It was noon-time in the early 1970’s and I can still remember well walking into the Perkins Restaurant in Wormleysburg, PA for a long-planned visit with Susan.
Susan was not an active Christian at the time. As we sat down and ordered breakfast, I said to her, “Susan, I know you have a church background but I suspicion that you learned the principles of our faith in bits and pieces and have never had anyone take the time to bring it all together. I would like to put the puzzle together, ok?”
“Susan,” I said, “the Bible clearly tells us that “all have sinned” and are in need of divine forgiveness if we are to develop any kind of a relationship with God. We are three-part beings – body, soul (our intellect and will), and a spirit. What happened to each of us is perhaps best understood if we go back to the Garden of Eden for a quick overview.
“God told Eve that, of all the trees in the Garden, there was one that was off limits, the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. If either she or Adam ate the fruit of that tree, God promised they would surely die. They did … but they didn’t drop dead. What happened was that their spirit, that intimate part in each of us that becomes our point of contact with God, ceased to be functional. Although they remained physically and intellectually healthy, they died spiritually, lost the warm fellowship they had enjoyed with God, and were expelled from the Garden of Eden.
“But God still loved them and very much wanted to re-establish the relationship. The problem was that sin’s penalty is death – eternal separation from God – and that was something God himself could not accept. Accordingly, then, He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on their behalf. No one else, not Abraham or Moses or King David, could die on their behalf because each of them, like you and me, had sinned and were under the penalty of death for their own sin. Good works couldn’t cut it for it did nothing to take care of the sin problem. But Jesus was perfect, so He could serve before God as a substitute sacrifice on their behalf.
“And so it was that Jesus went to the cross in our place. When, while on the cross He prayed, “Father forgive them,” He was praying for you and me. The forgiveness He offers is available to each of us. As stated in the New Testament, ‘if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness’ (I John 1:9).”
Much of what I have written makes little sense to those who have no awareness of personal sin, feel no need for forgiveness, and have little interest in a relationship with God. Such, however, was not the case with Susan. She very much wanted the peace of mind and the sense of divine forgiveness that we had talked about. Through a simple prayer she soon asked for God’s forgiveness and invited Jesus Christ to be the Lord of her life. Who could have imagined that a breakfast meeting in a Perkins restaurant could lead to the discovery of new life in Jesus Christ.