that we could receive Christ – right then and there by praying a simple prayer to invite Christ into our hearts! At that moment I chose not to pray that prayer silently as he prayed out-loud. But I spent the rest of that evening contemplating what I had just heard. I was so impressed with the men that had shared their stories of trusting Christ. I thought – Wow – what courage they had to unashamedly share how they had become “Followers of Jesus!” I also sensed that they had a quality of life that I did not have.
I began to think about praying that prayer to trust Christ. My thoughts kind of went like this. I was not sure if there was a God or not? But if there was a God and if His Son was Jesus and if Jesus had indeed died on the cross for my sins and if by asking Jesus into my heart my sins could be forgiven and if I could be given eternal life – then for sure I would want to pray that prayer – I just did not know if it were true? But then this thought crossed my mind – I had nothing to lose and everything to gain if I prayed that prayer. If there was no God – then my mumbling a few words would not make any difference. But if there was a God and I could actually have a personal relationship with Him, I would be a fool to pass that up. So I prayed a very honest prayer that went something like:
“God I don’t know if you exist or not. But if you do and if Jesus is your Son and if His death on the cross paid the penalty for my sins and if by trusting Christ I can have eternal life then for sure I want Christ to come into my heart. Amen.”
I sat there and waited for something to happen – I was not sure what – but I thought I should feel something – but nope, I felt nothing. So I shrugged my shoulders and headed to bed – kind of concluding that probably there was no God and that nothing had happened. During the days that followed – I pretty much forgot about the whole evening.
It was about six weeks or so later that I was playing pool with one of my fraternity brothers and he said, “There is something different about you!” To which I of course said, “What?” He said he did not know and we continued to play. Then only a few minutes later he said – “I know what it is!” And of course I said, “What?” He said – “You are not swearing a blue street every time you miss a shot!” As soon as he said it – I felt like God had just tapped me on my shoulder and said to me “I am real and I came into your heart when you prayed that prayer and I am the one who is beginning to change your life!” In the days/weeks/months and now years that have followed I have seen much more evidence of how God not only changed my life but the lives of many others who placed their faith in Jesus and became His followers.
4 years later when I graduated from USD I did not go on to Law School as had been my plan since high school – instead I joined the staff of Cru – because the greatest thing that had ever happened to me was being introduced to Jesus! And because the greatest thing I could ever do for anyone else would be to introduce them to Jesus!
That was June 1971. This coming June 2014 will mark 43 years on staff with Cru! Today my personal mission statement is “To Help Develop the Next Generation of Leaders for Cru!”
Sometimes when I am asked “How are you doing?” (and the moment seems just right) I reply – “Better than I deserve – because what I deserve is spend eternity in Hell because of my many sins, but because of what Jesus did on the cross more than 2000 years ago, I am forgiven and will be spending eternity in Heaven!”
Just to be clear – I am not going to heaven because I have lived a good life – I am going to heaven because of “Grace” – unmerited favor – Jesus paid my penalty – I am forgiven – not because of what I have done – but because of what He has done!
Please note that my life has not been without challenges – tragedies – hardships! But through all these difficulties I have experienced the God of all comfort who presence has been with me in the midst of heartache.
If you are not a “Follower of Jesus” my prayer is that as you read through “The Four Spiritual Laws” below, your responses to the 3 questions highlighted in BLUE below will also bring you to Jesus and that you too will be joining millions of “Followers of Jesus” this Easter to celebrate His Resurrection!
Just as there are physical laws that govern the physical universe, so are there spiritual laws that govern your relationship with God.
God loves you and offers a wonderful plan for your life.
God’s Love: “God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16, NIV).
God’s Plan: [Christ speaking] “I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly” [that it might be full and meaningful] (John 10:10).
Why is it that most people are not experiencing that abundant life? Because…
Man is sinful and separated from God. Therefore, he cannot know and experience God’s love and plan for his life.
Man is Sinful: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Man was created to have fellowship with God; but, because of his own stubborn self-will, he chose to go his own independent way and fellowship with God was broken. This self-will, characterized by an attitude of active rebellion or passive indifference, is an evidence of what the Bible calls sin.
Man Is Separated: “The wages of sin is death” [spiritual separation from God] (Romans 6:23).
This diagram illustrates that God is holy and man is sinful. A great gulf separates the two. The arrows illustrate that man is continually trying to reach God and the abundant life through his own efforts, such as a good life, philosophy, or religion – but he inevitably fails.The third law explains the only way to bridge this gulf…
Jesus Christ is God’s only provision for man’s sin. Through Him you can know and experience God’s love and plan for your life.
He Died In Our Place: “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
He Rose from the Dead: “Christ died for our sins… He was buried… He was raised on the third day, according to the Scriptures… He appeared to Peter, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred…” (1 Corinthians 15:3-6).
He Is the Only Way to God: “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father but through Me'” (John 14:6).
This diagram illustrates that God has bridged the gulf that separates us from Him by sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross in our place to pay the penalty for our sins. It is not enough just to know these three laws…
We must individually receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord; then we can know and experience God’s love and plan for our lives.
We Must Receive Christ: “As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12).
We Receive Christ Through Faith: “By grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as result of works that no one should boast” (Ephesians 2:8,9).
When We Receive Christ, We Experience a New Birth: (Read John 3:1-8.)
We Receive Christ Through Personal Invitation: [Christ speaking] “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him” (Revelation 3:20).
Receiving Christ involves turning to God from self (repentance) and trusting Christ to come into our lives to forgive our sins and to make us what He wants us to be. Just to agree intellectually that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that He died on the cross for our sins is not enough. Nor is it enough to have an emotional experience. We receive Jesus Christ by faith, as an act of the will.
These two circles represent two kinds of lives:
Circle on the left – Self-Directed Life: S-Self is on the throne. Christ is outside the life. Interests are directed by self, often resulting in discord and frustration.
Circle on the Right – Christ-Directed Life: Christ is in the life and on the throne. S-Self is yielding to Christ, resulting in harmony with God’s plan Interests are directed by Christ, resulting in harmony with God’s plan.
Which circle best represents your life?
Which circle would you like to have represent your life?
The following explains how you can receive Christ: You Can Receive Christ Right Now by Faith Through Prayer. (Prayer is talking with God) God knows your heart and is not so concerned with your words as He is with the attitude of your heart.
The following is a suggested prayer: Lord Jesus, I need You. Thank You for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life and receive You as my Savior and Lord. Thank You for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Take control of the throne of my life. Make me the kind of person You want me to be.
Does this prayer express the desire of your heart? If it does, I invite you to pray this prayer right now, and Christ will come into your life, as He promised.
So, what do you think?
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