A dear friend of mine in another state was going to be the guest preacher at church on Sunday morning. He and his wife arrived at the church, went in the sanctuary, and sat down. She picked up the song book in front of her. It was a beautiful old church, but as they looked around it was obviously in need of some repair work. I’m not talking about just some paint and new carpet. The walls of the church had bulged out and as an emergency step, they had followed the instructions of an engineering company that told them they needed to put steel cables crisscrossing the building to keep the walls from collapsing and the ceiling from falling in. As the wife looked in the hymn book, there was an interesting item at the very front entitled, “Escape Plan.” It was a diagram of the sanctuary with the recommendation that you look it over in case the walls started to collapse and the ceiling started to fall in.
Now, it’s not unusual for a church to have in the front of their songbook a copy of the church covenant or maybe a welcome or some instructions about worship, but this church had an escape plan. The church was of course making long-range plans to permanently fix the problem but for now if you go to that church you probably want to sit near the exit and wherever you sit, you want to know your escape route in case the creaking and squeaking and rumbling begins. As my friend told me about his experience of preaching there I thought upon reflection how important it is to have an escape plan in all of our churches, and that everyone who comes to worship should know it. No, I’m not talking about how to get out if the walls collapse, but more importantly the ultimate escape plan that Jesus provides for us.
You need to fully understand and clearly be prepared to use that plan, regardless of where you go to church or how old the building might be or how much the walls may bulge. Jesus has provided for us first of all an escape from sin that’s for everyone you know, for every one of us the Bible declares have “sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). Our sin and its consequences are inescapable, except through God’s escape plan. God has made provisions for us in Jesus His Son to be freed from our sin. The Apostle Paul tells us, “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2 Cor. 5:21). Think about that. While every one of us has sinned, every one of us can escape the cruelty and damnation of sin because Jesus made the provisions.
We not only need to escape from sin, but we need to escape from self. When I make a distinction between sin and self, we are obviously the ones who decide to sin and we ourselves make some wrong decisions and some dumb moves and we actually think we know more than anybody — even God — so we do what we want to do. When we come to know Jesus as Savior and Lord, He becomes the guide of our lives instead of us being in charge. It is a distinction that makes all the difference in our lives, that Jesus saves us from ourselves.
The study of the life of the great disciple Simon Peter is at points a study of the life of a man who was oftentimes struggling with himself. In fact, toward the end of Jesus’ ministry He tells Simon Peter, “Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat” (Luke 22:31). The unfolding of the end days of Jesus’ life and Simon Peter’s discipleship bear out what Jesus was saying. Simon would continue to struggle and Jesus would continue to care, so we watch as Simon Peter pulls his sword in the garden to take care of business. Then we watch Peter as he struggles with himself and makes wrong decisions, denies Jesus again and again, and Jesus still loves him. Isn’t it amazing to see Peter, and us, when we are in control and Jesus provides a way of escape even from ourselves?
Jesus delivers us not only from sin and self but from separation eternally. When we sinned, a barrier came between us and our God that only Jesus can remove and if Jesus did not, we would be doomed forever. When you read in the Bible there is an eternal separation from God called hell, it is absolutely true but you and I do not need to face that separation. God has provided the way of escape for us and rather than having hell in our future, He has provided heaven. Today you can know God’s way of escape that lasts forever in Jesus Christ.
How can you receive Him and know Him? When the Apostle Paul and Silas were locked up in jail in Philippi and the earthquake came, the jailer at a critical moment in his life cried out to Paul and Silas, “What must I do to be saved” (Acts 16:30)? Their answer was so clear, so right on target. They said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31).
What a glorious word, and it is just for you today. Right now, why not accept God’s escape plan — Jesus? Right now, why don’t you pause, pray, trust Him, and say, “Lord Jesus, I invite you into my heart. Come and save me. Right now, I trust you.” Praise him for giving you life and life everlasting because of His Son, Jesus Christ.
The author can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.