It’s amazing how many people – yes, even Christians have this lingering question in their heads: “Why is salvation conditional?” , “Why does Christianity say it’s either you believe in Jesus or you go to Hell?”
Not many people even try to answer this question. Perhaps it’s because of its sensitive nature or because this topic makes Christianity seem so narrow.
I want to share with you a podcast I’ve been listening to by Ravi Zacharias entitled “What Answer for the Wicked human Heart?” And there’s this part where Ravi tells the story of a husband who had a wife who left him.
He has something against God that we’ve all probably asked ourselves at some point in our lives. I find it very intriguing that this man’s story quite amazingly answers the question for me. I’ve added some phrases and actions I imagined were happening as I share the story in written format here.
“You know, I was a happily married man. All was going well. Children and so on.” Said the man to Ravi as they sat down. They were cruising off in a beautiful yacht.
“And then, something went wrong…”
The man was desperately trying to rebuild his marriage. Long story short, the man’s wife left him. And many years had gone by.
A few years ago, he went back to her and they talked.
“Look, so much has gone wrong. You betrayed our trust, the children are suffering. We’ve all suffered. Money is not a problem for us, we’re very wealthy. Let’s rebuild our lives” Said the man,
“I’ll forgive everything that’s gone on. I won’t even ask any questions. Just come back. I’ll take you back. I love you. I want you. I want to rebuild our home. Will you do that?” The man shifted his weight as he told the story to Ravi.
“I made my plea with her. And she talked and we talked and she said, ‘Will you give me six months?'” The man’s expression started to gloom
“That was like a stab in my heart. I said ‘ok’. Six months went by, she came back and she said ‘I want three more months.'” The man gave a deep sigh.
“I don’t know what was going on. After three months, she looked at me and she said ‘You know what? I simply don’t like these stipulations you’re making. This imposition you’re making on me and so on and so forth.”The man went on to say what happened.
The marriage never rebuilt.
And then he goes through all of this philosophical questions to Ravi about Christianity and God.
At one point, Ravi stops him, “Can I ask you one question?”
The man said, “Yeah sure.”
“What do you have against Jesus Christ?”
He sort of straightened his neck a bit, looked at Ravi and said, “You know it’s… It’s this conditional love that He gives to us. You either believe in me or you’re gonna be burning the rest of your life and suffering and so on.”
The man went on in his description on eternal separation.
Ravi kept listening.
At last, Ravi said, “You know, I find it fascinating. Thirty minutes ago, you told me you were trying to rebuild your home and you were trying to tell your wife to come back and turn your back upon the past and you would rebuild your home. And she says to you she didn’t like these conditions you were laying on her.”
Ravi pauses a while then goes on to ask, “Why did you lay those conditions?”
And sailing along the beautiful coast of Sicily, the man gets off his chair, puts his face in his hands and he sobbed and sobbed and sobbed with long, drawn out breaths and heaves.
The staff and chef and waiters came out and had no idea what was happening. +
Ravi gets on to his knees, put his hand on the man’s shoulder and when the man finally controlled himself, Ravi tells him“Do you understand? What you were doing was the right thing. Not that you were making love conditional but love is such a thing, that without certain conditions it can never thrive and never prosper. That’s what this is all about.”
You cannot violate the necessary framework of a mutual trust and total commitment and you cannot just debunk it by saying it’s conditional.
No, the conditions are built in to make love beautiful.
“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. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.“ – Romans 10:9-10