I love surprises…do you?

Pastor Thad Gifford Contributing Columnist

July 10, 2014

This week, I stopped at my favorite sporting goods store in Columbus to look around and see what I couldn’t live without. I found a few things and was making my way to the cashier, when I noticed one of their sale flyers on the table. I stopped, picked it up and began to skim through it not really looking for anything in particular. I got to about the middle of the flyer and noticed a rifle scope I had just purchased a few weeks ago now came with a $30 manufacturer’s rebate.

So I took the flyer to the cashier and inquired about getting my rebate because I had just recently bought this scope. After printing the rebate form out for me, I completed my transaction and headed home. I knew I had saved the receipt, so it was only a matter of filling in the rebate form, making a copy of my receipt and sending it in. I was about to be $30 to the good.

When I got home, I was able to find the receipt, and began to fill out the rebate form and noticed that I needed the original bar code from the packaging. It needs to be attached to the rebate form in order to receive your rebate. Seriously? I save receipts. I don’t save packaging materials that things come in. Can you imagine saving all the boxes and wrappings of everything you purchased just in case you needed them? Well needless to say I was getting angry. I had the rebate form. I had the original receipt. Where could the packaging for the scope be so I could cut out the original bar code in order to get my $30 rebate? Finally I found it, cut out the bar code, taped it to the rebate form, filled out the form, put it into the envelope and mailed it off. I shall soon have $30 extra in my wallet. All because I happened to look at a sales flyer and saw that the scope I had purchased now had a rebate to it. That was a great surprise and really made my day.

Some surprises are good. Other surprises are not. One surprise I can think of that is not good, is where Jesus told a group of people to “Depart from Me, you workers of iniquity, I never knew you.” These people were fully expecting to get into Heaven. They were right there at the front door, if you will. Fully expecting to hear the words, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.” But instead, they were told to leave. The original Greek meaning is this: “You had no time for me while on earth, I have no time for you now. Leave My presence.” Can you imagine hearing Jesus tell you to leave His presence? You are fully expecting to go to Heaven and you hear, “Depart from Me, you worker of iniquity.”

What would you say? “Lord, haven’t I been a church member for 30 years? Haven’t I given to the church? Haven’t I treated my neighbor like I would want to be treated? Haven’t I given to the poor? Haven’t I given to the needy? Haven’t I been baptized? Haven’t I taken the Lord’s Supper in remembrance of You? Haven’t I read my Bible and prayed faithfully?” And still, the Lord would say, “Depart from me you worker of iniquity.”

How can that be? Because there is one thing you forgot to do. After doing all of those things — surprise — you forgot something. What? You forgot to receive the free gift of eternal life. You forgot to ask Jesus to be your Saviour. You see, Jesus died for everyone. Yes, He did. But not everyone is going to go to Heaven. Only those who have done three things: Believed they are a sinner (Romans 3:23; believed that Jesus died for their sins (Romans 5:8; and accepted Jesus as their Savior (Romans 10:9-10;13.

Jesus said this in John 3: “Unless a man is born again, he shall not see, much less enter into Heaven.” Being born again is asking Jesus to save you from your sins and trusting what He did to save you. All of the other things are good but good won’t get you into Heaven only Jesus will.

Now, you can say you don’t believe that and argue with me all you want but one day you will find out I am right. How do I know I am right about this? Because that’s what the Bible says. Don’t let there be a “bad” surprise for you when you stand before Jesus and He asks you this question, “Why should I let you into My Heaven?” Accept the free gift of eternal life and spend your eternity in Heaven. Would you like to know how to do that? Several have called me to talk about it. Why don’t you give me a call too. If I’m not able to answer, please leave a message and I will return your call! It’s that important.

And that is Something To Think About for this week.

Pastor Thad Gifford is the founding and lead pastor of the Crossroads Community Church, 62 E. Second St., London. He can be reached at (740) 852-7800, email him at