Psychic Evangelism

by Reggie Osborne II
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Me:  “Hello, my friend.  I am Pastor Reggie Osborne, and I will be your spiritual adviser for the evening.  What brings you to this illustrious church of paneled walls and dated drop ceiling?”

Searching Stranger:  “Well, I was talking to my friend here. And I just decided that I needed to make some changes in my life.  I haven’t been to church in forever, but I believe in God.”

Me:  “Ah, I see.  Well let me tell you about Jesus…”

{The Gospel is shared in a clear and simple way.}

“My main concern for you is that you trust the Lord for the forgiveness of your sins – that you’re saved from Hell.  Are you ready to trust Jesus with your life – to call upon Him as Lord – to follow Jesus with all your heart?”

Searching Stranger:  “Yes.”

Now, to this point, this conversation has gone about as well as it possibly can.  And frankly, that’s a little disturbing to me.  Because I’ve been in plenty of gospel-sharing scenarios before, and practically none of them go this smoothly.

I’ve been derailed by ghost stories, alien visitations, and countless deals that people think they’ve made with God in their pasts.

There’s always something.

So when someone shows up for one church service, asks to speak with me afterwards, and is immediately ready to trust Jesus as Lord and Savior, warning bells start to go off.  My sermon wasn’t even that good!

It’s not supposed to be this easy, is it?

What if you went to the bank for a loan, but when you got there the banker was already waiting for you at the door with a suitcase full of money.  What are you gonna’ do?  Sure you want the money – but at what point do you take a step back and ask yourself, “Is this for real?”

Don’t get me wrong – there’s nothing greater in the world than seeing someone be saved.  I could not possibly tally the number of hours I spend working to see someone trust Jesus as Lord.

But, on the other hand, there are few things as depressing as baptizing someone, completing membership classes with them, and embracing them as a brother…only to see them disappear forever a month later!  That sucks.  It really sucks.

So what I’d really like to do here is look into the future and figure out exactly where this is all leading…

Me:  “Before we pray, let me peer into my crystal ball and determine whether or not I’m wasting my time with someone who is going to stab me in the back and vanish like a ninja three weeks after your baptism…”

I do not want to be hurt.  I don’t like being duped.

So what I need is a radar gun that I can point at the chest of new Christians to detect whether or not they’re really saved.  If they are, then I’ll be happy to baptize them and throw all my energy into helping them grow.  If they’re not…well, I’ll keep praying and sharing the gospel until the radar gun gives me a confirmation!

See, at some point you start asking yourself, “Is it even wise to baptize someone so soon after a profession of faith?  Maybe we should just give this some time and see how this all plays out…”

Now, that’s my human nature infringing upon my faith in God.  That’s my desire not to get hurt interfering with God’s instructions.

And praise God, just about the time I start thinking that way, the Word of God saves me from incurring His anger – for what could possibly anger Him more than a pastor turning away a perishing sinner at the gates of Heaven?

Rather than a crystal ball, my fears are relieved by Scripture:

Now an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, “Arise and go toward the south along the road which goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.”  This is desert.

So he arose and went. And behold, a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace the queen of the Ethiopians, who had charge of all her treasury, and had come to Jerusalem to worship, was returning.  And sitting in his chariot, he was reading Isaiah the prophet.

Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go near and overtake this chariot.”

So Philip ran to him, and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah, and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?”

And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?”  And he asked Philip to come up and sit with him.  The place in the Scripture which he read was this:

“He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; And as a lamb before its shearer is silent, so he opened not His mouth. In His humiliation His justice was taken away, and who will declare His generation?  For His life is taken from the earth.”

So the eunuch answered Philip and said, “I ask you, of whom does the prophet say this, of himself or of some other man?”

Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him.  Now as they went down the road, they came to some water.  And the eunuch said, “See, here is water.  What hinders me from being baptized?”

Then Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.”

And he answered, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”

So he commanded the chariot to stand still.  And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him. (Acts 8:26-38)

Philip couldn’t have possibly thought up an easier encounter.  Wouldn’t it be great if everyone we shared the gospel with was coming home from worship, reading a Bible, and asking for help with understanding it?
And, by the way, what if they just so happened to be reading a passage about Jesus dying on the cross for their sins?
You know what this tells me?  It tells me that sometimes, it really is that easy.  Sometimes, God does all all the hard work – and all I have to do is keep from tripping all over myself as I recite the gospel and pray.
And sure, there are going to be professions of faith that aren’t genuine. In the same chapter of the Bible, Acts 8, we have the story of Simon the Magician who believes, is baptized, and doesn’t make it twenty verses before Peter is doubting his salvation.
And yeah, I wish it didn’t hurt so much when people’s faith proved false.  But what are we going to do?  Turn people away at the altar?  Of course not.
So it’s time for me to retire my crystal ball, share the gospel plainly, and rejoice whenever anyone responds.  I’ll just keep serving God and let the Lord sort it out from there.
Crystal-ball

 

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