February 23, 1953
Uncle Edward sat on the edge of his hospital bed and with trembling voice said, “I would like to, but I don’t know how.”
He had just told me he had been thinking about spiritual things during his illness. We talked about God for a few minutes then I asked if he had made his peace with His Creator. He made this response: “I would like to, but I don’t know how.”
Edward had been raised by a Christian mother and had gone to church and Sunday school as a child. Now, as an old man, his words amazed me. I had assumed people with that kind of spiritual background would know how to get right with God, forgetting that I too heard the gospel as a child but when I grew up, I did not remember it. In fact, I didn’t think I there was any antagonism between me and God that required making peace with Him until He used events in my life to bring me to that understanding.
Edward was at that place also. For me, it was relationship failure; for him it was advancing age. He realized he didn’t have much life left. Besides that, he was sick and scared and finding peace with God became important. Looking back, I am sure I couldn’t have explained “how” to him had he not been interested.
That is one of the mysteries of the gospel. The apostle Paul said that spiritual truth is discernable and attractive to those who are spiritually minded. The man or woman who has no use for or no interest in knowing God will not discover how. Paul even said that the gospel is “foolishness to them that perish, but to those who are being saved, it is the power of God.”
The gospel is very simple: “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, He was buried, and He rose from the dead on the third day, according to the Scriptures.” He offers forgiveness of sin and eternal life to all who come to Him admitting their need.
Most people resist this simple message and argue about the identity of Christ and the historical accuracy of the Bible. They say there is no God, or the Bible is wrong, or Jesus Christ did not exist, or the disciples were deceived, or Jesus was only a great teacher, or He didn’t really die, or He didn’t really rise from the dead. While it is impossible to “prove it” to a sceptic, humble people who can admit they are sinful and need supernatural forgiveness, will hear the gospel as good news and can understand and believe that Christ is the Son of God who died for them.
Perhaps the real issue is sin, something many people do not consider seriously enough or even acknowledge. There is a book called “Whatever Became of Sin?” which is a good question. Sin is serious. It is the only thing that separates people from God. Sin is so grave a matter in the mind of God that He clothed Himself in human flesh to take the punishment we deserve. By saying we are not sinners or that sin does not matter, or even that we can do good and make up for it, we mock the wisdom of God who determined His death was necessary for our forgiveness.
Edward had no argument about any of the Biblical facts. He bowed his head and humbly asked Jesus to forgive his sins and make him a child of God. Afterwards, he experienced no dramatic recovery or reversal of the aging process, yet there was a new sparkle in his eye and frequent expressions of gratefulness. When he died, he died at peace — with himself and with his God.