If you recall, last week I spoke of discouragement and how the Lord revealed to me through scripture of his promise to those who love him. Discouragement is a choice. When I focus my eyes on him, things go much, much better. What better way to do that than to share the gospel? First, I don’t need to be a theological expert to share my own redemption story. If you recall the account of the demon possessed man, he had no training before he was sent out:
Luke 8:38-39 The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him.
So, you see, we don’t need training to tell our story. From this we also see Jesus’ desire: to tell others all about it. Do you see that? Now, when we share the gospel, we enjoy God’s blessing. It’s as simple as that. When we share the gospel, we bear fruit. John 15 gives us some of Jesus’ great instruction on this. Perhaps one day we shall really dig into this. For today, let’s focus on one verse:
John 15:16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.
Last Wednesday, as I was pouring over that special scripture in prayer, two men kept coming to my mind. I had the extraordinary sense that I needed to share the gospel with them in person – and soon. Two other men kept coming to mind, both who had similar backgrounds but were now believers. This was no little deal. It involved considerable travel and a very limited window of opportunity to make schedules work. Guess what? It worked. I shared the gospel, face-to-face, with these two men. I shared my story of hopelessness in my own power and the miracle of life that God had so graciously gifted to me. We spoke of life and death and the no-turning-back commitment required to follow Jesus. We discussed the costs, that they would be hated by the world, even family and friends, if they chose life. I assured them it was worth it.
What now? It’s in God’s hands. Of course, I desire that both of these guys choose life. I would be grieved if they denied the only one in all of creation that is worthy of praise. I must be careful not to go any further than that. First, it may take years for them to repent. Yes, it could happen yet today, but it also might not. In fact, it might never happen. The gospel softens some hearts while hardening others. This is no small point. If it was any other way, then I would not simply be delivering the message; but I would also be responsible for them to understand and, therefore, believe. If I failed in this, wouldn’t I be guilty of their unbelief and death? No, that’s not how it works. We aren’t asked to do God’s job. We’re asked to do ours – to simply tell others what God has done for us.
Let’s apply this to John 15:16. Is my fruit in the conversion of souls? If that was the case, Isaiah and Jeremiah (and all the prophets) were gargantuan failures. No, my fruit is simply in doing as God commands me. Remember the woman at the well? “Jesus said to them, ‘My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.’” (John 4:34) My fruit is simply in obeying, not converting. What then, about the prayer part of 15:16? What shall I pray for? It seems to me that to pray in Jesus’ name, we would pray according to the will of the Father, right? What is the will of the Father?
1 Timothy 2:3-4 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
Romans 9:18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.
Ephesians 1:4-5 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,
So, you see, all this has been settled before you or I were ever born. Still, it is God’s will that the gospel be delivered by humans to either harden or soften hearts. In that, we find utmost joy.
Is that hard to comprehend? Yes, it is, but scripture reaffirms that over and over and over. Once we settle this in our minds, we become truly free to share the gospel. Without this, I honestly don’t know how I could bear the thought of a loved one spending eternity in hell because I could not convince him/her to repent and claim Jesus as Lord. Think about this, folks. If it is up to human will to repent, why aren’t we doing everything we possibly can to make that happen? Seriously, folks! What price would be too high for us to save a soul?
Why do I share all this with you? Because I have to preach it to myself. You see, it would be very easy to get discouraged when sharing the gospel. I have only had a couple people actually respond positively when I shared it. Yes, I am planting seeds, but if I am to be honest, only a few will enter by the narrow gate. Right? And, Isaiah was sent to proclaim the gospel to harden hearts and not be saved. (Isaiah 6:8-13). That’s a fact. So, if my ultimate goal was saved souls, I would be very discouraged. Instead, my purpose is to share the gospel. Last week, it was to share my story with two men. Simple as that. And you know what? That mission was accomplished. Now, God will have me do follow-up work, to be sure, but I am comfortable with my position in all this.
Does that make sense?
Father, thank you for the opportunity to share the gospel. Thank you that I have a story of redemption to tell. Thank you for the grace and mercy you have extended me. I don’t deserve it. Amen.
Copyright © 2018 Scott Powers