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Rescuing The Gospel In America

The Story And Relevance Of The Reformation

Dr. Erwin W. Lutzer | September 25, 2016

Selected highlights from this sermon

When Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to the door of Castle Church in 1517, it set in motion changes to the church that are still with us today. In this message given at Calvary Church Albuquerque, Pastor Lutzer, explains the alienation from God that Luther felt and how his search for peace with God led to the Reformation.

Pastor Lutzer also shares how you, too, can have that peace and assurance that there’s a seat reserved for you in heaven.

Now, if you are here today as a Catholic, I want to tell you, first of all, we genuinely say this to you: We are happy that you are here. We really are. And I also hope though that you brought a sense of humor.

There is a story, you know, that when Pope Paul died, he was trying to get into heaven (After all, he has the keys.) but the door wouldn’t open. And so, he saw somebody walking by and he said to this person, “I’m the pope. I have the keys to the door to heaven. I just can’t get it to work.” And the person said, “Well, I want you to know that 500 years ago Martin Luther came up here and he changed the locks.”

Today I am going to be speaking on my book, Rescuing the Gospel. It’s the story of the Reformation. There was nothing in Martin Luther’s background to suggest greatness. He was born into a very ordinary German family, attended university, and then he was walking home one day, and he was struck down by lightning and he said, “Help me, Saint Anne, and I shall become a monk.”

Well, in order to fulfill his vows, and also to get some peace for his soul, he struggled with what is known in German as anfechtungen. Aren’t you glad you don’t have to speak German to get to heaven? But it was an existential despair of soul, a sense of alienation from God, a feeling that he was filled with guilt and not knowing what to do about it. Depression would be another way to describe it. The fact is, how do you find peace?

So, in the monastery he fulfilled all the requirements of the church in those days, all of the disciplines. I mean he slept on a floor that was stone cold. He slept without blankets to mortify the flesh. He did everything he possibly could. He fasted sometimes so long until people thought that he might die. It didn’t help much.

The sacraments were of some blessing to him. They alleviated his guilt somewhat. Confession especially was of some solace to his soul. But sometimes he confessed his sins up to six hours at a time. In order to jog his memory, he’d go over the Ten Commandments, the seven deadly sins, and then the confession would begin until Staupitz, his confessor, said to him, “Martin, the next time you confess, confess some big sins, but not all these little peccadillos, not all these little sins.”

But Luther was a better theologian than his contemporaries. He knew that the issue was not whether the sin was big or little, but whether or not it had been confessed because he knew that the smallest smidgeon of sin could bar you from God forever. But then he reached an impasse. Sins, in order to be forgiven, had to be confessed, but in order for them to be confessed, they had to be remembered. If they were not remembered they were not confessed, and if they were not confessed, they were not forgiven. And it was on and on the cycle went as he sought assurance that he did not have.

And then he discovered his problem was even greater than he realized, because even if he remembered all of his sins and confessed them all, he still had a problem because tomorrow would be new sins. It was like mopping up a floor with the faucet running, and he did not know where to turn.

Staupitz, his confessor said, “Why don’t you teach at Wittenberg?” So he taught ethics there, Aristotelian ethics. And [found] no peace for his soul, and so Staupitz said, “Why don’t you teach the Bible?” Luther said, “That will be the death of me,” but he began to teach the Bible.

He came to Psalm 22, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Now, said Luther, “Those are the words of Jesus from the cross. Jesus Himself experienced alienation from God, the forsaking that He experienced, that Luther experienced, so he said, “Why would this happen?” And then it dawned on him that this happened because Jesus bore our alienation for us.

And then he got to the book of Romans, and he began to study Romans, and he came to verse 16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to all who believe; to the Jews first, and also to the Greeks.”

“Now,” said Luther, “the Gospel is the power of God,” and then it went on to say, “For in it (that is ‘in the Gospel’) the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith. As it is written, ‘The just shall live by faith.’”

Did Luther love God at that point? No. In retrospect he said, “Love God? I hate Him.” He hated God because God was too holy, too righteous. How do we as sinners attain to the righteousness of God? It is impossible. But yet now in this text of Romans he said, “Day and night I pondered until I saw a connection between the justice of God and the statement, ‘The just shall live by faith.’ Then I grasped that the justice of God is that righteousness by which God, in sheer mercy, justifies us.”

Luther discovered that the righteousness of God was, of course, an attribute of God, but was also a gift that God gave to those who believed. “Now,” said Luther, “now I get it. If God grants us His own righteousness as a free gift, that means then that, finally, I can meet God’s requirements, because God’s requirements can be as high and as holy as He wants them to be, as long as Jesus meets those requirements for me.” As long as I receive the righteousness of Christ, at that point I know a couple of things. First of all, it has to be a gift. The Bible speaks about the gift of righteousness because the righteousness of God is not human righteousness raised to a new power. It is an entirely different kind of righteousness. It is the righteousness of God, so it is a gift.

Furthermore, it is now permanent. In other words, there in the monastery confessing his sins, there was no assurance that he had received the gift of righteousness. Now he received a gift that would be applied to him, that would take him all the way to heaven.

One of the first doctrines that he gave up was purgatory. Purgatory was based on the notion that very few people die righteous enough to go to heaven, but in the fires of purgatory they are purged until they are righteous enough for God to accept them. But Luther said, now that I am receiving the righteousness of God as a gift, when I die I can go from this life to the next without a break in consciousness because I’m accepted into heaven as if I were Jesus because I am, to quote the words of a song that I’m sure you have sung, “I am clothed in His righteousness alone, faultless to stand before the throne.” I am welcomed into heaven as if I am Jesus.

Can you imagine the fact that this righteousness now applies to everybody who believes? Well, that becomes very transforming as I will emphasize in just a few moments. But imagine the peace that came to Luther when he said, “My sins don’t belong to me; they belong to Jesus”? Do you know what the Bible teaches about the Gospel that should rejoice our hearts? The fact that when Jesus died on the cross, He got what He didn’t deserve, namely our sin, and we, in turn, get what we don’t deserve, namely His righteousness. That is the truth of the Gospel. (applause)

Luther said when he understood that, he felt as if he was reborn and he entered into the gates of paradise. Twenty-four hours a day, God could demand perfection. Twenty-four hours a day, Jesus supplies what God demands, and Luther is free.

Now, meanwhile back in Rome, Pope Leo wanted to finish St. Peter’s Basilica, the Basilica that you see on television. The tiers had been previously laid by a previous pope, but the building was incomplete. And so, the pope, wanting to receive funds, decided that he would begin to sell indulgences.

Now, indulgences have a long history in the Catholic church, and the Catholic church continues to give out indulgences. The present pope, when he visited Central America, the Vatican had on its website that if you follow all of the prescribed rituals during the pope’s journey, you’ll receive a plenary indulgence. That means a full indulgence.

An indulgence really was the cancelling of all temporal consequences of your sin by the church. It didn’t mean that you were forgiven, only God could do that, but this was a way of saying that your sin, temporally at least, has been taken care of, and people interpreted that as salvation.

Now, the fact is that the indulgences had always been sold. This was not new, but there was a new twist, and that is that the indulgences now applied not only to the living, but also to the dead. You could buy an indulgence for your dead relatives. So, vendors, such as Tetzel, who was the most famous, would go into a town square with a cross and he would say, “This cross has the same value as the cross of Christ.” And he would say, “Hear ye, hear ye. You can buy an indulgence, and you can buy this indulgence not just for the living, for yourself, but for the dead. Think of your mother. She is in purgatory, and she is calling out to you right now, ‘But for a few pence you can buy me out of the flames.’” In fact, he had a little jingle that can be translated from the German something like this: “As soon as the coin hits the chest, another soul flies to its heavenly rest.”

Now the indulgences couldn’t be sold in Wittenberg because the Elector Frederic had his own indulgence trade, but there were people who went across the river and came back with letters of indulgence and showed them to Luther. As a matter of fact, some of them showed letters of indulgences for sins that they had not yet committed, but sins that they planned to commit. And Luther was angry. And so, he walked the half mile from his residence there in Wittenberg to the Castle Church door, which my wife and I have frequently walked, because we’ve been there. It’s been my privilege to lead tours to the sites of the Reformation.

And on that door he nailed 95 theses. Perhaps you’ve heard about that. That was October 31, 1517. Now, if you do the math, and by the way, did you know that seven out of six people have trouble with math actually? Am I going too fast for some of you?

If you do the math, you discover that next year is the 500th anniversary of the Reformation because that was the date that’s always been used as the beginning of the Reformation.

Can I take the time to read one of the indulgences, one or two, to you? For example, let’s just choose number 32. “Those who believe that they can attain salvation through indulgence letters will be eternally damned along with their teachers.” That’s one, and on and on it goes. Luther was not opposed to indulgences per se. He was opposed to what he considered the abuse of the indulgences.

Well, these 95 theses were written in Latin, but they were quickly translated into German. The printing press was operating, of course. It had been invented by Gutenberg in the previous century. And so, these indulgences were read throughout all of Germany, and most people agreed with Luther. It is said that 90 percent of the people agreed with Luther, and the other ten percent were shouting “Death to the pope.”

So, what happened is, Luther suddenly becomes famous all throughout Germany. He’s involved in various debates and the issue always came down to this: “What is our source of authority? Is our source of authority the Scripture alone, or is it also tradition?” Luther argued that it was the Scripture alone because he proved that popes and tradition often contradict itself and we have to go back to the Scriptures. He began to write various books. I mean he wrote a book about the sacraments, saying that the sacraments kept people bound, because, you see, if you don’t participate in the sacraments you’re lost forever, and therefore you’d better come to church and you’d better pay your dues or else the priest might not give you the sacraments and therefore you are lost.

So, Luther does an analysis of the seven sacraments and concludes that there are only two biblical ones, and that is baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Well, you can imagine the kind of response he has. The pope excommunicates him, and there’s a papal bull that is issued, and Luther goes outside of Wittenberg to the Elster Gate, he and the students at the university, and they burn it.

Now the problem is this. A new emperor arises in the Holy Roman Empire. His name is Charles the Fifth. Charles V is an ardent Catholic and he wants to put Luther to death, which is what happened to heretics in those days. He wants to put Luther to death, but he knows that if he does that, he’s going to be in trouble with the German people unless he has a hearing for Luther, so he agrees to hear Luther out. And so, they meet in Worms. It’s actually translated that way. I know that in English it seems like the Diet of Worms.

I’ll tell you that diet works if you are struggling, you know, and you’re saying, “What diet really will work?” But actually, it’s the Diet of Worms, and they meet in Worms, Germany, and the emperor wants to put Luther to death. They bring him to a meeting, and they say, “Will you recant?” He says, “Give me till tomorrow to decide.”

I want to read to you just a flavor so that you understand what you are in for when you read the whole passage of Luther’s prayer that night. Honestly it gives me chills every time I read it. Let me give you just a few lines: “O Almighty and everlasting God, how terrible is this world? Behold it opens its mouth to swallow me up, and I have so little trust in Thee. How weak is the flesh and Satan is so strong? Oh God, if it is only in the strength of this world I put my trust, it’s all over. My last hour is come. My condemnation has been pronounced.”

See, Luther prayed this prayer because he knew that the penalty for refusing to recant was death. The emperor had made that clear. So, he goes on and he says, “God, where are you? Where do you live? Where do you hide yourself? When I am stretched out on the rack, O God, be there for me.” And the next day he meets, and the emperor is there and all of the German princes. And then he makes a statement that you should know by memory, and your children should know by memory.

Tonight, we’re going to talk about rescuing the Gospel in America, and I may mention quickly about the need for families to be ready for the coming darkness. And your children and mine, they need heroes, people who are willing to stand for the faith, and this is one of the most famous statements in all of church history.

Luther finally is asked if he will recant and he says these words, “My conscience is taken captive by the Word of God. To go against conscience is neither right nor safe. I will not recant, so help me God. Here I stand. I can do no other.” I’m sure that there was a hush in the room, and Luther left.

Charles wrote the Edict of Worms. The Edict of Worms says that anyone can kill Luther after he gets back to Wittenberg because Charles had promised him safe conduct and wanted to fulfill that promise. But he said that “After he goes back to Wittenberg you can kill him without reprisal.” Luther, a day or two later, is on his way home. He’s going on a road with some horses that are pulling a wagon, and suddenly men jump out of the ditch, and they overpower the horses, and they capture Luther, and they take him to the Wartburg Castle to hide him. These were his friends.

His elector, Frederick, had asked his security detail to capture Luther and to take him in a place where he could not be killed. And so, he was hidden in the Wartburg Castle. I’ve been there many times. It was in a small room that Luther lived for ten months. He translated the New Testament into German in just ten weeks. And he used a German that the Germans could actually understand; there were different dialects. He said he wanted to make the Bible and Moses speak such good German that the people wouldn’t even know that he was a Jew. And so, he translated the New Testament.

And then he began to write books. He wrote books and pamphlets. He fought with the devil in that particular room. In fact, there’s a tradition that he threw an ink well at the devil, and tour guides used to rub a little bit of soot on the wall because, you know, you pay so much to go to Germany and you have to go up so many stairs, you want to see where the ink well landed. Right?

But I don’t think that Luther threw an ink well at the devil. I don’t think there’s a devil around, I don’t think there’s a demon around that would say, “Ooh wow! You know that ink well almost hit me. I’d better the dodge the next one.”

At his table talks, Luther said, “I fought the devil with ink.” I think what he meant was this: “I fought the devil by translating the Bible into German.” If you want to fight the devil you give them the Word of God. (Applause) That’s the way you fight the devil. And so there in that room, Luther fought the devil with ink, and the Word of God began to spread throughout Germany. Now, the Old Testament... By the way he had help doing that and he spent the rest of his life translating it.

What are some of the implications of the Reformation? One of them is the transformation of culture and let me tell you why. Imagine this. The distinction between laity and clergy was now broken down. You know, I used this illustration last time. At a Sunday school picnic or some event, you always ask the pastor to pray, and your pastor, Skip, and I, we don’t mind that because we like to talk to Jesus. But what the Reformation said is this, that the same access that pastors and priests have to God is now available to everyone who believes on Jesus because we’re all saved by the same gift of righteousness.

And you can imagine what this did to laity. Now we can come into God’s presence. You know, yesterday evening I told a little story that I didn’t tell in the other services this morning, but I think it will be appropriate here. Somebody was having fun with a Catholic friend, and said, “Now, priests also sin. Who do they confess their sin to?” And this person said, “Well, they confess their sin to the bishop.” They said, “Well, bishops sin. Who do bishops confess their sins to?” And they said, “They confess their sins to cardinals.” “Well, cardinals also sin. Who do they confess their sins to?” And he said, “Well, they confess their sins to the pope.” And they said, “Well, who does the pope confess his sins to?” And they said, “Well, the pope confesses his sin to God.” And the person said, “Well, actually your pope is a Protestant.” (laughs)

In other words, we all have access to God, equally. The pope has no special privileges. Your pastor has no special privileges. So, this was transforming to culture.

And then vocation. Just imagine this. You know, in those days, a “good work” was one that the pope prescribed, or a priest prescribed. Say some “Hail Mary’s,” do a good deed, say a prayer. Luther said that because we’re all priests before God, we can all give praise to God, and we can bring Him glory through our vocations. So, a scrub woman cleaning a floor to the glory of God can bring God glory and honor. She is doing this; if she does it for His glory, she is more acceptable to God than somebody who goes through rituals that he doesn’t understand and that don’t mean very much to him.

Luther put it this way. He said, “God milks cows but He uses a milkmaid to do it. God cleans floors, but He uses you and me to do it.” And so, suddenly, everybody felt energized and important in the sight of God. So, you have a transformation of culture.

You have the German Bible that I referred to. Now, Luther, in translating the Bible into German, needing help with the Old Testament, if that’s all he had done, he would have gone down in history as a great German because now, suddenly, the Bible unified the whole German language. Its impact was something like that of the King James Version to England and to America.

My parents were Germans. They were born in the Ukraine, and they came to Canada where I was born. They lived together for 77 years. You know my father lived to 106, and my mother to 103. I’ve often said that my parents lived so long that I’m sure until my father died, all of their friends in heaven thought that they just didn’t make it. You know, they said, “Where are the Lutzers?” But the Lutzers made it.

And one of the things that happened in my home, when I was growing up, is the German Bible was read after breakfast every day. And one time as a boy, I opened the Bible and there it said, “Luther’s Translation.” The impact is huge. Now, of course, it was updated just like the King James was updated, but that’s one of the great legacies of the Reformation, now the Word of God was available to everyone because they were all priests before God.

The freedom of religion... Do you know that when Luther stood there at the Diet of Worms and said, “My conscience is taken captive by the Word of God,” he was standing against a thousand years of church tradition? The idea that a single monk could stand against the traditions and the teachings of the papacy was unthinkable. Luther planted a seed which eventually resulted in freedom of religion in Europe. The implications are huge.

Let’s talk about the spread of the Reformation, some in France. There was a young man by the name of John Calvin. Calvin was reading Luther’s writings in France at a university. Calvin was a young child at the time that Luther became famous. But Calvin tells us that God overcame his darkness and he saw his need of believing the Gospel. He doesn’t say it explicitly, but he implies it was through the readings of Luther.

Well, anyway, he goes to Geneva and becomes a famous theologian called John Calvin. John Calvin writes a book entitled “The Institutes of the Christian Religion,” which becomes the textbook of Christianity for 200 years. That book had an impact in the Netherlands. That’s why today we have the Dutch Reformed Church, impacted as a result of Calvin. Of course, in Sweden and elsewhere, the church also turned Lutheran, and Calvinistic from the standpoint of John Calvin. Impact absolutely huge.

Let me talk to you about Zurich, Switzerland. In Zurich there was a man, who came to saving faith and who taught the reformed faith, by the name of Zwingli. Zwingli taught some young men Greek and Hebrew so that they could study the Bible on their own. And what happened is this. These young men came to the conclusion that infant baptism was wrong. They didn’t see it in the Bible, and they said that the true believers should be baptized upon profession of faith, so they baptized one another. But the Zurich City Council says, “Anyone who is baptized upon profession of faith must be put to death by fire, by drowning, or by sword. And so, these young men...I’m thinking for example of Felix Manz who was taken to the Lemont River, and you can go to the exact spot today. We know exactly where it was. He was put into a little boat, which was deliberately capsized, and he was drowned with the voice of his mother shouting above the waves, urging her son to remain true to the faith. And he is drowned.

And do you know what happens? This Anabaptist...They were called Anabaptist, which means re-baptizers. This movement spread throughout all of Germany very, very quickly as people began to study the Scriptures. And as a result, whole villages of men, women, and children were massacred because they believed that one should be baptized upon profession of faith.

Why was this so important? It’s because infant baptism was the glue that held church and state together. You were born a German. You were also born a Christian, and you became part of Christendom. You became part of the Holy Roman Empire which Voltaire said was neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire. But anyway, you became a member of Christendom, and everyone, including the reformers, very often said, “If we begin to baptize only those that are genuinely saved, the whole medieval order will be broken up.” And to some extent they were right. You have all these different denominations that all came about because of the Reformation. But in those days you were put to death. Imagine the cost.

Now, a person who wrote a book about the Reformation who lived in Europe for a couple of years told me this. More Christians were massacred and killed as Re-baptizers after the Reformation than Christians who died in the early centuries in the persecutions of Rome. Wow. And we take it all for granted, don’t we? We think, “Well, all of these freedoms are taken for granted.” And tonight, we’ll discover that not all the freedoms that we had are still with us as we talk about rescuing the Gospel in America.

What about England? Well, England has a reformation. It’s called the Anglican church. And by the way, during the times of Luther, who was ruling in England but Henry VIII? Now you know about Henry VIII. Sometimes when I give a speech at a banquet and I want to relax the people because they think it might be a long speech, I’ll say something like this: “Now to quote the words of Henry VIII to his fourth wife, ‘Don’t worry, my dear, I won’t keep you very long.’” (laughter)

Henry VIII, you know, many of his wives were beheaded. But he wrote a book against Luther. Luther had said that there were only two sacraments, and Henry VIII wrote a contrary book. Actually, somebody else wrote it for him, but he received the credit, defending Catholicism. And do you know what Pope Leo said? Pope Leo said, “Henry VII, I’m conferring a title on you, and that title is ‘Defender of the Faith.’” And every monarch in British history since that time has been, including the present queen, called the “Defender of the Faith.”

Now, Charles, when he becomes king, he already let it be known that he doesn’t want to call it that because it’s obviously a reference to the Christian faith. He wants it to be changed to simply “Defender of Faith.”

But that’s the history of the Reformation. But let’s talk about England. You have there the Anglican church, and there are some people who say, “Oh, you know, your reforms haven’t gone far enough. You have not taken the dust of Rome and shed it from your feet.” And they say, “The church has to be purer.” And they become known as Puritans.

And these Puritans, they come to America, and what do they bring with them? Well, they bring the Geneva Bible. Geneva Bible? Where did that come from? Well, I’ll tell you. During the reign of Bloody Mary, Calvin is in Geneva, and refugees come from England because of persecution to Geneva, and they stay there for about two or three years. And these are English refugees, and they say to themselves, “We need a new translation of the Bible.” And so, they make a translation. Now, Calvin doesn’t help them because Calvin speaks only French. But they make a new translation and it’s the first translation, I think, with footnotes, and it’s called the Geneva Bible.

So, when the Puritans come and when Puritanism developed in England, and comes to our country, they bring with them the Geneva Bible, that was translated under Calvin’s blessing in Geneva. You say, “Well, what about the Baptists? Where did they come from?” Actually, the Anabaptists, they resulted, of course, in various roots, particularly the Mennonites. The Baptists that most of us are acquainted with, actually also have their tradition coming to us from England. More about that could be said, but what’s the bottom line?

What’s the takeaway for you today? I’ll tell you what. It still has to do with the issue of salvation. How do we get to heaven? On the one side there are those who say, “Well, you know it’s a matter of grace. But you have to make yourself worthy of the grace.”

Let me ask you something. When Luther was there in the monastery confessing his sins regularly, was he saved? Was he converted? The answer is “no” because he still thought that he had to make himself worthy of grace. He didn’t understand the Gospel. And there are millions of people who are confessing their sins today who will leave their churches without any assurance that they belong to God forever because they do not understand the Gospel.

Do you know what Luther needed? He needed one act of God that would make him a child of God forever. And we believe that we confess our sins as believers, but we do it not in order to be saved again and again and again, but rather to maintain our fellowship with God. It’s a discipline that God puts us through, but we remain having the privilege of being God’s children forever, from here all the way to eternity. That is the message of the Gospel. (applause)

Now, I do quite a bit of flying, and sometimes I fly on standby. I’ve had that experience. I don’t know about you, but when I do that, I go up to the counter and I say to the lady, “Now are you going to be able to get me on this plane?” She says, “Sit down. I’ll call your name when we know.” All right, I’ll sit down for a few minutes and get a little bit nervous, and looking at the monitor, and then I’ll go up and say, “Now, are you going to get me on that...” “Sit down. I’ll call your name if we have room.”

But most of the time, I fly with a ticket. That’s the way we’re going to fly tomorrow back to Chicago, that great and wonderful city. And we’re going to get on a plane here and we’re going to go to Chicago, and we have our tickets.

You know, when you have your ticket and you’re at the airport, you enjoy it. You watch CNN and find out what’s happening in the world. Sometimes you want to know, and other times you don’t, but there you are. You’re watching it. You drink some coffee. You relax and you talk to your friends. Why? Because you know you have a ticket on that plane. There is a seat reserved just for you.

What a difference assurance makes. And the Bible teaches that we can have assurance. “These things I have written unto you that you may know that you have eternal life.” How? Because when you believe on Jesus Christ.

You say, “Well, what is your contribution to salvation?” Let me tell you what your contribution is. Your contribution is your sin. That’s what your contribution is. When you see that Jesus paid it all and you don’t have to make yourself worthy of grace... There could be people here today and you’re a criminal actually, but the same righteousness that the person sitting next to you receives by faith is the same righteousness that you received. Your trail in life may be a very nicely trodden one, or have deep ruts, but if two feet of snow come, it covers both trails equally, that’s the righteousness of Christ. It covers you as well.

When you begin to see that and you say, “Jesus, today I receive you as my Savior, as my Sin-bearer,” what will happen is this. You’ll finally give up all attempts to make yourself worthy, and you’ll receive Christ, and the ministry of the Holy Spirit to you will be evident. The Bible says that the Spirit bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God. And you will know for sure that there is a seat reserved for you in heaven. (applause)

There is a crown that only you can wear. There is a door that only you can enter, a place reserved in heaven for you. And you can have assurance. You can have that assurance if you savingly believe on Jesus.

Now this is what we’re going to do. In a moment I’m going to pray, and if you have never received Christ as your Savior, even where you are seated, you can be saved. You give up all attempts to save yourself and cast yourself on the mercy of God, and Jesus who said, “It is finished.” You can be saved and know it.

Are you willing to pray that prayer today? Let’s bow together in prayer. And if you know Christ as Savior, pray for someone in your sphere of influence who may not know Christ as Savior, that God will show them the beauty of the Gospel and the fact that they, too, can have eternal life.

Father, I ask in Jesus’ name overcome darkness, prejudice, anger, whatever it is that you have to do to show people the glory of the Gospel, that they might be saved and know it. And now a moment of silent prayer while you talk to God.

Father, I pray that no one will leave here today without that assurance. I pray that all who are praying this prayer will tell a pastor (You’ll find out more about the Christian faith.), but that they may leave here and know that they are ready to meet you, all because of Jesus whom we love, and we worship. We pray in His blessed name, Amen.

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