Hover over Romans 1:20-22 for proof of God's existence, and over Matthew 5:27-28 for Judgment Day’s perfect standard. Then hover over John 3:16-18 for what God did, and over Acts 17:30-31 for what to do.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Plane Speaking

I sat next to an intellectual on a plane recently. He was involved in the financial side of a well-known national corporation. I knew that he was pretty intelligent when I asked him a few question, just to fill in time and he answered them correctly. The first was, “How many U.S. Presidents are not buried in the United States? There are four. They are Jimmy Carter, George Bush Senior, George Bush Junior and Bill Clinton (although time will change the answer). The second was "What was the highest mountain on earth, before Mount Everest was discovered?" He knew that it was Mount Everest. It's always been the highest. He was one sharp cookie.

When I asked Joe what he thought happens after someone dies, he said that he wasn’t an atheist, but he didn’t believe in an afterlife. There was no Heaven and no Hell. So was that the end of the conversation? Where can it go if someone doesn’t believe in Heaven or Hell? There is a way. I asked Joe to imagine that there is a Heaven, and asked if he thought that he was good enough to go there. Did he think that he was a good person? The conversation went like this:

"I’m a very good person."
"Let’s go through some of the Commandments to see if you are, and if you will make it to Heaven. How many lies have you told in your life?"
It turned out that he was a liar, a thief, a blasphemer, and he had committed adultery in his heart many times. I explained the cross, the necessity of repentance and faith, and thanked him for listening to me.

About thirty minutes later he started up the conversation again:
"I have a question for you. Why is it that Christianity says that people from all other religions are going to Hell?"
"All other religions are what are called 'work-righteousness' religions. They think that they have to do something to earn everlasting life. The Muslim prays five times a day, fasts, etc.. The Hindu fasts, prays, lies on beds of nails, etc. The thing that changes the equation is God’s Law. It shows us that we are not simply unfortunate human beings trying to make our way through this life, but that we are wicked criminals in the sight of a holy God. So our 'good' works suddenly are not good works, but are actually attempts to bribe the Judge of the Universe. And the Bible warns that "the sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord." He will not be bribed. But in Christianity, God provided a way for all humanity--the Muslim, the Hindu, the Buddhist, the Jew and the Gentile to be saved. The offer of everlasting life is come by the mercy of the Judge--as a free gift. It is universal--'whosoever will,' may come."

Joe thought for a moment, and said,
"I don’t accept that. It seems unfair to me that it is exclusive."
"You mean that Jesus said that He was the only way to God?"
"Do you think that Christianity is 'intolerant?'"
"Yes, I do."
"So you are being intolerant of Christianity? You are doing what you are accusing Christianity of doing. Being intolerant."
"No, no, not at all. I was just wondering..."

For the next hour or so, Joe had many questions. He listened thoughtfully, and took a "What Hollywood Believes" CD, and a copy of The Way of the Master New Testament. At the end of the flight he then thanked me for the conversation, and said that he had learned a lot.

When he said that he didn’t believe in Heaven and Hell it seemed like a dead end. So, if someone doesn’t believe, surmise with them for a moment. Have them imagine that there's a Heaven (it's easy if you try), and it will open up a door to their heart. Always remember that you are dealing with those that the Bible says are blind. You want them to know that there is another world, so speak to their God-given imagination, and that will given you the opportunity to speak to their God-given conscience.