Let me start from the beginning. This buddy and I work together, and have known each other for years, having gone through high school together, were involved in music groups and symposiums in college, and now, working together as colleagues. We were both heavily involved in the pentecostal/charismatic religion, and until recently, I'd forgotten one of the irritating bondages of the pentecostal religion. If you don't witness to someone, and they die and go to hell, it's all your fault. Their blood is on your hands. I suppose we got this belief from Ezekiel 3:18:
When I say to a wicked man, 'You will surely die,' and you do not warn him or speak out to dissuade him from his evil ways in order to save his life, that wicked man will die for his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood.
One of the many mishaps from not rightly dividing the word of truth. When reading this passage in context, we see Ezekiel is being told to eat parchment, then go to Israel and share what God has told him. Ezekiel goes, but is full of bitterness and anger. God admonishes him that Ezekiel has been made a watchman over Israel. Then follows with the famous verse about their blood being on his hands, if he refuses to share what God has in store.
Now that I've been set free by Grace, I can view this in a new light. To begin with, my name isn't Ezekiel, I'm not eating paper, or parchment, or any other plant like substance for writing; secondly, God isn't whisking my spirit away to live with someone for 7 days. Last, I live in the New Covenant, where my sins aren't being held against me as per II Corinthians 5:19
All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them.So, even if I did show my rear end, drag my heels and not witness to someone, God isn't holding it against me. Better yet, what type of God would we serve, if someone were allowed to go to hell because of us? Can you imagine God, on the day of judgement, telling the poor damned soul, "Sorry, buddy. If only Billy had witnessed to you, you could have accepted my son and received eternal life. But, since he didn't witness to you, you're doomed forever in hell, and it's all Billy's fault" Seriously?? God can create the universe from nothing, raise the dead, impart life, but He can't get someone to go witness to someone who's ready to accept Jesus?? What kind of God did I serve? Thankfully, I know better now. If someone's heart is ripe for Jesus, there is no doubt that God will do whatever it takes to get the gospel to them. I know He did it for me. He's done it for my family--ironically, we didn't know we NEEDED 'getting'. God did, however, and worked it out the way it needed to be worked out. We were merely pawns in His plans.
So meanwhile, I know this, and now you know this--I want my buddy to know this as well. We've got another classmate that on his deathbed, as the result of a long life of not-so-good habits. My buddy is compelled to go see him one last time to witness, and it seems that obstacles keep preventing him from getting to the hospital. He is anxious that if the classmate dies and goes to hell, his soul will be on his (my buddy's) hands. Heart wrenching to watch him fret in fear. As it turns out, I've come down with the croup, or some such mess and it's all I can do to breathe, much less talk. I'm not worried though. If my buddy is ready to come to the end of his religious self-efforts and to start trusting God, there is no doubt that although we might be faithless, He remains faithful.