So close — yet, so far away

Pastor Thad Gifford - Contributing Columnist

We are almost a week removed from Resurrection Sunday, or as most refer to it, Easter. Only one week later and I would imagine that many people have already forgotten that day, its meaning and are already looking forward to the next holiday so they can get another day off from work. The most holy day for all Christianity has come and gone for another year.

But I continue to think about it. There are many aspects of the crucifixion, the death, the burial and the resurrection of Jesus Christ that I think about. I have studied the Bible for about 40 years now and I still have a lot of questions. Don’t we all? One of the scenes that continue to flash in my mind is the scene of the soldiers who crucified Jesus, gambling for his clothes. They cast lots for His sandals and for His belt and what other few things He had, but the Bible says that when they came to His beautifully woven cloak, instead of tearing it into pieces, they would gamble for the whole robe.

Imagine, if you will the Son of God, God in the flesh, hanging on the Cross and just about four feet away, here are these four soldiers gambling for His robe at the foot of the Cross. Think about this if you will. The One who is hanging on the Cross, dying for the sin debt of the world, could have given them anything and everything they had wanted in this world and even more in the next, and instead of looking to Him for forgiveness of their sins, they are consumed in a game, gambling for His clothes. While Jesus is hanging above them, groaning in excruciating pain, the callously ignored Him and tossed the dice for His clothes. (John 19:23-24) We look at their actions and are quick to judge them for their negligence. Why didn’t they offer Him a cold drink? Why didn’t they help Him in some way to maybe ease His pain? Why didn’t they care that a righteous person was being put to death? Instead they turned their backs on Him and gambled for material gain.

Yet today, people are turning their backs on Jesus too. While coldly ignoring His death on the cross, they gamble for His “robe” of righteousness by betting their eternal lives on the chance that they can earn their acceptance with God through their religiosity, or by being “good enough to get into Heaven.” Allow me to make a comment here to the falseness of that belief: “There is none righteous, no not one.” (Romans 3:23)

I have said it again and again and again in this column and from the pulpit where I preach on Sunday morning you will not and you cannot get into Heaven by “being good enough” or by being a member of a church or by being baptized or by any other way that a man can think of. Only because of what Jesus did on the Cross over 2,000 years ago and then only by receiving Him as your own personal Savior can a person go to Heaven when they die. (Romans 10:9-13)

For 25 years of my life, I believed my church membership, my three years of Catechism and my good works would get me into Heaven. But then, there came a time, when I was shown that what I believed was wrong and that I needed a Savior. I was shown how to receive the free gift of eternal life and now I am born again into the family of God and my name is written down in God’s Book of Life and one of these days, when I draw my last breath or when Jesus returns for His church, I know that I know I am going to spend my eternity in Heaven.

And you can know too. The Bible tells us that we can know. (I .John 5:13) Read it. John tells us that once we have done what God tells us we have to do in order to spend our eternity in Heaven; we can then know where we will be when we die. And I will make you this offer. If you don’t know where you are going to spend your eternity, I will be glad to sit down with you and use your Bible or any Bible you want me to use and I will show you how you can know too. Now that’s a fair offer and I am glad to make it to anyone who wants to talk about their eternity. Just email me at and let me know you’d like to talk. Has anyone else ever offered to show you what God’s Word says about being saved? Know this — I will. And I will be happy to do so because I want you to spend your eternity in Heaven too.

And that is Something to Think About for this week.

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Pastor Thad Gifford

Contributing Columnist

Pastor Thad Gifford is the founding and lead pastor of the Crossroads Community Church, 62 E. Second St., London. He can be reached at 740-852-7800, email him at, or visit the church’s Facebook page at Crossroadslondon.

Pastor Thad Gifford is the founding and lead pastor of the Crossroads Community Church, 62 E. Second St., London. He can be reached at 740-852-7800, email him at, or visit the church’s Facebook page at Crossroadslondon.