This past Wednesday I joined the Long Beach brethren in their midweek Bible study. Arriving early I found a young man, whom I later learned was named Jerrell, playing with a radio controlled pickup across the street from the meeting house. I approached Jerrell and spoke with him about various aspects of the radio control while he entertained us with different maneuvers. As the conversation drew on and time was approaching for Bible study to begin members began showing up. Katherine Manning, being one of them, strolled across the street and greeted us, somewhat surprised to see me. They did not know I was planning a visit. After inviting us to join them in Bible study, Katherine excused hersel and Jerrell and I continued our conversation.
I asked Jerrell if he believed in God and thought he was saved. He affirmed that he did believe and thought he was saved. I asked when and how he was saved. He could not say exactly. He generically referred to various events in his life that caused him to think about God and feel like He was with him. In response I asked if the Lord were to return right then, if he was sure he’d be invited into Heaven with him. After a short pause he said he did not know. I asked if he thought it was possible to know. He said he was not sure. I asked if he thought it desirable to know. He said yes! With enthusiastic agreement I invited him to allow me to read him a scripture, which he did. I read 1 John 5:13 which says we can know we are saved by what is written. We discussed the source of faith being what is written Romans 10:17, then turned to 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9 which he volunteered to read. This passage says that Jesus is going to return in wrath toward those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel. We discussed how knowing Jesus is knowing God (John 8:19). Jerrell confirmed that he knew Jesus as God who came in the flesh, lived a sinless life and died on the cross to provide forgiveness of sins for all who believe in Him. So we turned our attention to obeying the gospel. Reading 1 Corinthians 15:1-8 we discussed how the gospel is the message of Jesus death, burial and resurrection. I asked how someone could obey the death burial and resurrection of Jesus. Jerrell thought maybe it was by doing good. We turned to and read Romans 6:1-11 and discussed how obeying the gospel is being baptized into Jesus death, burial and resurrection. We turned to an illustration I had in my pocket We Care New Testament depicting Jesus dying on a cross, being buried in a tomb and raised back to life. Then we turned to the same illustration overlaid with a person being baptized corresponding with each act of Jesus death, burial and resurrection. I asked Jerrell what it meant to obey the gospel and be saved and he said it meant being baptized. I agreed and then shared Acts 2:38 with him to include repentance. I asked him if he was ready be baptized to be obey the gospel and be saved. After a long pause, he said he was not sure. I asked what kept him from obeying and shared how when I came to realize my need to obey the gospel, I immediately called up someone I knew and asked them to baptized me as soon as possible. I invited again and he said he was not ready. I suggested that more study of the subject would help him be ready and invited him to get together with me again. He agreed and we exchanged contact information. By now it was getting dark and time for Bible study across the street. I invited him to join the study, but he said he had to attend to some things at home. I encouraged him to drop in to Long Beach’s meetings, and we parted company.
Had I arrived with just enough time to leave my car and go right into the building for study (as is often the case), I would have missed the opportunity to share the amazing news of God’s love and salvation with him. In this case the proverb, “The early bird gets the worm” proved true. I must admit that I arrived early in hopes, with the accompaniment of prayer, that I would find someone to share Jesus with. My prayer and effort were rewarded!
Please keep Jerrell in prayer concerning making a decision for Christ in the near future.
Keep thinking souls and perhaps, show up early to appointments looking for opportunity to share Jesus with others.