Who is listening?
Published: 15 May 2014 (GMT+10)
After a hard morning kicking the tyres of many unaffordable exotic vehicles at Sydney’s annual car show, Peter and I settled down for a restorative lunch at a pleasant outdoor restaurant at Darling Harbour. Peter is a staunch atheist and once again launched into atheistic evangelism mode, probably thinking I needed saving from the pit of Christian darkness. As we talked, it soon became clear that, like many who believe microbe-to-man evolution to be fact, Peter did not really know much about it—mostly just the Hollywood version. Nonetheless he ‘knew’ it was fact, and therefore, to him, it proved there is no God, nor any need of God.
And isn’t that the common problem? Because of humanistic/evolutionary indoctrination any talk of God, salvation, rising from the dead, and ultimate forgiveness is nonsense to him—and of course to countless others. He may even have been moved by part of my conversations over the years but his blind faith in evolution closed his mind to reality, leaving him comfortably secure in the belief that Christianity is not something he needs to give serious consideration to. As far as he is concerned ‘science’ has proven Christianity wrong, therefore pointless. He once said “I can see it’s good for you” as though where we spend eternity is just a personal philosophical thing.
Over a particularly nice dessert of orange cake and ice-cream he continued on about the ‘fact’ of evolution, his shield against God. Our passionate but friendly discussion continued apace throughout dessert into cappuccino time. A double shot for me! Having again shown him his belief in evolution was indefensible, I was disappointed again to see this reality had not apparently affected his faith in evolution at all. Some people are just plain stubborn (because of 2 Thessalonians 2:11, perhaps?). Might I be wasting my time even trying to win him over?
But then something really ‘out there’ happened!
A woman appeared at my shoulder asking if she and her husband could join our table! “Your conversation is fascinating!” she said. You just never know who is listening, do you? I readily invited them to join us, and as they sat down they introduced themselves as business people from rural South Australia, who were currently visiting Sydney for a conference.
Our conversation (mostly my new guests asking questions and me answering, with Peter listening) continued apace, without any sign of drawing to a close. My new table guests were ‘locked on’ to the conversation. The lady, in particular, was fascinated, saying, “I have never heard such things before.”
Amazingly, they were still unwilling to leave even when they realized they would be late for their flight home if they lingered. Instead, the lady prevailed upon her husband to telephone their airline to postpone their departure until a later flight—which happened twice!
A few days later I discovered there was a subscriber to Creation magazine living in their town. I phoned her hopeful she would (on my behalf) lend this business couple some of her precious issues of Creation magazine. Imagine my delight when she said “I know them personally, and would love to do so”!
With all the best intentions I planned to follow her up to see where this fortuitous meeting had led. However as was often the case the ‘busy-ness’ of my working life meant new tasks and challenges conspired to prevent me from doing so. But I take solace in knowing I had ‘done my bit’ in that I had been ready at the right time to both “demolish arguments” (2 Corinthians 10:4–5) and to “give an answer” (1 Peter 3:15), that there are “many parts to the body” (1 Corinthians 12:12), and in reality salvation is God’s work (John 6:44).
As per 2 Timothy 4:2, our task is to preach the word, wherever and whenever we are given the opportunity, to sow the seed in freshly tilled soil and leave the rest to God. He is willing and able to do the rest.
But there are important lessons here I think we can note.
Having debated with Peter before on creation/evolution, on many occasions, to no apparent effect, I felt it was pointless, once again to have another go, but something encouraged me to do so. Despite his dogged refusal to employ rational and logically consistent thinking I ploughed on with at least two Scriptures coursing through my mind.1,2 I continued the conversation because Christian faith is opposed by “lofty opinions” and we are called (and privileged) to make a defence of our living reasonable faith because it is not just opinion or warm feelings but so real, that those who ignore the physical evidence for our Creator God are “without excuse” as Romans 1:20 states. As it turned out, wasn’t it good that I did, for the couple within earshot were so moved by our topic of conversation they wanted to join in! How often does such a thing happen? What better demonstration of 1 Corinthians 15:58 than this? It’s true—you just never know who might be listening to your evangelistic efforts! While my witnessing labours on Peter might seem to have been ‘wasted’, the Lord had plans which meant certain others would hear. God is good!
Of course, this does not mean we can argue anyone into the Kingdom. We can however show them that their faith in the humanistic evolutionary fable is unreasonable, i.e. is only a story fed to them almost from birth, which they have uncritically accepted. Often such conversations open minds previously closed to the Gospel by the constant barrage of humanistic/evolutionary indoctrination which is the norm in the Western world. And, it seems to me, this was exemplified by the interest shown by the couple who joined Peter and me.
And there’s another factor likely at work here too. Quite often the Gospel is explained in such a way as to leave it floating in space upon nothing. That might have been the only Gospel-teaching the South Australian couple had heard to that stage of their lives. However this is contrary to the New Testament where the need of Jesus’ death and resurrection is portrayed as the direct result of what Adam did, both defined as historical realities. For example, 1 Corinthians 15:21, 22 reads, “For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.” Its historicity couldn’t be clearer. See also Romans 5:12,14. Those who discard the foundational reality of Adam do indeed preach “a different gospel” (Galatians 1:6,8,9)—one without foundation in history.
No wonder the South Aussie couple had apparently not responded to what they’d previously heard. But when they overheard my conversation with Peter, rife as it was with references to Creation, Fall and Flood, and the Bible’s accurate description of today’s world being ‘in bondage to decay’ and in need of salvation, no wonder they pricked up their ears.
Who is listening indeed?
References and notes
- “For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,” 2 Corinthians 10:4,5 Return to text.
- “but in your hearts honour Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defence to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,” 1 Peter 3:15 Return to text.
A great article Warwick. Your being ready to give an answer may have seemed futile with one person who had a fixed mindset but led to another couple being open to hear more. It only takes a seed and God's Holy Spirit can do the rest.
Truly this is an amazing testimonial Warwick! Thanks so much for sharing. It is highly unusual for this to happen; indeed were a couple in the USA to ask to join someone else's table at a restaurant, a likely response would be to call the police! This is how selfish paranoid and misanthropic American society has become.
I would only object to your expression: "Because of humanistic/evolutionary indoctrination". I don't think there is anything "humane" about evolution. It is in fact the utter antithesis of true humanism, which is to recognize that man is valuable precisely because he is created in God's image.
God Bless Your Amazing Work for His Kingdom!
Good article and is so true. Couple years ago I was hiking in Fiordland, overnighting in a trampers hut, minding my own business in a corner reading my pocket sized bible which I carry in my pack. A lady approached me, asked if it was the bible I was reading. Then asked what book are you in.Was in Joshua. One hour later I was effectively leading a bible study with nine hikers including my own hiking buddy, a staunch atheist. When the study concluded, three hours later, the Australian lady and an English man recommitted their lives to the Lord Jesus, and my atheist friend said "I'm not so sure, now, that there is no God".
Great reminder to be doing just that 'in season and out'. Perhaps you should start doing a bit of it over here in South Aus? We need good talkers as well as good listeners.
Great to hear from you Warwick after all these years. Thank you for the encouragement in your writings. I have experienced so many similar examples myself
In my experience this couldn't be more true than in the realm of social media. Whenever I have 'shared' one of your articles, the ensuing conversations have been wonderful opportunities to share Jesus. However it often isn't the people posting, but the quiet observers who are most impacted by our discussions. Thanks for providing quality material that we can use as discussion starters for the Gospel.
Thank you for your article and challenge. I had something very similar happen last week at the barber shop while getting my hair cut. Before I went, my family and I prayed for an open door to teach the word of God. Our prayers were answered with the barber cutting hair in the next chair becoming so engaged in the conversation he stopped cutting the guy's hair and took over the discussion from the barber I was talking with. The conversation lasted for just over an hour - long after my haircut was finished - but the other guy sat in the barber's chair just listening! God blessed me with the opportunity to teach several men the truth of His word and much of it around the authority of the Bible - starting from the accuracy of the biblical record of creation in six days. So yes and amen, God grants other people the opportunity to listen to the teaching of His word for His eternal purposes.
May His name be glorified in the results.