Summary: A look at what it takes to be saved/ become a Christian.

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- Acts 16:25-34

Many of you are familiar with this account. Paul and Silas, two early believers and missionaries, had upset some folks. They had cast a demon out of a slave, who used to tell people’s fortunes. When the woman’s owners saw that she couldn’t tell people’s fortunes anymore, they got people upset, so Paul and Silas were arrested, beaten, and thrown into prison.

While in prison, the two missionaries prayed and sang. Around midnight, an earthquake struck the prison and the prisoners’ chains fell off. The jailer woke up, believed that the prisoners had all escaped and was about to kill himself. But, Paul, called out and told him that the prisoners were all still there. The jailor called for lights. He went in to where the missionaries were and fell down trembling at their feet. He then had them escorted out of the prison and as soon as they reached the fresh air he asked the most important question and person can ever ask.

“Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

On Tuesday, June 17th, 2008, Cal Thomas wrote an editorial asking if the man who was later to become our president, was a Christian or not. In the article he quoted several statements made by our president, which run contrary to what most evangelical Christians believe.

Now, I admit. Some of the statements I read and some of the things that have taken place in the past several years have upset me. The increased tolerance of everything except Christianity and the beliefs we hold ( as evidenced by the uproar this past week caused by a talk show host who called an unmarried-woman a “slut” who openly admits to having a very active sex life and wants us to pay for her contraception) upset me. These things, however, do not upset me nearly as much as the letters to the editor that came in response the next day.

One letter by James Armstrong of Casselberry said:

“Thomas is a fundamentalist Christian who believes in a

literal interpretation of the Bible. He used to work for the

moral Majority. From his narrow, myopic vantage point, he

self-righteously presumes to judge the human family.

What about 11/2 billion Muslims? What about nearly 1

billion Hindus and a half-billion Buddhists? What about 15

million Jews? Are they all bound for hell? And what about

the billions of people who dwell in poverty, ignorance and

oppression and who have never been exposed to God

concepts and religious teachings? Are they all doomed to

Thomas’ hell?

More specifically, what about the Dali Lama or Mahatma

Gandhi or Aung San Suu Kyi, the courageous Buddhist

Nobel laureate who has been under house arrest in Myanmar

for 12 of the past 15 years? Their lives of meditation and

prayer make the spiritual exercises of most Christians pale

into insignificance.

If it’s a question of heaven or hell, as a former seminary

professor and a Christian minister for more than half a

century, I would much rather go to hell with Gandhi, the Dali

Lama and Aung San Suu Kyi than soar off into heavenly

‘bliss’ with Thomas and his ilk.” (Orlando Sentinel, Spiritual

exercise, June 18, 2008, A10)

The statements made in that letter, so flew in the face of what I believe, that I looked up the writer’s phone number and called him. However, he did raise some interesting questions. What about the Hindu? What about the Buddhists? What about people who have never heard about Jesus? What does it take to be lost? I want to attempt to answer some of those questions this morning. First, what does it take to be lost?


What does it take to be lost? A while back, I had the opportunity to visit with a man in the hospital, who had little time to live. While we visited, I tried to share the Gospel with him. He told me that he has never done anything really bad, and that he believed that when it came time for judgment, that God would look at him and say, “He’s not been too bad. Go ahead and let him in.”

Is that the way it really works? Is close enough, good enough?

Turn with me please to Matthew chapter 22 and verse 34.

- Read Matthew 22:34-40

You remember this account. A lawyer came and asked Jesus what the greatest commandment was. Jesus answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. He then said, “The second commandment is like the first: Love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus said, “all of the commandments in the Bible are rolled into these two. If you can keep only these 2 commandments, then you will be doing everything God requires of you”.

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