2/20/11 Zack, graduate student
After church this morning I went with Anan, a believer from India and IIT student, to the student center there where we met Zack, a graduate student from Ghana, West Africa. Zack grew up in a nominally Christian family, attending a traditional protestant church at times. Although he seemed confident that God would find him to be a good person on judgment day, his real hope for salvation seemed to be in his ability to confess his sins and ask for forgiveness. "Jesus told his disciples that they must forgive others 70 times 7 times for their sins, and I believe God will do the same for me". I told Zack that he was confusing Jesus' instructions for one forgiven sinner to forgive another with God, who is under no obligation to forgive us for our sins against Himself. What separates a sinner who is heaven bound from a sinner who is hell bound? Some would say it has to do with their heart, that they do good works. Others would say it is their head, that they were smart enough to choose to "get saved". Zack seemed to be saying its his humility, that he asks for forgivenes continually. I tried to explain that faith in ones own humility is no better than faith in ones decisions or good works. People in all three categories are still, in fact, sinners. No amount of good deeds, past, present, or future, can erase that fact. What we need, though, is to become forgiven sinners, and that can only come through faith in Jesus. Judging from his enthusiastic agreement as I explained this more clearly, it seemed to me that Zack does indeed have that faith, though he is confused by our human default mode of trusting in our own goodness or abilities. Whether he is truly born-again or not isn't for me to decide, but my hope is that Zack now has a better understanding of the faith he claims.