I was recently on an airplane sitting next to a lawyer who specialized in “toxic tort” cases. That means he sues large chemical corporations who have hurt everyday people by neglecting to take proper safety precautions, often winning settlements of millions of dollars for his clients. He was a very sharp-minded and eloquent orator who also happened to be a Christian.
We got to talking about sharing the gospel and he mentioned how he had recently taught his Sunday school class a very important lesson. He told them, “When I’m speaking to the lost, I must remember that I am not selling them a ‘fire insurance’ policy, but a ‘new life’ policy.” He made a good point. As Christians, we know there is new life in Christ, if a person genuinely repents and trusts in the Savior. But I immediately remembered the Scripture that instructs us to “save with fear, pulling them out of the fire” (Jude 23) and the words of Jesus—“Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28). So which is it? Do we tell sinners to “flee from the wrath to come” or to “come to Christ for a new and improved life”?
Several days earlier, I asked a friend what he thought would happen to him when he died. He believed he was going to heaven. He smoked, he cursed, and he partied, but said that between him and his identical twin brother, he was the “good twin.” I liked his sense of humor. His life was going great—he had a successful career, a healthy family, and lots of toys. He was funny, popular, and very comfortable in his own skin. Everybody liked him and he liked himself. Life was good.
“‘New life,’ biblically speaking, is eternal life in Christ, not a flowery promise of life improvement here on Earth.”
I knew that if I simply offered this guy a “new life” policy, he likely would have turned it down—because he was already living the good life. Instead, I did what Jesus did and stirred his curiosity about how God would deal with his sin on Judgment Day. I told him that “friends don’t let friends go to hell.” I then walked him through the Ten Commandments to help him see how he had sinned against God and desperately needed His forgiveness. When I sensed that he was feeling conviction, I shared the good news that Jesus came to save him from sin and its consequences. He could then see the incredible love God had shown him in sending Jesus to die for him on the cross.
The simple realization that he could be saved from eternal hell, coupled with a humble, repentant faith, changes a man. When sinners understand that their sin is “exceedingly sinful” and that they deserve eternal damnation for sinning against the Almighty, then and only then are they ready to comprehend grace. Only when they see their danger will they want to be saved.
“New life,” biblically speaking, is eternal life in Christ, not a flowery promise of life improvement here on Earth. The gospel is glorious. It directs our gaze off of us and onto God, who humbled Himself, demonstrated His great love by suffering a cruel death on a cross to save us, adopts into His family those who believe, and transforms us. This is the beautiful gospel that brings life to the dead and changes us from the heart.
So if we want to bring this kind of “new life” to those we love, we must do it biblically or risk losing them forever. If we genuinely care about others, we must strive to follow in the footsteps of Jesus and preach the one and only, true gospel. Not “fire insurance” and not a “new life” policy, but the old, old, gospel and nothing else.
Make sure you bring the knowledge of sin by opening up the Commandments like Jesus did (in Mark 10, Luke 18, etc.) and remind sinners of the Day of Judgment when every person will have to give an account of his life to God. Let godly fear “work repentance” and the good news of the gospel bring them to saving faith in Jesus Christ. If you’ve never led someone you love to the Savior, please listen to two free online messages called “Hell’s Best Kept Secret” and “True and False Conversion.” Do it today, because friends don’t let friends go to hell.