There is a statue in Galveston placed there as a memorial to the thousands that perished in the tidal wave and hurricane that devastated the island on Saturday, September 9, 1900. Although estimates on the loss of life run from 6 to 12, 000, it is most commonly believed that about 8,000 people died in that storm. As I read the information on the plaques near the memorial, I began to consider how many people step into eternity every day. A quick google search revealed that 55.3 million people die each year. 151,600 people die every day. 6,316 people die every hour. 105 people die every minute and about two people die every single second.
Heaven only knows the actual figures, but it is a reasonable assumption that most of those 55.3 million who face death each year are stepping into a Christ-less eternity. Scripture is clear on the subject. In Matthew 7:13-14 Jesus says, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it”.
There is no question that salvation is far more than simply not going to hell. Love, relationship, hope, purpose, healing, security and more are all facets of the Good News. But admittedly, not going to hell is probably my favorite part of the Gospel. In that light, Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:11, “Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade others”
In the two minutes that you have looked at these words, there have been well over 200 people who have stepped into eternity. It is too late to reach out to them. There are, however, a few billion people still alive who need to hear about the Innocent One who suffered in their place.
You don’t have to be perfect- none of us are. You don’t have to love perfectly- none of us do. You don’t have to be a great theologian and act like you have all the answers- you’ll probably just confuse everyone if you try. It is really much simpler than all that.
It all boils down to one thing. In Matthew 16:15 Jesus confronted Peter with the most important question that will ever be asked. That question still resounds over all of creation two thousand years later as loudly, profoundly and unavoidably now as it did the day the words first came from Jesus’ mouth. “But what about you?” He asked. “Who do you say I am?“.
I have absolutely no doubt that a million years from now we will find the answer we gave to that question will prove to be far and away the most important thing that we ever did. More important than cars, houses, careers, comfort- even more important than health and family. Throughout eternity, people in heaven will increasingly rejoice over God’s graciousness in unbridled praise and thankfulness while people in hell will weep and curse from the depths of their unimaginable torment and suffering. At the heart of this great divide will stand the answer we gave to that one pivotal question posed by Jesus. “Who do you say I am?“.
If you, like Peter, have said that Jesus is, “the Messiah, the Son of the living God”, then you have the answer that everyone who was or will ever be born needs to hear. Introduce them to our Great Savior. Tell this dying world that there is really a Person named Jesus who is fully God and fully Man. Tell them that although He died on a cross, He rose again is alive today. Tell them that if they will choose to believe in Him and turn from their sin, He will completely forgive them of all of everything have ever done wrong and give them a brand-new start. Tell them there is a purpose for their life. Tell them that there really is hope. Tell them that they really are loved with a passionate and profound love.
Tell them now. Don’t wait for another day. People are drowning.