Talking To Strangers: Landing the plane.

As you look out the window you can see the runway getting closer and closer. Finally, after all that time, you feel the wheels and tarmac collide. A sense of relief fills your heart as the blood stops pumping. A voice comes over the intercom, “On behalf of flight 777 I would like to welcome you to your destination.”

Like I said in the beginning of this series is that the takeoff and landing are the hardest parts of the conversation. Remember, the purpose of talking to strangers in this series is to share the gospel to them. The landing is the gospel. So, what is the gospel?

What is the Gospel?

The gospel is not a type of music or singing. The word gospel means “good news”.

Elements to the gospel:

  1. That Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins and was buried.
  2. Jesus Christ is both God (Colossians 2:9) and man (John 1:14). That He lived a sinless life that we could never live (1 Peter 2:22) and because of that, He is the only one who could die a substitutionary death for the sinner. That sin against an infinite God requires an infinite sacrifice.
  3. On the third day Jesus was resurrected from the grave defeating death. The resurrection is the proof of the power of God and His stamp of approval in His Son.

It is the good news of Jesus Christ and what He has done for us so that we could go to heaven and be with our Heavenly Father forever. The gospel is both good news to those who are on the right side of it, and bad news to those who are not.

The Bad News

In order to get to the good news, we must share the bad news. It makes no sense for a doctor to show the cure to a man who doesn’t know he is sick. It doesn’t make sense and the sick man would not appreciate the cure without knowing how much he really needs it. A man or woman will never clutch to Jesus without first knowing they are a sinner.

All humans are sinners that cannot save themselves (Psalm 53:3; Isaiah 53:6; Romans 3:23, 5:12). It is impossible. How impossible? To get to heaven, God views even our good works — our best works — like a used bloody menstrual cloth (Isaiah 64:6). It would be easier for a man to climb a rope of sand to the moon than to get to heaven on their own merit or good works. The Bible says that, “God will not at all acquit the wicked” (Nahum 1:3). God is not an unjust judge who simply lets the guilty go out of a false sense of compassion, or say, “Let bygones be bygones” when we get to heaven.

“Never once has He pardoned an unpunished sin; not in all the years of the Most High, not in all the days of His right hand, has He once blotted out sin without punishment.”

Charles Spurgeon

So how do you know that you are a sinner or have sinned? The Bible says that, the law shows us what sin is, and my the law is the knowledge of sin (Romans 3:20). What is this law? Romans 7:7 says:

What shall we say then? [Is] the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, "You shall not covet." 
[Romans 7:7 NKJV]

The law says that you should not covet. This gives us a clue that the law is the Ten Commandments found in both Exodus 20:1–17 and Deuteronomy 5:1–22. It was so important that God had to write it down twice. Let’s go through these and see if you are a sinner or good enough to go to heaven?

  1. You shall have no other gods before Me. Do you love God above anything else? If we set our affections on the gift rather than the Giver, then we are loving other things more than God. If we love anything: wife, husband, children, parents, sister, brother, even our own lives more than we love God, we are breaking this commandment. Jesus said that we should love God so much more that it would seem like hatred in comparison (Matthew 10:34–39; Luke14:26–33).
  2. You shall not make for yourself any graven image. This means that we shouldn’t make a god to suit ourselves, either with our hands or with our minds. If we say, “My god doesn’t mind white lies, abortion, or sex before marriage,” then you have broken this commandment.
  3. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain. Have you used God or Jesus’ name instead of a four-letter word to express disgust? If you have, you have broken this commandment.
  4. Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. God gave us six days to work and do, and asks us to set aside one day from sunrise to sunset to spend with Him. Have you set aside one day a week to worship the God who created you and everything you see and own?
  5. Honor your father and mother. Have you always honored your parents in a way that is pleasing in God’s sight? Have you done all that you were told, obeyed them to the letter, and obedient without complaint? You may have forgotten them, but God hasn’t.
  6. You shall not murder. Have you ever intentionally killed an innocent person outside war or capitol punishment? Have you ever gotten or paid for an abortion? But God goes even further in that if you even hate someone, it is like murder in the sight of God (Matthew 5:21–26; Luke 12:57–59).
  7. You shall not commit adultery. Who of us can say that we are pure of heart? Fornicators (those who have sex before marriage) and adulterers will not enter the Kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9–10). Jesus says that even if you look with lust in your heart towards another person He considers it adultery and breaks this commandment (Matthew 5:27–28).
  8. You shall not steal. Have you ever taken something that belonged to someone else (irrespective of its value)? Then you are a thief, and cannot enter God’s Kingdom (1 Corinthians 5:9–10).
  9. You shall not bear false witness. Have you ever told a lie? Then you are a liar. How many times does a person have to lie before being a liar? Just one. How many times does a person have to murder someone before being a murderer? Just one. The Bible warns that all liars will have their part in the lake of fire — forever (Revelation 21:8).
  10. You shall not covet. This means we should not desire anything that belongs to another person. Before we sin in action, we covet with our minds. There is something we want, and we will do anything (lie, steal, lust) to get it. It doesn’t matter if it’s position, power, or wealth.

The Bible says that even if you break one commandment, just one time, you are guilty of breaking the entire law.

For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one [point], he is guilty of [breaking it] all. For He who said, "Do not commit adultery," also said, "Do not murder." Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the [entire] law. 
[James 2:10-11 NKJV]

God’s standard of holiness, goodness, and righteousness is the Ten Commandments. If we look at the above ten as we look at a mirror, we can see that we are not clean. But how can a person cleanse his way and make him morally pure? He can’t. Are we doomed — no.

The Good News

As Charles Spurgeon said in the above quote, if God is a just judge, He must punish sin and transgression of His law, otherwise justice would not be served.

The Courtroom

Imagine you are in a court room before a judge, handcuffed and awaiting your fate. You have broken ten serious laws. The fine — 10 million dollars: one million for every law broken. There’s no way you can pay that. You plead to the judge, “You’re a good judge, please let me go, I’ll do better next time. Don’t the good things outweigh the bad that I’ve done?”

“I am a good judge,” he says. “The law that I uphold says that you must be punished for your crimes.”

He orders you to be taken away, when a man comes to you and says, “I am the Judges’ son. I can free you if you trust me.”

Do you believe him? Do you trust him? Is he crazy? You look at your hands and they are shackled together and past that, the word prisoner painted down the leg of your orange jumpsuit. But you look at the sincerity of his demeanor, and you say, “Yes. I believe; help my unbelief.”

He goes to talk to the judge. They are there for a few minutes. The man comes back and says, “I emptied by bank account and paid your fine. You are free to go.”

You look at the judge and before striking the gavel he says, “Justice has been served. The fine is paid. You are free to go.” The bailiff comes over and removes your handcuffs, the other officer removes your orange jumpsuit, revealing a pure white suit underneath. You are speechless as to what had happened. You don’t know what to say, but are overwhelmed with gratitude for the man who paid your fine with all that he had.

Freed to what?

That is good news, right? Very good news. But the gospel is more than a man emptying his bank account to free you from a 10 million dollar fine; it is about a Man who emptied out His blood and life to save you from eternal damnation in the lake of fire that burns forever. Only the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ, can redeem mankind, save his soul, and reunite him to God, which was broken by sin. That was what Jesus Christ has done over two thousand years ago. We broke God’s Law, and Jesus paid the fine.

So what should we do now? The Bible says that if you received Christ and accepted His offer of forgiveness, not by anything you have done, but by what Christ has done, then you are free, but are bought with a price to glorify God with your life.

For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's. 
[1 Corinthians 6:20 NKJV]

You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men. 
[1 Corinthians 7:23 NKJV]

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself [His] own special people, zealous for good works. 
[Titus 2:11-14 NKJV]

knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, [like] silver or gold, from your aimless conduct [received] by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. 
[1 Peter 1:18-19 NKJV]

Then God rose Jesus from the dead, defeating death as the stamp of approval, and then was reunited with His Father in heaven. One day He will return, not as a harmless baby, but as a conquering King to pronounce judgment to those who refused to accept His offer of grace and mercy (Revelation 19–22). For an accurate representation of the gospel which summaries what we discussed, watch this short video.

Leaving the Plane

When leaving a spiritual conversation, it is important to leave the person with something to think about. Tracts are not only great for opening up a spiritual conversation but also ending one. It gives the person who is reading it to remind them of things that were mentioned in the talk. It can also spark interest into a different topic as well. You can leave a wide variety of things with the person you are talking to. It can be a saying that is easy to remember; or something tangible like a tract, gospel of John or a bible. Here are several tracts I like to end with:

Be sure to leave your contact info on the gift you are giving away. This will help the person get in touch with you if he or she has any added questions they would like to ask. If they do have questions that you cannot answer at the time of your departure, simply write it down and get back with them at the very latest two days later. I personally try to get back with people within 24 hours. This gives you ample time to find the answer, and them time hasn’t gone by to forget the question.

When it comes to the info, I’m not a fan of using my last name, even when it comes to an email. Today people can look you up and where you live regardless of what information you gave them. I personally don’t like to give my phone number unless I get their number as well so I can put it in my phone. Because chances are that if a phone number comes up that I do not recognize, I will not answer it. When I am on the street, I always give my email address It’s easy enough to remember if it is accidentally lost. I love having a type of business card on me with my first name, email, and a design, saying, or verses to go along with it. There are so many printing companies to choose from when picking out the right card for you. Some of whom I have used are Vista Print, MOO and 48 Hour Print.

When leaving a conversation be sure to look the person in the eye and offer a nice, firm handshake. If the conversation didn’t go as well simply apologize if you seemed rude or insensitive and exit gracefully. If you need to go, and time is of the essence, to give yourself an exit just say, “I hate to cut this short, but I am going to be needing to go in 10 minutes. I can answer just one more question. But if you have any more, here is my card.” This way when you say goodbye, the other person won’t take it as being abrupt. He or she already knew you had to go, and when that would be.

Parting is such sweet sorrow, but there will be many opportunities, and strangers, to strike up conversations with. Just simply be friendly and open to having one. Better to spend the day with someone new and interesting, than to claw through Facebook all day.

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