ABOUT THE BOOK, What Must I Do To Be Saved, by James R. Anderson
When my wife Karen and I married in 1980 we started to become increasingly involved in evangelism. Evangelism is telling others about the Gospel. The Gospel consists of the verses and passages in the Bible that tell us how we might get to heaven to spend eternity in paradise forever with Jesus, our Savior. The Gospel verses tell us that we gain this great gift of salvation by believing (trusting) alone in Jesus alone (and the blood Jesus shed on the cross to pay the full penalty for all our sins). John 3:16. This is truly the greatest story ever told.
Over the years we desired to more and more share this great Gospel story with family, friends and neighbors. During this time I was practicing law in the farming community in southwest Minnesota where I was born and where I had lived and practiced law all my adult life. I was now nearing the end of my legal career. I was sharing the Gospel with others, I had read the Bible many times and I had a good relationship with the Lord. Yet, occasionally I would have doubts about my salvation which I attributed to the devil’s attacks. But one day it hit me-I had not specifically researched the Gospel verses in the Bible as thoroughly as I would research the legal cases I was handling. And, as important as these legal cases were, eternity is much more important. Research and writing legal Briefs was the area of the law that I loved and thus became my strength. So, I sat down to specifically find every salvation verse or passage in the New Testament of the Bible and study that verse or passage. As I searched and studied and researched and prayed, it did not take long before I was fully assured, from the Bible, how simple and sure is our salvation the moment we transfer our trust from all our human works and devices and rituals and any other thing to Jesus alone. It is all Jesus and none of self. From that moment on the doubts simply vanished. The Bible promises this assurance to all. I John 5:13.
Coincidentally about this time I was presenting the Gospel to a great friend, who had helped me in life as none other, who was thus very, very dear to me. My presentation of the simple Gospel message led to an emotional and hateful outburst such as I had never witnessed before. This person thought I was attacking his denomination instead of sweeping away the sidetracks that lead people away from Jesus and salvation. I knew this outburst came from the devil’s meddling. Thankfully I did not respond in kind but rather came to love this person even more as I saw his need. But, how could I reach him? I knew that another face to face discussion would probably rupture our relationship forever.
Then, as I considered and prayed about this, the answer came. This person, like most others in our little town, read our daily newspaper. I could speak to him, not personally, but through the pages of this newspaper. There was a little roadblock though. I had to get the Gospel message in the newspaper. And, as with most newspapers, the newspaper was basically secular in its leanings. So, I called the editor, invited him out for coffee and shared with him that I desired to do a 5 year project where I would, each week, present each Gospel verse or passage in the New Testament of the Bible with a short commentary. The subject of course would be Biblical salvation. The editor knew me and thus fully knew that my commentary would be piercing and direct and not what we might call “politically correct.” Upon hearing me out, the editor looked at me and he had one question- “Jim, how much do we have to pay you to do this?” You could have knocked me over with a feather. And, so the verses and commentary that came to be this book came into being.
How it all was received? I can’t say that everyone in our little town was pleased. There are parts of the Gospel that are not in accord with what some people believe or are taught. The Gospel, you see, cuts out the self-appointed middlemen. But, the newspaper, to its credit, rode it out for 5 years. It was probably a miracle-I have doubts that any other daily newspaper in the state would have done this. This editor, who happened to be my political opposite, had tremendous courage. He suffered persecution. But, the Gospel reached people who would never have heard it otherwise. Over the years I have heard and seen many accounts of how these Gospel verses and passages have broken down barriers of blindness, ignorance, devilish strongholds of life destroying habits and “pleasures” and, yes, in some instances, man-made “religion” itself. The light of the simple but powerful Gospel, so simple a child can understand, was penetrating the hearts and minds of people week after week. And, what about my friend? After a few of these verses had run, he was initiating discussion of these verses with me. When these columns became a book, he was giving this book to his dear family. Can you see how a book or a radio message can penetrate when maybe nothing else will do so?
Can you see the power of these precious Gospel verses? Never underestimate the power of prayer. Never underestimate the power of the Bible. Never underestimate the power of the Holy Spirit. Never underestimate the power of God. And, never underestimate the power of the Gospel!