One of the most popular recent TV programmes in both Britain and the USA is the quiz
show "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?"
Once when I was watching, a man was going for the last question and a possible winning
of £1,000,000. He had sailed through the previous questions, answering easily and
with confidence. This man was not guessing. He knew the answers. Then he faced the
final question having already won £468,000 pounds. If he got the answer wrong, he
would lose all that money; but he didn't have to answer, and could go home with the
When the final question was asked, the four possible answers were shown. I thought
I knew the answer, and I said to my wife, 'The answer is "C".' But I was wrong! The
man, however, did know the right answer and even said what it was, but the possibility
of losing £468,000 made him hesitant.
He knew the right answer, but he was afraid to commit himself to it. In the end he
didn't play for the million, but if he had done so, he would have won. In that circumstance,
you couldn't blame him-a sure half-million is better than a possible million.
What would you have done in his place?
The interesting thing is that many people face a similar dilemma with regard to God.
I'm talking about people who know the truth about God. They believe the gospel, but
won't commit themselves to what they know to be true.
Are you like that? You know you're a sinner and that Jesus came into the world to
save sinners. You know you need to be saved and that Jesus can and will save you
if you come to him in repentance and faith. It's not a question of 'Who wants to
be a millionaire?' but of 'Who wants to be a Christian?' Who wants their sins forgiven?
Who wants to be acceptable to God? Who wants to go to heaven?
You know that Jesus is the only answer to your problem of sin but you won't commit
yourself to what you know to be the truth. You won't do it because you're afraid
of what you may lose. But you have lost sight of what you'll most certainly gain
if you become a Christian.
Your position is not like that of the man in the quiz-he won half a million anyway.
If you continue to reject Jesus you will lose everything. There are no gains for
those who turn away from God's offer of salvation. The man in the TV show went away
happy with his winnings, but I wonder if afterwards he ever regretted not having
the courage of his convictions and going for the big prize.
The biggest prize is Christ. To have him as your Saviour far surpasses anything else
in this world. It means knowing peace with God and having an assurance of a place
in heaven. It's knowing victory over death and the grave and beginning to enjoy God's
gift of eternal life.
You know this is true, so why don't you trust the truth? I'm not asking you to believe
a fairy story or something you know is wrong. I'm asking you to commit yourself to
the One you know is the Truth.
Even if you became a millionaire, the day would come when you'd have to leave it
all. You know that you can't take it with you when you die. But Christ as your Saviour
is for all eternity. Not only can you take him with you, but he goes before you into
death and takes you safely through to the heaven of God.
Turn to Jesus now. You know the gospel promise that he will not turn you away.
Go to him in prayer, ask for forgiveness of sin, and begin to enjoy true riches that
you can never lose.
After a Sunday morning service a lady came up to me with tears in her eyes. She had
heard the sermon and wanted to talk about God and her soul. I asked her if she was
a Christian, and she replied that for some time she had been trying to be a Christian.
Gently I told her that she needed to stop trying and start trusting Christ to save
She was genuinely concerned about her spiritual condition, but, like many in her
position, she was making a serious mistake. Trying to be a Christian never works
because the best we could achieve would not be enough. Trying might appear to be
a worthwhile exercise, but it will inevitably end in delusion and failure. We do
not become Christians by trying, but by trusting in what the Lord Jesus Christ has
done for us.
The first step in becoming a Christian is to realize that there is nothing at all
we can do to achieve this aim by our own efforts. That might sound like a recipe
for despair, but it is not. We are never so near to knowing God as when we realize
that we are helpless and have nothing to offer him.
The great question the Bible answers is, 'How can a man or woman be right with God?'
It asks the question because it accepts the fact that we are not right with God.
We are sinners and God is holy. There is, therefore, a great barrier between us.
The Bible also teaches that the wages of sin is death, and this means an eternity
in hell. This question, then, has great urgency. It's not just for academic interest,
but our eternal destiny rests upon it.
So what is the answer? Basically, there are two answers we could find-law or grace.
Law includes just about every system of religion or morals that says you must do
this or go there in order to be saved. It teaches that man's salvation is in his
own hands. Grace is what the Bible teaches. It says that man is helpless and can
do nothing to save himself. Salvation, therefore, has to be all of God, and is a
gift from him.
The two answers are irreconcilable. They have nothing in common, and both can't be
right. So which is correct?
Are you confused by the gospel? If so, it's because you are allowing man's theories
to distract you from the basically simple message of God, which is:
We are sinners.
We cannot save ourselves.
Jesus is the only Saviour and we need him alone to save us.
There's nothing confusing about that. So believe it and act upon it.
I was once given for Christmas some watercolour paints. I had never painted before,
but I gave it a try. I soon discovered that I had no artistic talent whatsoever,
but I still enjoyed it. My first efforts looked as if a five-year-old had done them!
But I soon improved, and then my paintings looked as if a six-year-old had done them.
So I went to the library and borrowed a video called Watercolouring for Beginners.
As I watched the expert at work it all looked so easy -it always does when you watch
What has this got to do with salvation? We need to know that in the matter of salvation
there are no experts. We're all like children groping around, and all our efforts
are pathetic. But this is exactly how it should be. Jesus said, 'I tell you the truth,
anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter
it' (Mark 10:15).
We need to see that there is nothing we can do to save ourselves, but that Jesus
has done all that is needed.
This brings us back to the question, 'How do we become Christians?'It is by faith
in Christ who loved us and died for us. It is by faith in what the grace of God has
accomplished for us. Grace, all the time, points us to Christ. The apostle Paul never
got over the amazing fact that Christ loved him. His whole past life had been dedicated
to destroying the work of Christ, yet still Christ loved him. This had to be an act
of grace because it was certainly not earned or deserved. Grace is always free and
undeserved and given to guilty sinners.
To say that God loves sinners is a tremendous thing, but it is not the whole gospel.
The gospel is that Christ loved me and gave himself for me. The gospel erupts in
its full majestic splendour at the cross. There is no gospel message that does not
include the substitutionary atoning death of Jesus; this means that Christ gave himself
for us, dying instead of us and paying the price of our sin.
Christ loving sinners does not change anything by itself. Sin still had to be dealt
with and love finds the only way of doing this by Jesus dying in our place -Jesus
bearing our sin, our curse, our judgement and purchasing salvation for us.
There's nothing that you can do that can, in any way, match what Christ has done.
So it is futile to try. Just come in faith to the Lord Jesus as a helpless sinner,
and asking for mercy and forgiveness.