Issue #38 The Most Important Thing
Today I and our church’s pastoral resident, Morgan, visited a man from our recovery ministry, Ronnie J. Ronnie has terminal brain cancer. He refused treatment and doesn’t know how long he has to live. He’s 49 years old.
When I heard that Ronnie was terminal, I made arrangements to speak with him. I took Morgan because I knew he would be helpful, and it would be a good experience for him. Our goal was simple. Talk to Ronnie and make sure he’s prepared to meet God.
The three of us talked for several minutes, listening to him tell his story. When Ronnie was 15, an unknown person shot him in the head causing him to lose his right eye. Trying to survive, he went to a nearby home for help, but the person who opened the door thought Ronnie was an intruder and shot him in the chest and shoulder. You read that correctly. Ronnie was shot in the head by one man and then in the chest and shoulder by another. The doctors believe his first gunshot wound is the cause of his cancer today.
Morgan and I made it very clear why we came. We’re concerned for his soul. We told him that we’re all going to die, but it seems his death may come sooner rather than later. When he dies, he will meet God for judgement (Hebrews 9:27). We asked him if he’s ready for that moment. Of course, he said yes. Most people do. When we asked why he thought he would get into heaven, he said because he has done right. He’s been a good person. He’s done more good than bad. He’s never really hurt anyone. Basically, the same works righteousness answers most people give.
It was our pleasure, then, to explain and clarify the gospel. Ronnie believes in God. No apologetics needed. So, we dove right into the Law of God—starting with the Ten Commandments. He was beginning to see that he won’t fare well before the bar of God’s judgment. He’s lied, cheated, stolen, dishonored his parents, taken the Lord’s name in vain etc. We then employed illustrations using judges, criminals, and courtroom scenarios—all in an attempt to help Ronnie see that he’s a sinner who will stand condemned before the throne of a holy God.
What a privilege and joy it was then tell him about Christ. Jesus lived a perfectly righteous life, obeying every command of God. He never sinned. But He did die for sinners. Upon the cross, Jesus took every sin His people have ever committed, and received the full weight of God’s wrath and justice in our stead. Christ died. But God raised Him from the dead. And now God commands all men to repent of their sins and trust in His Son. Those who do will be forgiven and granted eternal life. This is the good news we told Ronnie.
Brother pastor, I know your ministry gets busy. I know you have 1000 things to do and will never get caught up. But make sure you’re not neglecting the most important thing—and that’s ministering the gospel to a world that’s perishing. Tell people the old, old story about a Savior who came from glory. Tell them about the one with scars in His hands who can take away their sins. Tell them of the one who knew no sin but became sin so we might become the righteousness of God in Him.