A man dying from Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's Disease) writes a letter to his friends
About the author...
Jack Hogan was born and raised in Columbia, South Carolina, and was educated at Clemson University and West Point. He served in the US Air Force as a fighter pilot and patrolled the "Iron Curtain" in Europe.
Later, Jack served as an aerospace representative, selling flight controls for missiles and other aircraft. If you have any questions, or would like to e-mail Jack, he may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org (Note: This e-mail box is still being monitored by his wife).
I met Jack exactly one time in 2001 at Glenns Bay Baptist Church in Surfside Beach, South Carolina USA. Jack was suffering from the advance stages of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, commonly known as Lou Gehrig's Disease, of which there is no known natural cure. His ministry was preaching the Gospel Message of Jesus Christ, and then passing out packets containing the letter that is reprinted below. He told us he had passed out approximately 600 packets at that time.
A few days later I spoke with Jack on the phone. He was excited at the prospects of publishing his Letter on the Internet, where it could reach more people than would have heretofore been possible.
(Notes by Kenny Carter)
Update: Since this letter was written, Jack has gone on to be with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
My dear friend,
The enclosed letter is one I recently came to know I could wait no longer to write. There was no way for me to get around doing so. It simply got to be "put-up or shut-up" time. Whether or not it is written very well doesn't greatly matter. Whether or not I did the best I could to complete it and put it to its intended purpose was and is the only thing that does matter. I hope you will agree with me that it matters a very great deal. I beg you to read it.
9346 Pinckney Lane
Murrells Inlet, SC 29576
I am fully aware that this is an unusual letter, but I have a subject of great importance to discuss with you. The subject is Christianity and it's simply that I feel I must do all I can to help bring all of my kin, all of my friends arid everybody else I can find into Christ's kingdom. It may be the same letter that you would write for the same purpose. It's the only chance that I will ever get to convince you and it could be the last chance that you will ever get to make your choice.
At times during my life I have forever lost opportunities to show love, care or even concern for a particular family member or friend because I thought better opportunities to do so would surely come along. I didn't even visit, write or telephone when I knew that I really should have done so. But now that I am bound to express something of infinitely greater importance to you, I am determined not to ever let such an opportunity slip away again---- and certainly not this one.
But reach you I must. I do not know how much or even whether you need my help to assuredly face your own destiny. Every one of us needs help at some time or other. I do. Don't you? And that is precisely why I am writing. If I cared little for you or anyone else, then it would surely be true that I cared little for God our Father, Jesus our Savior or the Holy Spirit our Guide. But, since I don't know where you stand on facing up to this all-important matter, I cannot take a chance by keeping quiet and doing nothing..
So, in order not to burden you with too much at once, I have divided the remainder of my letter into short sections. Why not take some time, perhaps even a day, between each section. But please be absolutely sure not to put this letter aside. My friend, the stakes are very high.
Now, I have to talk to you "like a dutch uncle". If I don't, you could miss the importance of it all and this whole thing will turn out to have been nothing more than an academic discussion, the likes of which wouldn't be worth a plug penny to you, me, or the total vastness of all mankind! But, I do care about you and I care about where you will spend the long hereafter, so if you and I don't discuss this all-important subject right now, when will you ever discuss it with anybody else? You will certainly be a lot happier when you finally discover that the whole world wasn't necessarily put here to be your personal oyster and then conclude that you no longer have the burden of responsibility to make it serve such a purpose. It will be more beautiful when you see it as a place for you to grow in the likeness of Christ and to live in the freedom of forgiven sins. That will do more for you than you can possibly imagine. All you have to do is to get down on your knees to Almighty God and (I) tell Him you are sorry for the sins of your past, (2) tell Him you accept Jesus' crucifixion as full payment for your sins and (3) tell Him YOU fully intend, with His help, to lead a sin free Iife in the future. Given the reward of heavenly eternity, I can't believe that such a simple prayer would be too much for anyone to manage.
Eternity is a very long time, my friend. Life on earth is just a temporary stop-over. You and I have to discuss that truth because, if you don't make your choice now, when will you?
"What', you may ask, "makes you so sure that what you are telling me really is true? How do I know that Jesus took my sins upon himself and was crucified to pay for them? How do I know my sins will be forgiven, without my having to do anything to pay for them myself, except earnestly repenting of them and accepting God's forgiveness through our crucjfied Christ?
Well, I am telling you just exactly that. Everything I am telling you comes straight out of the Bible. If these things were not true, why would the Old Testament, written over the course of several centuries, have predicted time after time that a Savior would be sent to save us? It was surely planned that way by God right from the start. The impossible struggle to live a pure and sin free life in Old Testament times was, and today still is, intended to show all mankind that we are incapable of attaining such a goal by ourselves and that without accepting the Savior who suffered the consequences for us, we cannot possibly be saved.
Israel's problem with accepting the idea of Jesus was that they expected to he given a worldly, invincible, strong-man type savior to elevate their nation above its difficult circumstances instead of a personal Savior for the souls of its individuals, a Redeemer they could hold up as a beacon to the entire world! As a matter of fact, as recorded in the New Testament, predictions of a Savior's Coming continued up until Jesus came to John The Baptist for baptism and was greeted by John's announcing "Behold, the lamb of God!"' Jesus "grew in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man”, lived among us, loved us, healed us and taught us to “love one another as ourselves”. And it was then, Heaven help us, that God's chosen people, because it was too difficult for them to believe that Jesus was the answer to their prayer, had Him crucified to get Him out of their way! So, you see, it's the very same with us, both you and me. Are we going to choose Jesus---- or are we, even today, also going to participate in His crucifixion by refusing, exactly like they did 2000 years ago, to accept Him as our personal Savior? The choice fo us, as it was for them, is openly laid out before us.Which choice, pray tell, will we make?
Pontius Pilate, the Roman Empire's governor of Palestine, didn't have any reason of his own to put Jesus to death His job was to rule, collect taxes and maintain order in his assigned Roman province. It was the Jewish religious hierarchy, so committed to the "law of Moses" (the ten commandments and the penalty of Hell if you broke one of them), and so fearful of losing their control over Jewish life, that they brought all manner of trumped-up charges against Jesus and even protested to Pilate that He was a political threat to Rome! Pilate certainly knew better, but felt compelled to listen. The religious hierarchy wanted Jesus done away with and so they finally stirred up enough “providential unrest" to convince Pilate that he should let them have their way, lest word of his inability to control the province get back to Caesar and result in his being replaced as governor! So, he diplomatically (cowardly?) washed his hands of responsibility in the entire matter and acceded to his constituent's demands. Jesus was then nailed through His hands and feet to the laid down cross, which was then erected to an upright position. He hung there in unbearable pain while being mocked, struck, spit upon, and then even deeply pierced with a sword, so that both blood and water gushed from His body. Crucifixion is a tortuous, bloody, gory, suffocating, inhumanly despicable, slow way to die The sky turned completely dark in the middle of the day as death approached. Jesus prayed to His Father to “forgive them for they know not what they do"! As he exhaled His last earthly breath, there came a strong earthquake that rattled not only the earth, but the minds of Jews and Romans alike. The whole atmosphere of the moment was so dynamically and mind-bogglingly changed, that even the Roman centurion who was in charge of the crucifixion procedure said "Truly, this man was the Son of God"! The heavy veil (about six inches thick) that led to "The Holy Of Holies" in the temple where only the high priest was allowed to enter became, at that very moment, completely torn apart from top to bottom! The penalty for your sins and mine was now “paid in full" because we had just been purchased by the blood of Jesus.
The significance of the veil's being torn apart was that, because of the fulfillment of the crucifixion, every follower of Jesus now had direct, open access to "'1he Holy of Holies"
(symbolically, the throne of God) through our crucified Christ who had come to bring us to His Father!! God, Jesus and The Holy Spirit are three in one (The Holy Trinity). God is God. Jesus is God. The Holy Spirit is God. Together, since before the beginning of time, they have been, are today and forever will be, as first spoken of in the book of Genesis, The Great "I AM".
The crucifixion, the payment for the sins of all mankind, was now finished---- a done deal. And it would lead, in very short order, to Jesus' disciples (people just like you and me) becoming more dedicated than ever before, and getting on with the business of bringing others to the offered choice of Christ, so they could accept it and thereby also become forgiven children of Almighty God. But, please stop right here and listen to me!! There’s a realization here that each individual must grasp ---your sins will never be forgiven unless and until you choose to repent of them, get down on your knees and tell Almighty God that you accept the crucifixion of Jesus as payment for them and that you now fully intend to lead a sin free life !! A definite, sincere decision has got to be made and each of us has got to make it - all by our lonesome little selves. You see, neither God, Jesus nor the Holy Spirit is going to force forgiveness (and thereby heavenly eternity) on you, me or anybody else. It's yours only if you choose to accept it! If you can not or will not, it isn't yours. The difficulty in accepting God's grace is that you can’t get down on your knees if the big proud you is still standing atop a high pedestal of pride ! To climb atop a pedestal is what you do to show off yourself; not where you go to find the forgiveness of God. It's not from a pedestal. But from down on your knees that your prayer can reach all the way to heaven! And, do you know what? If you keep standing way up there overlooking a ”less sophisticated, totally gullible mankind" and ignoring God long enough, your knees will get so stiff from lack of use that you will never be able to get off that precious stanchion until you and it for eternity, are finally brought down to damnation together! That's not a real pretty picture. What a shame when we refuse to accept Jesus as our choice.
One of Jesus' followers, a citizen of some influence, asked the Roman authorities for and received permission to take Jesus' body down from the cross and bury it in a hillside cave which he owned. The religious authorities then asked Pilate for guards to be stationed at the tomb. He gave them their wish and ordered that the tomb's entrance be "completely sealed" with a large, heavy stone Neither he nor they wanted to leave open any possibility what~so-ever that anything could be done with our Savior's body or give reason for the subject of "Jesus” to ever be brought up again. After all, "could anything good have come from Nazareth?"
But, as the Bible says in no uncertain manner, the guards whose lives depended on their assigned duty, were astounded at first light the next morning! The big stone that had sealed the tomb entrance was mysteriously lying aside, the death attire had been cast off and Jesus had arisen!! The stone did not need to have heen removed for Jesus to arise. It had been set aside by God's angels so that the guards and the early-arrived Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James could see what had happened and then run to tell the disciples ---and they, the would !!
In the days after His resurrection Jesus appeared to His disciples and to several hundred other followers. But even though He had earlier told all of the disciples that "The Son of man would be raised on the third day", they were a hard bunch to convince. Some, when they heard, kept asking for signs arid specific evidence before they would believe anyone else had seen Him either. That sounds like some of us, doesn't it? Well belief finally came when Jesus appeared to all the remaining eleven (Judas, the twelfth disciple, had betrayed Jesus and, in guilt, had taken his own life) "Doubting" Thomas, the only disciple to whom Jesus had not already appeared. was still unconvinced until invited by Jesus to see and touch his hands and to feel the hole in His side which Thomas already knew had been made by one of the soldiers as He hung on the cross and that “both blood arid water had gushed out". So now he was astounded when he reached into the wound! He loudly exclaimed "My Lord and my God"!! And “when Jesus had spoken to them saying 'he who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned', he was received up into heaven and now forever sits at the right hand of God"
These events erased all doubts from the disciples minds! They understood the crucifixion and why it had to happen. Justice had been demanded for breaking the Ten Commandments ever since they had been given to Moses. Without justice, there would have been no reason to fear breaking the commanded law. So, were they (and we) to pay the penalty for having sinned and be cut off from our Father forever? No, God loved us and wanted us to be with Him. So, that's why He came to earth in the person Jesus and satisfied the debt himself! Only then could justice be said to have prevailed and only then could it be said that our sin debt had been paid But, the choice is still up to each of us as to whether or not we will accept what Jesus did for us. This, my friend, is the fork in the road. Right here is where we choose the place of our eternity!!
The time for the disciples to do everything they could to bring about God's kingdom would soon come about, They were catching the fire of the Spirit, but Jesus had commanded them to delay their missions until they had settled down after the crucifixion experience so that the Holy Spirit could descend more fully upon them. And descend it did -mightily! It came on the day of the The Feast Of Pentecost. They had gathered in the Same “upper room" where The Last Supper. just a few weeks earlier, had been eaten. Tongues of Fire and the Holy Spirit, like a raging whirlwind, majestically filled the room and brought the disciples to total spiritual capacity
Now they were fully prepared to honor Jesus' "Great Commission", so they boldly went out to bring the saving grace of Christ to those far and near, regardless of the hardship, persecution and loss of life that awaited them. They blazed trails of true commitment. Those of us who would later come into The Kingdom certainly had, and today still have, heritage models of dedication to follow!! Successes were achieved, though not without great loss. Some were beheaded. John was banished to an island in the Aegean Sea, but he turned that into a blessing (read Romans 8:28), because it was there that he wrote the Bible book of Revelation. And Peter, so determined and such an effective speaker, brought thousands of people to Christ. So, what happened to him? He was crucified too. It shouldn't surprise us though. I'm sure it didn't surprise him. Later historical reference tells us that he was granted one last request. Because of his love for and dedication to Jesus and His kingdom, and because he wanted no personal credit for and no detraction from the heavenly purpose for Jesus' crucifixion, asked for and received permission to be crucified upside down!!!
Terrible things, including more crucifixions, happened to the rest of them. But let's not lose sight of the fact that they actually did achieve their assigned mission. They brought the choice to people everywhere they went. And great numbers accepted it and committed their lives to God through the shed blood of Christ. Those disciples really lived the commitment to which all Christians are called. Oh, one more thing ---it was to Peter and to Paul that the vision was given early, that the disciples were to bring Jesus' saving grace to the entire world, not just to the Jews. For that we can be ever thankful. And we can also be thankful that succeeding gentile generations brought the choice to a continuum of generations, and finally to you and to me! Now that brings up a new question, doesn't it? Whose responsibility is it to take the choice to the generations succeeding our own - and to every non-believer that can possibly be found?
Wouldn't you agree that the responsibility is ours? Of course, it's ours!! We, exactly like the first disciples, are commissioned by Jesus to share our faith with everyone we can contact and to help bring them also to the door of His Saving grace, even those in "the uttermost parts of the earth"! That's a fairly foreboding assignment for us, given the natural bent of mankind, the impeccable morality of television programming and the general avoidance of civil responsibility while claiming "my constitutional rights". No matter though, after we have been saved by Jesus crucifixion, how could we possibly want to keep salvation from anybody else? Why wouldn't we want to help them find it? We can't make the choice for them, but we can certainly try to bring them to the point where they will want to choose Christ for themselves. We are specifically commissioned to ask than to consider laying themselves, not just their troubles, at the foot of Jesus' cross and to ask Him to come into their lives as well. That's the point of victory! Their choice to accept Jesus then opens the door of their souls to the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
So, what can I personally do to carry out that “Great Commission”? Well, since I know that God wants me right where I am, no matter what my background, my present circumstance or anything else (the same applies to you), I can take my working experience of having written thousands of engineering sales call reports that tried to convince the companies I represented to take the action I saw as being necessary for them to be favored with a "purchase order" or to keep the ones they already had. So now I can use that experience to write a heart-felt letter to you suggesting that you may want to take an inventory of your past, consider your ultimate future and hopefully determine that Christ needs to he a part of it. If you haven't yet "signed on for Christ”, for heaven’s sake don’t let any more opportunities slip away. Please don’t. For the sake of God Almighty and Jesus our Christ, please don’t.
Let's look at the example set by the apostle Paul whose conversion and total submission to Christ came along just several years after the crucifixion. Thousands of converts had been made by the disciples and many small churches had already been established, usually in the secrecy of peoples’ homes. Paul was a Jew and his name was originally Saul. He had come from an influential family, was superbly educated and was a member of the "upper crust". Early on, he had created a name for himself as a very able, articulate Pharisee (a purist who forced compliance with religious law) who took it upon himself to make life as miserable and as unbearable as possible for any and all Christian converts that he could find. Straight from the "old school", he appeared to be as determined to stamp out Christianity as the disciples had been to see it established! That would take some doing, but he gave himself totally to the task. Saul even incited a crowd to "stone to death" a young convert named Stephen while he held the cloaks of those who actually threw the stones. He intimately knew “the writings”, in part of which we now know as the Old Testament, as well as anybody and he apparently believed that be was on the right track----"do away with Christian converts and get back to the Law of Moses!! What's this Christianity bit, anyway? We know what's right and we know what Israel needs."
WELL!! The bigger they come, the harder they fall!!
One day our proud boy Saul and his strong-arm crew were “bravely" out in the middle of an official trip from Jerusalem to Damascus (about 160 miles) to round up Christian converts and bring them back for persecution. In the middle of the trip all was well and he was “just doing what he thought was right." Oh, Boy!! All of a sudden, a light came upon him that was so bright and so strong that he was blinded and knocked completely off his horse!! Then a voice, loud and clear, demanded of him saying, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?" Saul asked, "Who are you, Lord?" The voice answered him, saying, "I am Jesus whom you are persecuting!" It was such an earth-shaking experience for Saul that it stopped him right in his tracks and imprinted forever in his mind the truth of and the reason for Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection. Many days later his sight was restored to him and, after plenty of time to think and restudy the scriptures, he gave himself totally --- mind, body and soul to Christ and changed his own name from Saul to Paul in order to further distance himself from the kind of man he used to be! "He then soon became the early church's leading spokesman after having earlier been it's chief nemesis"!!.
Paul began his ministry by visiting and encouraging churches already established, and then by establishing new churches himself around the eastern Mediterranean in what today is Lebanon, Syria, Turkey and Greece. However, the going wasn't any easier for him than it had been for the original disciples. He was beaten time after time, was jailed, shipwrecked and once was even stoned and left for dead, all because of his zeal for Christ. But, the Lord wasn't through with him yet! Paul kept ongoing with a dedication that would astound us all. He finally did make his way to Rome, the capital city of the Roman Empire where he had wanted, for several years, to further strengthen the Christian establishment, but he had already ruffled up the tranquility of enough Roman provinces that he got there only as a prisoner and so, as his time was cut short, his further goal of bringing Christianity to Spain had to later be passed on to others. History tells us that it was a Roman executioner's axe that confirmed Paul's past and present effectiveness as he ministered the gospel to Roman guards, officials, ordinary citizens, and everybody he could contact, regardless of whom they were, and regardless of the shackles that bound him! He had sent many letters to instruct and encourage new churches when he couldn't get there himself. They were written from prison or while on earlier missionary journeys in order to bring more and more people to Christ. Some of these letters are now included in our Bible and are the thirteen Bible books of Romans through Philemon. I'm here to tell you that I am so impressed with Paul's dedication to the risen Christ, as well as that of the other disciples and the thousands of new ones who later took up the banner over these past two centuries, that it is enough to put me on a long, heavy guilt trip---- a well-deserved one at that!! Thus far I, a “would-be-disciple”, seem to have done so little to even remotely try to follow any such model of completely unselfish dedication.
So, for us in this present time, what is our view of the crucified and living Christ? How thankful are we for the means of our salvation? Are we working so diligently for the Kingdom that we are risking death and persecution? I don't think so. Well then, are we Christian enough to withstand being laughed at because of our even daring to mention the name of Jesus? Are we embarrassed to ask God's blessing before we eat? Will we pray with someone who is sick or in trouble? Are we embarrassed to invite someone to attend church with us? Are we at all worried about anyone else's eternity? Is that any concern of ours? Christ says it is, you know. So, what's our true level of dedication, or do we have very much of it at all? Well, I just have to believe that if Christ could turn “big bad Saul, the Christianity destroyer" into "forgiven Paul, the totally dedicated apostle", He certainty should be able to work wonders with the likes of you and me!
Were you and I members of that stiff-necked, hard to convince crowd that crucified Jesus? We really were, you know. We need the forgiveness that was paid for by Jesus' crucifixion just as much as did those who witnessed it. But, you know what, even considering all the appearances Jesus made after the resurrection, some of our necks aren't very limber yet. Holy Mackerel! All of us are sinners, but some of us never go near a church. Some of us are only "Christmas and Easter Christians", and some of us are only piously religious, without any evidence of commitment at all. And some of us, sad to say, are just too lazy to be bothered with the whole thing. Well, whatever the reason for our non-commitment, it sure seems to me that a self-constructed pedestal is generally what we use to elevate ourselves above the nearness of the Holy Spirit. Gracious Alive!! We certainly know the choice is spread out before us and that it is absolutely available. Are we afraid we might become "infected" by it and possibly have to accept the fundamental truth? Well, there ain 't no pedestals allowed up in heaven and that's a truth we will never be able to avoid. Would you want to be caught dead holding onto your sinful life (or your show-off religiosity) or might you rather trust your eternity to the saving grace of Christ? The hold outs are sad, my friend They have always been that way and apparently they always will be.
But now, the choice for you and me, as it is for them, is to either accept it or let it stand rejected. That's the way it is. There is no middle ground! We must understand that our personal, unrestricted acceptance of Jesus' crucifixion as payment for our sin is the only path that will take any one of us to heaven ---period! Good Gracious, how could we ever rid ourselves of the futile responsibility of providing our own salvation? We can’t. It's that simple. And not only that, unless we do accept it, I don't see how we could ever live in confidence and expectancy while still residing at this earthly address! There is always a problem because Satan is constantly trying to use our worldly weaknesses and pleasures to capture our souls for himself. So, until we make an active choice for Christ, we are still on the path to Satan's domain. That's why the Bible so emphatically says "You must be born again”. What? Do you think that's only for Pentecostals and holly rollers? Now, please don't tell me that the "pedestal dwellers" have sneeringly convinced you that you should be ashamed of yourself to even consider such a “fundamental” belief. Being “born again" simply means that you have accepted the saving grace of Jesus. Teaching that is the mission of the church. So,unless you take responsibility for making your own conscious acceptance, you have nothing to hold on to. But now, even though there is already an invoice which Satan hasn't shown you that says "Punishment for your sins is set to begin", your choice allows God Almighty, at that very moment, to stamp that invoice "PAID IN FULL"!! It’s only then that you will have heaven to hold onto, to cherish and to be your home for all eternity-----period!
Since Jesus was specifically sent to earth by His Father to satisfy the sin debt you and I owe, how could we, in return, be so thankless that we would fail to do everything in our power to praise and honor Him with every element of our hearts, minds, bodies and souls ---- and to accept His "Great Commission" to bring others to the door of His saving grace? So, let's get it straight:
He created us, He loves us and He paid the price for us. We either accept that or it will still stand rejected---- and that means that we either belong to Him or we don't. It's that simple. Do you have enough prideful audacity to refute His offer? I don't. If you do, you scare me to death.
I'm doing my best to get you to realize that you don't necessarily have to be a murderer, a rapist, a child molester or a stealer of old people's Social Security checks to need God's saving grace. No matter what you see your status to be, there's no escaping the need for His grace. So, if your pride is too strong to allow a head-on attack of the acceptance problem, why don't you just try a futile and totally useless tactic---why don't you get real important and try an "end run"?
Here are three examples of such "end run" tactics. Let's explore them:
1. You determine that you are "good enough" on your own merit to have secured a deserved place for yourself in heaven. You post yourself way up there in the rarified atmosphere of pious religiosity atop your own personal pedestal, isolate yourself from others about you and look down on all the "sinners" below. Everything you do is above reproach and you are a model of godliness. And now, since you obviously embody the very essence of a perfect angel and doubt that you will ever break a single one of God's commandments, how is He ever going to be able to find a single fault with the angel you have become? Certainly, you reason, that an exalted place in heaven already has your name on it!! How could it possibly be otherwise?!!!
2 You believe you "do enough" for people everywhere that surely you have earned for yourself a holy place atop a high heavenly hill! You busy yourself with every goodness that needs to be accomplished. Or maybe you even spend every hour of every day caring for and collecting food, clothing and other goods for needy people Perhaps you even run the local 'Good Will" organization---or, better yet, maybe you are the national president of the whole thing! Therefore, since God so heavily stresses the “golden rule" and so fully entreats His people to engage themselves "in all such good works”, there can be no question that you, such a champion of care and concern are traveling fast on a golden heavenly highway to the promised land !!
3.You "give enough" of you wealth for the good of mankind or to the church that certainly your status must already be that of a glowing angel. And since this solves so many of God's problems, He is bound to recognize your great generosity and therefore is already saving a choice position for you in his wondrous permanent realm!
Which of these three approaches has the most merit?
Well, you tell me. Being, doing and giving for and to others is a wonderful thing, but not if your reason is anything other than to show love for and give honor to Christ who died to pay for your sins. Every single one of the above approaches is nothing more than a misunderstood. hypocritical attempt to make an “end run” around the firmly fixed in place crucifixion of Jesus and to use your own goodness to earn your own heavenly eternity! That's exactly why Jesus said, "It is harder for a rich man to get to heaven than it is for a camel to get through the eye of a needle". To even try such a maneuver is an attempt to make Christ's crucifixion irrelevant. Don't you see that? Almighty God was on that cross for your benefit. That was His choice and it certainty wasn’t irrelevant! Has something bent your mind so far out of shape that you we willing to negate the whole crucifixion idea? Well thankfully for all of us, God's offer of the saving grace or Christ's crucifixion is still on the table and it will continue to be---- right up until the last day". The only thing you need to worry about is whether you are going to accept it in time to save your eternity. But, like the Bible says “You do not know when your very soul is going to be demanded of you". The time remaining for you to choose Jesus, or leave Him still rejected will end either the day you die or the day of Jesus’ second coming---- whichever comes first. So friend, this ain’t no time to be a hypocrite. And it sure ain’t no time to be a procrastinator!
So, now what? Are you going to call me a "Jesus freak" because I can't get my mind off the cross? Well, please do! I will consider it an absolutely total compliment. But I still must do my best to get you to the foot of the cross too. Friend, now listen to me. The plate of your eternity depends entirely an whether or not you will accept Christ's crucifixion to pay your sin debt in full---so you won't have to pay it yourself! That s the reason that God sent Christ to us. It way done specifically for you, and yes, even for me! But it does not belong to either of us unless and until we individually choose to accept it!! You have got to understand that. The Bible is very specific. The situation is not and cannot be any other way. The fight is between “our pride” and "God's grace". Does your pride have such a strangle-hold on you that you cannot even entertain the possibility that God can do something for you that you yourself can not?
My personal good news is that I have come back to Christ and, because I have sincerely repented and asked for forgiveness, I have received it. And I want you, regardless of whether or not you have yet received Christ, to find that the same good news awaits you too. There's even better news than that. Every time, yes every time, a Christian truly repents and comes back to Christ and asks for forgiveness, he receives it! But, it can be a painful process at times, especially when you absolutely knew better the first time or the twentieth(!) time. But God, through the crucified and risen Christ, waits to forgive and will eagerly accept your renewed reliance upon Him. You will be forgiven and you will be accepted! Any dedicated Christian will be glad to tell you that. It's what all of us count on. It's what we cannot do without. It's the reason God sent Jesus to us. It’s the reason Jesus was crucified for us. And it's the reason The Holy Spirit takes up residence within us to guide our lives. I don 't know about you, but I cannot do without any one of the three of Them!!
Do you think there is some reason that you can't accept Christ and ask him to come into your life? There can be no such valid reason, no matter what you think. Again, you are the one He is looking for. Don't let it still be your response that "I am a good person. I attend church and don't go around sinning. Therefore, I can't believe that I have to do that." Yes, you do,!!!! That's no less ridiculous than saying "1 am so guilty and have sinned so much that He couldn't possibly want me." Yes, He does! Both of these excuses are without merit. Jesus simply says to all such persons, "Come unto Me". You must push all of your worldly defenses aside. Can't you do that? If you wait, it will only become more and more difficult for you to break out of yourself and to find that Christ is your Savior too. Since even l am smart enough to know that you have never purposely chosen the pathway to hell, I ask you to please help me understand why it is so difficult for you to choose the pathway to Heaven. Who, which friend, what group, what organization, what club, what alliance, what cocktail circuit, what circumstance or what earthly pleasure (the quest for ever more money included) has led you to be so proud of yourself and so unconcerned about your eternity, or to fail to even realize there is such a thing? Have you ever discussed it with a minister or some other Christian? Do you always sluff off the subject or simply joke it away? Do you really think the church steeple will fall off if you should ever walk through the front door? Not so, my friend. All of God's angels are waiting for you! God wants you, just exactly as you are! Don't worry about cleaning up your act ahead of time. And for heavens sake, don't waste any time trying! Christ will have already done that for you the very second your knees touch the floor!!
The Bible beautifully addresses this situation in the parable Jesus told about the “Prodigal Son" This "wasteful spendthrift" demanded his share of the family inheritance and left home to lead his own life as he very well pleased. Well, it didn't take him long to squander his whole inheritance with reckless, wasteful living, and he ended up absolutely destitute and having to get a job slopping hogs just to barely maintain his existence. He was now completely hopeless and dreamed of the life he had led while he was still back home, where there was plenty to eat and fine things to enjoy. He just couldn't find the strength of character to return because he felt so guilty and so ashamed, not to even mention the ridicule that he would have to face if he came crawling back. But he finally got so sick of his destitution and near-starvation that he had no choice but to make his way back, regardless of the consequences, and then to beg his father to let him become one of his hired servants. But, Glory Be!! When his father saw his hopelessly distraught, ragged, smelly, barefoot, son coming a long way off, he was so glad and so elated that he ran a long way down the road to meet him------ threw his arms around him, hugged him, kissed him and called for his servants to tend to his needs, put him in shoes and the finest clothes, put a fine ring on his finger, “kill the fatted calf” and prepare a great feast because, as he put it, "my son was dead and is alive again: he was lost and is found"!! Now, are you ready to try a guess as to who the “prodigal son (or daughter)" really is; and who your heavenly Father is still waiting for? Here's a hint: Go take a long look in the mirror and perhaps you may just find the answer!
So, you see, it's really true that you cannot be good enough, do enough or give enough to mankind, or even to your church to come anywhere near saving your own soul. That's what each of us has to realize. The "end run” tactic simply ain't gonna work. The absolutely only way to heaven is through the route that God Himself laid out for you and me. That route is called repentance, acceptance of Jesus as your Savior, and the sincere intent to follow Him for the rest of your life. That's the only cotton-pickin' way anybody will ever get through "the eye of the needle". So you see, casting pride aside and laying yourself at the foot of the cross is the only thing that will ever get you to heaven and it's a whole heap easier than fighting the "earn-it-yourself” problem all of your life-through which you will have absolutely no chance to win!!!
My friend, this is the most earnest letter I have ever written and I am trying awfully hard and prayerfully to get you to the place that you will face up to your own eternity. You are my friend. On the “last day”, I must not, absolutely must not hear you beseeching me to tell you why I didn't try harder to reach you---- and even back you up against the wall ---- to get you to make your own choice. I couldn't stand that. Good Heavens, my friend! Good Heavens!
Yeah, I do have an additional point to make: Until you make your own choice, you aren’t going to know who Jesus is. And do you know what? You really aren't going to know who you are either!!!!! When I get to heaven, I want you to be there with me---- and the saved members of your family -----and other friends of yours as well.
I thank you for listening to me. I deeply hope arid fervently pray that you will wait no longer to make your choice. Jesus once waited for me to choose and right now he is waiting for you to make your choice too.
In Christ's love,
James D Hogan