Below is a continued report of some ways we saw the Lord working at the NEA Convention in Orlando last week.
For the third day, we moved the booth to a different part of the convention center. The conversations continued to be fruitful and we praised God. The girl in grey stayed at the booth talking for about thirty minutes.
I snapped this picture as a flood of non-stop traffic was flowing by our booth. Talk about adrenaline rush! [smile]
Faith and Khylie (Tony’s daughter and James’s daughter) helped the third day. They did an excellent job showing the books to the teachers and reaching out to the lost. Tony and James purposefully bring their children along to almost all their gospel outreaches in order to give them “hands on training”. Reminds me of when my dad used to take me out witnessing when I was their age. Doing evangelism as a family is one of the best ways to train the next generation to be powerful witnesses!
A highlight for me from the whole weekend was listening to others’ witnessing conversations and learning from them.
One conversation Steve Ham had with a Jewish lady (not the lady pictured above) came to a surprising end:
“How did you convert to Christianity?” Steve Ham asked a Jewish lady who claimed to be a Christian.
“You know, it’s a process…” she said, explaining about her rough background.
“Can I ask a follow-up question?” Steve asked. “How does somebody get to Heaven?”
“I just think you have to be true to yourself … and be true to life,” she replied.
“Isn’t it God that’s going to let you in, though?” Steve asked.
“Of course,” she agreed.
“So isn’t He the authority?”
“Of course. But to me, it’s being true to yourself…” she said and made a reference to the “atoning sacrifice.”
“Of Christ,” Steve inserted.
“Of Christ,” she agreed.
“Actually the Bible says that’s the ONLY way,” Steve confirmed. It says, “There is no other way under Heaven by which you must be saved—and that’s Jesus Christ.”
She recoiled at this statement. “Yeah, I wasn’t saved, I’m not into that, I’m just not,” she said definitively. She said it was too basic, too black and white for her.
Interesting remarks for someone who claims to be a Christian!
“You see,” Steve replied, “I would say the Bible alone tells us how to get to Heaven.”
“Yes, and I agree with that,” she said.
“But,” Steve said, “what the Bible says is not that we should be ‘true to ourselves,’ you know what I mean?”
“You need to just live your life the best you can!” she emphasized.
“Well, I’m going to tell you something. I love people. I do what I do because I love people.”
“Good for you,” she replied.
“But here’s what I get really concerned about,” he said.
“If I have the truth of the Scripture that says the only way to Heaven is through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ, and somebody says that it’s something other than that, I don’t think I love that person if I say, ‘Well, that’s okay.’”
Ouch. This comment touched a nerve with her!
“Ooo, but you, but you’re supposed to, but you should love!” she argued.
“I do!” Steve replied.
“Mmm, but you’re judging!” she said.
“But the Bible makes the judgment about what gets into Heaven, not me,” he said gently.
“BUT–but–you’re saying to me… oh, I gotta get going,” she said.
At this point, I’m thinking, Of course. He just gets to the gospel and she “has to go.” But I was surprised by how things ended.
“Okay can I just give you one book?” Steve asked her.
“Sure, that’s great,” she said. “These are expensive materials,” she commented (obviously trying to be polite).
“Well it’s our pleasure to give them away,” Steve replied. He handed her a Begin book (which is a great overview of the Bible and contains the whole books of John and Romans) and explained, “This goes through the sequence of the Bible that clearly says what the Bible teaches about salvation. I want you and everyone else I speak with to be in Heaven with me.”
“And you know what?” she replied, “I think everybody’s journeys are going to be different but hopefully the end results the same, whatever it is. I’ve been through a lot. I’ve had one traumatic experience that, you know, no matter what I’ve learned to not look at color or somebody because they are different … ”
“Yeah. Do you know there’s not even color?” Steve replied, “Do you know that we’re all brown – we only have different amounts of melanin?”
“Yeah, I’ve heard that,” she laughed. “I like this guy. Where are you from?”
“Australia,” he replied, and continued, “I sincerely don’t agree with you about how someone gets into Heaven. I do believe the Bible says otherwise.”
“But I’m still on this journey … you know what I mean? You’re kind of ‘done,’” she told him.
“But there’s only one reason I’m ‘done’ in my mind, and it’s because I’ve accepted the authority of God’s Word instead of my opinion…” Steve replied.
“Don’t you think it’s based on individual interpretation?” she asked.
“Read the Scriptures,” Steve replied.
“Oh, I have, and I’ve been through Hebrew school … and isn’t interpretation interesting?”
“Well, Ephesians 2 says that you are saved by grace through FAITH, and it’s not of your own doing, it is a gift of God, not a result of works so that no one may boast. It’s only through Christ Jesus that we are saved. The Bible says that’s the only way!”
And this next part was my favorite part of the whole conversation: Steve explained to her WHY Jesus was the only way. He said, “Jesus, who came, was not a sinner, and He paid a penalty that I could never pay. So it makes sense that it is only through Him! … when I put my faith in Him, He gives me His righteousness.”
“I do like what you just said. That was pretty incredible,” she stated.
“Yea, well, it’s all in that book I just gave you,” he said, referring to the Begin book.
“I will read it. And if you’re here this week, maybe I’ll come and talk to you again.”
“Lovely to meet you,” Steve said.
Earlier in the conversation I thought she was going to walk away angry, but instead, she walked away on great terms. She had learned something.
You see, before Steve explained WHY Jesus is the only way, this lady accused him of “judging.” But after he explained it, she acclaimed what he said as “incredible”! What a contrast. I wonder how many reject what we say because we are not teaching the “why” as we should be. So many people (especially in America) are familiar with the idea of Jesus dying on the cross and even Him being the only way, but because they don’t know the “why” of the gospel, they are turned off by the exclusivity of salvation through faith alone in Christ alone. Let us make a deliberate effort to explain the “why’s” and “how’s” of this amazing gospel we’ve been entrusted with.
I praise the Lord there are great, biblical answers to be shared with people. May we, by His grace, be always ready to share them! (1 Peter 3:15)
This man told me he was a 5th generation Mormon. He began explaining his views about the resurrection and celestial bodies, etc. I was glad Tony joined the conversation about this time.
“How do you attain to that resurrection?” Tony asked him.
“Through Jesus! By keeping His commandments,” he said.
“Oh, okay, so have you kept them all?” Tony asked.
“I’m trying!” he said.
“The thing is, what does God require: Trying hard or perfection?” Tony asked him.
“I think that if we are trying hard, the day will come when He will perfect us,” the Mormon man answered.
“Well, how is He going to deal with our sin?” Tony asked, “Because even when we try hard, we fail—and that’s sin.”
“He’s paid for those sins,” the Mormon man replied.
“Then why are [you] ‘trying hard to keep the commandments’?” Tony questioned.
“Because He’s told us to keep the commandments,” the Mormon man said.
“For what reason?” Tony asked, pinpointing the heart of the issue.
“So that we’ll be qualified for whatever degree of glory God has for us,” he answered.
Interesting how Mormons use similar lingo but have totally different beliefs. This Mormon was speaking of qualifying for entrance into three supposed levels of “heaven.”
Tony explained, “Let’s say one man keeps 90% of the commands and another keeps 70%. There’s still a 10% shortfall with one, and a 30% shortfall with the other. God has to punish that sin in order to be just. If somebody commits a crime, a just judge will mete out a penalty … As Christians, we believe that our sins are forgiven by grace ALONE. Not by my efforts. When Jesus died on the cross, he said, ‘It is finished!'”
The Mormon man objected to this. “After all you can do!” he inserted.
“The Bible doesn’t say that,” Tony corrected. “That would be bad news! The good news is that Christ died for sins once for all … The Just (Jesus) for the unjust (us), so that He might bring us to God… It’s not ‘after I try to pay for my own sins’!
“You believe as you have been taught. I believe as I have been taught. I know that Jesus died for our sins,” the Mormon man said.
“All of them?” Tony asked.
“Yes, he died for all of our sin,” he replied.
“Okay, so you can rest now?” Tony asked.
“No, I can’t rest!” he said.
How sad. He is trying to do the impossible! What a burden. If he would only believe God’s Word.
“Therefore, let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short of it. For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard. For we who have believed enter that rest…” (Hebrews 4:1-3).
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).