Arthur and I had just finished talking to a Muslim man at the corner of Don Mills and Eglington. We didn’t know who to approach, but prayed for wisdom, and even for the Lord to bring someone to us.
We walked north to Don Mills and Wexford, stood there and continued to pray. Not much was happening, but about 20 feet behind the bus shelter there stood a young woman. Obviously the thought crossed our mind, “Should we approach her?” but we thought it unwise. Even so, about 5 minutes later she came to the bus shelter. God answers prayer! What follows is an abbreviated summary of our conversation. (P is for me; and N is for the young woman).
P: Hi, my name is Paul and this is my friend Arthur. We’re out talking to people about the Gospel today. Do you have a religious background?
N: Yes, Roman Catholic.
P: We talk to Catholics often. And an important issue that often comes up deals with how someone receives the forgiveness of sins.
P: So, let me ask you a question. Now, (smiling) I hope you live a nice long life, and I hope you don’t die any time soon, but just think about this for a moment: what if you died, even today; what do you think God would do with you? Do you think he’d reject you or accept you?
N: Maybe I’d go to purgatory; you know, to get cleansed.
P: Did you know there’s no mention of purgatory in the Bible?
N: No? Really?
P: I don’t know how it got into Church tradition, but it’s not in the Bible. In fact, in Matthew 25 (I opened my Bible there), Jesus says that one day he will judge the world. And all people will stand before him. And their sentence will either be eternal punishment or eternal life. Here, let me show you (turning the Bible to show her the passage), right there, the underlined part, in verse 46, Jesus says “And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” He didn’t teach purgatory.
N: I didn’t know that.
P: Did you know that the Bible also teaches that the way to receive forgiveness for your sins is not by being a good person and keeping the sacraments?
P: Here (giving her my Bible that I’d opened to Ephesians 2), I want you to read this passage for yourself. See right there, where it has the 8 and 9; yes, please read those verses. (She read them silently).
P: Do you understand what it says about forgiveness of sins? I know the word forgiveness isn’t mentioned, but when Paul speaks of being saved, he means being saved from God’s punishment for our sins.
N: It’s a gift.
P: (With a big smile) Yes, it’s absolutely free; like a Christmas gift! See (pointing to the phrase), it says, “this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God, not a result of works.”
N: I’ve never heard that before.
P: No? Well, the Bible teaches this in so many places. If we had time, I could show you passage after passage. One of the main reasons why Jesus came was to work for us. You see, though you seem like a really nice person, the truth is, in God’s eyes, he knows that you’re like me and everyone else. The Bible teaches that we are all sinners. And therefore we’re guilty before God. And there is no way for us to remove the guilt. We are helpless. But God is loving and that’s why he sent Jesus to be our substitute. Do you know what a substitute is?
P: Jesus came and lived the perfect life for us. He never sinned. And he died in our place; he was punished for our sins. And he rose from the dead and he is alive. He is calling all people to believe in him and to trust in his work. (Pulling out a Two Ways to Live booklet) Here is a booklet. I really encourage you to read it. It summarizes the whole message of the Bible and explain why Jesus came.
N: (With a sense of assurance and sincerity) I will read it.
Arthur really encouraged her to visit our church and that was it. The bus came and off she went. May the Lord pursue her.