Frost is in the forecast tomorrow! Fall sure came crashing on us quickly this year, or so it seems to me. That’s OK. I’m ready for winter.
Yesterday, I spoke of being terrified about deciding to follow Jesus. Looking back, I can recall several specific times that I really felt the tug, so-to-say. There was that time when I was a child. I had another right after high school and two more in college. One of those was a vision while high. (That was the reason I quit smoking pot for good.) The last one in college almost had me. It was from a street preacher who stood in the middle of the courtyard at St. Cloud State with the message of, “Repent, you drunks and whoremongers!” Of course, he instantly had crowds, including me. Something about him mesmerized me. Here I was, terrified at public speaking, and there he was, getting yelled at, spit at, and shoved around. Then, he would get up the next morning and do the same thing. After a week or so at SCSU, he would move on to other places of “higher” education. His name was Jed Smock, better known as “Brother Jed.”
I’ll never forget him. Now, he said some things that I now understand to be incorrect. Perhaps I misunderstood him. One was that he said he was now without sin, that he now lives a life free of sin. The crowd understood him saying that he no longer sins. I wonder if he meant that he was sin-free because of the cross. I do know that he preached a message to rid one’s self of sin – completely – because sin is an offense to God. I can’t argue with that. Here’s what I know. His message convicted me of my lifestyle. I knew he was right. I listened to him even after the crowds dispersed and a handful sat with him on the campus lawn listening to his message. I finally left without answering God’s call in the affirmative. That was probably in 1985. I didn’t hear His call again until 2007. What a fool I was.
Looking back, I wonder what my life would have been like had I answered any one of those earlier calls. People often say something like, “Your past is what made you who you are,” in an attempt to make everything seem OK. As I stand here, today, I am satisfied with where God has me. However, it sickens me to no end to think how much and for how long that I deliberately sinned against my God. Brother Jed was absolutely right. I was a drunken whoremonger who desperately needed repentance. I thank God that he was sent to SCSU to clearly and forcefully give me that message. Most people think street preachers drive people away from God. I wholeheartedly disagree. The unsaved is infinitely removed from God – by his/her own choosing – so much so that it takes a miracle to accept the gospel. You can’t chase someone away that’s already gone nor can you attract someone that refuses to draw near.
John 6:44-45 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me –
v. 65 And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”
Matthew 11:27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
Let’s not kid ourselves. Neither you or I can draw people to our Father or to Jesus. That’s the job of the Trinity. We have the privilege to have a speaking role in this whole play of life, but we have a minor part. In fact, one could easily say ours isn’t necessary at all. God chooses to use us to share the gospel, but you or I don’t open anyone’s eyes. God does that. The fact that you are there means nothing other than you get to see a miracle first-hand if God chooses to bless you as such. On the other hand, you are not able to drive an unbeliever away from God. Can’t be done. They are already “away.” The gospel hardens far more hearts than it softens, but you or I draw or chase no one. Neither does Brother Jed or the typical, abrasive street preacher.
The bible is full of these loud-mouth guys who won’t shut up about sin and the need to repent. Nor will they shut up about the kingdom that is promised for those who do repent. How many of these dudes were killed because they kept hammering on and on? There were beaten over and over and still wouldn’t stop. And, then, when Jesus rose from the dead and the Holy Spirit filled these guys, wow! They tore the place up!
Folks, we don’t need to be afraid of the gospel. I thank God for sending Brother Jed in my path. I thank God for using him as he had, to convict me of my sin. Even if I had not come to faith, I still thank God for Brother Jed. The gospel is truth, and truth is needed. This is a dark, dying world. Should the truth not be boldly proclaimed? Should the truth be withheld just because people don’t like it? Hardly.
I was terrified of accepting Jesus. I knew his was a better life, but I preferred my life of sin. My sin hadn’t yet turned into death. Funny thing is that I knew it eventually would, but that was a price I was willing to pay as long as it wasn’t then.
Father, I thank you that you have taken me from darkness into light. What can I say? After eleven years, I am just at the tip of the iceberg in understanding the immensity of what you have done for me. Amen.
Copyright © 2018 Scott Powers