The popular fascination with vampires, otherwise known as “The Living Dead,” has a lengthy history. Starting with the Bram Stoker novel Dracula and the Bela Lugosi movie classic, through B grade Peter Cushing horror movies, to the modern novels of Ann Rice, the book Vampire Lestat, the movie “Interview with a Vampire,”and the more light-hearted TV series “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” multitudinous books, TV programs, and movies of varying quality show strong interest in these fictitious creatures of the night. These vampires are not real. Unfortunately there are many people who walk among us who are not aware that they are truly the “Living Dead.”
1. People are sinful and are spiritually dead.
First, the Bible says clearly that all people are sinful. Romans 3:23 states “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (NIV). In the Old Testament, Ecclesiastes 7:20 says “There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins.” (NIV) Sin is active rebellion against God or a passive indifference to Him. It is the bad part in us that causes us to do wrong things or not to do things we know are right. Sin is anything contrary to the holy and perfect character of God. So every person is a sinner.
Second, because of this sin, people are spiritually dead. The Bible states that “. . . the wages of sin is death….” (Romans 6:23a) and “. . . you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world . . . .” (Ephesians 2:1, NIV). Just as people are sentenced to punishment for breaking our criminal laws, so also payment is demanded for breaking God’s law. The result of disobedience is both physical and spiritual death. Eventually people die a physical death. But death also includes spiritual separation from God both during this lifetime and afterwards. So people who are spiritually separated from God may be physically alive now, but spiritually they are dead. Just as the fictional vampires are dead but continue to physically exist in this world, so are these sinful people the real “Living Dead.”
These spiritual dead are like the fictional vampires in other ways as well. In one TV series, “Forever Knight”, the hero is a medieval Crusader-turned-vampire who wanders the modern streets of Toronto as a night shift police detective, seeking to make amends for his past evil by solving crimes, while searching for a means to return to human mortality. Just as Nick Knight is doomed to roam the earth in physical darkness of night, so also people are lost in spiritual darkness in this world. Ephesians 4:18 states: “They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God . . . .” (NIV).
Vampires avoid the daylight; sinful men also avoid the light of God. John 3:19b-20 says “but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.” (NIV)
In another parallel, many people try to earn their salvation through good deeds, as does the vampire Nick Knight in his endless crusade against criminals in the dark alleys of the Canadian city. But just as Detective Knight is unable to achieve his humanity through good efforts, neither can the “Living Dead” earn their salvation through their good works. Religion, philosophy, good deeds and other efforts of mankind are insufficient to settle their debt from sin. People just cannot reach God by their own efforts.
The result of this failure is devastating. Not only do these people exist on earth as the “Living Dead” but they are also doomed to eternal punishment far exceeding the worse nightmare ever dreamed by horror flick aficionados. Hebrews 9:27 states: “. . . man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.” That judgment is described in Revelation 20:14b-15: “The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” (NIV) Horror movies create stunning images of awful frightfulness, but nothing in these imaginations creates the true terror that awaits those who continue to reject God. People need to know that they are lost and are in need of a Savior, that is, someone who can deliver them from the effects of sin.
2. Jesus took our punishment when He died for our sins and arose from the dead.
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8, NIV). 1 Cor 15:3b-6a states “. . . that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred….” (NIV).
Jesus Christ died in our place and then arose from the dead. Why does the Bible stress these facts? Anyone can say they will die for someone else, but since everyone dies, how can one know that their action was effective?
Christ proved His statements. First, He died, which was proved by the witnesses to His death on the cross (including Jewish leaders and Roman soldiers) and by his burial in a grave for three days. Second, He came back to life after He died, which He proved by appearing to over 500 people. He proved He is the Living God who is able to make the payment for our sins. No one else, before or since, has ever come back from the dead like that. The fictional vampires have a mere existence as they walk this earth, subject to final extinction from contact with the cross, daylight or a stake through the heart. Even Lazarus, who Jesus raised from the dead, later died a physical death again. But Jesus Christ remains alive forever.
“[S]o Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people;” (Hebrews 9:28, NIV) and “He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.” (Romans 4:25, NIV).
3. You can be saved through faith
“For God so love the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16, NIV) When a person trusts in Christ, his/her name is written in the Book of Life and he/she does not experience judgment at the Great White Throne nor perish in the unquenchable flames of the Lake of Fire in Revelation 20.
Heaven and eternal life is not some fantasy game nor experience in virtual reality nor a phantom existence in a nether world. Instead eternal life is a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, knowing God intimately and personally, forever. Through this relationship God gives us a full and meaningful life both here on earth and later. “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10, NIV).
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9, NIV). Faith does not mean a mere intellectual acknowledgment of the facts, nor is it a blind faith or emotional response. Instead faith involves our mind, emotions and will. Knowledge of facts + reliance upon those facts = faith/trust.
First, faith is based on true facts. The object of faith is important. People can glue feathers to their arms and believe that they can fly, but they will fall flat if they try it. Faith in falsehood does not work, no matter how sincerely one believes. Real faith is based on the person and work of Jesus Christ. “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6, NIV) Faith in anyone or anything else will not bring about salvation.
Second, faith is an act of will based on this true understanding of the facts. While the gospel is a free gift, it must be received. I can offer you a gift which I have already paid for, so it will not cost you anything, but the gift does you no good unless you accept it and put it to your own use. In the same way you must trust Christ and accept His gift. You must make a choice: to accept or reject Christ.
If you choose Christ, you choose life and light, in a relationship with God. “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.” (Ephesians 5:8, NIV) The vampire Nick Knight desires to live in the light but cannot find the way. But for people, Jesus Christ is the way to the light.
If you want to trust Jesus Christ as your Savior right now, then you must:
- Recognize that you are a sinner.
- Believe that Jesus Christ died for your sins.
- Trust Christ as your only means of salvation.
Would you like to pray right now and tell God that you are trusting His Son as your Savior? If so, the following is a suggested prayer:
PRAYER: “Dear God, I come to you now. I know that I am a sinner. I believe that Jesus Christ died for my sins and arose from the dead. Right now, I trust Jesus Christ as my Savior. Thank you for the forgiveness and eternal life that I now have. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”
ASSURANCE: If you have prayed this prayer, read John 5:24 “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.”
For more information on how to grow in your faith, go to: http://www.cru.org/training-and-growth/classics/index.htm