Thursday, October 12, 2006

An Inoculated Lost Soul and Unexpected Fruit

Amanda (my youngest) and I were in the back part of our home, doing the day’s lesson in the School of Biblical Evangelism. In fact, the topic for the day’s lesson was “Creative Ways to Share Your Faith” (Lesson 32). We were halfway through the lesson when shouts rang out from the living room.

“Dad! Dad! Come here! Quick! Phone fishing!”

Mahria (my wife) came into the room, with a smile on her face. She said that there was someone on the phone wanting to do a survey with the head of the household.

I walked out to the living room and took the phone from my daughter, Marissa. “Hello?” I said.

“Hello, sir. I am conducting a survey for the City of Santa Clarita. May I ask you a few questions?”

“Sure. What’s your name?” I asked. She told me her name was Brenda.

“Okay. I said. I will answer your questions, if I can ask you a few questions when you’re done.”

“Sure!” She said.

I spent the next fifteen minutes answering her questions about my city, public services, recreation, shopping and entertainment. “Well, that’s all of the questions I have. Thank you for taking part in this survey. Now, you said you had a couple of questions for me?” She asked.

“Brenda, do you have any spiritual beliefs?” I asked.

“Oh, yes.” She answered. She proceeded to tell me that she grew up in a Christian church and participated in the youth group, which included going to the local mall to distribute gospel tracts and witness to people. I learned that she was from Wichita, Kansas. In fact, she was calling me from Wichita. I also learned that two close family members served in law enforcement, in the Wichita area.

Brenda had a Christian background, but she was not a Christian. Her beliefs include reincarnation. She claimed to have had a vision as a one-year-old baby. In the vision, she saw herself as a small child that died in a house fire and awoke to find herself in her current mother’s womb. She said she believed in the inherent goodness of mankind, that there are “other possibilities” besides heaven and hell in the afterlife, and she saw Jesus as a “ramblin’ man”—“going to where the people are”—whom she tries to emulate by giving homeless people a meal, whenever she comes across such a person.

When I asked her if she considered herself to be a good person, she said that she did; but she was quick to add that she wasn’t perfect and that God would forgive her if she repented and believed in Jesus Christ. She had the “Christian lingo” down pat. As the conversation progressed, every time I shared a verse of Scripture, as I started to quote one, she would finish it.

I took Brenda through the “Good Person Test.” She admitted to being a lying, thieving, blasphemous, adulterer at heart. With some prodding, she conceded that God would find her guilty of breaking His Law. However, she believed that if she confessed her sin, God would forgive her.

Using the knowledge I had regarding her relatives in law enforcement, I said, “Every fifty-seven hours, a member of the law enforcement community is killed in the line of duty. Let’s say that one of your relatives was killed in the line of duty. The murderer was captured and convicted of the crime. On the day of sentencing, the murderer pleads with the judge, saying, ‘Your honor, I’m sorry I killed the officer. Please forgive me.’ The judge looks at the person who murdered your loved one and says, ‘Okay. You’re free to go.’ Wouldn’t you be outraged?”

“Yes.” She answered.

“Would he be a good judge if he let the murderer go?” I asked.

“No.” She said.

“Neither will a holy, righteous, and just God simply let sinners go because they say they’re sorry.” I explained. A good God, much the same way as a good judge, must follow the Law and punish those who break His Law.”

I continued the courtroom analogy and explained that Jesus Christ died on the cross to pay her fine—to take upon Himself the death sentence she deserved. I followed the courtroom analogy with the parachute analogy.

It was all for not, so my finite and fallible mind concluded. I would later learn how wrong I was.
The conversation ended with Brenda—who, for all intents and purposes, seemed like a very nice young woman—telling me that she had no fear. She had no fear of death and no fear of God. She even said that she didn’t want to go to heaven. “I want my energy to continue on. I want it to come back to earth and continue forever.” She said.

Before I let Brenda go to continue calling residents of Santa Clarita, to question them about their opinion of their quality of life, I asked her this. “Brenda, what if you’re wrong?”

“Well.” She said, “If I’m wrong, I’m wrong. I’m not worried about it. Whatever happens, happens.”

“Brenda,” I continued, “If everything I’ve shared with you is wrong, then it will mean nothing to you in the end. But if I’m right, then eternity for you hangs in the balance. For your sake, you better hope you are right. But Brenda, you’re not.”

We said our good-byes and I hung up the phone. I left the conversation saddened by Brenda’s inoculated condition. She had been inoculated against the Law and the gospel by the deadly serum of modern-day evangelism and the “religious” culture in which she lives. It would appear that over the years she has built up immunity to the Word of God by taking in small doses of it, always watered down with a post-modern, post-Christian worldview and sweetened with the saccharin of self-righteousness and idolatry. The sad result is a nice, young woman with no fear of God, no trust in the Scriptures, and no higher view of Christ than seeing Him as a “ramblin’ man” (not as Lord and Savior). Brenda is a false convert, a lost soul facing eternity in hell.

I am thankful to Almighty God that He allowed me the special privilege of sharing the Law and the Gospel with Brenda. My hope and prayer is that the seeds planted in her heart and mind during our conversation will be watered and cultivated, one-day bearing the fruit of genuine repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.

Yet while I purpose to hold on to this hope for Brenda, I cannot shake the truth of God’s Word that suggests she may never come to genuine repentance and faith. “For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the power of the age to come, and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame” (Hebrews 6:4-6).

Earlier I stated that I wondered if my conversation was all for not. I was indeed wrong.
Michelle, my eldest daughter, later asked me to share with her my conversation with Brenda. I told her the story and read the above passage of Scripture to her. Michelle began to weep bitter tears. Her heart broke for Brenda. It broke for another reason, too. The Lord used the testimony of my conversation with Brenda and the truth of His Word to bring conviction upon Michelle’s heart—the conviction that she must do more to bring the Law and the Gospel to lost souls, whether they are inoculated false converts or people who have never heard the Law and the Gospel. It was an unexpected and special piece of spiritual fruit.

I did not deserve to have the conversation with Brenda. I did not deserve the blessing of serving as one of Christ’s ambassadors during my conversation with a phone solicitor. Nor did I deserve the special blessing of holding my weeping daughter in my arms, as I encouraged her to follow the conviction of her conscience to reach the lost for Jesus Christ. I thank God that He would allow an unworthy sinner like me to watch Him work—if not in Brenda’s life, in my daughter’s. To Him and Him alone may all praise, honor, and glory be given.

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