7/31/12 Jose, 48
Today, just as we planned in church on Sunday, I met with Anand to walk around the neighborhood and engage people in Gospel conversations. One man we talked with was Jose, a faithful church attendee but an unfaithful Bible reader. Without referring to the truth of the Bible, Jose has no way to verify if the different church traditions he encounters are true to God's word or are just the false teachings of man. One of his beliefs was in purgatory, a Catholic teaching that seems logical but isn't found in scripture. Jose believes that since he isn't good enough to go to heaven or bad enough to go to hell, he will go to a place of punishment until he has adequately paid for the consequences of his sins. Only then he will be allowed to go to heaven. I had built up some rapport with Jose, so I said "Now I want to challenge you to think about this when it comes to purgatory. First, it isn't biblical. It isn't found anywhere in the Bible. Second, it just doesn't make sense because God's justice requires a just punishment for your sins. When you sin, you sin against an infinitely holy and worthy God. If a just punishment is to fit the crime, your punishment would be equally infinite. Suppose you have to spend 100 years suffering in purgatory to pay for your sins. Why not 101? Is God not worth that much? Is there a limit on God's worth?" Later, after I had explained to Jose about Jesus' sacrificial death in place of the punishment he deserved, I asked "Since He is the Son of God, He also has infinite worth. Do you think there is anything you can add to what Jesus did on the cross?" Jose agreed that there could not and that this all made a lot of sense. In fact, I think eveything we explained made sense to him. But as Anand and I agreed while continuing our walk, we can't trust in even the best and most logical Gospel explanations; our trust must be in the power of the Holy Spirit to change the heart of man. Please pray for Jose to make the next step of faith. I believe he is so close to, yet so far from, the Kingdom of Heaven.