In a recent sermon, Francis Chan told his congregation what his biggest concern is as a pastor. He said that he has a couple of fears—the first is that someone will think they’re going to heaven, but they aren’t. He also said that he fears that people who know Jesus will feel as if they don’t and worry about their salvation. He spoke of the difficult tension and how hard it is to walk the line of knowing that you are saved, while not obsessing over salvation.
Chan said, “I think about the end…life is a vapor. You are here one second and then you are gone.” Chan reminded the church of the important task of knowing Jesus as a personal savior, and not only through church on Sundays. It can be tempting to walk the “Christian walk” by listening to sermons and attending Bible studies instead of spending time with Jesus one-on-one in a way that will truly allow the believer to know Him.
Chan pointed out the fact that Jesus spoke in direct terms and didn’t brush over difficult topics. Chan called on the members of his congregation to read through the entire Bible. However, if that is too big of a task, he encouraged them to read what Jesus said in order to get to know Him better.
In preaching on this topic, Chan calls out other pastors and churches that brush over the difficult parts of the Bible. He commented that he doesn’t believe the “loving” thing to do in a sermon is to make people feel good about themselves and then leave church feeling more upbeat if he does not convey the truth to them. He worries that people have been lied to—told that there is no hell, or that a loving God doesn’t punish. Chan made the point that it is important, as a pastor, for him to tell people the truth and remind them to read the Bible for themselves.
He encourages people to remember that Jesus taught that you need to “die to yourself.” He points to one of the most well-known passages in the Bible: John 3:16, which reads, “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” (NIV).
He makes the point that many Christians stop there, but he tells them to keep reading and quotes John 3:36, which reads, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them” (NIV). Chan reminds Christians that the Bible is about “those who turn to Jesus, who recognize, ‘Man, I have been living for myself.’”
When we recognize this and turn away from our sinful nature, we can have a close and personal relationship with Jesus that He desires.