A Very
Short Story
. . . with Long Lasting Implications

   Tim kept nervously shifting his weight from one leg to another, standing with his head bowed and eyes closed, in a room full of people all doing the same thing. Occasionally he'd crack his eyelids, but without daring to lift his head, all he could do was stare at his knuckles. They were white from squeezing the pew in front of him. Part of him wanted to respond to the preacher's invitation, his curiosity stirred by the possibility of having his sins forgiven. But curiosity also killed the cat, he thought while squeezing tighter, and I'm not ready to die yet.
   Later that morning. . .
   "Tim. . . Yo, Tim! Hey, you gonna eat those French fries? If you're not. . . what's wrong with you, man? You've been spaced-out since we left that goofy church."
   "What?   Did you say something?"
   Andy shook his dead. "You're messed up; that preacher's got you freaked out.
But it's a shame to let these fries go to waste." He grabbed one and, glancing toward the counter, saw another opportunity to play The Game.
   "Tim, check it out, the brat's pitching a fit. I bet you a chocolate shake his dad breaks down and buys him a Happy Meal."
   "I don't want to play the game this time," Tim said.
   "What? Man, you're really out of it." Andy reached into his wallet and pulled out a business card with hash marks, in bundles of five, drawn on the back. "So far we're tied, 40 to 40," Andy said, adding up the bundles. "I won the last round. Don't you want to redeem yourself?"
   "That's the same word the preacher used," Tim said, staring blindly at the table.
   "What are you talking about?"
   "Redeem.   He said God wants to redeem us to Himself."
   Andy rolled his eyes, "He's got you spooked; don't fall for it."
   "You were there," Tim said. "Didn't you find it interesting? Weren't you curious?"
   "No!   It's a scam. The preacher was trying to make us feel guilty, but I held on, just pushed it out of my mind. Don't tell me you almost fell for it?"
   "Almost," Tim said, fidgeting with the straw in his shake.
   "So why didn't you do what he said?"
   "I don't know. . . but one day I just might."
   Andy smiled as a thought ran across his mind. He slapped the score card on the table and said, "This one's to see who takes the lead: Let's go again and I bet you I can resist the preacher's sermon longer than you."
   "That's sick!" Tim said. "You really want to play around with God like that?"
   "Why not? It's about time we took this game to a higher level."

   The following Wednesday night, the two went to church, sat through the preaching and stood during the preacher's invitation to accept Jesus Christ. Once again, Tim, overwhelmed with guilt, peeked, only to see the blood squeezed away from his knuckles. This time, however, he noticed another set of knuckles next to his - they were white also. . .
   After services, it was Andy's turn to drive. "So, guy, how'd you do? Did you feel like crying and running toward the preacher, begging for mercy?"
   "It ain't funny," responded Tim, looking straight ahead.
   "Chill out, man. Let's grab a bite."
   "I'm not hungry, just drop me home."
   "You serious? By the way, we never set the stakes. Whoever wins has to. . ."
   Tim pointed his finger at Andy. "Look, I wouldn't talk! Your knuckles were white, too."
   "OOOH!   So you were peeking, huh? That's a sin you know," Andy laughed. Tim didn't.
"Besides, that don't mean nothing."
   "It means you felt as guilty as I did."
   "You're crazy," Andy said. "You think I'm a wimp like you, falling for that God stuff? I'll tell you what. The stakes don't matter anymore. Whoever wins is Game Master." Andy pulled into Tim's driveway, "Get out! You're home. . ."

   The following Sunday morning, Tim surrendered and met the preacher. He admitted he was a hell-deserving sinner and that his infant baptism could not save him. He repented and place all his trust in the shed blood of Jesus Christ, the only payment for sins that God would accept. Later that morning, two strangers were having lunch. . . .
   "Man, this is incredible! I'm going to Heaven! My sins are paid for. . ."
   "Get off it, Timster. You fell for it like a loser. On the other hand," Andy pulled out the score card, "I just took the lead and I'm now Game Master. . . you want those fries?"
   "Take the fries," Tim said, grinning ear to ear, "I've got Jesus now."
   "Oh, man. Get me outta here before I get sick!"
   "Andy, why don't you do it? It's great!"
   "What? And be a fool like you? Go away!"
   "But you'll get it settled, man. Why go around feeling guilty all the time?"
   "Ha!   That's just it," Andy leaned forward, sticking a proud look into Tim's face. "I don't feel guilty anymore, I beat the preacher's guilt trip."
   Andy leaned back in his chair and started laughing while Tim, surprised and confused, sensed something was terribly wrong. . .

   Weeks went by as Tim continued to attend services and grow in the Lord. He would call Andy now and then to remind him of God's saving grace, but Andy would just laugh it off. Even the subject of Hell seemed funny to him. One day during a sermon, Tim learned from the Bible why Andy was reacting the way he was. . .

   "So, Mr. Bible Thumper, what brings you to the home of such a heathen as myself?"
Andy said, standing in his doorway with the television blaring inside.
   "I've got something real important to tell you. Can I come in?"

   Andy smiled and pointed to the couch. The two sat down as Andy grabbed the remote control. "The game's about to start. You wanna watch it, or is that a sin too?"
   "I'd rather talk. Can you please turn it off?"
   "Sure. . .but you've only got two minutes to preach."
   "Andy, ever since you won that stupid bet, you've been cynical and hostile towards me and anything having to do with God, and I know why."
   Tim reached into his shirt pocket and pulled out a small Bible. Andy tightened his jaws and sat up to tell Tim what to do with the book. But held back, when he noticed Tim's eyes begin to water. "You freaking out, man?"
   Tim, slightly trembling, found the verse he wanted and with a tear streaming down his cheek, read it aloud: "‘And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, (Rom. 1:28). That's you, man," Tim said, wiping the tear off his cheek.
   "What?" Andy said, gripped by the sight of Tim weeping.
   "I hope I'm wrong. . . .but I think you went too far. You resisted God too much. You kept pushing Him out of your mind until He gave you over. You're a reprobate!"
   "What does that mean? You're just trying to spook me. . ."
   "It means you couldn't get saved even if you wanted to." Tim bowed his head, bracing it up between both hands. "You're a walking dead man, destined to Hell!"
   "You're crazy! . . . I can do anything I want." Andy grabbed Tim's wet wrists, and shook them hard. "LOOK! LOOK AT ME, YOU FREAK. STOP CRYING! . . . I'll give you a chance to even the score. . . I bet you I can get saved. . ."
   Tim shook his head, bowing it down again. "Game's over. You can't. . . it's too late. . . you kept saying no to God's Holy Spirit as He tried to reason with you. You blasphemed against Him once too often and Jesus said: ‘Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.’   (Mat. 12:31-32)"
   Andy stood up and began to slowly pace around the room, blindly staring at the floor while biting on a thumb nail. After a few moments he stopped, snapped his fingers, and slowly cracked a smile. "Wait-a-minute! I get it now. That preacher put you up to this. He's trying to scare me. . ."
   Tim quietly got up to leave.
   "Hey, where are you going?" Andy stopped him at the door, "Tell that preacher he's not going to get me. I RUN MY OWN LIFE. YOU HEAR ME? I DON'T NEED GOD TO. . ."
   "Good-bye Andy," Tim said. "Take care. Watch what you eat, look twice before you cross a street and run to the doctor on the first sign of trouble. Do everything you can to hang on to this life. . . ."
   "No way, man!   I'm gonna party!" Andy said, shaking one fist in the air.
   "I wouldn't do that," Tim soberly answered. "You'll only die sooner and that's the last thing you wanna do. . ."

(Over. . .)

Dear Reader, has God been dealing with you about getting saved?   Are you refusing to repent and trust Christ as Saviour, calling upon His name to save you?   The Bible warns: "To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts," (Heb. 3:15).
God may not give you another chance tomorrow and you could end up being a walking dead man, with no hope of salvation.

The Bible teaches that, "your iniquities [SINS] have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear."   (Isa. 59:2)   "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;" (Rom. 3:23).   And there is a price to pay for having sinned before God, and that price is death.   "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."   (Rom. 6:23)
"and without shedding of blood [DEATH] is no remission [FORGIVENESS]."   (Heb. 9:22)

Of course, this means that BAPTISM cannot pay for your sins since no one dies while getting baptized, nor can CONFIRMATION, COMMUNION, KEEPING THE TEN COMMANDMENTS, CHURCH MEMBERSHIP, SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS, or GOOD DEEDS.   Anything other than death CANNOT and WILL NOT pay for any of your sins.   That's why:
"Christ died for our sins" (1 Cor. 15:3).

He paid the price.   He died in our place and if we don't put our trust in His death to save us,
Jesus warned that: "ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he," (John 8:24).   And that means eternity in the Lake of Fire (Rev. 20:15).
To claim what Christ has done on the cross for you, you must REPENT.   That means: change your mind, and agree with what you have just read from the Bible and place all your trust in Jesus Christ, and Him alone, to save you.   So "if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus [i.e. REPENT], and shalt believe in thine heart [TRUST] that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved."   (Rom. 10:9)

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