For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16
The life, death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ was the most sincere act of Love ever demonstrated. A Father, who happened to be the God and creator of all life, willfully sends His only Son to a lost and dying world, full of a people who have no true love, respect or reverence for Him and he sends Him for the sole purpose of sacrificing His life in order to save those same unworthy people from eternal death. There has been and never will be a greater act of love shown to Man.
It’s one thing for one to be willing to surrender his or her life for someone who is worthy of such a sacrifice, such as a child, a wife, a husband or a friend. It is a whole different type of love where one, such as a King, strips Himself of His glory, honor and power and willfully surrenders Himself to the most severe execution known to Man, in order to save a people who are not only living in total opposition to His kingdom and way of living, but who are actually committed and submitted to serving His enemy.
We can see from God’s willingness to sacrifice His Son in this way that He truly loves each and every last one of us. As we study the scriptures we will also learn that God’s truest desire and will is to have all men to be saved and to come unto the knowledge of the truth (I Timothy 2:4), and not to lose one to the deceitful games and wicked snares of the enemy, an enemy that seeks only our eternal destruction. But in order for God’s will and desire to manifest in the earth He needs our help. He needs our prayers and willingness to share and spread the good news of His salvation message to every creature upon the earth (Mark 16:15). For as I heard one Pastor quote the late John Wesley in saying, “God does nothing in the earth except save in answer to believing prayer.” Meaning that though it is God’s will that all Men come unto the knowledge of the truth, He is limited in His ability to execute His will in the earth without Man’s willingness to submit to His will and Man’s willingness to stand in the gap for those that are lost and unknowledgeable of God’s truth.
So we that are born again must exercise believing prayers on behalf of the unbeliever as well as be willing and committed to sharing the gospel. Like I have stated previously, not one of us have come into our acceptance and relationship with Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior through our own self- discovery. In most cases someone was bold enough and someone was willing to share the salvation message with us. I would like to share with you briefly my own personal salvation story.
I remember the first time I ever heard the salvation message. I must have been around eight years old and the person who shared it with me was my father. It was early one Sunday morning, I would like to think that it was Easter Sunday, and as my older brother and I hurried to get ready for church our father entered the room. In his hand were two small yellow booklets that I later found out to be catechisms. He asked my brother and I to sit down and told us that he wanted to talk to us. I first thought something was wrong and then he simply went on to inform us that he wanted to talk to us about Jesus. Jesus wasn’t a foreign name to me. I had heard about Him in my Sunday school lessons, but Jesus’ story never became more alive and vivid then as my father described it to me that Sunday morning.
Our father told us of a Man that was unlike any other man, for He was God’s very own Son. He went on to tell us that as a Man Jesus lived a sinless life, perfect before God, doing nothing but good to all, loving and caring for the poor, healing the sick, giving sight to the blind and even raising the dead. He sadly explained that even though Jesus had lived a life doing nothing but good, He was rejected by the people of His time, was taken captive, unfairly tried and sentenced to execution and death on the cross.
Then my father shared something that had an everlasting impact on my life. He described what dying on the cross really meant. He told us that Jesus’ hands and feet were literally nailed to a wooden cross and after the cross was lifted up He was left hanging there until He died. I had never heard of anything so horrific. Not only was it the awful fact that a Man was nailed to a cross but that this Man who had wronged no one and was a Man who had walked in perfect love toward all, yet was unjustly murdered.
Then my father told me something else that impacted my life. He said that while Jesus was dying on the cross He uttered these Words to His Heavenly Father, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). I upon hearing this was totally puzzled as to how and why anyone who was treated so unfairly and so cruelly could forgive those who rejected and killed Him. Then to my surprise my father shared with us the happy ending to the story. “Though Jesus died on the cross and was laid in a tomb for His burial”, he shared, “…on the third day after His death He rose from the grave and ascended into heaven to sit upon the right hand of God, where He rules and reigns forever.” Though I couldn’t understand how a Man, who was once dead could live again, I was glad to hear His victory over death as the end of the story. I asked my father why God allowed Jesus to suffer so and he explained that Jesus had to suffer, die and shed His blood in order that our sins might be forgiven. I wasn’t quite sure if I was to be happy about the fact that my sins were forgiven or sad because Jesus suffered so.
Upon completing his talk with us our father handed to us the two catechisms, and suggested that we take sometime to read through them. When he departed we quickly finished getting dressed all the while discussing the story we had just heard. We both couldn’t believe that a Man, who was nailed to a cross unjustly, would forgive the people who did that to Him.
We were soon dressed and ready, and like always we were prepared to leave well before our three younger sisters. We took our usual position of sitting on the living room couch until the girls were ready. While we sat there I decided to read through my catechism. It all seemed to me to be rather religious, full of different prayers, scriptures and confessions. Yet when I came across some words written in red my attention was grabbed. As I read I saw that the writer said that, “…everyone which seeth the Son and believeth on Him, may have everlasting life and I will raise him up in the last day” (John 6:40).
As I continued to read I discovered from the commentary that followed that the Words in red were Jesus’ Words. Then the booklet went on to explain the scripture’s meaning. It said that those who chose to believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, and chose also to believe that He lives today and is seated on the right hand of God, would never die.
I was extremely fascinated by this news because for years I had been fearful of death. I often wondered what dying actually meant and what happens to us when we die. I many times imagined that maybe when we die we are conscious to the fact that we are buried under ground and are forever tormented by the darkness, dirt and bugs. I also thought that what if when we die we become nothing and if so would we be conscious to the fact that we are nothing as we spend eternity in nothingness. So needless to say hearing in Jesus’ own Words that if I simply believed in Him the death issue would be solved and that I would live forever, was something I was quite excited to hear.
I shared the news with my brother; he too was fascinated by the concept of living forever. Though I didn’t understand how any of this actually worked, how you could die physically but not die at all spiritually, I didn’t care. I wanted in and I wanted, in Christ, to live forever. So right at that very moment while sitting on my parent’s living room couch, at eight years old, I decided that I would recite the prayer for salvation and believe that Jesus not only died for my sins, but was alive right now and I then asked Him into my heart.
My father’s willingness to share the salvation message changed my life forever and even though it took a number of years before I fully understood Jesus not only as Savior but as Lord as well, without that seed planted in my heart at that young age, my present relationship with Christ could have possibly never developed. Today I wanted to share my salvation testimony with you, not only for the purpose of sharing an important life experience, but more so to stir all of us in our hearts to lay hold of the awesome responsibility and privilege we have as believers to share the gospel. I also wanted to share this testimony in order to relive the salvation message through the eyes of an eight-year-old child.
I pray that from reading this message we all are more inspired to commit our lives to sharing the gospel with our children, our families, our co-workers, our friends and even our enemies. Willfully choosing to take full advantage of every opportunity, as the Spirit leads, to share God’s Love through the salvation message of the gospel.
LEROI HYTER IS A MUSICIAN AND
Minister Of Music at Faith Life Church in Antioch, Tennessee,
AND A FRIEND OF SPIRITMUV.