Today my friend and I went out and after being rejected by the first people we spoke to (probably because I started with talk about God and forgot to first build relationship with them) we then met Malcolm and Mark. Mark was playing his guitar and Malcolm was sitting on his skateboard with his cigarettes and a strange knife/scissors thing sitting beside him. Mark was very quiet but listen to all we said – Malcolm seemed to be the complete opposite but he did listen sometimes.
The actual job of sharing truth with Malcolm was very difficult because of a whole lot of jumbled and scaty ideas and attitudes. There was pluralism, infused righteousness, repentance alone for salvation, works righteousness, self righteousness, anger, emotionalism, idolatry and so much more, all going on at once in Malcolm’s mind. Combining this with the ability to talk underwater made it tough. It was very wintry day and we ended up sitting on cold concrete for 90 minutes. What a joy – I guess that was just a tiny bit of suffering for the sake of the Gospel. Here is what my friend wrote about the encounter:
…Any way, about today. I really enjoyed it. It was interesting how Malcolm recognised God’s providence in leading us to him and Mark. It was probably a bit beyond Malcolm to want to hear at the time but that was a direct answer to our prayer. God led us to the person (people) that needed to hear His word at that point in time. I think when he sensed an inkling of that truth he was shaken in a good way.
Malcolm really awakened compassion in me. The more he wrestled with the conflicting ideas and feelings and showed his ignorance – a direct result of lack of or bad teaching I would suspect – the more I wanted to talk to him and help him. He was a big mess. A couple of the things that he said near the end were quite encouraging I thought. He said that suddenly felt awake as though he had been sleeping and then woken up during our conversation. He wanted to acknowledge Christ as His saviour but had difficulty just letting faith be faith. Baptism had become a work of righteousness for him that seemed an impossible hurdle to cross as though he had to be good enough, and committed enough to a life of holiness before he could make this somehow ultimate step. Faith is an acknowledgement of the fact that we can do nothing, we are failures we need a righteousness at someone else’s expense. GRACE – God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense – FAITH – Forsaking All I Trust Him. You have probably seen these acronyms before. They are a nice simple help to children and new believers.
My understanding of Baptism at its simplest is that it is a visible representation of what only God can do – regeneration. We do it to our babies because we know that unless God works on and in them – they are without hope – baptism signifies our hope and trust that God will work sovereignly to save his children from our children. We are baptised as adult – converts to signify that we have received the unmerited favour of God in the washing away of our sins and the regeneration and rebirth of our spirits by the working of God’s Spirit in us flowing from the atoning death and resurrection of Jesus.
They wanted the tracts. That was good. They were energised and positive – particularly Malcolm – by the end of the conversation and had even stopped swearing, stopped smoking and started to display an interest in our churches and what it would be like if they came. That was great. I hope and pray that Malcolm and Mark might find the desire to come and hear God’s Word faithfully preached at one of the churches we mentioned.