I was invited to go on a mystery golf tour bus trip by a group of gentlemen that I have spent some time golfing with. These guys are mostly retired and come from a variety of faith/non faith backgrounds. One fellow in particular was a staunch Catholic. He went to a major Catholic university, played football there, was in the Knights of Columbus and major leadership at his church. He was as much a Catholic evangelist as one can be.
Anyhow, I had the privilege of golfing with this gentleman, having him in a cart. The round contained mostly competitive banter, coaching and encouraging our team along. At the end of the round, I presented each of my teammates with a Gospel of John, adorned on the cover with a photo of a golf course. The other two politely thanked me, but my cart-mate wanted to talk.
This man, he explained, was very interested in the Bible. He didn’t really know how to study it, though he and some of his friends studied bi-monthly at the same time we hold our men’s Bible study. He was truly curious and wanted to find out what we do and how we do it. This led to a 45 minute demonstration with gospel in hand about how we study, which turned into a discussion of the differences in our belief about justification. I used John 1 to demonstrate Jesus as the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, explaining to Him the sacrificial system which only covers sins temporarily. I compared these to the sacramental system of the Catholic church. I then explained that we are fully justified when we repent and place our faith in Christ, and that as a result, we are free to serve Him and do good works, not for salvation, but because we love Him.
My new friend left that cart, saying he never understood the significance of the Lamb of God and the sacrifice like that before. He promised to read the scripture and to come to our study and to bring his other Bible study mates to hear how we study.
This past tuesday morning, We waited for my new friend to show up. He did not, not did his other mates join us. We had our study, we prayed, and we parted ways. I was a little bothered, but chalked it up to busyness. Wednesday morning, as I often do, I parsed the obituary section. There was my friends obituary; he had died Tuesday of a heart attack. The paper said it was an ‘unexpected’ death.
We never know when people are going to die, that is one reason we must take every opportunity to share with them. If I had spent the entire day with this man, and not shared the Gospel with him, then read this obituary, this would be a sad story. As it was, he was able to hear that he was a sinner that needed justification, and that the justification he needed was found only in Christ. I pray that he made that decision; that he read John 3 like I encouraged him to do, that he understood what it meant to be Born Again. As it is, I will not know until I enter eternity. At least my friend has a chance. Do yours?