Dear Muslim friends,
A few years ago I learned that a friend, Steve, passed away.
It was kind of. . .shocking. More than that, it was. . .painful.
We had not seen each other for several years since my wife and I had traveled to Steve’s home in another state. I had tried to e-mail him a few times after our last time together but never got a response. It seemed a little strange but we were not what you might call “close” friends. We had contact only once a year or so through a call, a card, or an e-mail. Like too many other friends, we got busy, didn’t see each other for years, and slowly – imperceptibly – we drifted apart.
But then I had a bad feeling about Steve. I wanted to try again to reach him. Somehow, I just wondered if he had died.
I “googled” his name and found several websites with his obituary.
He had indeed passed away. In 2009. A year after we last saw each other.
It is usually always sad for me when someone dies. My friend, Steve, was not that old. 61 years of age.
But learning about Steve’s death was more than sad. As I said, it was very painful. Why? Because I wondered, “Where is he now?”
To some of you, that might be a foolish question to think about. Even a waste of time. What is done is done. Like all of us, he lived. . .and. . .he died. Now he is in God’s hands. You might think it is silly to think about “where he is.”
But it isn’t silly to me. You see, I care very, very deeply about the eternal destiny of people.
Others of you might be wondering, “Was he a good person? Didn’t he believe in God?”
Yes, basically, Steve was a good person. And yes, he believed in God (or I should say, he believed in the existence of God)
So, some of you might think, “Enough then! Let it be!”
But I can’t.
I’m going to tell you the reason why Steve’s death bothers me – the reason why I care when anyone dies.
It is much of the reason for why I get up in the morning.
It is the topic of so many of my conversations.
It is how I spend my time. . .my money. . .my energy.
My life is about helping people find Jesus so they can know where they will be when they die.
Steve’s death bothers me because. . .
I don’t think he knew Jesus. I don’t think he put his faith in Jesus as his Savior, though I asked him to. He wanted to trust his own good works to get to Paradise.
Being good is important. . .but it won’t get you to Paradise.
We need forgiveness. We need our sins washed away and we don’t have the power to do that, no matter how much we pray, fast, give, or go on a pilgrimage.
Like you, I believe Isa – Jesus – was a great Prophet. But I also believe he was – and is – so much more.
I believe with all my heart that Jesus is the one bridge to Paradise. I believe he is the only bridge God has provided for forgivenss of our sins.
Isa – Jesus – boldly and unequivocably said about himself:
If you put your faith in the sacrifice of Jesus for your sins, you won’t have to fear hellfire. Your family and friends won’t have to wonder when you die:
“Where is he, where is she, now?”
I plead with you to pray, “Jesus, I know that I am a sinner. I know God is too holy to allow sin in His Paradise. I have tried to be good but I know I can never be good enough. I fail continually and I fear hellfire. I deserve hellfire. But I am asking that you would see fit to forgive me for everything I have done that is not God’s will and for not doing everything that is God’s will. Wash me. Wash my sins away so that I can hear these words from you (in the Injil, Luke 5:20):
Thank you, Jesus, for loving me so much. . .that you would actually die for me. You would die in my place. For my sins. Thank you. For eternity, thank you. . .