Saturday, January 20, 2007

The 11th and 12th Commandments?

Last night our local GNN evangelism team spent the evening at the Topanga Mall, in Canoga Park, CA. Eight of us gathered for an evening of fishing. After a time of conversation and prayer, we split up into small groups and walked the mall. It seemed there were few people in the mall, but the Lord provided the entire team with good witnessing opportunities.

My daughter, Marissa, my brother-in-law, Ian, my friend, Mike, from our home church, and I comprised one group. Our first witnessing opportunity was with a group of six African-American teenagers. We approached the group and I removed a large wad of one and five-dollar bills from my pocket. I asked the group of teens if it would be all right if I gave away some money. Their eyes opened wide as they quickly gathered around me. After giving away several dollars for answering some simple trivia questions, I asked for a volunteer to take the “Good Person Test.”

A young lady named, Shanel, accepted the challenge. What followed was a wonderful, 15-minute conversation with the group. It was wonderful (as it always is) to watch the demeanor of these young people switch from jovial and respectfully sarcastic, to quiet, reflective concern. As we said our good-byes, the group expressed sincere gratitude for us taking the time to talk to them. We left all of them with a copy of “You Have The Right To Remain Silent.”

Our next encounter was with a group of four teenage girls. Once again, I used the lure of cash for answers to trivia questions to engage the group in conversation. Gloria agreed to take the “Good Person Test,” with the hope of winning a five-dollar gift card to Starbucks.

Before taking Gloria through the “Good Person Test,” I asked the group if they were familiar with the Ten Commandments. All four girls, although hesitantly, said they had heard of the Ten Commandments. A couple of the girls said they learned about them in the eighth grade. That took us by surprise, since all four girls attend public schools. Upon further inquiry, we quickly discovered that the girls were…well…a bit confused.

I asked the girls if they could name a couple of the Ten Commandments. It was very difficult not to chuckle at their answers. According to this group of nice, young ladies, two of the commandments are “all men are created equal” and “you are innocent until proven guilty.” I guess those would be commandments #11 and 12. Apparently, they were confusing the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights, with the Ten Commandments.

The conversation turned serious as I took Gloria through the Law. One of the girls, whose name I do not know, looked particularly concerned. When I asked the group if it concerned them that if God judges them according to His Law they would all be found guilty and spend eternity in hell, the girls were very hesitant to give an answer. I noticed that the girls were looking at each other as if they were seeking their friends’ approval about whether or not to give an answer.

Gently yet firmly, I said, “Don’t look at your friends. Don’t worry about what they think or what they will say. When you die and stand before God, none of your friends will be standing with you. You will be alone. It will be just you and God.

“Well, does it concern you or not that if God judges you according to His Law you will spend eternity in hell?” I asked. “If you don’t care, it’s okay to say so. The only reason I am asking is because we are concerned about where you are going to spend eternity.”

Finally, the young lady whose eyes betrayed the concern in her heart and mind slowly nodded her head.

“Do you know what God did so you won’t have to spend eternity in hell?” I asked.

The young lady shook her head.

“Would you like to know what God did for you?” I asked.

The young lady whispered something, which I could not hear.

“I’m sorry, I couldn’t hear you.” I said.

“I want to know.” The young lady said. “Tell me.”

I shared the gospel with the group, with most of my attention drawn to the young lady who expressed what appeared to be genuine concern. After explaining repentance to them, I used a modification of the parachute analogy to illustrate saving faith. I asked the concerned young lady what would happen to her if she jumped out of a plane, from 10,000 feet above the ground.

“I would die.” She said. Her eyes were now glistening with what appeared to be the onset of tears.

“Yes you would.” I said. “But what if you had a parachute? What would happen to you if you jumped out of the plane with a parachute?” I asked.

“I would live.” She said—her words a little brighter.

“Yes you would.” I said. “And that’s the difference between simply believing facts about Jesus in your head, and trusting Him, by faith, to save your life.

“What we’re sharing with you girls is good news, not bad news. The good news is that if you repent of your sin a put your faith in Jesus Christ alone to save you from your sin, when you die you will not receive what you deserve, which is eternity in hell as the just punishment for your sins against God. Instead you will receive what you don’t deserve, which is His grace and mercy and the free gift of eternal life.” I said.

I asked the girls to carefully consider what we shared with them. And I left them with this. “You might not make it home tonight. A drunk driver could kill you all. Of course, we don’t want that to happen to you. But if it does, and you find yourself standing before God, it will be too late then. God will not let you go free, just like a good judge will not let a convicted criminal go free. God has given you an opportunity, right now. The Bible says that today is the day of salvation.

“And if you are wondering if what we are telling you is true, please consider our motives. We’re not asking you for money. In fact, we’ve given you our money. We’re not trying to sign you up for a church or anything else. We’re talking to you tonight because we care about what happens to you. We may never see you again, but we care enough about you to share with you the only way you can escape God’s wrath and judgment. So please, think carefully about what we’ve said to you.”

I handed Gloria the Starbucks gift card. “Even though you are not a good person (None of us are.), I want you to have this. I want this gift to serve as an example of God’s grace. Grace and mercy, like heaven, is not something you can earn or deserve. It’s a gift. Jesus Christ’s death on the cross for your sins and His resurrection paved the way for the most amazing gift of grace you could ever receive—eternal life. Think about it.”

Pray that the Lord will draw all of the young people with whom we spoke to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. All for His glory!


Anonymous said...

Wow Tony,
Brought me to tears. This is awesome news to be reaching kids of this age.
God Bless,

Anonymous said...

Dear Tony,
We are so lucky to have a brother like you out there trying to save our children. I thank God for you and your brothers and sisters.
God Bless,