Friday, July 20, 2007

True and False Conversion

If you haven't heard the teaching by that name from Ray Comfort's ministry, I urge you to do so, because it is the critical teaching that got me through this witnessing encounter.

I had just had a train pass by before I was able to get out of the building from work, so I had about ten more minutes before another one came by. I decided to hand out some tracts that I had by going once around the building.

I never made it that far.

The first person I handed a tract to was a "down and out" sort of man. He called me back to him, asking if I was a Christian. I told him I was, and he began to tell me his sad-luck story of how he had once been a Christian and then "backslid" to end up where he is today. I stopped him short, asking, "Why did you come to Jesus? How did you get saved?"

It took him a bit to understand where I was going with it, but eventually he gave me his testimony. It went something like this: he had a fall from seven stories one day, and he thought about what all he had not done with his life and how gracious God was to give him more time. He went to church and found out that doing it his way would always lead the wrong way, but doing things God's way would always lead to good things (see John 16). So, he came to Jesus, ultimately, for a better life.

I cautioned him about that. You see, Jesus did not come to give us a better life--He came to give us eternal life. He asked me why Jesus had come. I asked him if he had ever lied, stolen, blasphemed, lusted, or hated. I told him that, having admitted to those things, he was a self-confessed liar, thief, blasphemer, adulterer, and murderer, by God's Standard. And he, like the rest of us, will die one day and face God to answer for all those things. That's why Jesus came.

You see, if we face God with our record, we will go straight to Hell. God demands perfection--"purity in the inward parts," the psalmist said--and none of us have that. Therefore, because God loves us so much, the Father sent Jesus His Son to earth to become a man (God in the flesh) to live a perfect life for more than 30 years and to amass a perfect record, unlike ours. Then, on the cross, Jesus voluntarily gave up that perfect record and was judged by our records (God knows all of our thoughts before we think them, Psalm 139), and received the wrath of God which we deserve for our sins. Jesus gave up Hs righteousness and took on our sin.

Now, if we give up our record, with the good and the bad, then God will give us Jesus perfect record, in which there is no bad whatsoever, and will give us eternal life, based on Jesus' perfect record, rather than eternal Justice, based on our corrupted record. We will therefore be judged, not as children of wrath, but as children of God (John 1:12). It's called being "born again" and Jesus said that that's the only way for us to enter Heaven (John 3).

He understood that. He thanked me, and he said that he would think deeply about that. I cautioned him that if he had not come to Jesus for eternal life, then he was never born again, and thus was never really a Christian, which was why the ways of the world were so enticing to him, even after being a youth pastor. A Christian is given a new heart with new desires that seek after God, and sin grieves the Christian deeply--so much that he cannot comfort himself with merely being backslidden and, "Oh, God will bring me back to Him at some point." Being estranged from God is a horror to a Christian, because that is his Father, his Lifeline--Jesus said, "Without Me ye can do nothing," and the true Christian finds that to be true.

I think his name is Carlos. Please pray for him. This happened a few days ago, but I wasn't able to record it before today. Please think about this seriously, if you find yourself in that position of being "backslidden"--it could be that you have never slid forward in the first place, and that your soul is in serious danger on Judgment Day.

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