25 September 2008

Our dreadful, accountable freedom

by Dan Phillips

If you've been an alive Christian (which should be a tautology) for more than five years, you've already had the heartbreak. If you've been a faithful pastor, you've had it many times. Goes like this:

You tell an unbeliever of Christ, giving it your faithful and loving best. Or you warn a professed believer of some dreadfully foolish or sinful path he's taking. In both cases, you tell him something from the Word of God — that Word that (we are told) is powerful: living, active, sharper than any two-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12).

And what happens?

Nothing.

Nothing, or worse. He shrugs it off, she makes lame excuses. There is no sign of impact, whatever. You might as well have been throwing cotton balls at a charging elephant. Throwing, and missing, as a matter of fact.

Inwardly, you think you really messed up. Deeply inwardly, where no one can see, you think that you dare to wish that the "powerful" Word looked... well... a little more powerful. You wish that it showed a little more power. But for effect, it might as well have been a fortune cookie you were reading — not the Word of the mighty King of all kings.

So consider Jeremiah 36, one of the most strikingly vivid narratives in the Word. Yahweh directs Jeremiah to put all his prophecies into writing (v. 2). The prophet does so, and directs Baruch to read them at the Temple. They do cause a stir and a reaction — but not the appropriate response (cf. vv. 7 and 24). Nonetheless, word reaches wicked King Jehoiakim, who has the scroll fetched for a private reading.

Now, think of it: this is the very Word of God. There is no issue of transcriptional variations, there is no question of translation. These are the ipsissima verba Dei. One pictures the text crackling with Divine power, like static electricity before a lightning bolt strikes.

But does the bolt strike? How does the king respond to the words of the King?

Well, it's a cold day, with a nice little fire going in the brazier (v. 22). Fires need fuel. The king decides he's found a fit use for the Word: not food to warm his heart, but food to feed the flames. Strip by strip, as Jehudi reads, the king slices off the despised Word, and throws it to the fire (v. 23).

How could Jehoiakim do that? How could Yahweh let him do it?

Such is our frightful freedom, our dreadful liberty, that we can shrug off pleas and warnings of the Sovereign of the Universe.

And all the while, Yahweh sat apparently idle. He did nothing, and nothing happened. Not immediately.

But then, when Jehoiakim was done, Yahweh announced in effect, "Was that fun? Terrific. Now here's the bill (vv. 29-31)."

Yahweh directed Jeremiah to rewrite the prophecies — and "many similar words were added to them" (v. 32). I'll go out on a limb here and say that I don't think they were "happy words." They weren't about the king's best life, now; they were about his date with justice, soon (vv. 30-31). The evil monarch's rejection did not cause the words of God to disappear, nor did it nullify God's judgment. On the contrary, by his refusal, Jehoiakim assured that judgment.

And so it is with us, with our hearers — and with our readers. Not all slice away unwelcome revelation with a pen-knife (though some do the literal equivalent). No, they use a keyboard. They use wit, sneers, storming off, sniffing off, various forms of "never laid a glove on me."

But He who sits in the Heavens knows, He sees. It counts. What you heard, what our hearers heard — it counts.

The silence we hear is deceptive, when we do not see it through the spectacles of God's Word.
These things you have done, and I have been silent;
you thought that I was one like yourself.
But now I rebuke you

and lay the charge before you.
(Psalm 50:21)
Consider in closing this word of testimony from Augustine's Confessions (Book Two, Chapter 3):
Woe is me! Do I dare affirm that thou didst hold thy peace, O my God, while I wandered farther away from thee? Didst thou really then hold thy peace? Then whose words were they but thine which by my mother, thy faithful handmaid, thou didst pour into my ears? None of them, however, sank into my heart to make me do anything. She deplored and, as I remember, warned me privately with great solicitude, "not to commit fornication; but above all things never to defile another man's wife." These appeared to me but womanish counsels, which I would have blushed to obey. Yet they were from thee, and I knew it not. I thought that thou wast silent and that it was only she who spoke. Yet it was through her that thou didst not keep silence toward me; and in rejecting her counsel I was rejecting thee--I, her son, "the son of thy handmaid, thy servant."
If it is God's Word — He is speaking. He has spoken. He has spoken to you, and to me.

It counts.

Dan Phillips's signature

42 comments:

donsands said...

Very good post. Thanks.

And the Word became flesh, which flesh was broken, and spikes driven through, because we depised Him so much. Yet God ordained this most evil crime as His most magnificient gift to mankind.

Daniel said...

accountible? Is that like accountable, but more selfish ("I")? lol.

DJP said...

Yeah, like that.

Grrrrr.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

If you've been an alive Christian (which should be a tautology) for more than five years, you've already had the heartbreak.

The heartbreak's worse when the rejection of Christ is coming from family members.

You love your family, you give them the most beautiful, wonderful Good News that they could ever receive (with all the love and enthusiasm that a flawed and broken vessel used by God can muster), and ...

rejection.

Any other Pyro regulars have similar experiences with family members?

Rick Frueh said...

A very profound post made simple. The challenge we all face is to speak the oracles of God and not our own well intentioned opinions.

My record on that is mixed.

One thing that has always been curious to me is when the Spirit allowed Paul to admit he had not recieved something from the Lord but he gave his own grace filled opinion. One thing that magnifies is that Paul was absolutely sure all of his writings were directly from the Lord. I find it incredibly transparent that the great apostle would admit when he did not have a Word from God. I pray I can admit that as well.

DJP said...

Rick, I think your principle is a good and important one, and a point worth making.

However I believe you're alluding to 1 Corinthians 7. There, the apostle isn't saying "I don't have a (revalatory) word from God." Rather, he's saying he knows of no Dominical saying; that is, he can quote no teaching of Jesus pre-Ascension.

Kim said...

Yes, great words.

And Daniel, you caught DJP in a typo. My heart is full :-)

DJP said...

It's so lonely, up here, on the tight-wire, in all the spotlights, with the rubber nose.

Jugulum said...

If you've been an alive Christian (which should be a tautology)

Would that be tautology, or redundancy?

**Wanders to Wikipedia**

Oh, I see. Both tautology and redundancy are repetition of meaning, using different words that effectively say the same thing twice.

The Doulos said...

jugulum - brought to you by the Department of Redundancy Department.

Good words and thoughts Dan. Spelling error notwithstanding.

DJP said...

Oh, my gosh. Rough crowd.

Everyday Mommy said...

And, God has spoken to me...through all of you as you've faithfully preached the Word. To the praise of the glory of His grace! His amazingly, breath-taking grace!

One changed life here.

Stefan said...

We reject the Word of God at our eternal peril. Some do in very open and conspicuously hostile ways, but we all did it at one time, before we were reborn in Christ. (And we sometimes do it in smaller ways, even after.)

And yet...Christ has borne God's just wrath for our transgressions—even the most grievous transgressions—on the Cross, for all those who repent and call on His Name.

Until a man breathes his last breath, it's not too late to turn to God and seek and receive mercy, through the wholly undeserved work of Jesus Christ upon the Cross. He has borne our sins.

***

Truth Unites...And Divides:

You are not alone, brother. The love of my life does not know Christ. She sees it as a choice that she is free to take or leave—like choosing a career, or becoming a Buddhist. She has heard straightforward presentations of the Gospel, but they are of no effect—and why not? The hour that God has appointed to regenerate her has evidently not yet come.

I pray for the day when the Holy Spirit will open her heart—and I have faith in God that it will happen. In the meantime, I thank him when I have opportunities to witness in other ways (such as pray for us and minister to her when she has anxiety about our future).

Stefan said...

(We were both non-believers when we got married. 1 Corinthians 7:12-16 and 1 Peter 3:1-7 are the guiding texts for how I as a servant of Christ am to love her.)

CharlieontheT said...

I like this blog =) =)

CharlieontheT said...

Now if only they'd find an autograph vindicating tongues.... ;)

Benjamin Nitu said...

Beautifully put, Dan!

I can only add what apostle Paul said:
"But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. And who is equal to such a task? Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, like men sent from God."

Dan, continue to speak the word of God with sincerity!

E. said...

Thanks for this. It does take the pressure off.

Sharon said...

T.U.T.D.: You love your family, you give them the most beautiful, wonderful Good News that they could ever receive (with all the love and enthusiasm that a flawed and broken vessel used by God can muster), and ...

rejection.

Any other Pyro regulars have similar experiences with family members?


Nodding, raising hand, ever so sadly. And at this point, they all know the Gospel well. All I can do is pray for the Spirit to quicken the dead.

A Musician by Grace

Penn Tomassetti said...

This is like a prophetic post, it speaks right to my situation right out of the prophetic Book. I thank God. May I use some of this post for a Bible study?

MarieP said...

Truth Unites... and Divides:

YES!!! I often am reminded of the words of Isaac Watts: "Why was I made to hear Thy voice and enter while there's room/ While thousands make a wretched choice and rather starve than come"

Our Lord experienced the same, though:

Mark 6
4 But Jesus said to them, "A prophet is not without honor except in his own country, among his own relatives, and in his own house." 5 Now He could do no mighty work there, except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them.

And these words of Paul astound me. As much as I love my family, I only know some small portion of what Paul meant when he wrote:

Rom. 9
1 I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, 2 that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh, 4 who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises; 5 of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen.

DJP said...

Of course, Penn. One of my great joys, while I seek a fulltime ministry of the Word for myself, is knowing that my material is being broadly put to use by pastors and teachers.

Michael said...

Rejection of a family member comes in many ways, and one of the most annoying (and heartbreaking) for me is the "cow at the fence" look I get most of the time. No outright rebellion or rejection, no arguments or discussions, not counterpoints...just dead, cold silence. You can almost hear the thoughts "...I'll just glaze over until he winds back down again..."

Unfortunately, many of us are in these situations. My only real comfort is that while it is my responsibility to be a witness and provide the gospel, I'm not the one responsible for ensuring she "gets saved". Whether that happens or not (and of course I hope it is a certainty and will occur soon),is in God's hands.

MarieP said...

Very interesting, thought-provoking post! We need the Spirit to plow up our hard hearts so the seed can take root.

As to the quote from Augustine, one of my pastors recently taught this SS lesson on Monica's testimony to her son.

Polycarp said...

Stefan:

I wish I had more time to write everything I want to say as an encouragement to you brother, but I need to cut it short and get off to work! However, I'll try to condense (operative word is "try"): while my wife and I met in college, as undergraduates, and identified ourselves as believers to one another as a fundamental requirement to our even having a relationship in the first place, neither of us knew that within a year--once we entered grad school together (studying English lit of all things)--we would be embarking together on a path of prodigal departure for several years that would bring layers of misery and despair into our lives once our season of sin took its course. For a time, we embodied eveything the postmodern mindset/worldview promotes--to our shame! Throughout grad school and into our teaching careers, we thought we were flying high, but only "flew" high enough to make the fall hurt that much more when God, in His glorious, redeeming, and merciful love and grace began the process of breaking me first and humbling my foolish pride...that desperately needed to be crushed (too long a story to tell here). It was first through the loss of a position I made into my golden calf for years and years, through odd circumstances that none could understand (including a lawyer who told me I had a strong case for wrongful termination) except for the one who, like Jonah down in the boat, knew God was at work and the running was over. The next blow was actually the result of previous sin of materialism and greed my wife and I arrogantly committed years before in buying a ridiculously large house nearly 80 miles away from our jobs because it was big and new (a "track mansion" that ironically was nothing short of sheer hypocracy for me as I aspoused such a commitment to marxist interpretations of literature), even though we cared little for the debt it would amass, the community and church we would leave behind, and the toll it would take on our marriage. Furthermore, after losing my position, it made it all the more difficult to teach in an adjunct capacity at multiple colleges, as I had done before landing that "golden" position, because we were living out in the country, away from everything and everyone.

Well, I could keep going with this story of several more chapters "after the fall", including the odd twist that my wife was hired for the same position I lost (only at a different school) within the same month I was hired for mine. The ironic difference is that she could have cared less and essentially walked into it at the time, along with sailing through her tenure review process, whereas I worshipped that position. Now, she is still in that position, after many changes in our lives, yet neither of us wants her to be there or in any job outside the home any longer, and I am praying for a complete change of career altogether. Anyhow, what I wanted to share with you is the fact that it wasn't until after God began working-on me and I repented that my wife's worst chapter would begin.

God had graciously delivered us by allowing our house to be sold under some pretty amazing circumstances and we were able to move back to where we left. God told me to take back the spiritual helm and let Him steer our family to safety. While I thought we were smooth sailing, and that both of us were enjoying God's mercy and grace, my wife began her period of rebellion that took a different form than mine years prior: she saw my leadership as failed (which it was), the God I claimed to follow as uncaring, and basically indiffrent. In this mindset, she plunged headlong into yoga and became both good at it physically (the trap of satan) and "open" to its dark spiritual influnces. I discovered, firstahand, what the demonic realm looks like in the 2 plus years she was engaged in this, going to the "temple" (as I called it) 4-5 times a week. It wasn't like hollywood depicts, with all of that halloween fare, but rather it was a series of degrees in which a cold indifference and insensitivity within the love of my life, of whom I knew had such a different disposition years before. The demonic oppression revealed itself in a mask of "openness" that began to characterize all she said and thought, including the odd shift in music interests. It was terrifying in its very placid subtlty, in a "stepford wives" kind of way. To make a (very) long story short, I'm not suggesting in any way that you have failed like I clearly did, but only to share the fact that for those years when I was so excited about what God was doing to restore us, my wife couldn't have been in a more opposite place.

However, God's ever-so-gentle and clear direction kept me reminded that He would deliver us. Well, within a period of about a year following this chapter, our lives were restored as it began on Mother's day when my wife went to her yoga class following church on a Sunday (of all days), as was the practice then, and she found herself standing in the parking lot taking her mat out of the car as she watched family after family pouring in to a nearby restaurant to celebrate the holiday she made it clear she had no desire to celebrate days before; that her schedule would not be changed. At that moment, she was immediately convicted, while I sat at home in tears with our daughter, and said to herself (in her words)"what am I doing here, with all of these freaks, when I have a family at home?" She came in the door with a glow about her face I had not seen in a long time (her usual demeanor during this time was emotionless and cold) and told me what she discovered. That was essentially the end of her departure into yoga as she repented and never went back. It was the beginning of the end to her season of rebellion. Furthermore, as someone who did not (merely) do yoga at a big, corporate gym chain (not that it would have made it any better), but rather at an independent place that really played into the spiritual wickedness of hinduism as part of its aesthetic, she will make every effort she can when she talks to anyone now to inform them of how dark and evil it really is--that it is entirely imcompatable with Christianity (sorry Mr. Pagitt). Praise be to God for his patience, His discipline, His Love....I'll be praying for you, brother, because there were times when I was convinced I'd be going it alone, and I can empathize with you.

Sorry this rambled so long; I left it all in hopes that the details can help encourage others and point to God's sovereign grace! Now, as we read God's Word together nearly every morning, I often find myself reflecting on God's hand of providence and how he has delivered. He will sustain you!

Penn Tomassetti said...

Thanks DJP.
The Bible study I'm talking about is more like the king who burns the scroll. They hear it over and over, yet still don't repent. I'm not preaching any other gospel than grace (that we are sinners and deserving of hell, but that Christ is a complete Savior for complete sinners). The part they don't like hearing is the part that has to do with being sinners. Romans 5:6, "For while we were still weak, at the right time, Christ died for the ungodly."

Grace to all you in the struggle to keep speaking to those who refuse to hear. You are my brothers and sisters and mothers, etc.

NJ said...

"Such is our frightful freedom, our dreadful liberty, that we can shrug off pleas and warnings of the Sovereign of the Universe."

Man...our God is so much bigger than the "God" we so often hear preached of today. He gives us the freedom to turn away from Him and reject Him...it's so basic, but that has never ceased to amaze me. It's truly big.

Stefan said...

Polycarp:

Thank you very, very much for that, and thank you for sharing your testimony.

Stefan said...

Praise be to God, to Whom belongs all power and dominion and glory, forever and ever. Amen!

Stefan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stefan said...

Polycarp again:

Actually, there's a lot more I could write, but suffice it to say that there are a lot of parallels between your story and my own. So thank you for the assurance your story has given me, by the grace of God. May God's blessings be upon you and your family.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Thanks to everyone who identified with the pain of having seen loved ones reject Christ and who are still hoping and praying that their loved ones will one day be truly regenerated in the Lord.

Next question: Have you ever encountered counsel from other Christians who say something along these lines:

"Don't open up a Gospel conversation anymore for the time being. Don't invite them to Church for the time being. Say nothing. Just let your walk with the Lord be your Gospel. Eventually, they'll come around and initiate the conversation, and then you can present the Gospel at that time."

Do you think that's good counsel? Why or why not?

My thoughts: I understand what my well-meaning, well-intentioned Christian friends are saying. I just always wondered... what if my family/friends get in a fatal car accident while I was patiently waiting for them to notice what a wonderful gospel walk I have and they never got a chance to initiate a Gospel conversation that I was praying would happen before they died?

Maybe my problem is that I always thought the Great Commission was pro-active in nature, rather than reactive.

And if we're passive in presenting and sharing the Gospel instead of being active, is it possible that followers and disciples of Christ get to experience their aspect of...

"Our dreadful, accountable freedom"

Morris Brooks said...

Don't let your heart be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. Yes, the word is living and active and sharper than any two edged sword, but there are times when you can hear the blade and see the sparks when it hits the heart made cold and stoney by sin.

In Mark 10 we see Jesus experience this with the rich young man..it even tells us that Jesus felt a love for him...and the young man heard the words of eternal life from the Lord of life and walked away.

How gracious is God to give all these people the word of eternal life, but, also, how condemning when they stand before His judgement seat.

tck said...

Thank you for this post mr. Johnson.

It's indeed a dreadful freedom as such. I heard a Bible teacher once say that every time you hear the gospel, something happens to you. You either grow closer to Jesus, or your heart is hardened. While that of course is a very to-the-point way of putting it, I believe he has a point.

Let us take heed to how we hear and listen to the Word of God.

Stefan said...

Truth Unites...And Divides:

I have received the same counsel from a number of mature, godly believers.

I too would be curious to know what others have to say.

A few thoughts, though: if God chose to save them before the foundation of the world, then He will not let their earthly lives come to an end without bringing them to repentance and saving faith first. But still the question stands: where do we stand in all this?

But there is a tightrope to walk. If we plead with them and push the Gospel so aggressively (in a "what's wrong with you?" or "you must choose Christ" fashion, not that we as good Calvinists would do that ;) ), we risk estranging them. We may do more harm than good. And if it's a spouse we're talking about, we have to keep in mind 1 Corinthians 7:16 ("For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?"). It seems reasonable to apply a similar principle in the case of non-believing parents, siblings, or children.

So it seems that we have to strike a balance between absolute passivity, and full-on, fire-and-brimstone evangelism. In my case, I thank God for the opportunities that present themselves: to pray with my wife; to explain my reason for doing or not doing this or that out of love for Christ; to explain (for example) what "atonement" means (when ads for the movie Atonement were on TV); etc.

Now, I'm entering Bible school (part-time), and so I have had to explain the reasons to her for doing so—since there is no worldly benefit to doing so. This, too, became a witnessing opportunity.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Hi Stefan,

I deeply appreciate the heart-felt sharing that you and PolyCarp have provided us. It's so instructive.

Fortunately, my wife and young daughter are Christians. My unbelieving family consists of parents and brothers, uncles and aunties, cousins, nephews, nieces, and in-laws.

So it seems that we have to strike a balance between absolute passivity, and full-on, fire-and-brimstone evangelism.

If you ever find out where that balance is, can you tell me??!

I know in my head that God is sovereignly in control, so that's cool.

But what gets me is that it's all too easy to get criticized by others. If you attempt Great Commission evangelism and it comes back void, well then you're too aggressive and pushy. If you say nothing and hope that your behavior and walk will get noticed for its transformation, and they still don't care to learn more about Christ, well then you're too passive and timid with the Light that God has given you.

I don't like being in a no-win situation. Thankfully, God loves me anyways for being a grump about it. D'oh!

MarieP said...

Truth Unites... and Divides:

I hear ya! Striking that balance is not easy. On the on hand, we are to be salt and light, and on the other there is a place for shaking the dust off our feet. But one thing I know, if God leads us not to speak to someone about the Gospel anymore, like Dan said, it is a dreadful thing! In essence, it's saying "You refuse to heed God's gracious warnings, and you spurn His mercy. Fine, go your own way!"

One thing that really has helped me is asking God for more love and compassion and concern for my family. I think that the motives of our hearts can give us wisdom in this. Am I proclaiming the Gospel because I want to win an argument and show my intellect, or am I doing so out of love and compassion for souls? Am I trying to look super-spiritual (Please pass me the milk, which you need to come and buy without money and without price), or am I acting as a fellow sinner but one saved by grace, in the world and yet not of it?

Stefan said...

Oh, one more thing (d'oh!).

As I have wrestled with God over this, He has used my wife's not-yet-salvation to teach me areas where lessons in all of the following:

* Diligence in prayer
* Trusting God
* Patience
* The nature of the Gospel
* His sovereign grace
* His sovereignty in salvation
* The sanctity of marriage
* Obedience to Christ
* Servanthood
* Sanctification
* Repentance for my own sins
* Relying solely on Christ
* Bringing everything to the Cross

Not that I am anywhere near a good student in any of those, but the apprehension of waiting has forced me over and over again to wonder why: why not yet?

Everything happens at the hour appointed by God in His sovereign counsel, so if it hasn't happened yet, there must be a reason. That reason could be that I myself still have so much to learn about living in love of and obedience to Christ, and this waiting has forced me to wrestle with all of the above subjects. God moulds and shapes and refines me in the midst of my angst, and His strength truly is made perfect in weakness.

Above all, brother, PRAY. I myself am not diligent enough in my prayer, but it seems clear that above all else, we are to bring it all to the Cross of Christ in prayer.

Polycarp said...

Dan:

Great post today, in part because it allowed for some encouragement through testimony. I hope my long bit was not a derailer, as I wanted to stay on topic but may have strayed here and there.

Julius Mickel said...

Just a young guy, also holding services several times a month in a county jail:
Amen and amen to a lot that has been said.
TOO HARD?? One thing we must do, is search our own hearts (motives), then we must evaluate our message (are we understandable? explaining words, the only way you will have peace to just chill on continuing to preach the gospel to family or friends is when you know that they fully grasp what the gospel is) Then.....You wait for opportunities to remind them of those truths... 'As though God was PLEADING through us', ever heard the man ask Spurgeon about the lack of converts he say Spurgeon asked "you don't expect people to get saved EVERYTIME you preach do you?" the man replied "of course not" Spurgeon then said "you should" (or someting like that :) )
We live in a day filled where such a term like "non-confrontational gospel" is tossed around. What's that oh yeah i remember Paul talking about it he said 'another gospel which isn't any gospel at all'. Sovereignty YES but don't neglect the means of grace, God works through means so put them to use! Consider Ezekiel's call as well (could you imagine being told beforehand that the people won't listen to you? How'd your zeal be then? Motivation? Soli Deo Gloria www.constrainedbygrace.com

MarieP said...

This is totally off topic, but I just realized I am singing the Animaniacs theme song whenever I come here, except I substitute in the word Pyromaniacs.

Michael said...

"If you attempt Great Commission evangelism and it comes back void, well then you're too aggressive and pushy. If you say nothing and hope that your behavior and walk will get noticed for its transformation, and they still don't care to learn more about Christ, well then you're too passive and timid with the Light tat God has given you."

First, the word of God (even spoken through us if we are allowing the Spirit to lead us) may seem to come back to us void, but it never returns void to God...I believe the Bible is clear on that point.

Second, the Great Commission states that we are to proclaim the gospel, and make disciples in all nations...it doesn't speak to our methods, and while there is a time for somewhat "aggressive and pushy", there are also times for other methods. The best teachers know how to convey their message to a wide variety of people, and different people respond to different stimuli.

Finally though, let's not fall into the trap that we are responsible for more than we are responsible for. Sharing the gospel with someone close should occur using methods that are attuned to their personality. So what if they die in that car accident, and you didn't confront them one more time with the gospel before they drove out of the driveway? In that situation, that is what God intended...we can do nothing. Either we truly believe that God will bring His own to Himself by His power, or we don't.

I'm not suggesting that we should do nothing, or that once we share one time, we are "off the hook"...just that it isn't our role to evangelize our loved ones into Heaven. And thank God for that, because we don't have the power.

That's my current thinking anyway...could be wrong. That's why I love to hang out here...I learn so much.