John C. and I were out at the bus stops at Islington and Elmhurst yesterday. I approached an elderly man, offering him the 10 commandment coin. He refused. I explained to him that we are out on the streets spreading the Gospel, and asked if we could talk for a bit while he waited for his bus. He agreed and started to talk about war. Later, I realized that he misunderstood me, for he originally thought I was asking him to teach me. He argued that we need a pope in Israel.
I asked, “Oh, are you Catholic?” “Yes,” he replied. I inquired about whether or not he thought God would accept him or reject him if he were to die. He was not happy with my question, and responded, “why are you talking to me?” “Because Jesus commands me to preach the Gospel.” He looked disgusted. Pulling out my little Bible, I said, “Here, I will show you where Jesus commands this.” He said, “No, don’t read that to me.” I said, “You don’t want to hear the Bible?” He insisted that I not read from the Bible on the streets. He said that such a thing is to be done in the church. The he said, “What you need to do is go to South East Asia and preach there.” I don’t doubt that South East Asia has great need for the Gospel, but so does Toronto!
I tried to persuade him that the Scriptures teach that we are to spread the Word everywhere and that even Jesus taught on the beaches and mountains. He did not want to hear it. I transitioned back to my original question: “if you were to die today, do you believe that God would accept you reject you?” He said, “If he was sleeping.” I said, “What if he is not sleeping?” With a jot of humour he replied, “Then we’ll get drunk. Eat, drink, and tomorrow we . . . (he could not remember the end of the phrase, but eventually went on) . . . work.” If my memory is correct, I think John C. said, “die,” in order to help the man (“… tomorrow we die”).
I thought, “what a great time to go to 1 Corinthians 15.” I said, “The Bible speaks of this idea. Let me show you what the Bible says about this.” I really wanted to go to 1 Corinthians 15 (for Paul approves of this mindset ONLY IF there is no resurrection from the dead . . . BUT there is a resurrection from the dead). Again, he did not want to hear from the Bible. He said, “Don’t read it. You should do that in private! It is to be done in secret. That is to be done in the church – not out here.” I said, “That is not what the Bible says. The Bible says that I am commanded to preach everywhere.”
I considered how old he is and that he may not have any contact with people who know and preach the Gospel. I was sincerely concerned for his eternal destiny. Without anger, but in gentleness and boldness, by the grace of God, I told him, “You will go to hell if you do not respond to this.” He turned from me, took a few steps away, and looked down the street awaiting the bus. He was still within about five feet of me (certainly within an ear shot). With sincere concern for his soul, I felt compelled to speak. By the grace of God, with sternness I spoke thus: “I will speak for no more than one minute before I go, but I have something to say: salvation has come near to you today; you will be judged; before it is too late, you need to turn to God and trust in the work that Christ did and not your own works; I hope to see you again.”
You never know how the Lord will use this call. God is mighty to save. And what about the privatization of religion in Canada? This man was simply saying out loud what many Canadians hold deep in their hearts. The reason for this is simple – people love peace more than truth. The problem with this love affair is that they fail to learn where true peace is found. How do we as Christians respond to this tenet which is so prevalent in our culture? Well, God is not silent on this issue – may his voice have an effectual force on his church in Canada: “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20, emphasis mine).
Church in Canada: arise, let us hear the call of Christ our Captain!