Yesterday I went to an evening service at my church, but before I entered the building, two young nice-looking high school seniors came walking toward me. There didn’t go to the church, so I introduced myself and inquired as to what brought them. They were two students at New Jewish Community High School who were assigned to visit a protestant church service. They found our website online and gave us a visit.
It didn’t take long to get talking about spiritual things. It started when I asked them about their beliefs regarding Judaism, Jesus, and the Torah. The conversation began before the service, and ended well after the service. We ended up talking for almost two hours.
One of the boys was particularly bright, and we engaged in most of the conversation. He wouldn’t call himself an agnostic, but that’s what he was. He believed he simply couldn’t ever know if there was a God. He was a total moral relativist, admitting that murderous terrorists were not necessarily wrong– they were virtuous in their own system. He had all the big questions most unbelievers have: If there’s a God, why all the pain and suffering? Why aren’t prayers answered? Why has religion been the source of all conflict for thousands of years?
He was a genuinely kind person. He wasn’t demeaning or insulting, and he was reasonable. He admitted when he was wrong and he seemed to think hard about things I said.
I shared the gospel several different times. Whenever I did, I asked them to genuinely repent and put trust in Jesus for the forgiveness of sins. And whenever I did, he smirked, like I was some fool wrapped up believing in some crazy myth. I don’t blame him, the cross is folly to the world.
He caught on fast how the Christian gospel is exclusive. At one point, he said, “So wait. Are you saying that no one can go to heaven unless they are Christian?”
Me: Unless they repent and trust in Jesus Christ for salvation, they won’t go to heaven.
Him: So we’re not going to heaven?
Me: Not unless you repent of your sins and trust in Jesus Christ for forgiveness of sins.
Him: What about someone who has never heard about Christianity? Someone who has never had the opportunity to hear about it?
Me: It breaks my heart, but Jesus said that “No one comes to the Father except through me.” People need Christ.
It maybe would have been easier to say “Well, I don’t know about that.” But the Word of God clearly tells us that unless people hear and respond to the gospel, they will not be saved (Rom. 10:17).
The whole idea of grace was brand new to them. They were shocked that all it took to get into heaven was repentance and faith.
Him: So I can punch you in the face, repent, and still go to heaven?
Me: Yes, but if it’s true faith and repentance, you won’t want to do those kinds of things anymore.
Him: So a serial killer can repent and go to heaven?
Me: Yes. And he’ll be forgiven. And he’ll stop killing people.
Him: I never knew that’s what you guys believed. But what if I do more better things than you? (He went on to humorously tell a story of how he saved his drowning cousin when he was younger). That good deed ought tip the scales in my favor a bit, right?
And so I went into the fallenness of man, and the doctrine of original sin, which he disagreed with. Which makes sense, because if there’s no universal moral code, there’s no such thing as sin. He obviously didn’t feel any need to repent.
Anyway, they walked away knowing full well what they were rejecting. I challenged them to read the Gospel of John and make an informed decision about the person of Jesus. I let them know their eternity depends on what they do with Jesus. And I prayed all the way home that Matt and Ben would accept their Messiah.
Sometimes, sharing the gospel isn’t so glorious. Sometimes, sharing the gospel makes you the fool. Let it be so, for
“We are fools for Christ’s sake”
1 Corinthians 4:10
Please pray for my friends that God would open their eyes to the reality of Jesus Christ’s gospel.