I remember the day my dad came home from work and called a family meeting. We listened as he told us how unhappy he had been and how he’d been searching for something that was missing in his life. But that day, he had accepted Jesus into his heart, and that had filled the empty place inside.
Dad said he’d picked up a Bible on his lunch break and read passages in Romans that convicted him of his sin and showed him how to have right standing with God through faith. Before he went back to work, Dad had prayed to accept Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior.
As we sat at our kitchen table, Dad went over those verses in Romans with us. I accepted them, too. The rest of my family accepted Jesus later.
Dad and I went to a local church in Hamilton Square, New Jersey. He told the pastor that we wanted to get baptized. The pastor asked why Dad wanted to be baptized when he had never come to church. I vividly recall my dad’s answer.
He said, “I am now saved and a Christian. I’m on my way to heaven. I want to follow the Lord in believer’s baptism.”
The pastor said, “Bill, you’ve got to wait until you stand before God in judgment to see if you’ve met His standards before you can know for sure that you’re going to heaven.”
Wow! Even as a nine-year-old, I was shocked and knew this was erroneous teaching. On the way home, I asked Dad if he maybe thought the pastor might not be saved. He said, “Let’s let him baptize us, and then we’ll look for a church that preaches the Bible.” So we did.
Dad passed away at age 41, while I was a senior in high school. Until he died, he shared Jesus with many people. He was my hero. Praise God—I’ll see him again at that great reunion in heaven.
When I left New Jersey in 1965 to enter US Navy flight training in Pensacola, my pastor called me to the front of the church. He challenged me not to let the Navy life cause me to walk away from God or lose my testimony.
He shared Philippians 1:6 with me: “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” He said that the day I accepted Christ as my Savior was the day God began a good work in me and that, even if I sometimes fail Him, He will never fail me. God will perform a good work in my life until Christ returns. This verse has been an encouragement to me ever since.
Do you sense something missing in your life? Maybe you’ve searched to find it but keep coming up short. The answer is found in Jesus. He is the only thing that will ever fill that void inside. He is the only thing that will ever bring purpose and meaning to your life. Will you receive by faith that Jesus died on the cross for your sin? John 3:16 says: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
Many people think they’re so bad that, if they come to Jesus, He won’t accept them. Or, like that pastor, they think they’ll have to wait to find out if God will let them into heaven, based on what they’ve done or who they’ve been. That’s not true.
The Bible is clear—we are saved from eternal separation from God because of one thing: our faith in His Son, Jesus. We don’t get access through those pearly gates on the merits of our works or reputation. Salvation is a gift of God (Ephesians 2:8–9). All we have to do is accept it.
Will you accept His gift today?