My dad lay in a hospital bed awaiting surgery. Several months before, he had been diagnosed with cancer and given six months to live. I knew this might be my last opportunity to talk to my 84-year-old father about his eternal destiny.
I opened my Bible to Romans, then hesitated. Dad had never wanted to hear “that religious stuff,” as he called it, and was offended at being called a sinner. But I knew I had to relate the bad news before I shared the Good News. I started reading: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” After a strong dose of the bad news I moved to the good news: “The wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord.”
That day I witnessed the miracle of my father’s new birth. He was now at peace with God. Five years later, when God took him home, he was ready. My wife and daughters and my brother and I were with him when he exited from this world to the one he was made for.
Thinking back, the worst thing I could have done for my father was to hold back part of God’s truth. Without the bad news, there is no Good News. Without our absolute depravity, there was no reason for the King of heaven to be born in a stable or go to the cross. Without the reality of the hell we deserve, we cannot appreciate the heaven we’ve been offered.
This holiday season, let’s sing of more than Jesus’ birth. Let’s tell them God’s whole truth.