Can Scripture memory make a difference in someone’s eternal destiny?
Can we know the truth?
Have you ever had a conversation with someone, and then later had something come to your mind that made you think, “I wish I’d thought of that at the time??
That has happened to me many times. Let me tell you about one of them.
I used to see Tom at the gym where I go to work out. Although he was in his 70’s, he could race-walk with amazing speed.
During one of those encounters at the gym, we got into a discussion about the Bible.
I believe with every fiber of my being that every word in the Bible is true and that the Bible is the inspired Word of God. But I was aware that Tom did not share that conviction.
I asked him, “Tom, do you believe there is such a thing as absolute truth? Are there truths that are true for every person?”
“No”, he exclaimed, “I believe that truth can be different for each person.”
Here’s what NOT to do. This will not make a difference in the way you want it to.
In the past, I had thought about how obviously contradictory that concept was. How can it can be absolutely true that there is no absolute truth? I had secretly harbored a wish for an opportunity to nail someone with their own words. Now suddenly, here was my chance.
“Really??”, I replied, “Do you believe that? Is that absolutely true?”
“Yes!”, he exclaimed with great conviction in his voice.
I had him!
“But… you just said there was no absolute truth”, I replied. I tried to suppress a bit of smugness. I had won the round, and he knew that I knew it.
The realization that he had been maneuvered into a trap only served to anger Tom.
“All right!”, he exploded, “There is truth! But NO ONE CAN KNOW WHAT IT IS!!“
That was essentially the end of the conversation. A matter of a few minutes later, and each of us went our separate ways.
Over months that followed, I began to regret having set Tom up like that. I felt convicted. My “victory” only served to alienate him from the Bible, not draw him into it.
This Time, I Got A “Do-Over”; a chance to make a difference for God
A couple of years later, as I was getting out of my car in a store parking lot I heard a voice say, “Jan? Is that you?”. It was Tom. I had seen him walk by, but had not recognized him. There was something different in his appearance.
We exchanged pleasantries for a minute. Then, acting on an urge from the Holy Spirit, I brought up the subject of our conversation that day at the gym.
“I don’t think you really meant what you said that day”, I said. I cited a couple of examples.
I imagined that when he flew by airline, surely he believed that the pilot and co-pilot were doing their jobs according to truths they had learned regarding flying, navigating, weather, fuel consumption, etc. I also assumed that when he went to see his doctor, he again relied on the doctor knowing truths about medicine. Tom wholeheartedly agreed with me on both of those.
“What you probably meant”, I said, “Was that you don’t believe there is any absolute truth in spiritual matters.”
“Yeah! Yeah!”, he replied with excitement. “That’s what I meant!”
I don’t know how many times this has happened: I’ll have a conversation, and then later, God brings to my mind what I wish I’d said. Now here, I actually had a chance to set something right that I hadn’t done properly the first tine.
If ever there was a moment when I was glad I had done some Scripture memory, this was it. With a combination of gentleness and conviction and a sense of urgency, I shared with Tom these words from Jesus Himself:
I quoted the passage to him and then said, “You may want to re-think your belief Tom, because some day you’ll have to stand before Jesus and be held accountable for your unbelief in what He said.”
Tom didn’t have much to say in response to my admonition. Did he “get it”? Did my words make a difference?
Just a few months later we learned… Tom had died of cancer! In that moment I realized: that explains the change in his appearance that day in the parking lot. His color was not right. He was dying!
I am absolutely convinced that God arranged those encounters between Tom and me, and that He prompted me as to what to say and how to say it at the second encounter.
Several times since then–including today–I’ve wondered: did Tom go home and re-think his beliefs about God and biblical Truth after that second conversation? Did the words I spoke–which truly were the Words of God–have any influence regarding Tom’s eternal destiny?
Did I Make A Difference?
I won’t know for sure until I get to heaven.