Saturday, February 28, 2009

Always be Prepared to Give an Answer for Your Hope...

The other day I had an encounter with a woman who I've met before and always liked, always seen as gentle and seemingly happy...and I was telling her how long we'd been attending our church and how much we have so loved it (we were at the church at the time, for a children's music education program). I asked her where she attends, or if she attends? And she said, no, she couldn't find a church that believes what she believes. She said they usually expect you to believe the Bible, and she just doesn't (at which, in retrospect, I can rejoice; I'd hate to think she'd found the church that affirmed her expectations!). When she told me this, my heart sank for her, though I also knew this was one of those things we all should be living was a golden opportunity to share the wonderful hope of Christ.
The Bible says to always be prepared to give an answer to those who ask about the hope that is within you...and yet, she kind of caught me off guard. I had to search for what to say to her. When a person puts some sort of faith in the Bible, you can use some Scriptures, but when they don't, it's different. You have the help of the Holy Spirit, but only evidence that is not bound up in Scripture verses, to relate the reality of Jesus Christ. She doubted that Jesus even existed. She said that all a person has to do is love, that's enough for her, you don't need any more. I told her it's not by works that you get to heaven, you don't earn it by being good. She didn't care about heaven or hell, didn't know for sure that they existed. She said that she couldn't put her faith in a book written just by men. Ah.
There is one thing about the Bible, without referring to any specific verse, that is an overwhelming evidence for its truth and reality. The Old Testament is replete with prophecies of Christ. These are statements that point to a future Messiah, a Savior, who would complete God's plan of redemption for humanity. There are some prophecies that even the Jews missed, regarding the fact that He would be a Savior not only to the Jews, but to the Gentiles as well, and those that reference His human weakness, His human poverty. They expected a powerful King who would overthrow the Romans who were oppressing them at the time, and He didn't fit their expectations. This wasn't because the prophecies weren't true, but because they were reading their own desires into the prophecies and overlooking those that didn't suit them. It's a case of what people refer to as 20/20 hindsight: now, having the New Testament through which to view the Old, we can see that there are many more prophecies than the Jews attributed to the coming Messiah. Hundreds of prophecies that are fulfilled in Jesus Christ, that no mere human would have had power to orchestrate, such as where He was born, and the reaction of Herod when he sought to kill all the baby boys in that area at that time. It would be incomprehensible to read about all of these prophecies in retrospect and not conclude that Jesus had an incredible significance, that the circumstances of His very existence testified to the truth of the Old Testament, and therefore the New.
No mere humans could have written the prophecies and had power to make sure that they would be fulfilled; some were written thousands of years before His birth. In fact, they puzzled over these prophecies as they wrote them; they would have loved to see how they would have been manifested. They did not fully understand what the meaning was of the words they were writing:
1 Peter 1:10-13: As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful searches and inquiries, seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven--things into which angels long to look. Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

I tried to tell this lady about the prophecies, and how they were not written only by the men who held the pen but by the Holy Spirit as He composed the words; still, she said nothing and looked completely uninterested. I said that you can't make God into whatever you want, because that makes Him into a small, powerless thing that is no good at all. You could make a pebble on the beach into a god if you wanted to, and it wouldn't have any power at all. She said that it could work. At that point I realized there was nothing more for me to say, and the discussion was pretty well through. I don't need to feel frustrated, because Jesus said there would be the four soils, and it seems at this point she is the soil along the path--compacted, resilient against the truth. I have no need to be frustrated, but I can pray. She is a dear woman for whom Christ died, if she would only look and realize her need for him. So far she realizes none of this, but God is gracious, and has given her more time to do so. Hallelujah!

1 comment:

manonfire73 said...

Thank you for sharing, Mrs Abbott. Your thoughts are an encouragement to me to evangelism. I am a little turned off by unreceptive hearers, but I know that Christ does not mean for everyone to accept the call. Keep up the good work!