Thursday, May 15, 2003
I believe it was General Dwight Eisenhower who said, "There is no victory at discount prices." Certainly, the Coalition's "Operation Iraqi Freedom" was not an exception. Courageous warriors have again made the ultimate sacrifice. Even as the first casualty reports came in from Iraq, I was reminded of the unforgettable public appearance of a Gulf War soldier's mother not long after that war ended in 1991.
Appearing before over 50,000 people at a Billy Graham stadium meeting, she had been asked by Dr. Graham to share this remarkable letter from her son - one of the last soldiers to die in the first Gulf War. She explained that her son had asked his best friend to give the letter to his mother "if something happens to me," he said. Now that letter was in his mother's hands. Few would ever forget the words she read that afternoon: "Mom, if you're reading this, I didn't make it. But that's OK. Because now, Mom, for the first time in my life, I'm smarter than you are! Because I have seen heaven. I have seen Jesus!"
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Battlefield Promotion."
This was a soldier who knew where he was going - forever. He knew he was ready for eternity, whenever and however it came. He had a lot to say to thousands of people that day in the stadium. He has a lot to say to you and me about real hope and security. There is no deeper peace than to know for sure that death holds no fear for you, that when you die, you'll "see heaven" and you'll "see Jesus."
Every day some 6,000 people die in America alone. Today's obituaries remind us that our time on earth is short and unpredictable. So, when you've fought your last battle, will you "see heaven"? Some people would say, "I think I've got a pretty good shot. I'm a good person." But listen to God's verdict from the Bible, the only verdict that really matters - "There is no one righteous, not even one." (Romans 3:10) "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23) In plain words, none of us is good enough to make it with a perfect God. He's sinless. We've all got sin. If getting to heaven depends on our goodness, we don't stand a chance.
Thank God it doesn't depend on our goodness. Our lifetime of doing what I want instead of what God wants has left us under the penalty that sin carries - in God's words, "The wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23) - that's eternal separation from God. Our only hope is a rescue. Someone has to die to pay my death penalty, and someone did. Speaking of Jesus, the Bible says, "He bore our sins in His own body on the tree." (1 Peter 2:24) God loves you so much that He gave His Son for you. Listen to 1 John 4:9, our word for today from the Word of God: "He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him."
Jesus took your hell so you could live in His heaven. But you have to grab Him in total trust, giving yourself to the One who gave it all for you. The door of heaven isn't open to good people, but to forgiven people - people who've taken what Jesus did on the cross as the payment for their sin. If you're not sure you've ever really told Jesus, "I'm Yours, Lord - now and forever," you can do it right now, right where you are. If you want to begin your personal relationship with Jesus, I'd like to send you my booklet about it, "Yours For Life." Just let me know you want it.
When you belong to Jesus, you can know where you'll be when you've taken your last breath. You'll be seeing heaven, and you'll be seeing Jesus.