“Believe It or Not” was a syndicated newspaper series of brief facts about strange things in the world that ran for decades during the twentieth century. As I recall, each explanation of the strange goings-on was accompanied by an artist’s rendering that more or less encapsulated the weird story being told.
Later, actor Jack Palance snarled out in his usual villainous voice a TV series telling Ripley’s Believe It or Not stories. The viewers could make up their own minds about the truth of the stories. However, most had enough evidence to back up their veracity.
These were, of course, for entertainment purposes. The things told were mostly about events that had happened in the distant past, so, more often than not, they had no relevance to the well-being of or potential harm to the reader. You could believe it…or not. No further action was required.
There is one particular profound fact, however, that—as strange as it might be to some—requires a decision that involves total commitment to belief. To not believe invites personal destiny that is the most devastating imaginable.
This is not some imponderable factoid or matter of conjecture as to whether it’s fact or fiction. This is the truth we must believe, or else we’ll face a destiny beyond imagination:
For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (John 3:17–18)
The whispers that come in soothing sounds from the creature that tells people to not believe is a million times more sinister than the snarling admonition by Jack Palance in the TV series. Satan says to each human being facing this all-important decision: “Yea…Hath God said?”
It is the same deception that brought sin into the world when the serpent whispered those words and Eve, being deceived, convinced Adam to partake in tasting the forbidden fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
God’s Word says we are lost because of that original sin. Satan seductively says that God didn’t really say that, but said something else, because man, being God himself, can determine for himself his course toward ultimate destiny.
It is true that God created us in His own image. At the same time, He gave us volition (free will) to believe or not to believe. God doesn’t force Himself on us. He didn’t create robots. He wants men and women, boys and girls, to love Him because it is our decision. We can believe it—or not.
At the same time, however, there are consequences to that decision, individually. Whether we choose to believe or not believe determines where we will spend eternity.
To believe that Jesus came into the world not to condemn the world, but so the world can be saved through Him is the all-important decision we can make. Our choice sets our personal destiny.
To believe that Jesus came to seek and save the lost—those in unbelief—and to accept that He is the only remedy for this lost condition is what God requires to cover our sin that condemns us to an eternity apart from His holy presence.
Sin cannot enter heaven. That’s why Jesus said that we must be born again—otherwise, we can’t even see the kingdom of heaven, much less enter it.
We must believe that Jesus died for us to save us from our lost condition, we must believe that God raised Jesus from death, and we must confess with our mouth that we believe this (Romans 10:9–10).
Like it or not—believe it or not—this is the way, the only way to go to heaven either upon death or at the Rapture of all believers.
It is more important than ever for Christians—believers—to share this truth with everyone we meet. Conditions proliferating in every direction point to the any-moment removal from planet earth for the believers. We must look through God’s eyes, being one with Him in Spirit, and point to that one Way He accepts for redemption. Jesus addressed His disciple, Thomas:
Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14: 6)
Jesus showed us that God doesn’t force himself on us. He gives us the facts and the evidence. After that, it is completely up to each of us to decide what to do with it. The story of his life and times has been around for almost 2000 years which seems like more than enough time for the information to get around, especially in this age of instantaneous global communication.
With so much at stake regarding where we will spend eternity, when it comes to Jesus, it’s a very much a matter of “Believe him – or Else!”