“How do I know there’s a God? How do I know there’s a Heaven or a Hell? What if it’s all a myth?” This was the question posed by a very depressed young woman to her Christian friend. “Well,” said the friend: “Let’s put it this way. If I’m wrong, you have nothing to lose. If I’m right, then you have all of eternity to lose.”
In the book of John in the Bible two people who had started to follow Jesus Christ asked Him the question “Where dwellest thou?” Rather than offering a theological debate, “Come and see” was His answer.
To become a Christian does not mean that all questions must be answered. A little girl sang the child’s song about Christ knocking at the door of her heart. She responded with a simple prayer: “Lord Jesus, please come in.” “She’s so young,” someone said. “If it was real faith, it will show,” said another. It showed. As she grew she did loving things for others, and her faith in God’s presence with her matured as she matured.
Christ’s words provide a good summary: “Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter into it.” (Mark 10:15)
To become a Christian means recognition of one’s sin and accepting Christ’s death on the cross as payment for the penalty of that sin. The image is a judicial one. There is the verdict of sin; the penalty, a debt which is beyond human ability to pay; and then there is forgiveness of that debt by accepting Christ as Sin Bearer. As the little girl with the child’s song said: “Come in to my heart.”
Not only are sins forgiven, but Christ becomes the indwelling Lord. He guides, He empowers, He gives strength to go on. The questions fade as the answers come, and ultimately there is the deepening sense that, while there is only partial knowledge on this earth, in Heaven there will be complete understanding.
For the Christian death is still scary but the reality of the outcome, the final destination, brings peace. Sometimes we get glimpses from those who have gone before us. When my father lay on his deathbed, a preacher whom he had never even met went to see him.
“How is it going?” the preacher asked.
“It is the grace of God which has brought me this far, and the grace of God will bring me through,” my father replied. These were his last known words.
In a similar manner, in the spring of 1919 my maternal grandfather lay dying of the now well-publicized 1918 flu. I never knew him, for he lived and died long before my birth. But the last words in his journal cheer me on. “…On this day, I give myself anew to You. Do with me what You will. My body is weak underneath the burden of a long illness…At 5 p.m., March 7, 1919, I give myself to You to treat me as You find good. Jesus, give me the grace to rest quietly in Your hands.”
This is what it means to be a Christian.