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Here’s what we covered:
Jesus’ Actions – I read Hoax a number of passages to demonstrate the following things about Jesus:
- He taught with authority.
- He cast out demons.
- He healed the sick.
- He forgave sins.
- He had power over the natural world.
Jesus’ Teaching – I read a number of passages to demonstrate the following things about what Jesus taught:
- He preached repentance.
- He raised the standard of the Law and demanded perfection.
- He promised judgement for unbelievers.
- He said we must be born again.
- He said he came to earth for sinners.
- He compared himself to the bronze snake Moses made.
- He called himself the resurrection, the way, the truth and the life saying he was the only way to God.
- He foretold his death and resurrection.
Then, at the beginning of our last lesson, I read Romans 3:10-20 to summarize much of what we had covered so far: we are all wicked and deserving of God’s wrath.
Arrest, Trail. Crucifixion – I read the accounts of Jesus’ arrest and trail before the Jews and then Pilate. Then I read about the beating and crucifixion of Jesus followed by his burial and resurrection.
Hoax’s Reaction – As we talked about these things I asked Hoax what he was thinking and he gave me a very church-appropriate answer. I asked him specifically what Jesus’ death accomplished and he explained to me that Jesus died to “help us.” At this point I was discouraged. I was not upset that he had a decent answer, but instead because I did not think Hoax completely understood the gospel. To me, it felt like he was reciting a rehearsed answer picked up from his “church” attendance. So I pressed him. I repeatedly asked him “Why?” “How?” and “So what?” until he exposed the roots of his thinking. Finally Hoax explained that he believed salvation depends on believing in Jesus and living a good life (especially going to church.) He did not make a clear connection between Jesus’ death and the punishment that we deserve for sin. While he could say correct things about Jesus, he was not relying exclusively on Jesus’ payment for salvation.
I spent thirty or forty minutes explaining the sufficiency of Christ’s sacrifice and the fact that trusting in our works in addition to his sacrifice means that we are not trusting entirely in that sacrifice. I gave numerous illustrations of the fact that we cannot be trusting in one thing completely and exclusively if we are trusting in two things. Additionally I explained that our “good works” actually accomplish nothing in achieving righteousness. I was pretty sure Hoax was grasping the difference between his beliefs up to this point in life and what I was now saying. I was convinced that he understood the distinction, though, when he asked me if these other missionaries around here agreed that we just had to believe the one thing for salvation–not two. Conveniently, the Butlers were returning home at that moment and so I suggested that Hoax ask Josh himself. I called Josh over and Hoax asked Josh if he agreed with me that we only have to believe Jesus died to take our punishment. Wouldn’t you know it, Josh agreed.
After Hoax thought about this for a few minutes he said that he had been trusting in two things (Jesus and living rightly,) but now he saw that only one thing gives us life. He said that now he understands only trusting in Jesus’ sacrifice gets us to Heaven. He said he was very happy to know this.
My Reaction – Over the past few months as I’ve been sharing with Hoax I have been struck by a number of different things. First, I have been regularly surprised by how clearly I am able to speak Pidgin when talking with Hoax about the Bible. I do not think I speak as well at other times and I am confident that God is working to enable me. Second, it is encouraging to see the effect that teaching plainly from God’s word has here in PNG. I’ve been blessed to have the opportunity to see this in America, but I think there is something remarkable about seeing the power of God’s word here in a place that has for so long been in such darkness. Third, I am overwhelmed to be a part of what God is accomplishing in Hoax. Before ever speaking about Jesus, I was confident that Hoax would trust in his sacrifice because I could see that God was moving. I have witnessed first hand the grace of God as he has used his word to reveal truth to Hoax and draw Hoax to himself. Praise the Lord for his grace and love. Finally, I am humbled to be just one part of the team that God is using to build his church in PNG. Thank you to all of you who have partnered with us in this undertaking–I trust that you are rejoicing with us.