I recently received a call from James from the firefighters association. After, I listened to his script, I asked him if he had a few minutes to answer some of my questions. He said he did. I then prefaced it with, "These really don't have anything to do with what we were discussing, but I try to ask anyone who calls me these questions."
I have found that when I didn't transition by stating that I was about to ask questions off the topic, they are so caught off guard that the conversation usually doesn't recover. So I preface my questions with a statement telling them to get ready for some questions.
I found out he was not a firefighter, but, I still believed it would be a good way to open the conversation. I said, "James, you know that firefighters put their lives on the line everyday and risk death every time they go into a burning building, right? Have you ever thought about what happens when you die?"
He said, "Well, I'm not religious if that's what you mean."
He said, "Well, I'm not religious if that's what you mean."
I said, "James that is awesome because God hates religion. However, since 10 out of 10 of us are going to die, have you given much thought to what happens?"
He said, "No. I haven't really thought about it." I asked if he believed his life was precious and he agreed it was. I told him that one day we're all going to die and then face God I took him through an analogy about the worth of his eyes compared to the worth of his soul by asking him if he would sell his eyes for $2 million if they could be removed painlessly and then be replaced with glass eyes so that noone could tell.
He said, "Yes. I would do it."
I said, "You would sell your eyes, knowing that you would never see anything ever again for $2 million?!"
He said, "Yes. I'd do it to help out a family member if they really needed the money."
I'd never had anyone who said that they would sell their eyes AFTER additional prodding, so this was a first. I filed that little piece of information away to be used later in the conversation.
So I said, "If there were no family or friends in need, would you still do it?" He said, "Probably not." I said, "Exactly! Your eyes are precious to you. How much more precious is your soul?!"
I then went on to ask him if he thought that he would go to heaven or hell. He said he didn't really know. I asked if he'd like to find out and he said he guessed so.
Knowing that I was on borrowed time, instead of taking them through the good person test in the typical question and answer format, I sometimes try to consolidate that portion but not leave anything out. I said, "James, the way that you go to heaven is by being morally perfect from birth to death. God has a standard by which He will judge all humanity and that is the 10 commandments. If you have ever told a lie, even one, stolen anything, even if it was small, lusted in your heart, or taken God's name and used it flippantly or as a filth word, you will be guilty of not being morally perfect and He will judge you. Have you ever done any of those things?"
He said, "Yes, I have." I said, "James, I have too. None of us can go to heaven on our own because none of us have been morally perfect. However, Jesus came and died on the cross for our sins and when you place your faith in Him and repent of your sins, God will dismiss your case and declare you not guilty. Let me explain repentance. It means you to a 180 degree turn and not a 360 degree turn. If you keep doing the same thing over and over agin, you've not really repented. Repentance means you stop doing it. Does that make sense?"
He said, "I just don't know about the Bible, like if you can believe it or not and all that stuff about Jesus."
Usually I stay out of the realm of apologetics, however, he wasn't combative and asked a legitimate question. I believed it would hinder any further conversation with him if I glossed over that or ignored it so I told him that he could rest assured that Jesus was who He says He was and if that was true, the Bible was 100% true as well by saying,
"James, I had some questions about that too but let me give you a few facts that may help clear that up for you. There are about 60 major prophecies about Jesus in the Bible. There are many more, but some people have said that he just tried to "be" the Messiah by fulfilling the prophecies so He could be Messiah because every little Jewish boy wanted to be the Messiah. But he had no choice in what he was named, or the fact that he was from a certain lineage, or born in a certain town, or the fact that he went to Egypt as a baby. James, if only 8 of these prophecies were fulfilled by one man the odds of that...are you ready...would be 1 x 10 to the 17th power. That's a 1 with 17 zeros after it! I said since that number is so large let me share something that may make it more understandable. Pretend that you could fill the entire state of Texas with silver dollars about 2 feet high. Next take only one of those silver dollars and put an "X" on it. Drop a blindfolded person in the middle of all that and tell him that he has ONLY ONE chance to pull out the silver dollar with the "X" on it while blindfolded! James, that is how large the odds were. Jesus WAS who he says he was!"
He said, "Wow, I've never knew that. It's kind of got me thinking."
I said, "James, you have broken God's law and He will judge you by His standard on Judgement Day. You know you're guilty of breaking His law and if you refuse to repent and put your faith in Jesus Christ, you will be sentenced to hell. James I don't want that for you, you sound like a really caring guy if you would give up your eyes for family. I care for you too and I don't want to see that happen to you."
I used his earlier statement and told him he did seem like a caring person, but I would NEVER tell anyone they sounded like a GOOD person because there is no one good, not even one. I don't believe it's wrong to occasionally offer a kind word. Unlike a street encounter, you know this one will end very quickly and since you can't see their face and they can't see yours, you can't communicate non verbally, which is so important. I sometimes try to offer a word of kindness if they are not arrogant and proud because often you can hear the change in their countenance on the phone. But, each situation is different. Just do what the Holy Spirit leads you to do.
I asked if he had a Bible. He said he did. I told him to read the book of John and told him not to get confused with 1-3 John. I told him it was the 4th book in the New Testament. I said that would answer many of his questions. I also encouraged him to repent and believe.
He said he had to go because he didn't want to get into trouble for the length of the call. I told him I understood. He said, "You really gave me a lot to think about I'll definitely give it some thought."
I told him that this conversation wasn't by chance. I had nothing to do with it. It was God who orchestrated this. He thanked me and said goodbye. Altogether the Gospel presentation took about 6 minutes.
I have prayed for him that he didn't get distracted and not read the Bible or put it off. I pray that he will repent and believe. Keep James in your prayers.