This Conversation Never Gets Old
“Jeromy, I want to get baptized!” She came up to me with a gleam in her eye, and I wasn’t expecting it at all.
“Wow, that’s great,” I said, “but why do you want to be baptized?” I’ve never heard her Faith story, and obviously baptism isn’t a first step. Her face turned to a puzzled look at my response, and she didn’t seem to know what to say. Did I just burst her excited bubble? Maybe, but it’s more important to help her understand the truth.
“Well, there’s a step people take before they are baptized. There isn’t anything special about baptism, the water isn’t holy or anything. People are baptized to show that they have trusted Jesus as their Lord and Savior,” I explained, “Have you made that decision?” She bites her lip in confusion like I’ve just spoken a foreign language. That sometimes flabbergasts me when the mere mention of the Gospel brings bewildered faces. Don’t we talk about the Gospel just about every week? I’m reminded the sower scatters seed, but it is God who causes it to take root and grow.
I immediately recognized she has not EVER trusted Christ as Savior. So here is the moment, the opportunity to sit and share the Gospel with her. We go outside and sit on a bench, and I ask her, “Who is Jesus, and what has He done for you?”
“He died on the cross for my sins,” she said.
“That’s right, but why did he do that?” I asked.
“Because He loves me,” she said matter-of-factly, like “duh?” There was no disrespect in her tone, but I told her that knowing Jesus is the most important part of life, and I’m asking these questions so I can understand what you know.
“So, we know Jesus loves us. But why did He have to die to save us?” She didn’t know the answer. Many students don’t. They hear it so often in our culture, “Jesus died for my sins” but they don’t know what that means. If we aren’t careful, we will assume because this is the right answer, that students get it and rush them to the baptism pool, and later watch them walk away from their faith. We can’t ever fully know that they completely understand, I mean who does really, but they need to know the Gospel personally.
So I explained, “Jesus, died on the cross because of MY sin. Sin is basically what God disapproves of, and everyone is guilty including me. Sin ultimately separates us from God eternally, and leaves us dead spiritually. We cannot do anything to earn eternal life and get out of our sin on our own. Because of His love for us, Jesus came and died IN MY PLACE. I should be punished for my sin, but instead Jesus was punished for me. That’s love! But did Jesus stay dead?”
She is hearing every word, and you can see in her eyes that her mind is processing what I’m saying. Thank you Holy Spirit for giving me words to speak! She answered, “No, he rose again.”
“That’s right! He’s alive! Death couldn’t defeat him! We celebrate this at Easter, and every Sunday really. In John 3 the Bible says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him would not perish but have eternal life. I would not believe that promise if Jesus had not rose again! So, by His resurrection He has made a way for us to overcome our sin, and have life with God forever. Is that what you want?”
“Yes,” she says.
“Well you have to receive that gift and here’s how you receive it. The Bible tells us that we must repent of our sin. That means, we agree with God about our sin. Often we try to justify our anger toward others, or our lies, but God sees the truth. We agree with Him about our sin, and we ask Him to forgive us and help us to live for Him instead. We repent, and we believe that Jesus did die for me, paid for my sins, and gives me forgiveness. By repenting and believing, we confess Jesus as our Lord. He’s in charge of my life from now on, not me.”
“Do you agree you’ve sinned?”
“Do you believe Jesus died for you, will forgive you for your sins, and rose again to give you eternal life?”
“Do you want Him to be Lord of your whole life?”
“But wait, confessing Him as Lord is huge step! Matthew 16:24 says, “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me. Jesus is saying that when I don’t get what I want, or what I think I should have I still follow Him. When life is hard and doesn’t make sense, I still follow Him. When my dreams all fall apart, I still follow Him. Are you willing to go that far with Jesus?”
“Why?” I asked her. I know I’ve laid a lot on the table for this young girl to consider. But this decision is the most important she’ll ever make, and I do not want to lead her flippantly.
“I just…feel like this is what I need to do with my life. I know that I haven’t been living like I should, and I’ve always heard about Jesus in church, but I’ve realized I’m not really following Him. I need him to help me get my life right,” she shared.
Who am to stand in the way of that choice by a teenage girl? I commended her, and told her that she needs to be sincere about this. Don’t just do this because you think it’s right, do it because you desire it in your heart. She agreed, and we prayed together. She admitted her sin, expressed her faith in Jesus to forgive her and give her eternal life, and committed to follow Him from now on!
When we opened our eyes, hers were moist and the smile on her face was really big! “How do you feel?” I asked.
“I feel great! It’s such a relief! I’m excited, and I feel good!” she beamed.
You know, that conversation never gets old. I love to see the determination in students to live righteous lives, and I really love to see the joy and relief in their eyes when they step from death to life! It is in those moments I know the Holy Spirit is changing hearts, and He never gives up. Students will walk away from those moments and grow, and often make poor decisions even still. But they will never forget that moment! A seed has been planted, roots have taken hold, and let’s see what beauty grows in her! I’ll follow up with her soon and we’ll talk about baptism.