I heard a group of people talking on the footpath outside my house. Then they all headed up the hill, apart from one young man, who walked up my driveway and made a beeline straight for me. He was wearing a shirt and tie. My immediate thought was 'Mormon or JW?'. Turned out it was the latter...
It surprised me that Michael was alone - as by experience they normally travel in two's, and the second person is normally an older experienced person, who steps in when the going gets tough. Michael was either very good at what he does, or very naïve.
Michael (M) asked 'did you know that you can live forever?'
I answered 'well, yes I did. In fact everyone lives forever, but not necessarily in a good place. Only those who repent of their sins and place their trust Jesus Christ can be saved from hell'.
M 'That's right. So what do you think stops us getting into heaven?'
Me 'Well, because of Adam, we are born into sin. Only Christ can wash us clean of that sin'
He pulled out his bible and opened it to Romans 10:13: 'Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved'
Me 'That is true'
M 'So have you done that?'
Me 'Yes I have, I am a born-again Christian.'
M 'And are you working your faith in action?'
Me 'It depends what you mean by faith in action'
M 'Well, the bible says that you must confess your sin, then live out your faith, to please God'
Me 'That's a little vague. If you are meaning that our salvation is conditional on living out our faith, then no, that is not what the bible means'
M 'No, I just mean that we need to live out our faith. The more we live out our faith, the more we will be like Christ'
Me 'If you have truly repented of all of your sins, trusted Christ's sacrifice on your behalf, then the fruit of this repentance will be that you can't do anything but live out your faith'
M ' But God will be pleased with you if he sees you living out your faith. You will be a changed person for the better. All the bad old things you used to do you will no longer do. You will be a better person, more righteous, and God will be pleased with you.
I asked him to turn to Ephesians 2:8-9 in his bible. He took a while - it was obvious he did not know his New Testament very well. I asked Him to read it aloud.
M 'For it is by grace you have been saved through faith, and not of yourselves. It is the gift of God, not of good works, lest anyone should boast'.
Me 'There is nothing more I can do to earn God's favour. I am his child. When I was saved, I was clothed in Christ's righteousness. Now when God looks at me, He sees Christ, and He is pleased. Yes, I need to feed on His word and grow spiritually every day, but I cannot earn God's favour on my own, because without Christ's righteousness, there is nothing in me that God would find pleasing'.
I think this threw Michael off his stride a little. But then again, he was not really listening to the content of what I was saying - I could almost hear his brain ticking over - listening out for key words and phrases, and thinking ahead to what he was going to say next. Brainwashed Marketing techniques, and Michael was following it to the letter.
M 'Yes, but if we don't keep working at our faith, we will not grow to be like God'
I thought about Paul's letter to the Galatians, their problem being that they added works of the law on top of salvation.
M 'Before you were saved, you did things that displeased God. Now that you have repented, you have changed your ways. Your life has changed for the better. Now you need to work at being more like Christ. He turned a few pages and read 'For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. We need to make up the shortfall'.
Me 'Yes, that's Romans 3.23 you are quoting, but it's not talking about working to improve your faith. In context it is talking about if you are not saved you cannot meet God's perfect standard'
M 'You are very knowledgeable about the bible'
At this point my wife intervened, saying that we had to leave for dinner. She asked Michael where he came from. He said he was from Sudan, and he grew up in the Catholic faith. When his family moved to New Zealand, he joined the Jehovah's Witnesses.
He asked me if he could come around at a later date to talk to me. I said yes no problem. I gave him my phone number, I told him I am free most Tuesday nights. He said he might be able to make it this week.
He shook my dirty gardening hand, and went on his way.
This has been a wake up call for me. I have been very lax lately regarding sharing my faith, and this is a real kick up the pants.
I pray that Michael does turn up on Tuesday. No doubt with reinforcements, but that is fine, the more the better!
My intention is not to win arguments with clever points and counter-points. My intention is to show Michael the error of his ways, and help get him saved. I also need to swat up on their beliefs to be better prepared for him.
Will you please help by praying?
- Pray that God will give me the words and the scriptures to give to Michael (and any others that turn up)
- Pray that He will keep me humble, and help me to not get into game of one-upmanship or a war of words
- Pray that He will soften Michaels' heart to receive the gospel.
Thanks...I will keep you posted...