A Very
Short Story
. . . with Long Lasting Implications

Now listen closely, ‘cause the whole thing was very strange. I was having lunch with some friends. Paul was there, so was Mike, Fred, Henry, and Tom. We were sitting at a table, actually two tables, you know, placed end to end; the waitress was very accommodating. Anyway, the subject turned to my recent conversion . . .

   'So, Jim,' Fred said to me, pausing to light a cigarette. 'You're saying you know for sure you're going to Heaven when you die?'
   'Yes, I do. My sins have been forgiven and therefore I know that . . .'
   'But why would you want to know?' Interrupted Tom. 'I don't get it!'

   I cocked my head back, and raised an eyebrow. Wouldn't anyone want to know that? I thought. But listen, it got even more strange as Tom went on . . .

   'It just seems to me, Jimbo, that life is more enjoyable when you don't know. I mean, I'd rather spend my whole life worrying as to whether I'm going to make it to Heaven or not.'
   'I agree,' added Henry, 'I'd rather gamble. ‘Cause if you're wrong, Jim, about having to accept Christ, then, hey, we'll all end up in heaven and you don't lose a thing except for the fun you missed down here.' Henry gave me a shot with his elbow and winked. 'However, if you're right, then you go to Heaven while we burn forever in Hell, cursing the day we rejected Christ. I'd rather take the chance.'
   Paul smiled, agreeably shaking his head while pouring a beer into his glass. 'You're right, man. My Catholic grandmother did everything the church told her, and when she laid on her death bed, she had no idea where she was going. She was scared to death. That's the way I want to go.'

   By then the waitress came with our meals and the subject turned to sin. Boy, I tell you, it got bizarre. Look! I've got goose bumps from retelling it . . .

   'I read what you gave me,' Tom said, taking a bite from his burger and continuing with a mouthful. 'I thought it was interesting but from what I understood: God want me to repent?'
   'Yes,' I said. 'Were all sinners, in rebellion against God. We ignore Him and do our own thing so ‘God...commandeth all men to repent’ (Acts 17:30). We must change our rebellious attitude, forsake our sinful ways, and do what He says, beginning with trusting Christ, and Him alone, to save us from judgment.'
   Tom took another bite. 'But I don't want to stop sinning against God. I love to sin, and if God don't like it - tough! Could you pass the ketchup, please?'

   'That's right!' began Mike, 'Who does God think He is, anyway?' Just ‘cause He made me, owns me, and has the power to kill me and cast me into Hell, doesn't mean I have to obey Him. I'm willing to go through the never-ending torment of flames burning every square inch of my body, if it means being able to do my own thing. By the way, try the fries they're great!'
   Henry was nodding the whole time Mike spoke. 'Yeah, screaming your lungs out for eternity is worth the few fleeting moments of time spent sinning on earth.' He turned to Mike and high-fived him.

   I tell you, I couldn't believe it. I started breathing heavily, wondering if my food was going to end up back on the plate. The whole thing was incredible. They went on describing the sins they enjoyed the most, and how tweaked God would be on Judgment Day. I kept searching for what to say next, but that's when the alarm went off and I woke up . . .

   'Wow, Honey,' Jim's wife, Maggie, said. 'What a nightmare!'
   'No kidding. It was as if their self- destructive sin natures were blatantly verbalizing every rebellious thought. They were boldly saying what they really felt in their hearts toward having to submit to God. Kinda like when the Bible describes mankind and says: ‘There is no fear of God before their eyes’ (Rom. 3:18).'
   'Well, don't worry about it,' Maggie said, stroking his hand. 'It was just a dream. So forget it and let's enjoy our meal.'
   Jim nodded, smiling a sigh of relief. He dipped his spoon into his chili and noticed a shocked expression on her face. She was staring at something behind him.
   'What's wrong?' he said.
She broke away her stare, focusing on him with the same expression.
   'Nothing!' she said. 'It's nothing! Eat your chili.'
   He turned his head around to see what she was looking at and quickly turned back with his own surprised look.
   'IT'S THEM!' he said. 'They're here, all five of them!'
   He cautiously sneaked another peek, trying not to draw their attention. 'They even have the same two tables, placed end to end.'
   'It's a coincidence,' she said. 'It has to be. I had a similar thing happen once. . .'
   'But this is too much like that dream.' He sneaked another peek. 'They're even wearing the same clothes!'
   'Look, Honey, let's leave right now. We can. . . .'
   'No, wait!' Jim started rubbing his chin, as he stared at his bowl. She recognized the expression and feared he was scheming something. 'I wanna leave,' she insisted.
   'Maggie, how many times does an opportunity like this occur?'

   'What are you talking about?'
   'I'm going over there.'
   'WHAT? Don't! I don't like this - it's spooky.'
   'Oh, Maggie, relax. What could happen? God's still on the throne, remember?'
   Jim leaned forward and whispered, 'You wait here. Stay out of sight. I'm going around and make as if I just came in. I'll go up to them, say hello, sit down if they offer, and see how it plays out.'
   'What if it occurs exactly like in the dream?' she said.
   'You'll know it did when you see me faint.' He winked but she didn't think it was funny.
   Jim left the table and quietly made his way toward the front of the restaurant. As he began to approach them, he hesitated, feeling the hair on the back of his neck rise. Having second thoughts, he turned around to head back toward Maggie, but by then it was too late.
   'JIM!' Tom spotted him, waving one hand in the air. 'Hey man! Over here.'
   Jim said hello, shook hands, and sat at their invitation. Maggie cringed and watched from her table as several minutes went by . . .
   'So, Jim,' Fred said. 'You're saying you know for sure you're going to Heaven when you die?'
   'Yes, I do. Jesus said: ‘For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth [trust] in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.’ (John 3:16) I trusted Christ to save me. My sins have been forgiven and therefore nothing can prevent me from going to Heaven.'
   'Really?' interrupted Tom, having rolled his eyes at Fred. 'So how's Maggie doing?'
   'Good,' Jim said.
   The waitress arrived with their food.
   'I read what you gave me,' Tom said, taking a bite from his burger and continuing with a mouthful. 'I thought it was interesting. Could you pass the ketchup please?'
   From that point on, the five talked about sports, trying to keep the conversation as far from religion as possible. Minutes later, Jim said goodbye, sensing the tension his presence was creating among them. He later met Maggie outside the restaurant.
   'WHAT HAPPENED?' she said.
   'Well . . . I didn't faint,' Jim answered, trying to keep a straight face. She still didn't think it was funny. 'Actually,' he quickly added, 'things happened just like in the dream.' He paused. 'Only this time . . . they kept their thoughts to themselves.'

Dear Reader, How do you react when someone tells you about Jesus Christ?
What runs through your mind?
Apathy?   Rebellion?   Do you take heed, fearing God's warning?   Jesus said: "But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him."   (Luke 12:5)

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-RIGHTEOUS, 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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