The question of the day was: "What must I do to be reconciled to God?"
The first people I spoke with were two young men; one seemed to be somewhat familiar with the gospel yet disinterested. The other seemed to be listening, interested, and showed some evidence of conviction after I began to explain sin, righteousness, and judgment. Neither one of them knew what the gospel was, although they had heard the word used by their preacher and had regularly attended church in the past. As I was speaking with them, three to four of their friends walked up and I began sharing the gospel with them, yet they were also disinterested. All of them were on their cell phones except for the convicted young man. I focused on him, gave him the gospel, and left them all with gospel tracts.
2. A Pot Smoker and two Apathetic Muslims
The second group of guys I spoke with consisted of one young man from Africa named Eli who claimed to be a Christian and his American friend that claimed to be a Muslim. Eli told me that I had to keep the Ten Commandments to be right with God and the Muslim guy seemed like he didn't want to answer my question about how one could be reconciled to God. I asked Eli if he had kept the Ten Commandments and he adamantly said, "No! No man can keep God's law perfectly!" to which I agreed and then asked him what a righteous and holy God should do to him on the day of judgment. Eli tried to argue that God would be merciful to Him and I asked, "Upon what basis?" and he said, "Because God is forgiving and merciful." I said, "True, but a perfectly righteous and holy judge must perfectly judge your sin or else He's not a good God." He disagreed because he said he had been a pretty good guy. I then asked him what a good earthly judge should do to a "pretty good guy" that raped and murdered a girl 30 years ago but since the murder he's been doing soup kitchen and homeless shelter work and has been an otherwise upstanding citizen. He said the earthly judge should forgive him and let him go. I said, "What!? Upon what basis? I mean, didn't this guy commit heinous crimes? Isn't he still considered a rapist and murderer according to the law of the land regardless of the fact that he's done some good stuff the last 30 years?" He said "Yes" and I said, "Dude, I don't understand. How can this earthly judge be a good and just judge if he just lets a murderer or rapist go?" He never really answered, but I then made a parallel with God. I asked him, "If an earthly judge must judge righteously or else he's not a good judge, how much more must the Perfect and Infinitely Holy Judge of the universe uphold his own righteous standards? If God were to judge you based upon His holy law, would you go to Heaven or Hell?" He said, "Heaven." I said, "He can't, you've broken His law, He has obligated Himself to uphold His own justice, and you must be damned in accordance with His righteous standards (Proverbs 17:15)." I then began to explain to the gospel to him and his Muslim friend, but once the Muslim heard about Jesus, he got disinterested and took off. Eli then revealed his idol to me by asking me what I thought about smoking weed. I told him it was a sin on at least three counts: (1) it is illegal [Rom. 13:1-5], (2) it violates the commands to be sober-minded [1 Peter 1:13], and (3) it is a form of idolatry via addiction [John 8:34]. He tried to justify his potsmoking by saying that there was no command against smoking weed in Scripture. I also said that there was no direct command against abortion, yet by comparing passage with passage one can show that abortion is murder. He went on to justify his sin, so I ended what was becoming a fruitless conversation and tried to engage someone else.
Next, I turned Eli's other Muslim friend that had just sat down and I tried to speak to him about Isa (the Muslim name for Jesus) dying on the cross for sinners. He told me that the New Testament was corrupt and so I called his bluff by asking if he had any evidence to back up his claim. He then said, "The Old Testament is where it's at!"; meaning, that the truth about Jesus could be found in the Old Testament not the New. I said, okay, let's look at what the Old Testament says about Isa. As I began to read Isaiah 53, he got an apathetic look on his face, opened his cell phone, made a call, and started to walk off. I said, "Hey man, you just asked me a question . . . don't you care about truth?" He ignored me and walked away. I then went on to pass out more tracts and look for someone else to engage.
2. Fellowship with Two Christians
As I walked away from Eli I was called over by a Christian man that wanted to fellowship a little. He was speaking with another young Christian girl and we had a great time of fellowship for about 10 minutes as we discussed the liberal views of their New Testament professor and what they could do to be prepared to interact with him and the class in a way that could be challenging yet respectful. At this point, I wanted to move on so I that I wouldn't miss any witnessing opportunities.
3. A Seventh Day Adventist Sabbatarian
The next two young men I gave tracts to were very kind and seemed to really love the gospel of Christ. The more outspoken of the two told me that he was a youth leader at a local Seventh-Day Adventist Church. Having interacted with Seventh Day Adventists many times before, I immediately asked him, "Do you believe that those who do not worship on Saturday have the mark of the Beast and are condemned to the Lake of Fire?" The question seemed to take him back a bit, so he suggested that we sit down for a minute and talk about it. I then asked him the question again, but he asked to see my Bible and he proceeded to argue for a seventh day Sabbath command that is still binding upon Christians today. I tried to patiently yet firmly counter every example that he gave from the Old and New Testaments and attempted to show that he was engaging in eisegesis. He wasn't budging a bit, but his quiet friend seemed to be quite interested in the interaction, though I'm not sure he understood much of what he heard. I eventually made my way to Romans 14:5 and Colossians 2:16 showing him that the Sabbath is no longer binding upon Christians as the shadow of the Old Covenant has given way to the Substance of the New, namely, Christ Jesus Himself. He tried to make what I believe to be an unbiblical distinction between the Mosaic Law and the Ten Commandments, to which I countered with Exodus 34:28 (the 10 words are the summary of the Mosaic Covenant), Exodus 31:13-17 (the Sabbath was the sign of the Mosaic Covenant), and 2 Corinthians 3:6-7 (the tablets of stone were representative of the "killing letter" of which New Covenant believers are no longer a minister of). I believe I successfully countered all of his major points, but the conversation needed to come to an end. Thus, we cordially parted ways and I was off to find other folks to talk to.
4. The Disinterested and Apathetic
Next, as I was praying for God to put some receptive hearts in my path, I made my way near the entrance of the Applied Technologies Center. Immediately I spotted two groups of folks milling around and having friendly conversation. The first group to my right had what appeared to be only one professing Christian in it. I asked them where they thought morals came from and they said "your parents . . . your lifestyle." I then asked, "What happens when one parent tells their kid that it's okay to hug their friends whereas the other parent says its okay to slap their friends? How do we tell which one is right?" I then tried to use some examples to illustrate the self-refuting nature of moral relativism; and when I began to assert that moral standards necessarily come from God or they will be self-refuting, the cell phones came out and all but one girl showed complete disinterest and started walking away. I then asked the girl that was left, "Where do you go to church?" She told me, and I asked her what a person must do to be reconciled to God and she nailed the gospel pretty good. I then said, "It looks like your friends have no interest in the things of God. Are you going to tell them about Jesus?" She said she would. I explained that it might destroy her friendships with them and she said, "I don't care". I exhorted her to tell and keep telling her friends about Jesus until it was too late.
5. The Interested and Convicted
The second group 15 feet away were given tracts and after I introduced myself I immediately asked them, "What must a person do to be reconciled to God?" It was if immediate conviction came over them simply through asking that question. One girl sheepishly said, "You must repent and believe". I asked them Who I must repent to and Who must I believe in? The same girl clearly said "Jesus". I then asked if there was any other way to get to God and she said, "No." I then explained the gospel. I then asked them, "If I asked your friends if you acted like a Christian, what would they say?" No one said anything. This seemed to deepen the conviction that was already present. I then said, "Listen to what the Bible says about those who say they are Christians but really aren't." I quoted the following verses by memory:
If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; (1 John 1:6)I then said, "If you say you love the Lord, yet there is no change in your life and you are living in habitual sin, then you are not a Christian. You are self-deceived." I then exhorted them to go home, read 1st John and examine themselves in light of what John says a real Christian looks like. They thanked me and then I was off to talk to the last group of people I encountered.
By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4 The one who says, "I have come to know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him;" (1 John 2:3-4)
No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. (1 John 3:9)
6. Lunch Ladies
The last group of I spoke with consisted of a group of three ladies that sat at a lunch table outside the GTCC daycare. There was only one woman sitting outside at the lunch table upon my arrival. I introduced myself, asked her how a person could be reconciled to God, and she said that she was a Christian and went to church. I then asked her to explain to me how I could get to heaven if I had only 2 minutes to live. At this point, two other ladies had just come out to sit with her and they heard my second question. One lady had a veil over her face and her body language seemed to indicate that she was not happy. The girl I was talking to told me I needed to ask for God's forgiveness and I asked "Which God? Allah, Buddha? . . ." and she interrupted with "Jesus". I asked her why I needed to be forgiven and she seemed to be stumped a little. I didn't want to take too much time away from their lunch, so I gave them the gospel in a minute, thanked them for their time, and gave them all postcard-sized tracts.
In conclusion, I think I spent way too much time talking to the pot-smoker and the Seventh-Day Adventist. I need to remind myself that it is more important to win the man rather than win the argument. May God bless these efforts in spite of my mistakes. Soli Deo Gloria!