“Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”
Here’s a lyric to an old gospel song you may recall: “I once was lost in sin, but Jesus took me in.” That familiar line comes from Just a Little Talk with Jesus — written in 1937 by gospel music legend, Cleavant Derricks. And it raises some interesting questions. If someone is lost in sin, is a little talk with Jesus all that’s necessary for forgiveness and eternal salvation? And is there a point at which the sin condition goes too far, beyond God’s willingness to forgive and grant eternal life?
According to Romans 10:9, the following must occur in that little talk: If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
Saying “Jesus is Lord,” is a profession of faith to which God responds with grace. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God…” (Ephesians 2:8)
It is essential that you wholeheartedly believe in the resurrection of Christ. Without that belief there is no salvation. “… if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.” (1 Corinthians 15:14)
And when our hearts are fully persuaded that Christ was raised from the dead, we can know with all certainty we shall also be resurrected to be with our Lord. “By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also.” (1 Corinthians 6:14)
But is God’s offer of eternal life open to everyone? Certainly, there is the unpardonable sin to which Jesus referred in Matthew 12:32. “… anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.”
What does it mean to speak against the Holy Spirit? It means that you reject the Holy Spirit’s attempts at opening your heart and mind to the reality of the person and message of Christ. It is the Holy Spirit that convicts your heart of sin and reveals Christ as the remedy.
God’s offer of salvation through Christ is granted to everyone who believes. But what about those who have committed the most heinous and despicable crimes? Are they too far gone in their sin to be saved?
How about those murderers and rapists on death row? Or pedophiles who prey on innocent children. What about heinous dictators who commit unthinkable atrocities upon their own people? Even more, those who have committed their atrocities against you or a family member. Will God save them?
There is plenty of evidence to prove that God will save them if they meet the conditions of faith as previously mentioned. John 3:16 is the first to come to mind. “… whoever believes…” Later, in John 12:32, Jesus said, “when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” And in 2 Peter 3:9, we’re told that God doesn’t want anyone to perish, “… but everyone to come to repentance.”
Two criminals were executed with Jesus. One of them called upon Jesus to remember him when He entered His kingdom — to which the Lord responded, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43)
Remember, too, that the Apostle Paul once persecuted the church he later defended. For that reason, Paul labeled himself as “the worst of sinners.” (1 Timothy 1:15-16) God forgave him, saved him, and used him as no other to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ.
How difficult it is for you and me to forgive those who have committed atrocities against mankind, especially those who have harmed us or our loved ones. We see them as having forfeited their right to God’s grace.
Yet, God’s love transcends human understanding, the greatest example of which was demonstrated by Christ from the cross. Instead of cursing or condemning His accusers, Jesus prayed for their forgiveness. “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)
There is no greater love than the love of God. And, yes, when someone comes to the place where they can have that little talk with Jesus, they can be saved.
For more on this topic, check out this article: Jesus Saves and Keeps You Saved
Reprinted from The Forever Notebook, Book 3 (July – September) Get your copy here: Paperback and eBook/Kindle formats.