Bright Lights to Eerie, Pennsylvania

While in Ohio for a couple of conferences this summer, I had the opportunity to spend an afternoon with this vibrant family! A friend of theirs had recently been in a traumatic car accident. We were on our way to be with him and some of his family at the hospital, but before doing that, we spent an hour or two witnessing at a bay in Pennsylvania. I soon discovered what a true, bright light this family is! Their enthusiasm and creativity in sharing the Gospel encouraged our whole ministry team as I shared stories with them later.

Since the friend we were about to see in the hospital had recently been in a near-death experience, some of us used that as a conversation starter, asking if the one to whom we were talking was in that car accident and hadn't survived, where would they be? Heaven? Hell? What would happen? What did they believe?

One lady I talked with said she believed she was a good enough person to go to Heaven when she died. I then asked her if she would like to take a "good person test" to make sure. She hesitated and said, "No . . . no, I don't want to."

"I'm guessing that means you're not so sure that you are a good person, then. But if you are hinging where you'll spend eternity based on your belief in your goodness, don't you want to be sure that you are indeed good?"

"Well, I guess I just don't really feel like a very good person right now. I just had a few beers . . . but I do have a lot of questions, though, like, why didn't God create a perfect world? Why is there so much pain and suffering?" I told her God actually did create a perfect world, but that He also created man with a free will. That means we were not made to be like a bunch of robots running around doing whatever we were programmed to do, but rather He created us with the ability to choose between good and evil. He wanted us to obey Him because we loved Him. However, the very first man (Adam) sinned, and because of that sin, pain and suffering entered the world and has passed down upon all the descendants of Adam (see Romans 5:12). All of Creation is under a curse (see Romans 8:22), but only for a time. God has promised to create a new earth with no pain, no sadness, no suffering, no tears, no death, no curse. Why is He waiting? Because judgement must come before the new earth, and God is longsuffering, holding off that judgement for a time because He is not willing that anyone should perish, but that all should come to repentance (see II Peter 3:9). There is a day when the door of God's mercy will be shut and it will be too late. If you put your trust in your own personal merits, you will fall embarrassingly short. "As it is written, There is none righteous, no not one:" (Romans 3:10) "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God;" (Romans 3:23) " . . . And all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; . . . " (Isaiah 64:6) I left my new friend with some materials to read when she was sober again, and she was very grateful, as was I, to have met.

Another lady was out by the water taking a smoke. She had a few minutes before she had to be back at work, so we had a friendly conversation and she let me take her through the law (found in Exodus 20). When I told her that Jesus said to look at someone with lust is the same as committing adultery, and that hating someone would be judged as murder, she said, "Oh . . . maybe I'm not such a good person!"

Two young men were walking down the street and a couple of us walked up to them and said we had a question. "If you were to die today, where would you go?"

"Why don't you ask yourself!" one of the guys retorted.
"I have."
"Yeah? Well what do you believe?" Wow, we got to that fast, I thought!

"Well, I believe in a Heaven and a Hell," I said. "We are all sinners and will be judged by God's perfect standard on Judgement Day. Those who have lied, stolen, cheated, lusted and taken God's name in vain will be thrown into Hell, because the wages of sin is death. But the problem is, that describes all of us. So God, in His mercy, made Himself to be a substitute. 2,000 years ago, God became a man - the man Christ Jesus - lived a perfect life (something none of us has done or possibly could do), and took the punishment of our sin upon Himself, dying a cruel death on the cross in our place. Three days later, He defeated death itself, and rose again to life. Now all we have to do is turn from our sins (repent), confess we are sinners that deserve God's justice, and put our trust - not in our ability to even partially earn Heaven - but in Jesus Christ, who was the substitutionary atonement for our sin. The moment we do that, God will forgive us and grant us eternal life."

That began an interesting conversation. At first glance, those two guys (one with long, blue hair, and both with piercings and chains all over) could have looked intimidating. But God's Word "is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the diving asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." (Hebrews 4:12) God's law works directly with the conscience, and as a result, in just a couple minutes, at least one of the two guys was seriously considering salvation, taking more material on the Gospel with a receptive heart. Praise the Lord! What a privilege it is to share such an exciting message of forgiveness and hope.

Do you have a witnessing story you'd like to share? I would love to read it in the comments below!

I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day:
the night cometh, when no man can work.
John 9:4

Labels: ,