8/10/12 Spencer and fellow soldiers
So what about the "unpardonable sin"? Today I was driving back to Chicago across Wisconsin and at another rest area I pulled to the far end of the parking lot in order to meet as many people as possible on the way into the building. I gave out several million-dollar tracts, with short, light-hearted conversations to help interest them in reading the "good person" questions on the back. It also helped build my resolve to walk to the opposite end of the parking lot to talk to some National Guard soldiers who were there gathered at a picnic table. The group included 4 young men in their 20's, 1 young lady, and an older man whom they seemed to defer to as their authority. They were checking messages on their cell phones, so I apologized for interrupting them and got permission to ask them something. They all put away their phones when they heard my question about what they believe about life after death. One of the young soldiers named Spencer spoke up, saying he believes in heaven and hell. "I realize you may not speak for the whole group", I said, "but how do you think God judges who goes where?" He answered "Well, I just try to do the best I can, and hope for the best." Then the older man spoke up - "He speaks for the whole group", and the rest nodded in agreement. The young lady said "I'm pretty sure I haven't committed the unforgiveable sin". She didn't really know what this was, so I did my best to explain it. "Jesus had performed a miracle, but the Pharisees criticized Him, saying it was done by the work of the devil. (Matt 12) The unforgiveable sin is to deny the work of God in your life." I think my explanation probably fell short. Many people fear the unpardonable sin as something they can do just one time that forever excludes them from forgiveness or heaven, but I believe it to be a continual denial of God's work of forgiveness throughout life that leaves us, well, unforgiven. I went on to explain that God doesn't judge us by comparing us to other people but rather by comparing us to the standard of His law, such as the Ten Commandments. "I've broken probably every one of His commandments in one form or another, so I can't hope my goodness will save me. We need to trust in God's work - what Jesus did on the cross, as the substitute for the punishment we deserve." They had to get going, and thanked me for coming over to talk with them. I'd love to hear the conversation in the van as they continued on down the expressway.