So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. Galatians 3:24

I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ. Philemon 1:6

FRONT PAGE - here you will find the last 20 postings about recent conversations. Please pray for these people!

Glory



6/19/17                        Steve                  about 20

There was no one behind me in line, so I asked Steve, the check-out attendant in the booth at the lumber yard, my question about what happens to us in eternity.  He welcomed my question, saying "Actually, I'm fascinated with death."  I wondered what he meant by that, so he explained.  "I'm training to become a homicide detective.  I will have to deal with dead bodies all the time, and I will wonder how they got that way." 
 
As far as I could tell, it wasn't a morbid preoccupation with death or a spiritual interest in eternity, but just the challenge of solving mysteries that interested him.  I went on to ask if he had any sort of spiritual beliefs.  "Not really, I don't believe in God or anything like that.  But if I could choose, I think it would be cool to be reincarnated.  I really love this earth and I like the thought of another life to enjoy the beauty and wonder of it all."

So do we preach the Gospel to people like Steve, regardless of their refusal to acknowledge God's existence?  Or do we try to reason with them, to at least "put a rock in their shoe", challenging them to reconsider their secular beliefs?

I chose the latter, knowing we could be interupted by another customer at any time.  "I totally agree, this earth is incredible and I never get tired of learning about its wonders, not to mention the vast and awesome universe that surrounds it.  As a Christian I would call it all God's creation, and as marvelous as it all is, how much more interesting is the Creator than the creation?  I don't believe heaven could ever be boring because we will get to know the Creator of this awesome universe and enjoy being in his presence forever."

By this time another customer did drive up, so I gave Steve a Gospel tract that explains the connection between science and Chrisitianity - how science is only possible in an ordered universe.  Psalm 19 says "The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.  Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge."   

We can observe the beauty and learn from the order of God's vast creation, but how much greater to get to know the glory of the Creator himself!

Bliss



6/14/17            Jose              about 40              

Growing up with a religious background was a blessing for Jose, about 40, but he also saw it as a curse.  Why?  "Because I'm doubly guilty" he said.  "Not only do I sin when I do something wrong, but my religious upbringing has taught me to know better, so if I continue to do it, I'm doubly guilty"

"So, logically" I asked, "You are saying ignorance is bliss. Wouldn't it be better not to know it was wrong in the first place?"

"Pretty much" he said.  "I guess I'm just building up the time I'll have to spend in purgatory."

Oh how I wanted to help Jose get free from the shackles of this man-made view of religion, and help him experience the peace and joy of true life in Christ. For starters, there is no such thing as ignorance when it comes to sin.  We can ignore or avoid the training and discipline that comes from godly parents, reading the Bible, or attending church, but we can't avoid God's general moral law because it is written on our hearts. 
We all have a God-given conscience, so avoiding further teaching or training in God's law is like someone who says they aren't guilty of speeding because they didn't know the speed limit.  One's ignorance of the law only displays a callous disregard for the lawgiver.

The godly training God makes available isn't for the purpose of making us feel more guilty, but for the purpose of godly living.  It helps us recognize not only blatant sin, but the subtle steps that lead us there.  It helps us to cut sin out of our lives long before it takes deep root in us, long before it has us in a stranglehold.  The godly training of parents, Bible, and church is meant to be there as a blessing, not a curse, and we are blessed when we seek its wisdom.

Jose's misunderstanding of law and guilt feeds right into his belief in purgatory, a teaching that contradicts the Gospel.  The belief that we can somehow be "purged" of our guilt through our own suffering is not a strict view of the seriousness of sin, but rather a trivial understanding of its depth and the perfection of God's holiness.  The laws we break are the commandments of an infinitely holy God, and his perfect justice requires a punishment that no length of time in "purgatory" could pay.  

Hebrews 10 says "It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins", and as fellow created beings neither can our own.  Only a perfect sacrifice - creator, not creation; innocent, not guilty - would be a sufficient substitute for the punishment we deserve.  

Only the Son of the most High King, shedding his own blood on our behalf, is sufficient to satisfy God's love for justice, and is also the only perfect expression of God's love for mercy.  Purgatory is a man-made substitute and an insult to God's perfect sacrifice of his one and only Son.

So was Jose right, has his religious upbringing been both a blessing and a curse?  I believe so, but not for the reasons he had in mind.  In the sense of godly training it can be a blessing.  But in the sense of promoting human traditions such as the idea of purgatory that distract from the supremacy of Christ, it is a curse.