Bible Reading: Luke 13:22-35
Over the years I have shared the Gospel…the Good News of God’s love and His plan for salvation through Jesus…with many people. On more than one occasion, I have had people tell me that they honestly believe that Jesus is the Savior and the way to Heaven, but that they are just not ready to accept Him. It’s almost always one of two things.
One, they don’t think that they are worthy. They feel guilty for their sin and don’t think that God could really love them. Sometimes they are being honest. At that point, the problem is that they don’t have a correct understanding of God’s grace. But some times, this is just an excuse. They know that they can never be good enough to deserve God’s love…but they are intentionally using their self-imposed guilt as an excuse to postpone a decision.
Second, I have had people tell me that they are not ready to give up their lifestyle. They know that they are living in sin and that if they accepted Jesus that they would need to live a godly, Christlike life…and they are just not willing to do that. But one day, one day they will. When they are ready…of course.
Both of these can be very dangerous. A person’s heart becomes hardened towards God by sin. And the longer they continue in sin…the harder their heart becomes.
In this passage, Jesus makes it clear that there is one way to be saved…and that there is a time limit to be saved.
Thoughts about God for My Grandkids:
Matthew Ciancio, 42-years-old, was a veteran skydiver with over 10 years of experience. In May, of 2017, he was making a 13,000-foot jump with several other skydivers at the Lodi Parachute Center in Acampo, California. The group was flying in formation in wingsuits, specialized jumpsuits with wings under the arms and between the legs. It makes you look and fly like a flying squirrel.
Ciancio released his main parachute at about 4,000 feet, but started spinning uncontrollably. As he fell toward the ground he tried to cast off the parachute, but he was at an extremely low altitude. The emergency parachute didn’t open and Ciancio crashed into a vineyard about a mile north of the airport. When rescuers arrived, he was dead.
Wingsuit base jumping is an extreme form of skydiving that involves free-falling over long distances. Observers said that Ciancio may have experienced a “hard open” of his parachute due to the high speed that he was falling…approximately 120 mph. When that happens, it causes a whiplash effect that can stun the jumper. He had waited too long to get rid of the bad parachute. In a recent year (2015), 21 people were killed in skydiving accidents out of an estimated 3.5 million jumps.
If you exit an aircraft from 5,000 feet above the ground it can take a little less than 20 seconds before you reach the minimum opening altitude of 2,000 feet for an experienced skydiver. At a 12,500 foot dropzone, you can get a 55 to 60 second free fall if you are on a belly jump. An expert skydiver says that it takes many jumps before you can actually determine your altitude and tell the difference between when you are at 12,000 and 7,000 and 3,000 feet.
Someone once asked Jesus if there were only a few people who would be saved. Jesus said that actually there would be many people from the east, west, north, and south, from all ages, that would be saved and go to Heaven. However, while there would be many people…there are two qualifications for everyone who will be saved…how, and when.
How. He said that many people will try to get to Heaven on their own…by their own good works, or by their own method. However, there is only one way to go to Heaven…by faith in Him. There is no other way. No one, absolutely no one, will ever go to Heaven by any other method than faith in Jesus.
When. He also said that people will try to go to Heaven in their own time. Sometimes, people say that they are not ready to believe in Jesus because they still have things that they want to do…but they know that they are wrong, sinful things. So, they will wait until they have done all that they want to do…then, they will accept Jesus. But Jesus said that there is a time limit on being saved. There will come a day when the Lord closes the door to Heaven. Now, this can mean that there is a day coming when Jesus will return to earth and at that point no one else will be saved. The door will be closed. However, it could also mean that God knows a man’s heart…and He knows that a time can come when he will never truly repent of his sin and receive Jesus as His Savior. So, He closes the door. The time is up. It is too late for that man to be saved. He has gone on, and on…sinned again, and again…and now, without even realizing it, his heart has become so hard, so cold towards God, that he will never receive Jesus. He doesn’t know it. But God knows it. And He shuts the door. As the skydiver waited too long to get rid of his parachute…the man has waited too long to repent of his sin.
People think that they can control sin. That they can start sinning…and stop sinning. But they are wrong. Every time someone sins…it takes just a little bit more control over their life. It becomes stronger and stronger. Generally, the person doesn’t even realize it. Again, like the skydiver can find it difficult to determine how high he is above the ground…it is hard for a person involved in sin to realize how deeply involved they really are and how much power it has over their life.
So, what does that mean for us? First, we have to accept Jesus on His terms, as He has said. Faith in Him is the only way to Heaven. There is no other way. Second, we need to accept Jesus when we first hear about Him. The longer we wait…the more we get caught up in the things of this world and the less likely it becomes that we will accept Him, later. We cannot force someone to accept Jesus. And, we’re not supposed to even try. But, we should encourage them with all of our heart to do so. God doesn’t want anyone to die and not go to Heaven. And neither should we. Now go…tell somebody about the love of Jesus, today.
Love you more than bunches and bunches,