. . . with Long Lasting Implications
JEDINIAH SMITH pulled out his watch and gave it a quick glance.
"All right, everybody, I reckon it's time we get started. Luke, go ahead and pray."
"Right, Paw. Dear Heavenly Father, be with us now as we study your word. We ask that you show us our spiritual needs as we open our hearts, our minds, and our Bibles. In Jesus' name, Amen."
"That was good, boy. You'll make a fine preacher one day. Now, before we begin, I'd like to ask our guest to introduce himself . . . Go ahead, son, stand up."
"Hi . . . My name is Michael Craigmeyer. I'm a friend of Luke's cousin, Billy Bob. We met in the service where he'd always bragged about this part of the country, so I decided to finally take him up and visit. He mentioned your weekly Bible study and I asked if I could sit in. Thanks for having me. Glory to God!"
"Pleasure's ours, Michael," Jediniah said, as he surveyed around the table. His wife, Jenny, and cousin, Billy Bob, were also present.
"Where abouts are you from, Michael?" Jenny said.
"New York City. Long Island to be exact."
"Is it true what they say about them subways?" Luke asked.
"Well, I'm not sure exactly what . . . ?"
"Luke! We already done prayed, boy," Jed said. "You can ask him about subways later. But for now let's turn to Philippians 1:14. We gonna talk about boldness, specially when it comes to witnessing. Michael, maybe you'd like to read the verse for us."
"Sure. Can I also read a verse or two prior to Verse Fourteen?"
"By all means, go right ahead."
"Okay . . . Verse Eleven says: Being filled[,] . . . AMEN! . . . with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God . . . PRAISE HIS NAME! . . . Now, Verse Fourteen: And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. HALLELUJAH! PRAISE GOD!"
"Thank you, Michael . . . Can't say I recall anyone being so fired up about reading a verse . . . Now, someone wanna volunteer why Paul said his imprisonment resulted in boldness among the brethren?"
"He was filled with the Spirit," Michael said. "AMEN, GLORY TO GOD!"
"Actually, it don't say they were filled with the Spirit," Jed said.
"What do you mean? It's obvious that God's power came upon them!"
"Well, Michael, it don't rightly say that, either . . . You see, around here we's try to not make presumptions when it comes to . . ."
"I'm not presuming! I know what Paul means. I've been there; I've felt it; I FEEL IT NOW! AMEN! HALLELUJAH!" Michael closed his eyes, lifted his hands, and began chanting, "HALLELUJAH! PRAISE GOD . . . PRAISE HIS GLORIOUS NAME . . . !"
Jed raised an eyebrow and looked around the table, where the others, just as baffled, were exchanging shrugs. Michael continued chanting with greater intensity until a string of unfamiliar words blurred out:
""Y cCCf TUUpë TUp YW xCΠyë Y σΣΣu tYW uUbCyë Y cCCf tYW uUbCy ë ë ë . . . !"
"Ah . . . Michael?" Jed said, reaching out, but hesitant to tap his shoulder. "You all right, boy?"
". . . wsTΩ TΩ TfwΣfΩΣζ T σΣΣue," Michael continued, building up speed while his hands swayed side to side. "ζ ζ ζ ΩxT_TwΆΠue XfΣ bYwt TUpë Y σΣΣu sTΩ xXΈΣ_ . . . !"
Jenny, fearing for her son's life, grabbed Luke. Billy Bob stared, while his hand searched his pocket for a penknife. Jed looked at his watch, deciding whatever this was, it was wasting too much time. "Michael? . . .
Michael? . . . YO, BOY!"
". . . ςΆς ? !"
"Boy! What in tar-nation was that all about?"
"I was praying to God in my heavenly language!" Michael said, squinting, readjusting to the light.
They all looked at each other.
"You never heard of speaking in tongues?" Michael said.
"Tongues?" Billy Bob said. "Is that what that was?"
"Yes, it's a gift of the Holy Spirit."
"What do you use it for?" Jenny said.
"To pray to my heavenly father. It's the best way to pray, gives me all the boldness I need . . . I can't believe none of you have ever heard of this!"
"What were you praying about?" Luke said.
"Yeah," Billy Bob, chimed in, "If there's some problem you having, we'd like to pray for you, too!"
Michael chuckled, "I can't answer that; it's a heavenly language. Only God understands it."
"Now hold on there," Jed frowned, leaning forward. "You mean you don't know what you said?"
"No. Of course not," Michael looked around the table. No one was smiling. "Look, I realized this is new to you, but until you've experienced it . . ."
"What good is it if you don't know what you're saying?" Billy Bob said.
"How's a gift like that gonna help anybody?" Jenny added.
"No, you don't understand. It edifies me, it allows me to feel God's presence and gives me a profound sense of spirituality. It's hard to explain; you have to feel it."
"Sounds a little too self-gratifying, if you ask me," Jed said. "Seems like a selfish thing to do."
"Selfish? No, wait, you don't understand . . ."
"Don't worry, Michael," Jenny said, "You just repent of that selfishness and get right with God. He'll forgive you."
"Get right with God? Are you serious? I've got the power of God upon me!"
"Wouldn't hurt to address that pride while you're at it," Jed said.
"PRIDE? Look, you people have no idea what you're saying. You haven't experienced . . ."
"Looks like he's arrogant too, Paw!"
"I say we all pray for Michael, right now," Jenny said.
"That's a good idea," Jed said. "Let's get on our knees. This boy needs some serious prayers."
"WAIT!" Michael stood up. "If anyone needs prayer around here it's you people! HOW COULD YOU BE SO IGNORANT? Aren't you even curious? Don't you want to feel God's presence and see his power? WHAT'S WRONG WITH YOU?"
Jed sat back and rubbed his chin. "Well, sir . . . Bible does teach, The just shall live by faith. (Rom. 1:17) And we're supposed to walk by faith, not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7). Real faith don't depend on signs and feelings. Of course, if you lack assurance, we'd be glad to pray for your salvation."
"SALVATION! ARE YOU PEOPLE FOR REAL? Don't you know that Paul, himself, spoke in tongues?
He said: I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all:"
"You don't say?" Jed said. "Where do you reckon he said that?"
"I KNOW, PAW!" Luke leafed through his Bible. "It's somewhere in I Corinthians. I think Chapter Fourteen."
"I told you that boy would make a fine preacher. Let's all look it up."
Everyone, except for Michael, began flipping through their Bibles.
"I found it, I found it!" Jenny said. "I'll read it: "I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all: Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue." (1 Cor. 14:18-19)"
"Wait-a-minute," Michael said. "You read too much."
"I read exactly what it says." Jenny placed both hands on her hips. "See for yourself!"
"Calm down, Jenny," Jed said. "The man's in enough trouble as it is."
"Hey! I found another one!" Billy Bob pointed to Verse 11. "This one says: Therefore if I know not the meaning of the voice, I shall be unto him that speaketh a barbarian, and he that speaketh shall be a barbarian unto me. Paul just called Michael a barbarian!"
"YOU'RE THE BARBARIANS!" Michael said. "You couldn't interpret a verse if Jesus himself explained it to you!"
"What do you mean? I'm only reading what it says!"
"Now, now, settle down Billy Bob," Jed said. "Show some compassion . . . Now, Michael we're trying to understand all this, but it don't sound like Paul was ad-vo-cating that we . . ."
"OKAY, YOU WANNA USE THE BIBLE? You wanna talk boldness?" Michael said, tearing toward a verse himself. "What about Peter on the day of Pentecost? Go ahead, read it in Acts 2:4."
Michael crossed his arms and waited for the others to find the verse.
Billy Bob found it first, reading it out loud: "And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance." (Acts 2:4) Billy Bob scratched his head and looked around the table. "Well, I'll be! Maybe Michael's right after all."
"Of course I am," Michael said, smiling again. "If you read on, you'll see that speaking in toungues gave Peter enough boldness to result in three thousand souls getting saved!"
"Is that a fact?" Jed said.
Luke shot his hand up. "And I just found out why, Paw! It's in Verse 6: Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language."
"WELL, I'LL BE!" Jed slapped the table with the palm of his hand. "That's what them tongues were!"
"Yeah!" Billy Bob added. "They must have been a foreign language used for witnessing!"
"NO, WAIT!" Michael shook his head. "You people are misinterpreting again . . . !"
"Billy Bob's right," Jed said. "Look at Verses 8 through 11: And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God. (Acts 2:8-11) It's all beginning to make sense," Jed continued. "The tongues were used for witnessing to foreigners. That's why Paul kept telling them Corinthians not to use it privately, among themselves."
"Yeah," Luke added, "maybe some of them were trying to show off, make themselves out more spiritual than they really were."
Luke's statement prompted everyone to face Michael, who was now sitting with his elbows on the table, cupping his face within his hands. They could barely hear him mumbling: "You stupid, ignorant idiots!"
Billy Bob placed his hand on Michael's shoulder. "Don't worry, Michael, there's still hope for you."
Michael slowly unveiled his face and looked around, seeing them all smiling compassionately at him. He began breathing heavily as his face and arms trembled from the sheer force of clenching his fists. The others watched, cautiously. Jenny grabbed Luke once more.
Michael slowly rose off his chair, hesitant, not knowing who or what to kill. Then, in total frustration, he simply screamed. "AHHHH . . . !"
Billy Bob drew back, almost falling off his chair. "WATCH OUT, EVERYBODY! He's trying to jump start them tongues again!"
"I THINK IT'S ABOUT TIME WE PRAY!" Jed said, dragging Jenny and Luke down to their knees. "Dear Heavenly Father, help Michael, here, get right. He lacks the faith needed to simply take you at your word, without having to seek out some fleshly sign. Reveal to him his pride and arrogance; grant him the godly sorrow that leadeth him to repentance, and . . ."
The door slammed, causing everyone to look up.
"He's gone!" Jenny said. "Now, why would he do that when we're trying to help him?"
Jed shook his head. "I can't see how that boy was saved. The Bible says: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them. (Isa. 8:20) Gotta admit though, it was a learning experience having a visitor for a change. Billy Bob, didn't you say another army buddy is gonna come visit you next month?"
"Yep! In fact, he's a Christian, too. Calls himself . . . let's see, how he did put it? . . . A Calvinist."
IF you were to die today, are you 100% SURE
you would go to Heaven? The Bible says
YOU CAN BE SURE (1 John 5:13).
BUT FIRST, you must realize that what keeps you from going to Heaven are your sins, because:
"...your iniquities [sins] have separated between you and your God," Isa. 59:2.
In fact, in God's eyes YOU ARE A SINNER: "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;" Rom. 3:23.
And Jesus, referring to sinners, said that He:
"shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity [sinners];
And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth." Mat. 13:41-42
SECONDLY, you must realize that there is NOTHING you can do to save yourself and earn Heaven: "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast." Eph. 2:8-9 Baptism, good deeds, church membership, self-righteousness are all examples of good works that cannot save you, because: "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he [Christ] saved us," Titus 3:5.
THE ONLY WAY you can get saved is through Jesus Christ. He said: "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." (John 14:6) THAT'S WHY: "...while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." (Rom. 5:8-9) THEREFORE: You must REPENT (change your mind); admit that you are a Hell deserving sinner and can't save yourself. And call upon Christ, and Him alone, to save you.
"if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus [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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