1/12/13 Alan, about 45
While shopping I often give fellow shoppers a “million dollar” Gospel tract as a conversation starter, explaining it as a funny collector’s item with a serious question on the back – “Will you go to Heaven?” If they want to talk further, that’s great, and they often do, but if not, I wish them well and go on my way, being careful not to be pushy or obnoxious. Here’s basically how one such conversation continued with a man named Alan today while clothes shopping: “…It asks on the back if you will go to heaven. Do you believe in Heaven?” “Of course I do!” “Well, not everyone does so I have to ask. So do you believe you will go there?” “Well, yes I do, I’m a Christian” “How can you be sure?” “Well I try to do good, and I believe my good will outweigh my bad” “So you can’t be sure until the scales are weighed?” “Well I have faith that if I do my part, God will do His.” Alan’s idea of “having faith” simply means believing God will be fair and he will get what he deserves for his good deeds, so I responded: “Here’s a very familiar Bible verse from Ephesians 2. It says ‘For it is by grace you are saved through faith, it is a gift of God, not of works so that no one can boast.’ Now if a friend gave you an expensive gift, a Rolls Royce for example, and you thanked him but offered to pay him a hundred dollars for it, how do you think he would feel?” Alan agreed that the friend would be offended not only that you tried to pay for the gift, but also at the low value you put on it. “In the same way God, whose justice requires a just punishment for sin, offers us the gift of forgiveness paid for by Jesus on the cross. But when we try to earn that forgiveness, we are trying to pay for something God intends as a gift and we dishonor it by expecting the good things we do will make up for it.” We talked a lot more but this gives a taste of the conversation. As we went our separate ways, Alan called after me “I think God sent you to tell me this today!” This may have been a friendly reminder to a believer who had fallen off track into a works-based religion, or a new revelation to a false convert who needs to be saved, but God can use it for His Kingdom either way.