7/3/13 John about 45
I’ve been very blessed to be able to go hiking in the mountains of New Hampshire with my two sons, and afterward was at a Boston area laundromat drying out some of our clothes and camping gear where I met a Bostonian named John, about 45. I avoided bragging about our Chicago Blackhawk’s victory over the Bruins in the Stanley Cup, but we did talk about the things of the Lord. John believes that those who commit serious sins like murder will be punished in hell, but those commit smaller sins will only be punished now in this life. In addition, he believes his good deeds will also be weighed on God’s balance scale, helping him avoid hell. Instead of shooting down these unbiblical beliefs, especially at a point in our conversation where I was just getting to know John and earn his trust, I affirmed his strong belief in God’s justice, both in order to give him some positive encouragement and to help him see later that his general belief in God’s justice is, in fact, biblical, but that it just doesn’t go far enough. I went on to explain how God does punish sin, but that he just doesn’t stop with the “serious” ones; His justice demands an infinite penalty for any and all sin against His infinite holiness. And I helped John understand that we can’t “pay” for our sins with the good we ought to do anyway. James 4:17 says “If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.” Many people like John have positive values about God’s holiness and justice that we can affirm while building a foundation for sharing the Gospel; they just need us to help them see the logical consequences of these values that make up the Gospel themes of the bad news of sin and death and the good news of forgiveness and eternal life in Jesus. Please pray for John; he responded with excitement to the Gospel and a resolve to read the Bible for himself!