7/4/12 Hugo about 30
Initiating a gospel conversation with an approaching stranger is a lot like flagging down a motorist when you need help. You smile and make eye contact early, have the confidence that what you have to say is important, and get to your point quickly when they stop. That's what I did when I saw a man named Hugo approaching me on the sidewalk. "I wonder if you have time to answer a few questions" I said. "Go ahead" "What do you think happens after this life? What comes next after we die?" This went on to a long conversation in which I was able to use God's commandments to help Hugo see his need for the forgiveness he may have in Christ. To do this I asked how well he has kept a few specific commandments such as not bearing false witness. "How many lies do you think you have told in your life?" "Hundreds" "How many lies does it take to be a liar?" "One" "If you never lied again, would you still be a liar?" I asked. At first he thought he would not, but then he realized that his repentance wouldn't change the fact of his sin in the first place. This last point proved to be important later on, when I told Hugo about his need for repentance and faith in Jesus. Like so many people, that part about repentance was such a huge stumbling block that it kept him from seeing his need for faith. It was then that I said "Remember, even if you could repent and go the rest of your life and never sin again, you have already agreed you are a liar and a thief, a blasphemer and a murderer and adulterer at heart. Your repentance can't change that fact. God's justice requires a just penalty for your sins, so repentance can't earn forgiveness. You need faith in Jesus, that He took your punishment in your place. Repentance is just the sign that your faith is real." I suppose I could have made things a lot easier for Hugo and watered down that part about repentance. But Jesus never did, so neither should we.