When my mother died, the Gospel became more real to me than ever before. I had already been a Christian for some time – I want to say about fifteen years or so by then, but there was something about the magnitude of what I believed that set in for me at her funeral. There was about a four-and-a-half-hour drive from where she was buried in New Hampshire to where I lived in Pennsylvania. I spent most of the drive quietly contemplating her life, my life, and our relationship. These are things I suppose many people think about after losing a loved one.
However, unlike most people, I had other, horrifying thoughts replaying in my mind. These were thoughts centered around my belief in the Gospel. In summary, I kept thinking that if I really believe the Gospel, I believe that anyone who dies outside of Christ exists forever in eternal torment. Personally, this meant that if my mother did not know Christ before she died – she was forever going to exist in eternal torment.
One might imagine that this realization immediately catapulted me into a life’s call of street evangelism and world missions. But, actually, it had more of a refining effect on me. I started contemplating what I believed, putting my belief system and eventually my sanity through a rigorous test. “What exactly do I believe? Why do I believe this? Can I really believe this? Am I insane to believe these things?“
In saying I began to test my belief system, I do not mean that I went on a fact hunt to prove the veracity of Christianity. It was a more personal test – a philosophical look at what I believed about life. It began with an understanding that, as a Christian, I believed that sin resulted in separation from God and eventually eternal torment, which could only be avoided by faith in Jesus Christ. At that time, I think I wondered, “Do I really have the stomach for this belief? – I mean, eternal torment for everyone outside of Jesus Christ? Really?”
Of course, I knew that my stomach had very little to do with whether or not God is real, Christ is God, or there really is salvation through faith in Christ. None the less, for about a year after my mother died, I considered these things extensively. I couldn’t help it. I would wake up at night in a cold sweat thinking about people I love dying outside of Christ. During the day, I would take walks, look at the trees, and wonder – “Could evolution or chance be credited with making that huge beautiful tree?” One day, I remarked to a friend that either what we (Christians) believe is undeniably true, or we are absolutely out of our minds.
Ultimately, I realized to not believe what I knew to be true would be real insanity. There is no other way to explain the beauty of the world other than our amazing Creator God. Nor can we explain man’s corruption without recognizing the reality of sin. And after over fifteen years of walking with Jesus Christ, I myself had become a living testimony of the resurrection power of Jesus Christ to give someone new life. I was my own inescapable, constant witness of the reality and credibility of the Gospel.
And, the Lord comforted me regarding the salvation of my unsaved loved ones. He reminded me of the age-old rhetorical question, “Will not the judge of all the earth do what is right?” (Genesis 18:25). Of course, He would. I was able to sleep through the night, knowing that God knew what was best regarding the souls of all men and women. I would still think of my mother consciously existing somewhere unknown, possibly in a horrible place. However, when I did think of her, I would focus on what I knew to be true about God. And then I would entrust her soul to God and rest His loving-kindness. Eventually, this season of life resulted in a more profound love for God and greater earnestness to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with others.
The Gospel message is “Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, he was buried, he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures…” (1 Corinthians 15:3‐4). Jesus took upon Himself our sins so that by shedding His blood on the cross, He could make full payment for our sins. He bore the full brunt of God’s wrath on our behalf (Hebrews 9:22). After Christ died for us, He was buried, and then He rose from the dead. When we believe this message, we are saved from the wrath of God (Romans 1:18). “Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2:21).
In the book of Romans, we read, “We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life” (Romans 6:4). In believing this fantastic message – we are forgiven for our sins, saved from the wrath of God, and given new life. All life change and true freedom begin with faith in the Gospel – belief in the atoning work of Jesus Christ.
Do you believe this? I hope so because it’s insanity not to believe it. It really is.