It’s a stifling hot August night in Georgia. Over 700 inmates and 50 community workers have gathered in the auditorium of the Atlanta penitentiary. Chuck Colson, who has come to speak to the prisoners, looks over the restless crowd—half white, half black—and begins speaking…
A lot of you think of Christians as those nice, white, middle-class people who go to church on Sunday and never get into trouble. And you say, “No, that’s not for me. I don’t want any part of that. They can afford to be nice. They don’t know what it is to be hungry. They don’t know what it is to see their children starving. They don’t know what it is to be in prison.” And you’re right—most of them don’t.
Let me tell you a little about the man Jesus Christ, because he did know about these things and He cared. Jesus was God and he was man. And when he was nailed to that cross, he hurt. He suffered there for every one of us.
Let me tell you what he said in his very first sermon: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18-19).
And then, who did He assemble around Him? A dozen men who had no special place in society. He and his twelve men began to preach and perform miracles that only God could perform. But the people rejected Jesus. They wanted a ruler who would overthrow their Roman oppressors.
But Jesus said (and I paraphrase) “No, I am proclaiming a different kind of a kingdom—the kingdom of God being built on this earth. And because God’s values are not man’s values, I come for the poor, the sick, the hungry, the homeless, the imprisoned.” He is the one who comes to help the downtrodden and the oppressed—to set you free!
The impact of Colson's words was remarkable. That night many men found freedom in Jesus Christ. One man with a tough, unshaven face said, “You probably won’t understand this, but tonight was what my life has been leading up to. All 39 years were nothing; just tonight matters.”
God had set him free from his spiritual “imprisonment” by sin! Today you also can be set free, too, no matter where you are in life. Jesus Christ has already suffered the full punishment for your sin. Now God offers you a full pardon if you will...
Admit that you have a spiritual need. You must agree with God that you are a sinner. The Bible says that “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God….the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 3:23, 6:23).
Change your mind about whatever you’re trusting in to make you right with God, and instead trust only in Jesus, what the Bible calls “repentance toward God and … faith in our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21).
Believe that Jesus died for you on the cross. “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
Receive Jesus as your Savior. “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).
You can receive God’s pardon by praying to him, telling him what you now believe:
“Lord, thank you that you loved me so much that you sent your Son to die for me. I know that without Jesus Christ’s sacrifice I would be separated from you and your love forever. I place my faith in him for forgiveness of my sins and the gift of eternal life. I want him in my life to be my Savior.”