Saturday, December 30, 2006

A Matter of Trust



Several years ago, I met a woman named “Sheila” who told a Christian study group she feared her father, who was deceased, was not in heaven. The group had been talking about evangelism and we were looking at a tract that featured a “sinner’s prayer” when Sheila began to cry.

“Was your Dad not a believer?” someone asked.

“No,” she said, choking back tears, “I think he was.”

“Then, what’s wrong?” someone asked.

“He never said these words! I don’t think he ever even saw this piece of paper!” Sheila exclaimed.

“But you do think he had a personal relationship with Christ?” someone probed.

“Yes, I’m just about sure he did,” Sheila said.

“If he had a personal relationship with Christ,” our group leader concluded, “then your father is with Him in heaven right now.”

Sheila had been under the mistaken and grievous assumption that access to heaven is gained by words. Unfortunately, there are many who similarly believe that salvation is tied to language and rituals—when, in fact, the words to a prayer alone never saved anyone. It is the belief and trust in Christ that saves us. The words to a prayer are a symbolic expression of an internal decision.

So trust is key. But how do you define trust? Dr. Douglas M. Cecil writing in “The 7 Principles of an Evangelistic Life" (Moody Publishers/2003) describes it like this:

“When I fly an airplane, I do not check to see if the aircraft is up-to-date on its airworthiness certificate. I do not check to see the pilots’ medical certificate and make sure that she has a commercial pilot’s license with the appropriate ratings. I walk on the aircraft, sit down, and trust that everything is in order. I have trusted my life to that airplane and pilot. Placing your trust in Jesus Christ is transferring your trust from your own efforts to save you to what Jesus Christ accomplished on the cross.”

It is trust in Christ alone—or faith, if you will—that saves us. Not words or deeds.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-- Ephesians 2:8

Coming Monday: The Heart of the Gospel

(Photo by dashingyankee. See http://flickr.com/photos/staylor336/193167313/ for restrictions.)


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