Tag Archives: salvation

The Law, the Conscience, and the Gospel

A few years ago, I was driving to Spring Green from Madison after watching a movie at the theater late one night.  It’s an hour drive from Madison to Spring Green, and most of the ride is through small towns where gas stations aren’t open very late.  Knowing it might be difficult to find a bathroom so late in the night (and believing public urination probably wouldn’t be the best thing to have on my record), I remember thinking maybe I should go to the bathroom in Madison before I left.  But then my Y-chromosome called me a sissy and convinced me I could make it all the way home.

I realized pretty quickly that I had made a wrong decision, and so at every little town I came to, I looked left and right for any sign of some place where I could pull over and use the bathroom.  After passing through a few unpromising towns, I remember finally seeing ahead of me a gas station brightly lit up.  I could even see the attendant inside working at the counter.

I was so happy that, without turning on my signal or looking behind me, I immediately turned left from the right-hand lane and aimed towards the gas station.

Bright blue and red flashing lights behind me quickly revealed I had cut off a police officer in my pursuit of a toilet.

The law had found me.  And there was no escape.  I was caught red-handed, guilty.

When I came to a stop, I rolled down my window, held out my driver’s license, and shouted, “I really have to use the bathroom!  Can I give you my license and go run to the toilet?”

The officer nodded his ascent, so I ran as fast as a guy can run whose bladder is about to explode and took care of business.  When I returned to the car, the officer explained that under the circumstances, he’d let me off with a warning rather than a ticket. Boy, was I relieved! (In more ways than one.)

I share this to illustrate a truth:  To share the gospel effectively, my job is to help a person to see that he has broken God’s eternal law, that there are red and blue flashing lights behind him, and he’s been found guilty. Only then will he find the peace and the relief his soul needs, and only then will he gladly surrender all to Jesus.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Why do the Orthodox Need the Gospel… #5

(Note:  Before reading, please understand that I am not attacking the Orthodox Church.  In general, they have an amazing understanding of the majesty of God, a deep appreciation for artwork and beauty in worship, a respect for tradition, a love of history, and many more admirable qualities.  However, many who call themselves “Orthodox” are desperately in the dark.)

Of all the places I’ve lived, Bucuresti is by far the most religious.  Orthodox churches are on almost every block, it’s common to see priests on the streets, and most people believe God exists.  So, in such a religious place, why am I here sharing the Gospel?  Here is reason number five…

Reason #5 – I’ve Already Been Baptized…

Despite the religious observance, the vast majority of those with whom we’ve spoken have had little to no inward religious life.  We have met many who told us flatly, “I have been baptized; I gave an offering,” as if Christianity was simply a matter of doing a few religious things.  But Jesus wants to be first in our hearts.  In fact, he strongly rebuked those who had the right works but the wrong heart:  “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far away from me” (Mark 7:6).  People need to know that Jesus came for their heart, not just for an occasional glance in his direction.

Why do the Orthodox Need the Gospel… #4

(Note:  Before reading, please understand that I am not attacking the Orthodox Church.  In general, they have an amazing understanding of the majesty of God, a deep appreciation for artwork and beauty in worship, a respect for tradition, a love of history, and many more admirable qualities.  However, many who call themselves “Orthodox” are desperately in the dark.)

I was speaking with someone about Jesus when he bluntly ended our conversation with, “Romania is an Orthodox country.”  It’s true many have heard about Jesus and even believe in God, but there is much work yet to do here.  So, why do we still need to preach the Gospel in Romania?

Reason #4 – Saved by Faith Works…

Orthodox theology says men are saved by grace from God, but people are taught grace is given only after work is done.  The church, for example, teaches that after a man dies, he will not enter heaven until a relative gives an offering.  (What if he has no relatives?)  Also, if a man realizes he is in sin, he is told to give a donation to a priest in order to release forgiveness.  (Didn’t Jesus require simply repenting?)  Romanians, even faithful Orthodox believers, need to know that forgiveness is not given based on religious observance but the kindness of Jesus.  “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Mircea and Vasilica

Yesterday, Jason and I had a really cool time visiting some gypsy communities here in Bucuresti.

We started the evening off by stopping in to check on the families living along the railroad tracks between the Cora and Plaza Romania.  When we got there, we discovered nearly everyone gone.  The only remaining family was a young woman with her five kids in their lean-to.  She informed us that the police had come by recently to destroy the makeshift homes and kick everyone out.  For some reason, they had left her and the five kids, though they had taken everything of value, which meant the boards in their home and the plastic bottles she had been collecting for money.

Continue reading