When I was growing up I played a game by myself. We had a finished basement and sometimes I would have all the lights on. Then at the top of the stairs I would turn the lights off, one-by-one, as I walked back to the back corner into my bedroom. Then I turned off my bedroom light. In pitch black, I tried to find my way back up the stairs. Sometimes I got lost in my own basement.
Have you ever been lost? Have you ever lost anyone? I know there have been many times I was lost but didn’t know it (or didn’t admit it.)
We all know people who don’t know Jesus as their Savior. According to the Bible, people who don’t have Jesus are spiritually lost. They aren’t necessarily worse than anybody and they aren’t necessarily ignorant of what to do. They just need Jesus. Because if they do not have Jesus, they will end up forever in Hell.
John 3:16 tells us, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” But two verses later, Jesus said, “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (John 3:18). People are spiritually lost and condemned because they do not know Jesus as Savior.
Why do people stay lost? One reason may be because they do not know they are lost and do not know how to become ‘found’. This why our church has a strong missions program – to make sure people around the world hear about Jesus.
In addition, Jesus made some comments about two different people in Luke 13 (Herod and the Jews) that explains two other reason people are lost. Herod and the Jews chose to remain lost and Jesus lets us know why.
The same day there came certain of the Pharisees, saying unto him, Get thee out, and depart hence: for Herod will kill thee. And he said unto them, Go ye, and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures to day and to morrow, and the third day I shall be perfected. Nevertheless I must walk to day, and to morrow, and the day following: for it cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem. (Luke 13:31-33)
Some men came to warn Jesus about Herod’s plan to kill Him. Herod was a vicious ruler and wanted nothing from Jesus. Maybe Herod recognized the connection Jesus had with John the Baptist, whom he had beheaded. Maybe he was fearful of His supernatural power. Or maybe Herod didn’t like Jesus preaching about a more powerful kingdom coming. Regardless, Herod wanted nothing to do with Jesus. He was lost because he rejected Jesus.
Some people are lost because, having heard about Jesus, they refuse to accept Him. Whether it is pride or love for their sin, many have rejected the Gospel message of Jesus. By rejecting Jesus, they reject the forgiveness and freedom from their sin.
Back in 1830 George Wilson was convicted of robbing the U.S. Mail and was sentenced to be hanged. President Andrew Jackson issued a pardon for Wilson, but he refused to accept it. The matter went to Chief Justice Marshall, who concluded that Wilson would have to be executed. “A pardon is a slip of paper,” wrote Marshall, “the value of which is determined by the acceptance of the person to be pardoned. If it is refused, it is no pardon. George Wilson must be hanged.”For some, the pardon comes too late. For others, the pardon is not accepted. Many are lost because they reject the only way to salvation.
Some may question, “Why is Jesus the only one way to God?” But a better question might be, “Why did God provided a way at all. He didn’t have to. We are all sinners by nature and by choice. God could have started all over and would still be a holy God. But He sent His own Son to pay for our sins so whoever accepted Jesus would be saved. The reason people are lost is because they have rejected God’s way of salvation.
If you have rejected Jesus, you should at least give it some consideration. If you are right, you haven’t lost much. But if you are wrong, and Jesus is the only way to Heaven, you have lost everything. You will not only be lost now, but forever.
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate: and verily I say unto you, Ye shall not see me, until the time come when ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord. (Hebrews 13:34-35)
Herod’s threats couldn’t stop Jesus’ plans. He was going to Jerusalem to die for mankind. But as He talked about His journey, His love for the Jews became evident. In fact the phrase “Jerusalem, Jerusalem” indicates the intensity of His emotion. He felt like a hen who wanted to protect her chicks, but was refused. Destruction was coming and God had offered help many times, but the day of opportunity was over. The Jews had wasted many opportunities.
Today God gives everyone an opportunity to be saved, but these opportunities are often wasted. Many hear the message about Jesus every Sunday. But one day the opportunities will end.
Dr. Pierce Harris, a pastor from Atlanta, Georgia, preached to some prisoners. One of the prisoners got up and introduced him to the others with these words: “Several years ago, two boys lived in a town in north Georgia. They went to the same school, played together and attended the same Sunday School. One dropped out of Sunday School and said that it was ‘sissy stuff.’ The other boy kept on going. One rejected Christ; the other accepted Him. The boy who rejected Christ is making this introduction today. The boy who accepted Christ is the honored preacher who will speak to us today!” The prisoner had wasted the many opportunities he had growing up to follow Jesus.
Some teach that we really do not have opportunities; that God has our life decided ahead of time. This line of thinking believes that if God wants you saved, you’re going to be saved and if He doesn’t want you saved, you will be lost forever. But this passage teaches the opposite. Jesus said, ‘I would… but you would not.’
Jesus is a gentleman and waits for people to make a decision for HIm. He has done all He can to save us because He wants to save us. But He leaves the final decision to us. If a person wastes the opportunity He gives, they remain lost.
I encourage you to do today what, in 100 years from now, you will have wished you had done today. Today’s opportunity may not come back around.
What can you do?
- Say “YES” to Jesus today. Don’t waste this opportunity because you may not have another one.
- Tell someone else about Jesus. Every person should have a chance to hear. Don’t waste the opportunity to tell others about Jesus. You may not have another opportunity to share His story.
I will finish this article with a story about a missed opportunity. Art Linkletter, in his book Yes, You Can!, told of an occasion when Walt Disney drove him to a piece of deserted property near Anaheim, California. As the two walked the property, Disney began to paint a picture of a theme park he wanted to build. He described in great detail his dream. Disney encouraged Linkletter to buy the land surrounding his, explaining that he could, in return, sell it to developers who would build motels and restaurants on the property. Linkletter recalled thinking that Disney’s dream was a fantasy that wouldn’t appeal to people and respectfully declined the offer. Disney would go on to build his theme park as we know as Disneyland. Linkletter estimates that he lost approximately one million dollars per step that day by not buying into Disney’s dream and accepting his offer.
There has been a far greater offer made to you and me than Disney’s offer to Linkletter. It is the greatest offer that has ever been made. Of course, I am referring to the offer that has been made by the Lord Jesus to come unto Him and be saved. It is the greatest offer ever made because there is nothing greater that can happen to a person than being saved.