As I think through some of the aspects of ministry, my mind begins to start down a journey of vivid experiences and conversations with believers and unbelievers alike. I have the tendency to pinpoint all the “crucial” moments in each conversation as though the results were dependent on those moments. As a new Christian, I relied almost exclusively on my personal ability to win a person to a specific end, by persuasiveness, knowledge, and ability to foresee any form of response ahead of time in order to address it appropriately. My intention in bringing this up is not to diminish the importance of those things, but to shed light on the mentality I had during my early years as a follower of Christ. This was, in fact, my mentality; but more importantly, it was the result of my insufficient perspective of the triune God.
In Ephesians chapter 2, the apostle Paul lays out in clear fashion the sovereignty of God in declaring His power to redeem and transform a people by His eternal choice, according to the purpose of His will. The heights of God’s power to save, transform, and sustain is something to marvel at. Paul goes on to declare our deadness in sin, and our nature being children of wrath. In chapter 2 verses 8-10, the inspired apostle links faith with the gift of God. Our faith as Christians is a gift. Philippians 1:29 is echoed in this regard, as Paul writes, “For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake…”. My efforts to “win” people to Christ as a young believer, was not reliant upon the sovereign work of the triune God. This is not to say God cannot save people through our insufficient understanding, indeed He can! God can strike a straight blow with a bent stick. This becomes more of an issue of obedience to His word. As our commitment to God’s word brings maturity, one’s efforts in evangelism and ministry become a work of obedience rather than self-reliance.
My boldness to speak truth became “supercharged.” My tip-toeing around the tulips, as it were, began to lessen, and my desire for the unadulterated truth of God’s word became the dominant desire on my mind and also on my lips. As it relates to reaching the lost, God is the one who saves. God doesn’t do some of the work of salvation, and leave the rest to the dead sinner. Who that is spiritually dead, decides spiritual life? I cannot convince a dead sinner to repentance and faith any more than I can convince a tree stump to fly figure eights in the sky. Be encouraged that we are not in the results business, but God is. I can only be a tool in the hands of the living God, through prayer and obedience, in hopes that I can be of use to Him in His plans and purposes. Please know this and be encouraged, the God of heaven and earth saved you…not because of anything in you, but all because of what’s in Him. Praise this God daily. Praise Him not for throwing you a life-raft, but for reaching down from the heavens, digging you up from the sinful depths of your sea of willful rebellion, and breathing life into you. He has purchased you, sealed you with His spirit, and cares for you more than anyone can fathom.
With love and prayer, go tell someone.