Category Archives: Good News Journal 2009

The Importance of Praying for Open Doors

This post was written by my good friend Peter N. He is a faithful man who loves Christ. I asked him to write this post after watching him faithfully evangelize at a restaurant this past weekend. I have learned much from him and I hope you will too. In this post he shares the story of what happened while attending my highschool alumni basketball game. This story serves as a great reminder of the importance of praying for open doors (and also attempting to turn conversations toward Christ). I trust you will profit from reading it.

Unexpected turn of events

This past Saturday, I had the opportunity to join Steve F., John M., Paul M., and Georgie M. to a yearly alumni basketball game in Listowel, Ontario, where they grew up and went to high school. The players were made up of past and present students of Listowel District Secondary School who played basketball. After the game, the tradition is to eat dinner at a particular restaurant. I had personally not planned on attending this event, but in God’s sovereignty I went along with them.

Praying for open doors

Paul M. had prayed before the game for evangelistic opportunities throughout the day. Once again the five of us prayed before dinner in the car for doors to open to share the gospel during dinner. The Lord answered us.

Discerning the situation

We entered the restaurant and only three of the players were already seated, T, S, and K. Once seated next to them we began to engage in small talk with the three who were there, snacking on peanuts and waiting for others to arrive. Others began to arrive while I was intentionally probing the three to see if a conversation would develop where the gospel could be presented. Nothing seemed to be going anywhere with K and T (they were not that talkative), but I began to have a conversation with S (who was quite talkative), asking about his work, life, and family.

The Lord opens the door

By this time, most had arrived, were seated, and we had ordered our food. As I continued to ask S about his family he mentioned his sister on an exchange program in another country. He remarked how she would come back next year “guaranteed.” That word struck me, guaranteed. “There really are no guarantees in life,” I thought. I proceeded to say that to him hoping that it would lead to a spiritual conversation. Thankfully, it did. He responded by asserting that if there are no guarantees in life, how can that statement be a guarantee? He was right. But the statement is still true from a human perspective. We as humans can make no guarantees apart from the promises of God. In that sense there are no guarantees in life. I asked him, “What do you think happens to you when you die?” That began an hour-long dialogue between him, Paul M., John M., and me.

He claimed to be a good person and on that basis God would accept him. He was skeptical of the exclusivity of Christianity and the Bible’s claims. He argued that he could not simply accept our testimony without having studied them himself. Paul M. clearly described the gospel to him. Paul M. challenged him to repent and believe the gospel, and by waiting he was actively rejecting the gospel. He needed to make a decision now. He chose to reject the gospel, excusing himself by stating he was going to wait for it to be revealed to him. In the meantime, he would continue searching for truth and be a good person.

I challenged him to search for the truth; not to dismiss the claims of the Bible and Christ without first having studied them himself, and without bringing presuppositions to the text. I urged him to read The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel because it adequately explains the history behind the formation of the canon. Steve F. suggested he read The Reason for God by Tim Keller. This is another excellent book, which highlights the rationality of believing in God and especially the God of the Bible. He said he would read them. I pray he does. I got his e-mail address to follow-up with him. I will in the coming weeks.

It all started with prayer

It all started with the prayers in the car, before and after the game. The Spirit gave us the willingness and intentionality to proclaim the gospel to S, not to mention in the hearing of T and K. The Lord was sovereign. He answered our prayers. He gave us the boldness we needed. To Him belongs the glory forever and ever.

Gospel on the GO Bus

Late night on the GO

Recently, I was travelling from Toronto to Guelph on the GO bus. The trip was late at night. By the time we were getting close to the Guelph there was only one other passenger on the bus (sitting near the back). I was sitting right at the front . . . in a great spot for a conversation with the bus driver.

I did not feel like talking, BUT . . . 

I did not feel like talking. However, I sensed that it would be best to try to talk to the driver and hopefully spread the Gospel to him. Yet, I found a war being waged within myself, “Just read your Bible instead, it’s too awkward to say something to this guy.” But on the other hand, “Have faith in God, just say something; who knows what the Lord may do?” “No, he is going think you are weird; just read, that makes more sense.” Yet, “Why wouldn’t you try to evangelize; be bold, open your mouth and speak?” The war continued, but finally, by the grace of God, I spoke (praying much).

I opened my mouth

“So how long you been driving bus?” I forget the exact amount of years, but he said something like, “Ten years.” I said, “How do you like it?” He replied, “It’s good.” I said, “Do you always do this route or do they switch it up?” He responded, “They switch it up.” The small continued for a bit and that was it. Silence. Attempt made. Good little chat, no Gospel, but at least I tried. A little discouraging that the conversation ended so soon. But, I cannot force things – I guess the Lord was not opening the door. Or was He?

I sat in silence for a little while, wanting to say something, but having no idea what would be suitable to say. No longer we went without speaking the more weird I felt resuming the conversation. Finally, he passed a truck and said to me, “This truck was holding us up and all the traffic behind us, now we can go faster.”

I thought, “Wow, he said something! This is an open door to respond . . . somehow . . . in someway.” I said, “I notice you have an accent. Where are you from?” He said, “Sri Lanka.” “Really!” I replied. Then I went on to explain how I have friends from Sri Lanka. He found this interesting. I learned that has been in Canada for over twenty years now. I went on to ask him about his religion. He told me that he is Hindu though Sri Lanka is largely Buddhist.  

Talking about Jesus

I told him that I was a Christian and asked, “What do you believe about Jesus?” He did not really answer my question but assured me that he is not very religious and that religion has been the cause of great problems in the world, especially war. I agreed to this sad reality but told him that Jesus Christ came to give peace, to reconcile people to God. He seemed quite intrigued. [Now for those of you NT scholars, I know it is also true, in another sense, that Jesus also came “not to bring peace, but a sword” (Matt 10:34), BUT this is in reference to personal relationships with family . . . on the cost of following Jesus.]

I asked him, “Do you know the Gospel of Jesus Christ?” “No.” I asked, “Can I tell you what it is?” He said, “sure.” I started by explaining Genesis 1-3 (in summary fashion). I focused on how God is the Creator and that He created all things good. I told him how God created us to be with him. God was to be our God, we were to be his people and He was to dwell in our midst. But Adam and Eve rebelled against God, and this rebellion had deadly repercussions. I stopped and asked him if he understood what I was saying. He affirmed that he did. So I went on.

Romans 5 with people from the East

From this point I basically explained Romans 5:12-21. We talked about the difference between the individualistic culture of the West as opposed to the East. He agreed that the culture of Sri Lanka is much more familial. He seemed to have a clear understand of how the SIN of one family member serious affects the rest of the family. So, I explained Adam and Jesus as the two representative heads of mankind. If my memory is correct, I think I talked about the consequence for sinning against God, which is everlasting punishment. I talked about the guilt of our sin and how the entire human race is unable to somehow undo our guilt. It is too late.

Thus, I explained how God has shown his great love toward us in providing a way to be saved from our sin, guilt and punishment. He sent Jesus to be our representative in two ways. He came on our behalf, acting as a substitute, both in his (1) life=representative righteousness for us, and (2) death=representative bearing punishment for us.

From this point I explained how the only way to benefit from the work the Jesus has done on our behalf is being stopping to live our lives our way, and to turn to Jesus, putting all of our trust in Him and the WORK that HE HAS DONE on our behalf.

If my memory is correct, I think I stopped and asked him if he understood what I saying. Again, he said that he did. Sometimes I ask this often because it gives the person a chance to ask questions and to gain clarification on anything I said that may be unclear to them. Whatever the case, he really seemed to be listening and understanding (at least on an intellectual level). I asked him, “Have you ever heard this message before?” He said, “No, but it is good to hear this teaching.”

The Gospel is a message of command

I continued, “There is one more thing you need to know. This message is not just an option. The Bible says that God is commanding all people everywhere repent, that is, to turn to Christ (Acts 17:30-31), even you and me – all people. Everyone will face the judgement.”

A weighty feeling of intensity and awkwardness

At this point I could feel the intensity of our conversation. This was not a light conversation. I was telling him that God is commanding him to turn to Jesus Christ. There was a weight that I could feel in the air. I was uncomfortable. I was tempted to say something to lighten things up a bit. Possibly I could say, “Well that’s Gospel. Thanks for listening,” or “So, how many kids do you have?” or “Do you have a place where you meet with other Hindu’s for worship?” I often make the mistake of saying something to lighten things up at these really intense moments. This time God gave me the grace to let it sit. I endured the awkwardness and said nothing. Neither did he. I wondered what he was thinking – only God knows. That was it.

Eventually, we had some brief small chat when he dropped me off in Guelph. He was very friendly. I gave him a copy of the NT and a Gospel tract inserted. He was thankful for it. This is the ministry of planting. You never know what kind of ground you are planting on AND who God may send to water.

Praise God for His Grace

Praise God for shaking off my fears and giving me boldness. This evangelistic break through was because of God’s grace. I am thankful to God for this grace. I was filled with joy after sharing. People come to faith by hearing the Gospel (Rom 10:17). May the Lord give us the grace to keep spreading it!

Talking to a JW at Coffee Time (2 of 3): Translation and Trust

On October 19, I wrote my first of three posts on a conversation I had with a Jehovah’s Witness at a Coffee Time in Guelph, Ontario. I promised to write two more posts. Originally, I planned to continue writing about that first meeting I had, but I met with that same man last week. Thus, though I shall keep my promise of writing two more posts on my dialogue with the JW at Coffee Time, this post (and the third one) will recap my most recent talk with him, which again, was at a Coffee Time in Guelph.

Again we met for about two and a half hours. Thus, we talked about many things, but one very important observation we keep coming to was that of our differing translations. Different translation means different meaning which means different truth and therefore, a different faith. Accordingly, we talked about translations.

Though I have only studied three years of Greek and two years of Hebrew, I know for certain that when Jesus says, “Before Abraham was, ego eimi” (John 8:58), ego eimi is in the Present Indicative Active. For those of you who do not know what Present Indicative Active means, simply know this, it means ego eimi should be translated “I am.” Accordingly, “Before Abraham was, I am” is the correct translation of John 8:58. I spent quite bit of time explaining this to my JW friend, but he would not accept it. His translation says something like, “Before Abraham was, I have been.” I showed him that Jesus is alluding to Jehovah’s self-description in Exodus (3:14). Jesus is saying that He is Jehovah. Jesus is saying He is God. He would not believe it. I explained that Jesus’ pronouncement of being God is the very reason that “the Jews picked up stones to throw at him” (John 8:59). 

In response, he took me to Proverbs 8:22, where wisdom personified seems to be a description of Christ. However, the JW translation says something like, “Jehovah produced me at the beginning of his work.” However, the ESV says, “The LORD possessed me at the beginning of his work.” Produced and possessed contain very different meanings. Did the Lord produce Jesus OR did He possess Jesus? The Lord did not produce Jesus. Jesus is eternal. We looked at various texts and I continued to see that the JW translation was different at many points.

Sadly, this man trusts the JW translation and he believes that all the other translations are wrong. He does not know any Greek or Hebrew. He has not questioned the JW translation. He has not fixed his hands to the task of studying these things. He simply accepts the JW translation, trusts it and prizes it.

In my first meeting with him, I had my Greek NT with me and I explained how John 8:58 is not translated correctly. However, he would not accept what I said. He only believes what the Watchtower society tells him. I asked him what he reads. He only read three things: the JW Bible and two magazines produced by the Watchtower society (Watchtower and Awake) – that is it. I also noticed that he uses a book called something like Reasoning from the Scripture, which tells him the meaning of various passages of the Bible that may be controversial. He used this book a few times when I asked him questions on texts that he could not answer and that contradicted JW theology. Therefore, other JW authors interpret the Bible for him. Some of their reasoning is certainly NOT reasonable.

I challenged him, “What if they are wrong? These other sources are simply the word of man. They can be wrong.” He replied, “If they are wrong then I am wrong, but they teach the truth – everything is right from the Bible. I am not learned like you . . . I don’t know the Bible like you, so I trust them.” I responded, “So what if I approached you before the JW’s did, you would believe me?” He said, “Maybe I would.” I said, “So you are banking all your trust in what they say?” He said, “Yes, I trust them. They show me the truth from the Bible.”

This was a very interesting talk that went on for some time. I told him that they are wrong about Jesus and I tried to show him why, but he would not really listen to me – he will only think about the Bible in ways that the JW’s have told him to think. I kept reminding him that he is trusting in the word of man.  I really challenged him to read more widely but as far as he is concerned, as he said, “If I have the truth, why look elsewhere?” I assured him that he doesn’t.

I also told him that his view of the Bible has been dictated by two magazines for twenty-three years. I assured him that I was telling him the truth but that he will not accept it simply because it is not in agreement with the teaching of two other magazines that have shaped his theology. He openly admits that these two magazines have largely shaped the way he sees and understands the Bible. However, he sees this as a good thing.

We both agreed that we are not worshipping the same God, nor the same Jesus. I am sobered and saddened by his blindness. I cannot help but think of 2 Corinthians 4:4 (“the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers”). But, I believe that the gospel is “the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Rom 1:16) . . . and how will JW’s believe? By hearing the Gospel (Rom 10:17). I believe there is hope. May the Lord have mercy on whom He will have mercy.

Back to the Bus Stops – An Hour with Steve F.

Georgie and I returned from our honeymoon this past Sunday (by the way, I love being married to Georgie!).  Upon returning we’ve been busy moving into our new place. So now, after about a month of silence, I am online again and ready to blog!

After feeling convicted for shying away from some evangelistic opportunities (and possible promptings) this past month, I felt burdened to hit the bus stops today. After spending time in the Word (2 Kings 6:8-19 and Phil. 1:29) and prayer, Steve F and I hit the bus stops at Islington and Elmhurst for about an hour this afternoon. What follows is a very brief summary/recap of two conversations we had:

A Catholic Trusting in his Works

Steve and I approached a guy at the bus stop. I told him we were from the church down the road and that we were out sharing the Gospel. I asked him if we could speak with him briefly while he waited for his bus. He was cool with that, but he reassured me that he too was a Christian for he was Catholic.

Then I proceeded to talk to him about Jesus as the only way to God. He then informed me that he is NOT really a devout Catholic but that his parents are more Catholic than he. I cut to the chase and asked if he thought God would accept him or reject him if he were to die today. He was convinced that God would accept him. He said he was a good person. He also mentioned that he had never murdered anyone or did anything really evil.

I told him that what ultimately matters on Judgement Day is the standards of the Judge. I said, “God standards are what matter. Jesus talked about these standards.” I opened up my little NT to Matthew and read Matthew 5:27-28 on Jesus’ standards concerning adultery and lusting. The bus came so I gave him the NT and really encouraged him to read the tract inserted.

Talking to an Agnostic with No Religious Background

We approached this young man (we will call him V) the same way as we did the Catholic. He did not seem to be excited about talking, but he definitely listened and seem to get more interested the more we conversed. I quoted from John 14:6 and told him that Jesus must be either the Lord, a lunatic or a liar. He agreed to these logical possibilities. I asked him, “Have you ever read from the Bible?” “No,” he replied. Then I said, “Do you have any religious background?” Again, he responded, “No.” I asked, “Do your parents have a religious background?” He said, “Buddhist.” Then he told us that he was basically agnostic.

Steve proceeded to explain the law of God. He asked V if he had ever lied, stolen, dishonoured his parents. If my memory is correct, V confessed to breaking these laws. After going through the law, Steve asked him how this all relates to his worldview as an agnostic.

On that topic the conversation swung back to me. I did not want V to think that he was somehow exempt from the law of God and it’s just demands simply by being agnostic. Thus, I decided to show him that his worldview is self-refuting and thus problematic. I said, “I am not trying to be rude with you here, I just want you to consider how being agnostic is self-refuting. Think about this: you are certain that you cannot be certain about things.” He said, “I guess you can put it that way.” I said, “I do not know exactly how your agnosticism fleshes out compared to other agnostics, but is true that you believe that we cannot know anything for sure?” He agreed (that we cannot know anything for sure). I said, “Listen closely, this position is self-refuting, it does not hold – you are saying that you are absolutely sure that you cannot be sure about anything.” I spelled this out slowly for I wanted him to see that he really is sure about something, namely, that you cannot be sure about anything. I am not sure if he has ever had anyone attack the very foundation of his worldview like this, but I hope the Lord uses it to shake his confidence in agnosticism and to drive Him to the Scriptures and to Christ.

We gave him a NT and encouraged him to read it and to read the Gospel insert as well. His bus came and he seemed to be slightly sad to leave. I told him that my contact info is on the literature we gave him. Then he left.

Praise God for giving Steve F and I the grace to go and spread His Word. May He keep us humble and may His Word bear fruit and multiply.

Talking to a JW at Coffee Time (1 of 3): The Resurrection and Eternal Punishment

A few weeks ago, when I was reading my Bible at Coffee Time, a man came up to me expressing his joy to see me reading the Scriptures. I instantly asked him, “What church are you from?” He told me that he was a former Catholic who converted to become a Jehovah’s Witness. He gave me a tract and used my open Bible to point me to some passages in the Psalms. I invited him to sit down and he proceeded to share more.

He told me about the wicked and the righteous and asked, “But who are the righteous?” I quickly interjected, “That is a very good question. One of the clearest descriptions of what it means to be righteous is found in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew.” I showed him Matthew 5:48, in which Jesus says, “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

How to become righteous became our topic of conversation. He kept wanting to talk about the end times and the evil of this world, but, by the grace if God, I kept bringing us back to this topic: “how can a sinner become righteous?” We must be careful not to jump from trail to trail without ever making progress on any one of them. Sometimes this calls for a boldness to say something like, “Actually, I don’t mind talking about Y, but before we move on, can we spend some more time talking about X? I think we left that issue unresolved.”  

I opened up Ephesians 2:8-9 and we studied these verses. We spent quite a bit of time on how to be made acceptable to God. He insisted that we are not only saved by our faith in the work of Christ, but that our works contribute to gaining a right standing with God. I argued from the Scriptures that justification is by faith alone in Christ alone. Though agreeing with me at first, he soon learned that he does NOT really believe that.

Before he left, I took him to the place Jesus claims to be Jehovah when he says, “before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58). He did not agree that this was a claim to Diety, but our time had run out. We exchanged numbers to meet again. Accordingly. we met this morning for about two and a half hours. Much was said so I will limit this post to a summary of the first main topic we discussed: the resurrection and eternal punishment. I plan to do part two and three of this talk in two separate posts (on Watch Tower literature and the Divinity of Jesus).

The Resurrection and Punishment: Would a Loving God Punish People Forever?

Upon arriving he started talking about God’s plan to be with man. I agreed with him (furthermore, I endorse his approach as a great starting point for sharing the Gospel). He explained much of Genesis 3 with precision. He taught accurately about death, that is, until I heard him say, “death is like sleep.” Before our meeting, I had just read a Watch Tower tract that said “the dead are not conscious” so I was curious to know his stance on the resurrection of the dead and the eternal condition of those who are NOT righteous.

He took me to Ecclesiastes 9:5, which says, “For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing, and they have no knowledge, and they have no more reward, for the memory of them is forgotten.” The dead have no knowledge – point taken. The OT description of Sheol is the place of the dead.

Be that as it may, the Scriptures also teach that there is a point at which dead are raised. I took him to John 5:28-29, where Jesus teaches that, “an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.” I argued that all people will be resurrected – some to life, others to judgment. He eventually agreed, but what does the “resurrection of judgment” mean?

We went to Daniel 12:2. It is written, “And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.” I argued that at the resurrection the dead awake, and are not put to death, but to everlasting shame (they do not arise from sleep to go back to sleep). Whatever else can be said, it is an eternal condition of conscious shame. He would not agree, but argued that dying is “punishment enough.” He then stepped away from the text and asked me pointedly, “When disciplining your child, would you take you child’s hand and put it on the burner of an oven to be burned?” I responded, “No.” He replied, “Would a loving God make someone burn forever? I said, “A Holy God would punish people eternally for sin. For they are sinning against God and He is Holy. In fact, He is infinitely Holy, so the punishment of those who sin against Him will be infinite.” I qualified this and talked about fire as a metaphor for real punishment. I also talked about the infinite nature of God’s holiness and our need to perceive God not only as a parent, but as a Judge.

He continued to tell me that it is impossible for a loving God to punish people forever. I told him, “I don’t want to believe in the doctrine of eternal punishment . . . it is a sad doctrine. It does not tickle me. I do not find pleasure in it. It is hard; but it is true, therefore I must believe it. Jesus taught it. I must subject myself to the Scriptures.”

I took him to Matthew 25:41-46. Verse 46 says, “And [the unrighteous] will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” The New World Translation says, “eternal cutting off.” This is a terrible translation that should be cut off itself (and replaced with “punishment”). Whatever the case, unless you play hermeneutical gymnastics you cannot escape the doctrine of eternal punishment in this passage. Even if you did call it “cutting off,” it keeps happening and it is an unpleasant experience to say the least. The punishment is as eternal as the life. The life is as eternal as the punishment. Both are unending. If the punishment is not conscious, why would the life be? interpreters need to be consistent here.

I asked him about the devil and his angels that enter into the eternal fire in Matthew 25:41. He responded, “That means they are consumed by the fire – destroyed. They are no more.” He continued to argue that fire completely destroys things. I responded by reminding him that this is not always the case. I referred him to the burning bush (Ex. 4) which, though it kept burning, was not consumed. My example did not satisfy him. I tried telling him that literal fire is not necessarily Jesus’ main point – his main point is that hell is a bad unending condition (to say the least).

He would not agree. I showed him Revelation 14:10-11 which teaches that “the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshippers of the beast and its image.” He wanted to talk about the beast, but I would not let the conversation go that way for long. I asked him, “how can they have NO REST if they are destroyed?” He was silent. I said, “they have no rest day or night because they are awake and being tormented continually.” Again, he could not believe this because of his twisted concept concerning how it is that “God is love.”

Ironically, he took me to Revelation 20:10 which actually says that the devil, the beast and the false prophet will be “tormented day and night forever and ever.” When he read it, he stopped in his tracks and said, “Oh, yes, you will see this one the same way.” I said, “Tim (fake name), it says ‘forever and ever,’ how else can you interpret that? It is clear. I don’t know what else to say to you? I just don’t know what to say?” He said, “I don’t know what to say either.”

We simply could not agree on this doctrine. I realized that his view of God and Scripture is totally dominated by the systemic theology and teachings of the Watch Tower society rather than a natural reading of Scriptures. (The Watch Tower organization became our next topic of conversation.) Even when confronted with the truth that the punishment of the devil, the beast and the false prophet “will be tormented day and night forever and ever” (Rev 20:10), he refused to believe that “forever and ever” really meant forever and ever.

One explanation for his unbelief is the very passage he read aloud to me in our conversation: “the god of this world has blinded the minds of unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Cor 4:4). Oh that he would see the light and live! 

May the Lord remove his blindfold. And may the Lord forever remind us that salvation is all of grace.

Handing out a NT on the TTC

By God’s grace I graduated this past Sunday night! On the Thursday before that Sunday, I took my last exam at the TBS extension site in Guelph. With the desire to make a surprise visit to my fiance in Toronto, I plotted to take the GO bus and TTC to Toronto. I knew I may meet someone along the way so I packed my NT’s with Gospel tracts just in case.

I didn’t meet anyone on the GO bus, but found myself waiting in a really long line at York U (transfer), waiting for my TTC bus. A young man joined the line asking me, “Is this the line for bus 60?” I confirmed that it was and asked him, “Are you a student here?” He said, “No, I am a student from Seneca, but we have a joint program with York.” From this point we talked for a long time about his studies and his stay in Canada, for he is Cambodian and has only been in Canada for one year.

He asked me where I went to school and I told him Toronto Baptist Seminary. I told him that I am training to be a Christian pastor. If my memory is correct, I believe he asked me what I study. I told him, “The Bible.” I asked, “Do you know what the Bible is? Have you heard of it?” “Yes,” he replied and the conversation moved on to other things. Soon the bus came and we were separated in a jam packed bus.

However, he waited outside the bus for me at Finch station. We connected onto another bus and resumed our conversation about his stay in Canada. I was determined to give him a copy of the NT with a Gospel tract. Thus, I waited for the right opportunity, but it did not seem to come. Thus, I concluded that I would give it to him upon departing.

When my bus was within a couple of minutes from my stop, I told him I had something for him. I had lots of luggage on me so I had to drop a bag and search for the NT. I found it and gave it to him, showing him the tract inserted. He was very thankful for it. He responded, “Oh, is this what you study?” I said, “Yes.” But I started to feel quite nervous for a lady in the bus was intensely staring at me as I gave him the Bible and talked to him. I kept glancing over at her only to find her fixed on me. This was quite unsettling. He was very interested. When he saw my contact information on the NT, he said, “McDonald, that is really your name – like the restaurant?” With a smile, I responded, “Yes.” He asked me if I had Facebook, which I told him I do not have. But I told him he could email me (for my email contact in on the literature I distribute). Cherokee and Finch – my stop had arrived. That was it.

When I left the bus, I thought, “Why did I feel so nervous handing out a NT in front of a bunch of onlookers in a TTC bus?” Having someone intently staring at you can make anyone feel uncomfortable, but was my discomfort completely justified? I think part of the reason I felt awkard was because I started to be more concerned about what people thought than God and His reputation. I was convicted by this fact, but I praise God that He gave me the grace to love this young man and to deliver him the NT Scripture with the tract. Praise God for enabling me to obey Him in spite of my own fears.

May the Lord have mercy on whom He will have mercy, even me.

Last Day of Internship and the Righteousness from God that Depends on Faith

Today was my last day of work. I understand that many people dream of their last day of work, but not me. Well, at least not for this job. I will miss full-time evangelism. Though this summer came with difficulty, God granted grace upon grace to keep me going and looking to Him for help. He is faithful.

So, how did I spend my last day? Well, I spent much time working on preparing the curriculum for our summer kids series (Exploring Egypt to Sinai: 4 P’s that Point You to Christ!). I am hoping to have it ready as a pdf document that can be accessed for free on the Grace Fellowship Church website. Hopefully it will be ready soon and hopefully it will be a blessing to others. I had a long meeting with a Muslim man today. This was our second meeting. Both meetings have lasted at least three hours! Thank the Lord that Tim Horton’s does not have a maximum time limit!

Luis (from the Spanish Church) came out with me again. This time we read in Acts 4 and 18 before praying and hitting the bus stops in Rexdale. I will share one little recap (or snippet) of an encouraging little conversation we had this morning.

The Righteousness from God that Depends on Faith

Luis and I approached a man handing him a coin with the 10 commandments on it. He thought it was neat. We explained that we are from the GFC and how we were out spreading the Gospel. He told us that he is a Christian.

Before long I asked the man, “If you were to die today, do you believe that God would accept you or reject you?” He told me, “That is tough to answer. I mean, we all have sinned and sin cannot be in God’s presence; so we have to repent. But, I have sinned today, if not in my actions then in my thoughts. But I need to repent. You see, that is a tough question. I don’t know.”

I replied by telling him of the importance of the question. He agreed. Then I said, “We can know whether or not God will accept us. Jesus spoke on these very things when he came. I mean – I know. I know that God will accept me.” He said, “How do you know?” I said, “Because my faith is in Jesus – let me show you a passage.” I went to Philippians 3.7-9. I opened it up and held it before him reading it aloud. Interestingly, he pulled out his pen and underlined everything that I read (while I was reading it). He seemed genuinely interested.

After our public Scripture reading (I love that!), I said, “People refer to an alien as something that comes from outer space, that is, from outside the world. In this passage, Paul speaks of alien righteousness. This is a righteousness that we do not work for. This is the righteousness that I have received because of my faith in Christ. I did not work for it. Now, this is the righteousness that I have which makes me acceptable for Judgment and to God.”

He seemed intrigued. He goes to a Church, but this all seemed like new news to him. Then he said to me, “How can you know if you have faith?” I said, “That’s a great question.” I flipped to 1st John and told him, “This letter, 1st John, was written primarily to answer that question.” I put my Gospel tract in that part of the NT (which I had given to him) so that he could easily access 1st John.

The bus came and I told him that my contact info is on the NT I gave him. He was thankful and told me that he was going to call me. We will see. Praise the Lord for answering our prayers. Luis and I really prayed for open doors. Accordingly, the Lord opened doors. He is faithful. (Prayer is absolutely essential in evangelism because God is absolutely essential in evangelism).

Philippians 3.9 is one of the clearest verses on the imputation of Christ’s righteousness to believers. Those who are truly saved “do not have a righteousness of [their] own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith.” May the Lord grant him faith in Christ that he may receive righteousness from God. How else can we be rightly clothed for Judgment Day?

I think it is fitting to end my internship on the note of Philippians 3.9. Chew on this my friend . . . and savour the flavour! The Gospel of justification by faith alone and the imputation of Christ’s righteousness – this is the Gospel that melts the heart with love and causes the mouth to open and even speak! May the Lord help us in our evangelism as he has in giving us his righteousness.

This Blog

This blog will likely continue into the fall, but I will have to think and pray more about this – please let me know of any ideas you have to make this blog more of a blessing to Christ’s church. To those of you who have been faithfully praying for me and encouraging me: Thank you so much for your interest, love and support. I really felt prayed for and I am thankful to God for you. Sincerely, thank you so much – you co-laboured with me and helped in the spread of the Gospel. Rejoice my friend, rejoice! God did great things this summer – lots of planting! Lots and lots of planting. Oh that we might see a harvest in Canada in our lifetime . . . and if not in ours – oh that it may be in the next! The Lord may do it. Glory is due His Name.