I am so glad our family was able to get together last month. I am only sorry William didn’t make it. I let him know, but he said he has been putting in a lot of extra hours lately, trying to beat a deadline.
Obviously our family is beginning to grow again. Four great-grandchildren down south, and three up north. What a blessing. It also seems our extended family reunions are getting to be less often. I guess that happens when so many brothers, sisters, and cousins are getting older. Clearly you and I are getting older too.
It seems clear that you and Susan are doing well; I pray things continue well for you both. I am praying for your work situation. I realize that our nation is going through some very difficult times, and of course those things impact all of us. I pray that the challenges you both face from time to time will not weaken your relationship, but rather strengthen it.
You and Susan are both strong people, and you are working hard to provide for your children and grandchildren. Clearly you are building a good safety net of love, respect, and resources, and in these uncertain times that is important.
But the truth is, we don’t know where things are going in our world. The economy in our country, as well as around the world is strained, at best, and with the lack of integrity in the leaders of today everything you have worked hard for could fall apart overnight.
They say the only things that are certain are death and taxes. The truth is, there is something even more certain than those two things; the promises of God fulfilled in the Person of Christ.
I know you have heard the gospel, even many times. But to hear is not to receive. One thing our society promotes today, even many religions in our area, even the church you go to, is that you must try to be good. But trying to be good, even trying to be religious and good, does not even begin to scratch the surface.
A man once approached Jesus, calling Him, “good teacher.” Jesus responded that “no one is good except God.” In fact, in Isaiah 64:6 God says that ALL of our righteous deeds are filthy rags before God. The Bible is clear; you can never be good enough to attain salvation and eternal life.
By the way son, in responding to the man the way He did, Jesus wasn’t denying He was God come in the flesh; He was saying in part, don’t patronize Me. If you don’t recognize I am the Lord, don’t call Me good. Jesus is the Word come in the flesh (John 1:14; Isaiah 9:6).
Salvation – eternal life, is what we need, but it only comes by grace, through faith; it’s a gift of God; not at all by any works we can do – none (Ephesians 2:8-9). Sadly there will be many people at judgment who cry out about all that they did for God, even in the Name of Jesus, but Jesus will refer to them as “lawbreakers” because they did not repent and put their faith in Jesus alone – they put their faith in their own good works (Matthew 7:21-23; John 8:24; John 14:6; John 6:29).
Clearly you have said in the past that you believe in Jesus. In fact many people I know say the same thing. But to believe about Jesus is not the same as having repented and put your faith in Him alone. You can only trust Christ for eternal life as a gift; there is no other way, and there is nothing more important in life that you can do than that – absolutely nothing.
I said earlier that you are doing well, but the truth is, life on earth comes to an end. I am proof of that. I have lived a long time, longer than the average person, but eventually I will die; we all die, and then the judgment (Hebrews 9:27).
The Bible is very clear on this point; when you stand before God you either stand with Christ as your Advocate, covered in His righteousness, in which case you are ushered off into eternal life, OR you stand on your own, and are judged based on your deeds.
If that is your situation, since no deeds of any law can earn the righteousness you need in order to dwell in God’s presence, you will then be cast out of His presence for all eternity (Revelation 20:11-15).
Son, you know how much I love you, and that there is nothing I wouldn’t do for you and your family. But it is only you who can repent and put your faith in Christ alone; no one can do that for you.
It doesn’t matter how good you try to be; it doesn’t matter what church you go to; it doesn’t matter who your father or grandfather is; the only thing that matters is what you have done with Christ. It is not what you have done plus Christ, or what Christ has done plus what you do. It is repentance and faith in Christ alone.
Son, I know that many people think that “repent and put your faith in the Savior” is said too often, but it is what Jesus said from the beginning of His public ministry, all the way to the end of His public ministry. God says it so often because we tend to have hard hearts, and because we think God will accept us for our good efforts, even our good religious efforts.
I would encourage you once again to ignore the supposed wisdom of the world. Ignore even your religious leaders who tell you that “you can do it if you try.”
If you read Galatians 2:21 you will find that there are no “religious laws” you can obey to attain eternal life, because if you could Jesus died for nothing, but He didn’t die for nothing; He died and rose from the dead because there is no other way to be born again, and to receive the gift of eternal life; that is something that comes through faith in Christ alone (Romans 6:23; Romans 4:25).
There it is my son; you either believe, repent, and trust Christ alone, or you put your trust in your attempted goodness, even your religious good works.
Your mother and I love you very much, and we would love to spend this life, and all of eternity with you, but that is your choice. You much choose, and I pray that the choice you make is to repent of sin, and put your faith in Jesus, who alone is the Savior of the world.
We look forward to seeing you again soon, and of course if you have any questions it is always a joy to talk with you.
Jon McCartney is pastor of First Baptist Church of Tooele.