The Runaway Teen - Truth in Love Ministry

Witnessing Scenarios

The Runaway Teen

The Bible presents topics like forgiveness and justification in two different ways. The more familiar way ties them to faith. We are justified by faith (i.e., Romans 3:28). We are forgiven if, in faith, we confess our sins (1 John 1:9).

There is, however, another way the Bible talks about these topics. One example is Romans 5:12-21. Note the striking absence of any mention of faith in these verses. It simply says, “Even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life” (Romans 5:18).

Especially note how it says justification came to all people. This is not the only place the Bible talks like this, either. Another conspicuous example is 2 Corinthians 5:19, “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them.”

Once again, note that God did not just reconcile believers to himself; he reconciled the world.

These passages present another less familiar side of reconciliation and justification. From this perspective, they occur before faith.

Here is an illustration based on the idea of reconciliation. There was a teen who went on a rampage, wrecked his parents’ house, stole their money, and then ran away. (This represents how mankind acted towards God as a result of the Fall.) Only his best friend knew where he was. The parents sent a message to their son through his friend. They told him they had already forgiven him and wanted him to return home. Their son couldn’t believe it —no matter how much his friend told him it was true. So, the son stayed in hiding. He never again experienced the blessings of living at home or having a relationship with his loving parents. His unbelief, however, didn’t change the fact that his parents had forgiven him.

So it is with God. Through Christ he justified all people; he reconciled the entire world to himself. Now he tells us to go and share the message (2 Corinthians 5:20).  Instead of telling people that God will forgive them if they believe, we can tell them that God has forgiven you.  Believe it!

There is no better way to emphatically show that God has done everything for us. Presenting the gospel from this perspective is especially important with Mormons since they have been programmed to think of faith itself as a work they must do. Tell them the story of the rebellious teen. As God’s ambassadors, deliver the message to them that they have already been reconciled to God, that God has already acquitted them. Figuratively take them by the shoulders, shake them, and tell them to believe it.

Here is a brief video illustrating this story. You could have it ready on your computer and show it to them.

Note: While Christ won forgiveness for all, this gift can be rejected by unbelief.

Scenario Summary

An illustration based on the idea of reconciliation and justification happening before faith.

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