Andrew M. joined me for an hour or so on Saturday morning at the bus stops. We approached three people. All three were willing to talk. All three were Catholic. What follows are little summaries which recap each conversation.
Conversation 1: I could not get to my point
We met a man who received the 1o commandment coin that I hand out. I inquired about whether or not he thought God would accept him. He thought about it and suggested that God would accept him. I asked, “why.” He said, “Himself.” He meant “God Himself.” He did not appeal to his own works. I said, “Yes, the Bible is clear that God is loving, gracious, merciful and forgiving; but he is also holy and just. He must punish sin.” With sincerity I said,”Based on the teachings of Jesus in Matthew 7, we know that many people will go into eternal destruction; how do you know that God will forgive your sins?” He said, “If I am honest about my sin and repent, he will forgive.” He seemed a little flustered at my suggestion that there is more too it.
What caused me concern was the fact that he was not appealing to Jesus for forgiveness, nor any of his cross work as the basis of his forgiveness. His concept of receiving forgiveness was quit similar to that of Islam (Just ask and if you really mean it, and seek to change your ways, God will forgive . . . it’s that simple). I tried to explain that there must be punishment for sins, but I was not able to articulate it well. I decided to try to use an illustration which teaches that God the Judge must execute justice and that he will not simply forgive without payment for sin. I seemed to have a hard time getting to my point; in fact, I did not really get to my point. Before long the bus was there. I gave him a copy of the NT with a Gospel tract. This is not unusual for me – not being able to articulate what I would like to.
Conversation 2:What is a good person?
We approached a young man who is a student at Humber College. I told him what we are up to (spreading the Gospel). I asked him if he’d be willing to talk about the Gospel. He was willing. First, we talked about his studies. Thereafter, we talked about God. He grew up Catholic but he is not practising. I asked him he thought God would accept him or reject him if he were to die today. He thought God would accept him because, as he said, “I am a good person.”
I asked him to reason with me. I suggested that ultimately what counts on judgement day is what God considers a good person to be – it is his standards that count. The young man agreed with me. I went on to talk about these standards. One that I highlighted was Jesus’ teaching on adultery in Matthew 5:27-28. We talked for a little while, but then the bus came. He seemed to be thankful for the little talk we had. I handed him a NT with a Gospel tract.
Conversation 3: Andrew preaches law, sin, guilt and Gospel
We approached a lady, giving her a 10 commandment coin and explaining to her what we were up to (spreading the Gospel). She said that she was Catholic. I told her that Andrew grew up Catholic. Andrew said, “Yes, my mom dragged me out to church every Sunday; I was out of there as soon as I could be.”
Andrew went on to explain, “as Christians we have some similarities with Catholics.” Thereafter, he went on to say that “there are differences.” Then he proceeded to tell her about the righteous standards of God which are evident in his law. He reasoned with her that we are all sinners, for we have all broken God’s law. She agreed. Andrew talked about the judgement and how we are all guilty. She understood and commented on the hopelessness of our situation. However, I do not think she really believed we are completely hopeless based on how the conversation went later.
Whatever the case, Andrew went on to clearly explain the Gospel of God’s forgiveness. He explained how Jesus was punished in our place, because God is just and must punish sin. He made the Gospel plain and it was refreshing to hear.
She seemed to understand. She also seemed to enjoy hearing it. I knew that the doctrine of justification is a BIG difference between Catholicism and what the Scriptures teach. Thus, I pulled out the Bible and shared Ephesians 2:8-9. She seemed a little confused and surprised by the teaching that our works in no way contribute to gaining God’s acceptance. I tried to explain to her Christ’s substitutionary life and death on our behalf. She asked for me to explain it again; this really seemed like NEW stuff to her. I tried my best. The bus came. We gave her the NT with a Gospel tract. She was thankful and seemed to be hopeful to meet again.
Three for three. This is not normal for bus stop ministry. A 100% ratio of people willing to listen and converse about the Gospel is not simply not normal. Usually there is more rejection. But, you never know what doors the Lord may open . . . that is, unless you knock. May the Lord help us.