Thursday, February 28, 2013

Reforming vs. Repenting

Saturday I had some really good visits at the nursing home. As I was finishing up visiting a friend, I saw a man working at a computer in his room. As soon as I saw him I felt that I must talk with him.
I introduced myself to him and after seeing the girly pictures on his wall I let him know that I was a Chaplain. His mood changed to be a bit more foul. I kept it light and asked what he was working on.
Bill told me that he was working on a Bachelors Degree in Criminal Justice.

 "I know how to be a criminal so I thought I'd give it a try!" He laughed. He told me that he was in jail on drug charges when he had a massive stroke. "Working on this makes the time go by quicker just like in jail. I've already got my Associates Degree."

"Oh, that's great. What do you want to do with the degree?" I asked him out of curiosity.

"A parole officer." Terrific, I thought a criminal monitoring a criminal. Just what we need.

"Well, as I told you I'm a Chaplain so I'm interested to know what your views are about God. Do you have any?"

"Yeah, I believe in God..." He said.

"If there's really a Heaven, do you think you'll go there?"

"Yeah, I think so."

"Why would God let you in? Are you good enough?" I asked.

"I think so...I'm a good guy." (Hmmmm)

"Mind if I test your theory? I'd like to ask you some questions Bill- they require honesty on your part-ready?"


I took Bill through Gods Law. He admitted to lying, stealing and blasphemy. "In the book of Revelation it says 'no liar will be found in Heaven'. It actually has a long list there in 21:8. It says that liars 'will have their part in The Lake that burns with fire and brimstone'. The Bible also says that 'it's appointed for men to die once, after that the Judgement'." I let that sink in.

"Do you think God will pronounce you Guilty or Innocent when you are judged?"

He was quiet for a minute then said, "Guilty...but I think He'll forgive me."

"Bill, if you stood before the judge, guilty of multiple crimes do you think you can apologize and go home?"

"No way!" He said, without hesitation.

"Not if he upholds the law, right? God is a good Judge and because He is you will be convicted....where will He send you, Heaven or Hell?"

"Hell..." His demeanor had changed. He was very quiet.

"Does it bother you to think of that?"

"Well yeah. I sure don't want to go to Hell." He said.

"Do you know what God did for you so you won't have to go to Hell?" He mentioned Jesus and the cross and something about forgiving everyone's sin. I told him that demons know Jesus and tremble at His very name but that doesn't change their eternal destination.

"2000 years ago God put on flesh, Jesus Christ came to pay for us. He lived a perfect, sinless life and then laid His life down for you on that cross, taking all of the punishment for every rotten thing you would ever do. But how do you acquire that payment made for you?" He looked stumped.

"Here's the deal, Bill....right now you are on a road that leads to Hell. (Now imagine if I had just walked into his room and said that before preparing the soil of his heart with the Law of God.). You can clean yourself up all the way there. You can change your ways, reform yourself, like what you are doing here by studying.  None of it will get you off of that road. When you get to the end of the road, you'll be in Hell. To change your destination what do you have to do? TURN AROUND! You MUST repent: Dont just confess your sin but TURN from it. That's the first thing. Then you must trust Jesus-He said, "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life-NO MAN comes to the Father but by ME."

Bill was silent quite a while before he spoke. "It's really weird that you came here today. I've had so many questions and they've all been answered."

"If you think this stuff is important, when are you going to do it?" I asked him.

"I'm trying..." He muttered.

"Trying? So you're standing in the middle of the road and a truck is about to run you over. I'm yelling at you to get out of the way and you say, 'I'm trying'? Does that make sense?"

"Yeah...I guess that's exactly what I'm doing!"

"When are you going to take care of this?" I repeated quietly.

"Right now." Bill told me, bowing his head.

"Do you mean it?"

"Yes." With that Bill prayed. When he was finished I prayed for him. Then I asked him if he had a Bible.

"Yes" he said showing me his Bible. "I never miss a Bible study on Tuesday, and church on Sunday, but now I know that's not what will get me to Heaven anyway!"

Wow-he really was listening.

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