Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Preaching Doesn't Hurt

You know, you would think that people who heard me preach almost everyday would be very wary of talking to me one to one. Actually, I have found that many more people are willing to talk to me. And, yes, on that subject. I think they were glad to find a Christian that they could straighten out, and that they were just waiting for me to come down to their level so we could discuss it.

Why do I say so? I had a very interesting and long conversation with a guy whom I thought I had seen on the train during some of my preaching sessions. He got on the wrong train with me in order to continue the conversation. And then he didn't run from me when we reached the transfer station.

Turns out he is a converted Jew. His family claims to be Christian, but, from what he said, I think they were just church goers. They pay lipservice to the Bible, but from what he said, they don't actually know what it teaches.

He has clearly studied a lot of the Bible and a lot of history. He knows that Easter and Christmas are pagan holidays by origin, that Jesus was most definitely not born in December, that Constantine was a pagan emporer, etc., things that most Christians don't know and don't care about. In fact, he tried to say that Constantine wrote the Bible and/or excluded books from the Bible. Now that is preposterous, but he says that that is why Jesus is exalted as God in the New Testament.

Well, wrong, sir. Jesus' very name (at least, his Hebrew name) demands that Jesus be God in the flesh in order to save us from our sins: Yeshua or Yaashua means, "Yahweh is the Savior/Salvation," pointing everyone to the fact that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is the Sole Deliverer of His people. You say, "But Jesus is for Gentiles." Actually, the vast majority of early Christians were all Jews. In fact, there was a huge debate in the early church about how Gentiles were to be allowed to partake in the blessings of the Jewish Messiah, and it raged for many years. The end result, that Gentiles were not commanded to become Jews in order to become Christians, was not even the final straw between Christians and Jews.

In 135 AD, a man named Simon Bar Kochbah led a Jewish rebellion against Rome. He had a formidable army, but it was decimated when he claimed to be the Messiah. The Chrisitans pulled out, and Bar Kochbah lost. Badly. The rest of the Jews blamed their Christian brothers, forgetting that numbers matter not when God is fighting for you--nor when God is fighting against you. But that was the end of friendship between the Jewish and Christian communities.

Now, it is true, there was much antagonism between them during the First Century AD, but Christians were still very Jewish and were not kicked out of the synagogues altogether. They still celebrated the Sabbath with their Jewish brethren and met with their Gentile brethren the next day. Once out of the synagogues, they could not meet with their Jewish brethren, but continued to meet with their Gentile brethren on Sunday.

But back to the point. Jesus Himself claimed to be God, I reminded him. To which he said that Paul had invented that essential doctrine of Christianity. Wrong. It was John who recorded Jesus words to that effect--after Paul had been beheaded.

He tried to say that he didn't have a problem with Christianity, but he didn't like the idea of Jesus being God. I told him that if Jesus is not God, then I am an idolater--and that is not okay! But if Jesus is God, then he will answer to Him on Judgment Day, and he won't be okay, if he persists in this way! (Or something like that.)

When he got off the train, we were still on rather good terms, which was nice. I was able to be firm and kind at the same time. Doesn't happen that often--that I'm patient enough to do that.

Then I talked to another guy, who was sitting right behind the glass that we were standing beside while we were talking. He said that he believed, but he gave me the impression that he hadn't repented yet. I strongly urged him not to wait too long--he could die at any moment (remember Luke 12:16-21).

It was another fruitful day. I can only pray for those who listened--and for those who didn't.

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