I had the privilege of talking to one of my students yesterday who is a Catholic. I must admit that I have been rather naive about Catholic’s beliefs. I have assumed that they are basically all Christians with some different/incorrect theology. In the ten minute conversation I had with her, I realized that she is lost, despite her sixteen years in the Catholic church.
I am now starting to understand that while some Catholics are Christians, there are many who are not. They are following a different set of Scriptures (including the Apocrypha as inspired) as well as following the doctrines of their Catechism. A great starting resource for understanding the differences between Protestant and Catholic beliefs is Mark Cahill’s talk: Roman Catholicism vs. The Bible
As I talked with this student, I asked her about some of her beliefs. She told me about purgatory, but ironically enough couldn’t really tell me what it was. This is significant as this is a place she plans to spend some time after she dies. I personally would want to know what it is like!
I also asked her about confession and the process of getting out of purgatory. I asked her, “If Catholics believe that all these things must be done by us to eventually get to heaven, why did Jesus come to die?” She was really confused and said she had never thought about it before. I did a quick presentation of the fact that we have broken God’s law and that is why Jesus came to die- to pay for our sins. I explained that there is no way for us to be good enough on our own; we need a Savior. She really was thinking about it by the time we parted ways. She was confused and said nobody had ever asked her that question.
I know that the Lord is using conversations like this to open my eyes to the lost all around me. I do not want to ever assume that someone has heard the gospel, knows the gospel, or is saved based on a religious affiliation, church attendance, or any other potential indications of a belief system. Religious zeal is giving many people a false security about their eternal state. True salvation is found only in the work of Jesus Christ on the cross including His death, burial, and resurrection.
I know that the Holy Spirit goes before and behind us in our evangelistic efforts. It is such a comfort to know that we do not witness alone.
I travelled out of town this weekend for a family wedding. It was the typical story- drive to the hotel, check in, etc. With nineteen family members staying on one floor of the Fairfield Inn, we had created a bit of interaction with the gentleman at the front desk. Joe was his name.
After we had completed check in, I began to witness to him. “Joe,” I said. “I want to ask you the most important question anyone can ask you. If you died tonight, do you know where you would spend eternity?”
His initial response question was about his physical body or his spirit. It was a valid question, and I told him I wanted to know about his soul. He said he was going to float around in the clouds and hang out with some people. Needless to say, the answer did not suffice. I talked to him about the two options: heaven or hell. I asked him by what means he thought he was going to heaven. With every question, he danced around every answer and accused me of not asking the right questions. It turned out his mother was a reverend, but his inability to directly tell me the gospel was alarming. I laid it out in a straightforward manner.
Meanwhile, another guy, Chris, walked up and asked what we were talking about. I handed him a tract too. He said he had been saved for eight years, but in the next breath got onto me for supposed solicitation and handed me back the tract. It is always interesting to see how offended certain people that claim to be Christians are at hearing the gospel. It’s a strong reminder how much we need to preach the gospel to ourselves and how much we need to thank those who preach it to us.
I only hope that Christ was glorified as His message was spread. May those seeds of truth be carried before and behind by the work of the Holy Spirit.
I was praying for boldness. I had wimped out on sharing the Gospel a few too many times. God loves to answer the prayer for boldness.
A week or so ago I awoke to the following thought: God cares more about the spread of the Gospel than we do. And apparently God wanted a few guys at the Waterless Car Wash sales table at the gas station to hear what He did for them.
I pulled up to the pump and set the auto fill lever. With a handful of tracts, I went to see their product demonstration. It was impressive.
After they finished, I told them I had a question for them. I passed out tracts to the six guys standing around.
“If you died today, would you go to heaven or hell?”
One guy told me heaven and gave the right reason. Another guy said he was Catholic and would go to purgatory. I told him that wasn’t in the Scriptures.
I turned my attention to the other guys and proceeded to go through the Ten Commandments. I made it through three of the ten, and by that point they understood that they had broken God’s law. We talked about what Jesus did for them. The whole conversation lasted minutes. The implications of it will last for eternity.
Seeds were planted. Praying for the Holy Spirit to do His work.
It was a simple grocery store check out with a kid about 18 years old. I asked him about his day as he bagged my groceries. A quick passing of a tract and the infamous question followed- “If you died today, do you know where you would spend eternity?”
Heaven, he hoped. He said he did a lot of nice things for people. He also said that if he died and didn’t get into heaven, he would be surprised. He spoke of asking forgiveness and going to church. But he never mentioned Jesus- the only way to heaven.
In the divine few minutes before another customer came to his line, I had the honor of telling him about Jesus. I wanted Ned to know for certain where he would spend eternity. On a night when I am normally in the middle of my city talking to people, the sovereignty of God put Ned in the right spot at the right time to hear the gospel. I love when He does that!