Another Neat Story...

Another Neat Story

In Mike Barko's blog post, he recounts his recent experiences of sharing the Gospel downtown, resulting in over 60 people professing their faith in Christ within two weeks. One poignant story stands out: that of John, whom Mike hadn't seen in years. Mike engages John in a conversation about salvation, skillfully dismantling his self-reliant perspective. Through relatable analogies and patient guidance, Mike helps John realize his need for a Savior and the inadequacy of his own goodness for salvation. The blog post captures the essence of John's transformation, emphasizing the power of personal encounters with the Gospel. By employing relatable examples and clear explanations, Mike skillfully guides John to place his trust solely in Christ. The post serves as a moving testament to the life-changing impact of the Gospel message on an individual, highlighting the importance of genuine conversations and personal connections in leading others to a profound change of heart.


Mike Barko

2/13/20218 min read

We continue sharing the Gospel downtown and holding the cross every week. God continues to bless our efforts with fruit. We have seen over 60 people make professions of faith in the last two weeks.

Every person and story is significant. There are many of them. This time, I will just share one story with you. Thank you to Ben Varepa who helped me to share with John!


After hearing the law and the Gospel, many people make professions of faith in Christ alone. We really don't know what truly happens in the person's heart, but we do know they heard the Gospel. This is the most important thing.

When they want to trust in Jesus, that is the icing on the cake. Then, there are particular stories and responses from people that bless your heart. This was one of those stories.

Here is a three minute testimonial video from John after hearing the Gospel...

Here is the story...

I had not seen John for probably five to seven years. I know his brother, his mom and his dad. By the grace of God I have been able to share the Gospel with each of them. If memory serves me correctly, the last time that I shared with John there was a lot of family distractions going on. This time was different.

John remembered me and was very open to receiving the bracelet and hearing the Gospel. He was there with his mom. She left with her husband and left me face to face with John.

How sure was John that he would go to Heaven? '50-50'

This is the standard response from people. What is the person trusting in? To find out, ask them 'why' they might get into Heaven.

John said, 'I am changing and I am doing better.'

This is a wonderful thing. Here is a young man who sees the error of his ways and is attempting to correct them. This is where we find many people.

They are sincere. They want to be saved. They just don't know how. This is where we come in.

The Gospel is not the default setting for people. The default setting for people for how they can get into Heaven is...

'I will be sincere, ask forgiveness, do my best and I think that God will let me into Heaven.'


'Well, I'm not that bad.'

This is where most people are. Then, when you add 'I'm changing and doing better' on top of that, you now know what the majority of people are trusting in...

'Their own goodness.'

'There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.' (Prov. 14:12)

So, we meet people right where they are and then lead them to where they need to be. Step by step.

'So, John, you are changing and doing better. That is a wonderful thing. Do you think that you have 'changed enough'? Do you think that you are 'good enough'? Do you think that you measure up?'

I don't remember John's particular answer, but if it was like most people, it was 'I hope so'.

'Well, John, did you know that God has actually left us with an amazing test. It is a test to see if we are good enough. He wants us to take the test while we are here on earth. That way, if we fail the test, we can make the necessary adjustment to measure up before it is too late. Does that make sense?'

It did for John and that set the stage and created interest to find out if he was good enough. So, we went through the ten commandments. You can go through as many or as few as you so desire. The point is to show the person that they are not good enough.

We went through five of them: lie, steal, lust, hate, and using God's name in vain. What does that make us?...liars, thieves, adulterers, murderers and blasphemers.

Our point is to strip away people's self-righteousness. I have used the Spurgeon quote before...

'Nothing can damn a man but his own righteousness; nothing can save a man but the righteousness of Christ.'

Here is a quote from George Whitfield...

'Whoever is acquainted with the nature of mankind in general, or the propensity of his own heart in particular, must acknowledge, that self-righteousness is the last idol that is rooted out of the heart: being once born under a covenant of works, it is natural for us all to have recourse to a covenant of works, for our everlasting salvation.'

'...not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God' (Hebrews 6:1 middle, emphasis mine.)

'How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?' (Hebrews 9:14, emphasis mine)

Everyone has a God given conscience. When their conscience bothers them, most people deal with it by doing something good. This is like putting a band aid on a gaping wound. It just doesn't work.

There are many in the 'churches' today that are caught up in this as well. They have moved away from salvation by the atonement of Christ (blood sacrifice) to a salvation by doing good deeds. This so called 'social gospel' is pervasive in many of the churches.

Our salvation is anchored in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ alone. The resurrection receipt shouts 'PAID IN FULL!' It is this source, and this source alone, that constantly cleanses us from our sin...

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin.' (1 John 1:7)

Out of that blessed fountain of constant cleansing and forgiveness we are to abound in good works. We are to be rich in good works. But this is the fruit, not the root.

So John acknowledged his record before God: liar, thief, adulterer, murderer, and blasphemer. This is why Christ said, 'No one is good, except God alone.' (Luke 18:10)

If we want to get to Heaven by 'our good', just how good do we have to be?

Just as good as God.

Is that going to work? Hardly. We must despair of our own goodness. We must cease trying to 'measure up'. Our very attempts to measure up is only a denial of the truth. The flesh profiteth nothing.

Even blameless Job, after encountering the Lord said...

'I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.' (Job 42:5,6; emphasis mine)

Have you come to the point of self-abhorrence? Have you come to the point of self-despair? This is the most musical cry in the ears of the Lord...

'O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.' (Romans 7:24,25(a))

The body of sin in Romans 6 refers to the following: with respect to the negative (sin), Paul's body was wholly positive. That is, his flesh was naturally drawn to sin.

The body of death in Romans 7 refers to the following: with respect to the positive (doing good), Paul's body was wholly negative. That is, no matter how hard he tried, he couldn't measure up to God's standards.

We cannot, but He can.

It is not in trying, but in trusting.
It is not in striving, but in resting.

The solution to our deficiency is never found in ourselves. It is always found in Christ.

'It is no longer I, but Christ.'

So John recognized that he was not good. He recognized that he fell short and did not measure up.

Then we talked about sin's penalty which is death. If God gave us all what we deserve, we would go to Hell.
(On a side note, you would be shocked at how many professing Christians think that we deserve Heaven. The Gospel must be preached!)

'John, picture an electric chair. One with your name on it. One with my name on it. If God gave us what we deserve, He would put us in the chair. What will keep you from the chair?"

This question is actually designed to root out more self-righteousness. Like the second question in the beginning, it lets us know what the person is still trusting in.

John said, 'I've changed and I'm doing better.'

Self-righteousness is truly a hard nut to crack.

I affirmed to John that those were good things, but that they would not keep him from God's electric chair. It's best to use an illustration to help the person understand.

'Let's say that a person committed a crime 6 months ago, before they actually went to trial. During the trial they made their defense by saying, 'In the last six months since I did the crime, I have really changed and am doing much better.' What would the judge say?

John got the point. Doing those things was certainly commendable, but they would not exonerate him before the judge.

We will be judged for our entire life. Changing does not make us innocent before God.

By the grace of God, I was able to help him get down to '0%' that he would go to Heaven. I wanted him to despair of himself. I asked him several times and he told me, 'I'm going to Hell'.

So I asked him, 'What can you do to avoid God's electric chair?'

John said, 'Nothing.'

Amen, Praise the Lord, Hallelujah! The musical cry...

There is nothing that I can do. Absolutely nothing.

What can a convicted murdered do to get out of what he deserves?

Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

What can we do?

Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

What has He done?

Everything. Absolutely everything.

John told me that he had previously spent one week in jail. I told him...

"If I went to jail for you, and they gave you the receipt that I had done that, then that would mean that I had taken your penalty." (I usually use the speeding ticket here, but adjusted it accordingly for John.)

"John, our penalty with God wasn't a week in jail. Our penalty with God was 'spiritual death'. Our penalty with God was 'hell forever'. God loved you so much that He paid that penalty for you and then gave you a receipt when He rose from the dead...'PAID IN FULL.'"

John spoke up...


I also made sure that John understood that Jesus Christ is God...

God the Father
God the Son
God the Holy Spirit

Remember that salvation is trusting Christ alone: (1) His Person and (2) His Work.

I like to use the dessert illustration for emphasis:

"If I bought your favorite dessert, and you tried to pay the cashier a second time, what would you be saying about my payment?"

'Not good enough.'

John now understood that if he put his trust in God alone he would be 100% sure of going to Heaven.

I also wanted to make sure that he understood that he was trusting in himself when we started.

He understood both very clearly. Trusting in God meant that God was his Savior. Trusting in himself meant that he was his own savior.

This is repentance for the non-believer. It is a change of mind. I want to stop trusting myself and I want to start trusting in Christ.

This is our goal in preaching the Gospel. We want to give them a clear understanding of where they were and where they need to be. This is the cake.

The icing is their favorable response. Whether they choose Christ or not, it is an amazing thing that we were able to present the Gospel to the person!

"John, when do you want to put all of your trust in God?"


So we prayed. I shared John 6:47 and he understood that he had eternal life...'RIGHT NOW'.

I shared the two coat story with him. For sake of time, I will share that with you some other time. It is based on 2 Corinthians 5:21.

"John, how does your heart feel knowing that you deserved the electric chair, but that God took that for you?"


'With your thankful broken heart, yield your life to Him. Surrender your life to God. Read your bible, go to church, etc.'

Before he left, I asked John what God had done for him this day...



What a blessing to be able to share the Gospel with John! What a blessing to see his response!