Hello, old friend,

Time flies!  Haven’t the years sped quickly by?  Looking back, it doesn’t seem all that long ago that we were at school.  I can remember some of our teachers and youth group leaders very well indeed.

Teen years were great times, even though they had their special challenges.  They were followed all too soon with marriage, family and career responsibilities.   We’ve each walked our own particular path, and there have been both good times and not so good.  Now old age has sneaked up on me and I’ll never see 70 again.

Looking back I notice that some things that were once important to me are less so now, and yet there are some things that are more important than ever.  I suppose it’s the same with you – and everyone else.

Have you noticed that no matter how hard we try, there are some things that we can’t keep hold of?  In a way, I suppose that health and strength are near the top of the list, though I do hope you are still keeping reasonably well.

When we were younger we looked at the Family Notices in the newspaper to see who was getting married, or had just had a baby.  Nowadays it’s mostly in the death notices that we see the names of people we’ve known over the years.

Does the thought of death worry you?  I know one or two old folk who are quite frightened about it, and in fact, even struggle with day to day living.
Others seem to have no worries at all.  Don’t you wonder how they cope so well?

THE WAY I SEE IT

I want to share with you the way I see things, but first of all, let me list out some of the attitudes and beliefs that people I know have expressed.  It will be interesting to see where you fit into it, won’t it?

1. Believe it or not, I have been told that death is the end.  ‘We die like a dog and that’s the end of it,’ a guy once told me.  The trouble with that idea is that I doubt if anyone can believe it deep down inside.  You know why?  Because ‘God has put eternity in the hearts of men [and women, of course.]’  It doesn’t matter where you go in the world, you’ll find that people of every race and colour believe in a hereafter.

2. Perhaps the most common idea other ‘oldies’ seem to have is that if you are good enough or at least have done more good than harm in the world, you’ll make it to heaven okay.  I’ve heard one man say again and again, ‘I’ve never done anyone any harm.’

You know what I think?  Even though we might try to convince ourselves that we’ve been good enough, deep down inside there are nagging doubts.  At least once in a while, memories come back of things we’d much rather forget.  [Happily, there is an ‘unless . . .’ to that . . .unless we discover God’s way to eliminate them.]

The Good Book agrees.  It says that no matter how hard we may have tried, no one can get to heaven on the basis of the good they’ve done.

3. Let me mention one other thing:  No one gets to heaven automatically. The way some folk seem to see it is that death opens an automatic door to eternal peace, happiness and rest.  That is simply not true!  You better not count on it.

You know what?  Heaven is God’s home and He sets the rules on who is allowed in.  Believe it or not, He loves each of us very much indeed, and everyone else on earth too, but because of the kind of person He is, He has felt the need to set a ‘dress standard’ so to speak.  Without God’s help, our past wrong-doing, and even our sub-standard good-doing blocks our entrance.

THE SIMPLE FACTS

It is a pleasure to set out the great Good News for you.  It doesn’t start with what we have to do, but with what God has done for us.

1. Because of His amazing love for us all, God sent His Son Jesus to die on a cross, and thus pay the penalty for our sinful wrong-doing.  God is not only amazingly loving, but also pure and holy so something had to be done about our sin!

2. God’s first requirement for us is to be sorry enough for our sin that we ask His forgiveness for it all.

At the same time we need to seek His cleansing from every sin, determining with His help not to live selfishly and sinfully any more.

3. The next step is to choose to trust the Lord Jesus to take control of our lives and to be our Saviour.  He wants to come into our lives in that kind of way, and what an amazing difference He makes when we allow Him to!

You can see that at the same time this is both very simple and really challenging.  The Bible tells us to repent of our sins, have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and be saved.  In other words, follow the three steps I’ve just given you, and you can be sure of heaven.  Another blessing in this is that when we follow these simple steps the Lord Jesus makes a wonderful change in our lives here and now.

GOD’S GUARANTEE

This letter is getting too long, but I do want to mention that when we trust in the Lord Jesus for salvation, He lets us know inside that our desire is granted.  Wonderfully, He gives an inner peace, assurance, confidence that it is so.

So we have His word on it, and that inner witness which is His guarantee.  The Bible teaches that God raised His one and only special Son Jesus from the dead, and welcomed Him to heaven, as a guarantee that He would do the same for us if we trust our lives and our future to Him.

Well, my old friend, all I can say is, ‘Go for it, and Go for it now!’

A FINAL THOUGHT

Years ago a man I’d never met before came with his wife to visit us.  He told me that he had cancer and didn’t expect to live much longer.  At the moment he didn’t quite want to make his peace with God, but wanted to get near enough so he could do so quickly later on.

You can probably understand why I said to him, ‘John Lobley, you’ll never get away with that.’   Happily he took notice of what I’d said and followed the same advice I’ve given you in this letter.   We’ve lived long enough, haven’t we, to know that no one can be sure of a later opportunity?

To finish the story, I’m glad to say that I was sitting by John Lobley in the hospital when he regained consciousness for a few moments.  In a soft voice he asked me, ‘What’s going to happen?’  I asked him ‘Is Jesus your Lord and Saviour?’  He sighed peacefully, ‘Oh yes.’   Those were his final words.

I’ve enjoyed trying to set all this out clearly for you.  Please contact me if you have any other questions and if there is any way I can help you further.

Your friend

John