I walked up to Matt, who was around his mid-20’s.  I gave him a million-dollar-bill gospel tract to break the ice, and asked if he had a Christian background.  He said he was a Christian.  I asked him whether he’s born again, and he said he was.  He was standing outside a bar, smoking, and this raised a few questions in my mind.

I don’t think that smoking is a sin, but getting drunk is.  We run into a lot of “Christians” who are on their way to get drunk.  Jesus said that you can tell a person by the fruit they’re bearing.  There would be people who did great things for Jesus, and on Judgment Day, he would have to say, “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!”  (Matthew 7:15-23)  So, it’s clear that not everyone who claims to be a Christian really is. 

I asked Matt how he would respond to the following question.  If you died today, and God asked you ‘Why should I let you into heaven?’ what would you say?  He said that he lived a good life, and God would let him in.  This is a terrible answer, and indicates that he has very little understanding of the gospel, and I really don’t see how he could be truly born again.   

I told him that I don’t consider myself to be a good person, and God should crush me, and send me to hell for what I did yesterday.  He had a very puzzled look on his face, and asked me what I had done to deserve going to hell.  I told him I’m guilty of breaking all ten of the Ten Commandments, and I started going through them with him. 

I asked him whether he’s ever told a lie.  He said that he had, and I asked him what that makes him.  He admitted that it makes him a liar.  I went through a few of the others, saying, ‘Have you ever stolen anything, taken God’s name in vain, or looked at a woman with lust?’ and he admitted to all of those, making him a thief, a blasphemer, and an adulterer-at-heart.  I asked, “If God were to judge you by the standard of the Ten Commandments, would you be innocent or guilty?”  He admitted to being guilty. 

I asked, “So, should God send you to heaven or hell?”  He admitted hell, and I told him that the Bible is clear that we all deserve that fate.  He knew what God had done so that he wouldn’t have to go to hell, but I explained it a little bit further.  We’re standing before the judge, guilty of all these crimes.  The judge gives us a fine we can’t pay, so we’re about to be led off to prison for a very long time, when someone steps up and offers to pay our fine.  That’s what Jesus did, and we accept that free gift by repenting and putting our faith in Jesus. 

I left Matt with a more in-depth tract, and encouraged him to read the Bible.  Is it possible for someone to be saved, and have no understanding of the gospel, and live like the world?  The Bible seems to offer no assurance to that person.  I guess if I witnessed to a true Christian, then that’s okay.  If I witnessed to a false convert, as I suspect, then hopefully he’ll get saved. 

Please pray for Matt.


Do you think Matt is born again?  What would you have done differently?


9 Responses to Matt

  1. weirdhippy says:

    Hi bill thanks for your comment on my blog, I have been having a look through yours. It great to see your passion after such a short time of witnessing. Just a few things to hopefully stir your thinking around end times theology,

    – John 14:2
    – have a read of Brian McLaren’s ‘The Last Word and The Word After That’ to understand Jesus’ use of the greek and hebrew terms for hell.

    In terms of is Matt born again, I don’t think it’s our place to judge who is or isn’t in if you want to use that type of language. It is not our job to convert but to speak the truth in love.

    A question to ponder upon

    Are we saved from?
    Or are we saved for?

    How does this affect evangelism?

  2. billphillips says:

    I don’t think you have to read Greek or Hebrew to know that hell is a horrible place. I think Brian McLaren has a poor understanding of the gospel himself. He tries to add in environmentalism or helping the poor. That stuff is fine, but it’s not part of the gospel. Getting my sins forgiven, and getting to go to heaven is an amazing gospel, and doesn’t need to be spruced up.

    I assume Matt’s not saved, but I certainly don’t know for sure. I agree that there are a lot of times that I’ve assumed people aren’t born-again, and I’ve been wrong. I’ve assumed a lot of people are born-again, and I’ve been wrong. There’s no real way to know for sure, since even Judas had everyone except Jesus fooled.

    I think we’re saved from hell so that God can show His mercy and grace. We shouldn’t repent because we’re scared of hell. We should repent, because God was so kind to save us. He created the universe to glorify Himself. Those who He sends to hell will glorify Him because He’s demonstrating His infinite justice. Those who He saves will gloriy Him because He’s demonstrating His infinite mercy.

  3. Hi,
    I agree with Weirdhippy, we are not here to judge, judgement belongs to our Father. We are all living in this world and God hates the sin but not the sinner. You dont know how many nights Matt might ask for forgiveness because he “messed up” yet again. We Christians are here to speak in love and lead non-believers to Christ, thats all what our job is. We shouldnt hit them over the head with the Bible or the commandments. If he truly is born-again he will seek after God the same way we did when we were born-again.
    I remember when I were saved, my hunger till this day hasnt diminished a bit. And btw there are people inforeign countries who have only some missionar preach every once in a while and they dont own a bible or know all the commandments and they are still saved. Its your heart, not anything else.
    In Christ Andrea

  4. billphillips says:


    Your story about how when you were born again, you had a hunger, brings up some interesting points. That’s what the Bible says should happen. What if there’s someone who says they’re born-again, but doesn’t have any hunger whatsoever. Isn’t that cause to worry that they really aren’t born-again?

    As far as judging other people, I Corinthians 5:12, 13 says “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked man from among you.” It seems clear that if someone claims to be a Christian, we’re supposed to judge them. If they really are Christians, they’ll respond humbly. The stakes are Matt’s eternity. I’m willing to have a conversation when the stakes are so high.

    The conversation I had with Matt was friendly, and loving. We parted friends, and I hope to talk to him again.

    As far as using the Ten Commandments and the Bible, I think we should look at how Jesus and the disciples witnessed. Jesus used the Ten Commandments in Luke 18. There are several verses about how the law will stop a sinner’s mouth, convict them of sin, and bring them to Christ. The Bible says non-Christians are enemies with God. Can I make them worse enemies by telling them what the Bible says?

    The people you talked about in foreign countries may not have a Bible, but if they’re truly saved, I really think that they can express the gospel when someone asks. They can explain why they’re going to get to heaven. Matt gave a horrible answer, and that’s what troubled me most. Not that he was standing outside of a bar. He wasn’t drunk, and I didn’t ask if he was there to get drunk, so I don’t know. The Bible is clear that there will be those who think they’re Christians, but really are in big trouble on Judgment Day. My heart breaks for these people.

    What do you do to witness, if you don’t use the Bible or the Ten Commandments? If someone tells you they’re a Christian, you don’t feel like you should probe any deeper?


  5. magikent says:

    “I don’t think that smoking is a sin, but getting drunk is.”

    What? Why? Why is one any worse than the other?

  6. billphillips says:

    The Bible says getting drunk is a sin. Drunkards will not inherit the kingdom of heaven (I Corinthians 6:9,10).

    Smoking isn’t in the Bible.

  7. magikent says:

    Neither is being an Internet predator. Are you okay with being an Internet predator since it isn’t in the Bible?

  8. billphillips says:

    I think being an internet predator is in the Bible. The Bible says that it’s better to have a mill stone tied around your neck and thrown into the ocean than to harm a child. If you’re talking about being a predator to adults, Jesus said that even just to look with lust is to be guilty of adultery. Adulterers cannot enter the kingdom of heaven.

    Majikent, how are you doing with God’s law? Have you ever been drunk? Do you look at women with lust? How about taking God’s name in vain? If God judges you by that standard on Judgment Day will you be innocent or guilty?


  9. Ken says:

    Dear Brothers and Sisters:

    Please pray for God to deliver my soul from hell. I am under conviction of sin. I am trying to quit cigarettes and it is very hard. So far I have cut my addiction to nicotine to about a third of what it was. With His help I will stop. Thank you.

    Ken Johnson

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