After years of working with the poor, one of the things that has infuriated me the most is the untruth being propagated by people claiming the authority of God.
Bad news proclaimed to the poor.
John is a man I have known since Rachel and I moved to New Albany. He is 87 years old and has had a very difficult but fascinating life. He has some oddball ideas, is an inventor, and loves to discuss the bible.
About four years ago, I was sitting at a table with John discussing the book of Revelation.
Anyone who knows John knows that he loves to talk about Revelation – numerology in the bible, the antichrist, Jerusalem, etc.
A local church had recently taught a class on Revelation, which John had attended. The class distributed a lengthy “interpretation guide” for the cryptic book, and John was showing me the guide.
This guide encouraged the reader to try and discover the true identity of the antichrist as well as the true identification of all of the nations involved with the end times. John was clearly drawn in and I wanted to respect his curiosity. So I listened and flipped through his guide.
After listening for some time, I asked, “Isn’t it great that one day we will be in Heaven and all of these mysteries will be answered for us?”
His response killed me.
“Oh, I don’t think I’ll be up there. I certainly haven’t lived a good enough life to make it to Heaven.”
“Well, John,” I started, “you believe in Jesus don’t you?”
“Oh, yes,” he said. “But I just don’t have enough good deeds stacked up in my favor to make it.”
So I read him this verse:
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1, ESV)
He looked shocked, “I’ve never heard that before!”
The next week, John was talking about his excitement to one day be in heaven.
At the time of this story, John was 83 years old.
Now John is the type of guy who goes to church for every service offered. Wednesday bible study, Sunday service, Sunday School, Sunday night service.
He knows about the various mentions of numbers in scripture. The possible identities of the antichrist. The true meaning of “Babylon” in the book of Revelation.
Yet in his whole life, he had never heard of the grace of Jesus that saves us from the wrath of God.
This is a serious problem.
And John is not the only one in this category. We often meet men and women who have terrible misunderstandings of the scriptures. Or people who have only been taught about the book of Revelation… over and over again.
It’s all they know.
It’s all they have been given.
What a shame when people who are genuinely hungry for the truth are offered a long, continuous diet of “666 Revealed!” and other misinformation.
We have shocked many of our neighbors when we tell them that the word “antichrist” doesn’t appear in the book of Revelation.
Maybe it shocks you as well.
So we aim to simply join Jesus in preaching the good news to the poor.
And the best word we can offer is the scriptures themselves.