Creation. Fall. Rescue. Life... God created mankind perfectly, but our ancient ancestors rebelled, causing death. In His great love, Jesus came to rescue us by dying as the only possible atoning sacrifice.
But there is a catch! Jesus offers salvation, but He’s a gentleman. He doesn’t force His creatures to conform. He doesn’t demand that we accept His free gift.
“For God loved the world in this way: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16, CSB).
He loved us enough to die in our place, and He extends His gracious offer as a gift. All we must do is faithfully accept His offer by turning from self-sufficiency to the Savior. If we do, we will enjoy new life ... eternal life.
A few years ago, I was leading a Bible study in a penitentiary. Leo was one of the approximately fifty prisoners in the study. Leo was not a professing Christian, so I paid special attention as we studied. One evening, it was apparent that Leo was deeply convicted of his need for salvation. I invited Leo to step out in the hall for a private conversation. Leo told me that he had done too many evil things, committed too many heinous sins. He was sure that God couldn’t possibly save him from an eternity in Hell.
I had an ordinary yellow pencil in my hand, so I used it as a simple object lesson. I said, “Leo, this is my gift to you.” I held out the pencil. “All you have to do is accept my gift. It’s yours. Take it as a free token of my friendship.” I explained that God’s gift of salvation was similar. It’s free. We can’t buy it or earn it. It’s God’s free gift!
Leo refused God’s gift. He turned away, seemingly unmoved.
The following week, Leo didn’t come to class. In fact, Leo missed the next three of four weeks, but finally he returned.
We opened each class with singing. Those dear Christian brothers loved to sing praises to the Father. It was glorious as they lifted to voices together and filled the room with sound. Oh, what a sweet aroma of praise.
As we worshipped, I looked over at Leo, and he was weeping. Again, I invited him out into the hall. Leo’s eyes were downcast, and his tear drops hit the floor. In a minute or two, he regained his composure enough to look directly into my eyes. I’ll never forget his words. “I want that pencil.”
He was ready to accept God’s unconditional offer of salvation. As Leo prayed, he confessed his need, accepted God’s gift, and was born again. From that moment on, Leo began a new life... a life that will never end. Jesus rescued him!
Creation. Fall. Rescue. Life. The Gospel message is really that simple! The message was simple enough for Leo to grasp, and its simple enough for each of us to share.
South Georgia Baptist Church
Mike Martin, Pastor