The simplicity of the Gospel

One thing that I have learned and learned well in these seven decades of living is that change always comes and most often when we least expect it, affecting our loved ones or us. We best learn early on to roll with the punches and take life as it comes.

With that being said, there are some things in life that are absolutes, and a wise man or woman will decide early on what is going to be important to them and how they will keep priorities straight. We have to be flexible on many things, but one thing we do not have to be flexible on is what we believe the Bible says and how we are to live amongst our peers.

I respect a man or woman for standing for what they believe in, and in most cases, we can still be friends even though we differ in areas. How dull this old world would be if we were all just alike. Diversity is good and helpful to grow.

I try not to push my Christian beliefs on others. Not all are Christians. Not all are Baptists, or Methodists, or Church of Christ. Some of my very best friends in the world are Catholic, and others I love are of different faiths. One thing that I have found in visiting churches, meeting pastors and staff members, reading and even among my own circle of friends is that almost all faiths believe in asking for forgiveness, cleaning up sin in our lives, and being kind and helpful to those with whom we share our journey.

I happen to believe that every man and woman, boy or girl living today was born a sinner. I also believe that Christ, the pure Son of God, came to this earth, lived a sinless life, was crucified, rose again, and is in Heaven interceding in the lives of His children. As a 16-year-old girl, I walked down an aisle, had a counselor explain some verses to me, and I prayed and asked Jesus to forgive my sins and take me to Heaven when He comes or I die, whichever happens first. I am ready and in fact, I now have as many people on the other side as I do here on the earth. My son a pastor in Florida, wrote the other day after yet another funeral in his large church, and said, “Mom, Heaven is getting sweeter with every one I preach.”

I also believe salvation is clean, neat and simple. It is available for the asking. You may say, “I want to live differently and I want to go to Heaven when I die, but I honestly don’t know how to believe.” Perhaps the reason for the Lord putting these thoughts into my heart today is to help you see what to do in this case. You don’t have to be in a church or synagogue. You don’t have to have another person with you. You certainly do not have to pay any money. You just ask and believe.

A beautiful illustration fell into my life today about this matter. I had a really cute new T-shirt blouse, three quarter sleeves, perfect for this weather, and best of all, it is navy and white with yellow trim, rather nautical in appearance. I wore it when I went out to eat, and lo and behold, messy me, dropped either ketchup or steak sauce on the front. I was just sick. I washed it in Tide but it did not come out, and I was disappointed. A friend told me to go buy one of the new Tide To Go pen like sticks and try that. She said it had gotten out a terrible stain for her. I did what she said and this morning remembered I had it in my purse.

I followed the instructions rubbed the tip of the applicator onto my ugly stain, and wham, right before my eyes, the shirt was bright white again. I was so happy. And then, I thought what a great illustration of salvation this is. We come to Jesus dirty, stained with sin, our hearts are ugly, and we are hurting. We, as best we know how, tell Him we are sinners, we do wrong, we are guilty of breaking His commandments, and we ask Him to forgive our sins. The Bible teaches that if we do this sincerely, He will forgive and cleanse our hearts and we will be whiter than snow. Three simple steps: We admit we are sinners. We believe Christ died for our sins. We confess our belief. The literal ABCs of salvation are indeed simple.

If you have never done this, please take time to get alone today or tonight and pray the simple prayer of forgiveness.


Brenda Cannon Henley is a former Examiner reporter who, now retired, writes this weekly column on faith and religion. She can be reached at brendacannonhenley [at] yahoo [dot] com or at (409) 781-8788.