My name is Jack Hammond. I was born in Allentown in 1967 and I grew up in a fairly religious home though we didn’t attend church on a regular basis. Many times my grandmother, who was very faithful to go, took my sister and me as much as she could. I can remember when my mom and stepdad finally made the decision to go regularly. That lasted for a few years but tapered off when the pastor, who my parents really liked, moved on. After that our attendance consisted mainly of Christmas and Easter. Church was never of much interest to me. I only liked going because I had some friends there. I never listened to any of the messages because they were always so boring. I don’t recall much of the Bible being read or talked about. My pursuits really changed during my teenage years. I loved sports, especially baseball. During the winter months, bowling and basketball occupied my time and of course just hanging out with my friends.
“During those years I experimented in areas that I thought were “fun,” like smoking and drinking.” During those years I experimented in areas that I thought were “fun,” like smoking and drinking. They were supposed to characterize you as being a “real man”. I was faced with the normal temptation of wanting to fit in. After a while I came to the realization that no matter what I did, I never seemed to be happy or satisfied, and the problems I was having I could never seem to find answers to. Life started to feel like a vicious cycle with no relevant meaning. As I was getting closer to graduating from high school, I became more aware of how empty my life had really become. In just a few months, I would be entering the military and I was scared to death. I had no idea what my life was really all about. I entered the military only because it was the thing to do if you weren’t sure what else to do. I was completely miserable. I had no purpose, no direction, and no hope. I even began reading self-help books to try to figure out what my problem was, but that didn’t help either. I was searching for something, but I didn’t know what.
One evening I was watching baseball on TV. As I was watching there was an infomercial that came on. The spokesman on the infomercial (who happened to be a well-known sports figure in the early to mid-80s) spoke of the success he had and how empty it was without a personal relationship with God. I found that statement quite interesting, since “I never heard of having a relationship with God.” I never heard of having a relationship with God. At the end the program he offered a free book that explained how it was all possible. So, in my curiosity, I ordered it.
I was never much of a reader, but after I received that book I spent a whole evening reading it cover to cover. The book explained four truths from the Bible that I had never heard before. First, all men are sinners. This was not real difficult for me to accept, because I knew many things I did were wrong (Romans 3:10-11, 23). Second, there is a penalty for sin (Romans 1:23). Now this was the part that really got my attention. The payment for sin is separation from God for eternity in Hell. God does not view sin the same way we do. We view it as, “Well, nobody is perfect!” or “I goofed,” or “I made a mistake.” God is Holy (meaning sinless) and can’t allow sin into His presence. I suddenly began to see what my real problem was. I was a sinner separated from God, and if I were to take my last breath I would be alienated from Him forever. Sin is a serious thing, and I knew I had committed many of them.
The third truth is that God himself provided payment for my sin. Just like one has to pay for a crime he has committed in society, God’s word teaches us there is an eternal payment for sin. God Himself has made that payment for our sins, by his son Jesus Christ. The Bible teaches that Jesus Christ paid for your sin and mine by living a perfect, sinless life, and then dying on the cross for our sins. This is a wonderful Bible truth. Christ paid our sin penalty. The last truth is the best of all: The Bible teaches eternal life is a gift (Romans 6:23 &Ephesians 2:8-9). “I saw what my life was missing – a real relationship with God. Not religion, but a relationship.” Eternal life is a gift and cannot be earned. We can’t be good enough to earn our way to heaven and into favor with God. I saw what my life was missing – a real relationship with God. Not religion, but a relationship. The Bible teaches when we realize we are a sinner, are willing to turn from that sin, and accept Christ as our Lord and Savior, we can know ours sins are forgiven and have full assurance of a home in heaven. That evening, on March 16th in 1985, I trusted Jesus Christ as my personal Savior, and my life has truly not been the same since.
You might be thinking, “I’ve done too many bad things” or “I don’t think God would ever forgive me for some of the things I’ve done.” Rest assured, there is no sin that you have committed that God can’t forgive. Jesus Christ paid for even the worst of sins. May I encourage you to trust him today?