Close Only Counts in Horseshoes :: by Grant Phillips

How many times have you heard the response of  “I hope so” when asking “Are you going to Heaven,” “Are you a Christian,” or “Are you saved?”

When the Bible uses the word “hope,” it means “to wait for salvation (or deliverance) with joy and full confidence(emphasis mine). That isn’t what these good folks are saying. We today use this word much differently. We say it with our fingers crossed behind our back. Now friends, that is not real hope. Why that’s no hope at all!

The Apostle Paul said, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” (1 Corinthians 15:19) This is real hope. Our hope in Christ is with full confidence while we wait upon Him.

In Mark 10:17-27 we have the account of the rich young ruler who came to Jesus. It turns out that his hope was in his pride of keeping the Law and in his riches. He was close, but he just wouldn’t recognize his pride or give up his riches.

His faith, instead of being nestled in Jesus, was upon his supposed keeping of the Law and his riches. He went away sad because he wouldn’t give up his false hope. He turned his back from his real hope and walked away. His real hope, Jesus, was probably within inches of him, and he turned it down. So close and so far away.

In Acts 26:28 King Agrippa, in his self-righteous, ‘royal’ way told Paul something like, “Do you think you can convince me to be a Christian with just a few words?” The Truth of salvation, his only hope for eternity, was being provided to him by the greatest apostle and missionary who ever lived and he laughed it off. This feeble minded snob was so close to the information he needed to be saved, and he glides away in his regal robe lost for all eternity. Again, close, but not there.

In Mark 12:34 a teacher of the Law came to Jesus and asked Him, “What is the most important commandment?” Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.”

The teacher agreed, restating exactly what Jesus said. Jesus saw that he answered wisely and said to him, “Thou art not far from the kingdom of God.” The problem however is that the teacher knew the Law but not the Law Giver. He may have been toe to toe in proximity to Jesus, the Law Giver, but did he ever come to know Him? I’ve always wondered if the light bulb ever came on in his soul about Jesus, the Law Giver. To be that close to understanding the truth and miss it would be a tragedy indeed. I pray that he eventually came around and is in Heaven now.

In Luke 17:21 the Pharisees asked Jesus when the kingdom of God would come. They were looking for the Messiah to come, overthrow Rome and set up His millennial kingdom, but this wasn’t the time for Christ to initiate the millennial kingdom. The kingdom of God is just a step away within the hearts of man. The ‘step’ is the acceptance of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord by faith. The Pharisees were in no mood to accept any of this. They only sought their own glory.

Many folks today are so close to the kingdom of God but don’t want to take that step of trusting what God says is true. For whatever reason, they don’t want to place their faith in the only One who has what they need.

God’s book, the Bible as we call it, makes it so clear a child could understand that Jesus Christ is the only way to Heaven. He is the only hope of true joy. He is the only pardon for sin. He is coming again, and it may be much sooner than we even think.

Mentioned above from the Scriptures we have a rich man, a political ruler, a teacher, and the clergy. Their positions in this life could not and did not save them. They all needed to be reborn spiritually. All were so close. All, as far as we know, walked away. One was sad while rejecting the Truth. One was pompous while rejecting the Truth. One was in thought while rejecting the Truth. The religious group remained servants of Satan while rejecting the Truth.

What are you holding on to? Whatever it is, let it go. Come to Jesus now and He is as good as His word, and His word is infallible. He will save you. He will keep you. He will prepare a place for you and come again and receive you unto Himself, that where He is, you may be also (John 14:3).


Grant Phillips