Thursday, July 12, 2012

Why you can't fail in sharing the Gospel

Matthew 11:15 "He who has ears to hear, let him hear"
When it comes to the Holy Spirit's work in the life of an unbeliever, an important distinction must be made between two distinct "calls" or "appeals" in evangelism. The outward call or appeal to the physical ears, mind, emotions and conscience.  Whereas the inward call is where the Spirit includes an effective appeal to the inward ears of the heart along with the already present outward call.   
1. The Outward Call or what is termed General appeal to all to believe the Gospel.
The outward call is our witnessing of the Gospel to that person, whereby they hear it with their physical ears and may even consider it in their minds, however that as far as it goes.  The outward call is a work, an activity of the Spirit of God who with us extends the Gospel to all.  It is a work that extends compelling evidence for the need of repentance, however it is not made conclusive nor convincing.  Whenever a person rejects, they are resisting the outward call. 
When Paul for instance testified of his faith in Jesus Christ before King Agrippa, the outward call of the Gospel was being extended, however Agrippa replied to Paul in Acts 26:28 - “In a short time you will persuade me to become a Christian.” 29And Paul said, “I would wish to God, that whether in a short or long time, not only you, but also all who hear me this day, might become such as I am, except for these chains.”  Agrippa was not rendered responsible.  His lack of response tells us that he heard the outward call of the Gospel with his physical ears, however the inward ears of his heart has not yet been affected.
Conversion of the human heart is a work affected by the Holy Spirit who has opened that person's heart to repent and believe on Jesus Christ. (John 1:13; Acts 16:14; James 1:18; 1 Peter 1:3).  By the witness of God through creation and the conscience to unbelievers, as well as through the general appeal made to them to repent of their sins and turn to Christ, there is certainly no lack of mercy on God's part. If anything, God is only obligated to do one thing - justice.  The fact that He reveals anything about Himself at all indicates that He is by nature a reconciler. (2 Corinthians 5:15-21)
The Inward call or what is termed Effectual or Saving Grace.
As we extend the outward call of the Gospel to that person, we pray that accompanying our witnessing would be the Spirit's voice along with ours, extending the inward, effectual call to the ears of the heart. (Revelation 22:17)  The Bible reveals that we have two sets of ears: our physical ears and the "ears of the heart". (Ephesians 1:16-18) All hear the outward call and are responsible, however only those to whom the Spirit calls inwardly will respond. Since we never know whom the Spirit is affecting, we are to proclaim the gospel until faith comes. (Galatians 3:23).  Whenever the Spirit penetrates a person's heart into the inward ears, this grace is effectual, meaning that the person will see and hear Jesus for who he really is.  They will trust and run to Jesus, since He is shown to their hearts (and not just their minds, emotions and conscience) to be genuinely the only One who can save them.
Pertaining to this inward call to the ears of the heart, Jesus says on at least eight occassions in the Gospels this phrase: "he who has ears, let him hear." (Matthew 11:15,16, 13:9,43; Mark 4:9,23; Luke 8:8, 14:35) Likewise the Apostle John records Jesus saying this phrase to all seven churches to which he is writing to in Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13 and 3:22. No doubt, the enemy, Satan, blinds non-Christians to the truth of the gospel, as 2 Corinthians 4:4 reveals to be the enemy's work in all their lives. However we as Christians need to pray for the Holy Spirit to accompany our witnessing and sharing the Gospel. We need to pray that in our extending of His outward call to all people that He would include the necessary inward call to those whom he convicts and calls to respond and believe. (John 1;12-13)
Important Note: Christians can never fail in their sharing of the Gospel
Whenever people refuse to believe the gospel, whose fault is it? It's not God's fault, since He has offered them compelling proof of their need to repent.  We must remember that God is not willing that any would perish but that all would come to repentence. (2 Peter 3:9)  In the outward call of the Gospel to the physical ear, even though the nature of the Spirit's work in the outward call is not convincing them to believe, yet it is His work of compelling them to do so. 
It's certainly not the Christian's fault, since the main mission is to go into all the world and make disciples and be ambassadors for Christ. (Matthew 28:18-20; 2 Corinthians 5:15-21)  Its not the Bible's fault, since scripture itself will never return void but will accomplish the purpose for which it was sent, whether it be to alert the person about their responsibility to believe (outward call) or actually respond and believe (inward call). (Isaiah 55:10-11)  Thus the rejection of the Gospel lies soley in the hands of the unbeliever, who is making a clear choice to persist in their sin rather than turn to Christ.  (John 3:16-19; 12:42-43)
Therefore let's issue forth the general call of the Gospel to every person, praying that in our witnessing, the Spirit of God would include His inward call, so that as many people as possible would believe and be saved from the wrath to come.  As the noted father of modern missions, William Carey, told his son:

"The conversion of one soul is worth the labour of a life time. 'Unto us is this favour given that we should preach among the gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.' Hold on, therefore; be steady in your work, and leave the result with God." "Be encouraged, my dear son. Devote yourself wholly to your work. For this is the cause God has had in His mind from eternity, and for which Christ shed His blood, and for which the Spirit and the Word were given. So its triumph is certain."