(Adapted from writings by Ray Comfort)
Imagine that you were offered a choice of four gifts:
The original Mona Lisa
The keys to a brand new Lamborghini
A million dollars in cash
You can pick only one. Which would you choose? Before you decide, here’s some information that will help you to make the wisest choice:
You have to jump 10,000 feet out of an airplane.
Does that help you to connect the dots? It should, because you need the parachute. It’s the only one of the four gifts that will help with your dilemma. The others may have some value, but they are useless when it comes to facing the law of gravity in a 10,000-foot fall. The knowledge that you will have to jump should produce a healthy fear in you—and that kind of fear is good because it can save your life. Remember that as we proceed.
Now think of the four major religions:
Which one should you choose? Before you decide, here’s some information that will help you determine which one is the wisest choice:
All of humanity stands on the edge of eternity. We are all going to die. We will all have to pass through the door of death. It could happen to us in twenty years, or in six months…or today. For most of humanity, death is a huge and terrifying plummet into the unknown. So what should we do?
Thinking again of your knowledge of the jump that produced that healthy fear—that fear helped you to make the right choice? You know what the law of gravity can do to you. In the same way, we are going to look at another law, and hopefully your knowledge of what it can do to you will help you make the right choice, about life’s greatest issue. So, stay with us—and remember to let fear work for you.
After we die we have to face what is called “the law of sin and death” (see Romans 8:2). Most people know that Law as “The Ten Commandments.” So let’s look at that Law and see how you will do when you face it on Judgment Day.
Have you loved God above all else? Is He first in your life? He should be. He’s given you your life and everything that is dear to you. Do you love Him with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength? That’s the requirement of the First Commandment (See Mark 12:30). Most of us must admit that we have not succeeded in this for even an hour since we got up this morning.
Or have you broken the Second Commandment by making a god in your mind that you’re comfortable with—where you perhaps say, “My God isn’t a God of wrath, he’s a God of love and mercy?” That god does not exist; he’s a figment of the imagination. To create a god in your mind (your own image of God) is something the Bible calls “idolatry.” Idolaters will not enter Heaven.
Have you ever used God’s name in vain, as a cuss word to express disgust? That’s called “blasphemy,” and it’s very serious in God’s sight. This is breaking the Third Commandment, and the Bible says God will hold him guilty who takes His name in vain.
Have you always honored your parents implicitly, and kept the Sabbath holy? If not, you have broken the Fourth and Fifth Commandments.
Now, have you ever hated someone? The Sixth Commandment prohibits murder. But the Bible says, “Whosoever hates his brother is a murderer” (See 1 John 3:15). This is because hatred is the root cause of murder.
The Seventh is “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” but Jesus said, “Whoever looks at a person to lust has already committed adultery with that person in his heart” (Paraphrase, see Matthew 5:27-28). You see, God knows your inner heart, and he is most concerned about this. And if we are honest, our heart convicts us. We are selfish, hateful, angry, malicious, and lustful at heart. Even our good deeds are often marred by some selfish motive. The Seventh Commandment also includes sex before marriage, which is called fornication. Have you ever looked with lust or had sex outside of marriage? If you have, you’ve violated this Commandment.
Ever stolen anything, regardless of value (Eighth Commandment)? If so, you are a thief. Stealing would include such things as downloading music illegally, cheating on your taxes or your employer, or short-changing someone you have dealt with, or even having given a customer a raw deal. This would also include stealing another person’s innocence or self-esteem. God is quite concerned about how you deal with people; in fact He expects you to go the extra mile with others!
Have you ever lied—literally to “bear false witness” (Ninth Commandment)? This would include speaking deceitfully or destructively against another person. The Bible tells us, “Lying lips are abomination to the Lord” (See Proverbs 12:22) because He is a God of truth and holiness.
Have you coveted (jealously desired) other people’s things? This is a violation of the Tenth Commandment.
Actually, there are many other things that the Bible discusses as violations of God’s law. Even failing to do something we ought to have done separates us from God’s standard. And just like in a civil court of law, if we have broken even one law we are guilty (See James 2:10). God, by the way, does not grade on the curve. The more we look at ourselves honestly we confess that we have broken all of the Ten Commandments in thought, word, or deed.
LET’ S SEE
Let’s now look at those four major religions to see if they can help you with your predicament.
The religion of Hinduism says that if you’ve been bad, you may come back as a rat or some other animal. If you’ve been good, you might come back as a prince. But that’s like someone saying, “When you jump out of the plane, you’ll get sucked back in as another passenger. If you’ve been bad, you go down to the Economy Class; if you’ve been good, you go up to First Class.” It’s an interesting concept, but it doesn’t deal with your real problem of having sinned against God and the reality of Hell.
Amazingly, the religion of Buddhism denies that God even exists. It teaches that life and death are sort of an illusion. That’s like standing at the door of the plane and saying, “I’m not really here, and there’s no such thing as the law of gravity, and no ground that I’m going to hit.” That may temporarily help you deal with your fears, but it doesn’t square with reality. And it doesn’t deal with your real problem of having sinned against God and the reality of Hell.
Interestingly, Islam acknowledges the reality of sin and Hell, and the justice of God, but the hope it offers is that sinners can escape God’s justice if they do religious works. God will see these, and because of them, hopefully He will show mercy—but they won’t know for sure. Each person’s works will be weighed on the Day of Judgment and it will then be decided who is saved and who is not—based on whether they followed Islam, were sincere in repentance, and performed enough righteous deeds to outweigh their bad ones (Quran, Surah 23:102-103). But we note that a score of 51% won’t get you out of the Junior High, let alone into heaven. So Islam believes you can earn God’s mercy by your own efforts. That’s like jumping out of the plane, and believing that flapping your arms is going to counter the law of gravity and save you from a 10,000-foot drop.
And there’s something else to consider. The Law of God shows us that the best of us is nothing but a wicked criminal, standing guilty and condemned before the throne of a perfect and holy Judge. When that is understood, then our “righteous deeds” are actually seen as an attempt to bribe the Judge of the Universe. The Bible says that because of our guilt, anything we offer God for our justification (our acquittal from His courtroom) is an abomination to Him, and only adds to our crimes (Proverbs 15:8).
Islam, like the other religions, does not solve your problem of having sinned against God and the reality of Hell.
So why is Christianity different? Aren’t all religions the same? Let’s see. In Christianity, God Himself provided a “parachute” for us, and His Word says regarding the Savior, “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 13:14).” Just as a parachute solved your dilemma with the law of gravity and its consequences, so the Savior perfectly solves your dilemma with the Law of God and its consequences! It is the missing puzzle-piece that you need.
How did God solve our dilemma? He satisfied His wrath by becoming a human being and taking our punishment upon Himself. All other religions, speak of salvation by your performance. Only Biblical Christianity teaches that God came to do what you could not do for yourself. Jesus lived and died for you. Jesus rose from the dead leaving verifiable and historical proof. The record is deposited in the Bible. This book was not written by one man, which would make it suspect. It was written by 40 men over 1500 years with truths that come together to form one comprehensive and cohesive message. There is no other book on earth like the Bible. And these same Scriptures tell us that God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself. Christianity provides the only parachute to save us from the consequences of the Law we have transgressed.
BACK TO THE PLANE
To illustrate this more clearly, let’s go back to that plane for a moment. You are standing on the edge of a 10,000-foot drop. You have to jump. Your heart is thumping in your chest. Why? Because of fear. You know that the law of gravity will kill you when you jump.
Someone offers you the original Mona Lisa. You push it aside.
Another person passes you the keys to a brand new Lamborghini. You let them drop to the floor.
Someone else tries to put a million dollars into your hands. You push the person’s hand away, and stand there in horror at your impending fate.
Suddenly, you hear a voice say, “Here’s a parachute!”
Which one of those four people is going to hold the most credibility in your eyes? It’s the one who held up the parachute! Again, it is your fear of the jump that turns you toward the good news of the parachute.
In the same way, knowledge of what God’s Law will do to you produces a fear that makes the news of a Savior unspeakably good news! It solves your predicament of God’s wrath. God loves you so much that He became a sinless human being in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. The Savior died an excruciating death on the cross, taking your punishment (the death penalty) upon Himself. The demands of eternal justice were satisfied the moment He cried, “It is finished!”
The lightning of God’s wrath was stopped and the thunder of His indignation was silenced at Calvary’s bloodied cross: “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us (Galatians 3:13).” We broke the Law, but He became a man to pay our penalty in His life’s blood.
Then He rose from the dead, defeating death. That means that God can now forgive every sin you have ever committed and commute your death sentence. If you repent and place your trust in Jesus, you can say with the apostle Paul:
For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2).
So you no longer need to be tormented by the fear of death, and you don’t need to look any further for ways to deal with the dilemma of sin and God’s wrath. (Note: Beware of cults such as Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons. They masquerade as “Christian,” but they are rooted in self-righteousness—trying to do good works to earn salvation. As it is written:
“For by grace are you saved through faith; and that, not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).”
The Savior is God’s gift to you. The gospel is unspeakably good news for the entire, sinful human race!
God Himself can “justify” you. He can cleanse you, and give you the “righteousness” of Christ. He can make you pure in heart by washing away your sins. He can shelter you from His fierce wrath, in the Rock of Ages that He has cleft for you (See 1 Corinthians 10:4). Only Jesus can save you from death and Hell, something that you could never earn or deserve.
DO IT TODAY
To receive the gift of eternal life, you must repent of your sins (turn from them), and put on the Lord Jesus Christ as you would put on a parachute—trusting in Him alone for your salvation. That means you forsake your own good works as a means of trying to please God (trying to bribe Him), and trust only in what Jesus has done for you. Simply throw yourself on the mercy of the Judge. The Bible says that He’s rich in mercy to all who call upon Him (See Romans 10:12-13). So call upon Him right now. He will hear you if you approach Him with a humble and sorrowful heart.
Do it right now because you don’t know when you will take that leap through the door of death. Confess your sins to God, put your trust in Jesus to save you, and you will pass from death to life. You have God’s promise on it (See John 5:24).