Perhaps it sounds a little strange but I want to let you know that I’ve been studying the topic of what it means to be saved. To all my friends with the heart of the evangelist, relax and don’t feel any need to rush to me with God’s saving plan. I’m not revisiting this issue of forgiveness and salvation because I’m worried about where I stand. Truth be known, I’m going back in order to remind myself of just how glorious God’s gracious gift truly is. Jesus taught the religious man, Nicodemus, the following:
“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” – John 3:17-19
Let me address something that is of great importance to those of us whose compassion motivates us to share the Gospel with others. God has birthed a yearning in us for those around us to find the forgiveness in Christ which has granted us spiritual life. Sometimes we feel the weight of the reality that, if they do not believe, they will be condemned – as if condemnation was something that occurs after an unbeliever dies. Thoughts of God’s warnings to Israel’s unfaithful watchmen in Ezekiel 3 haunt us as we tremble at the thought of their souls being our sole responsibility and their blood being on our hands if we give an insufficient warning. Preachers try to motivate us with sermons that leave us with the feeling that our friends and loved ones are teetering on the edge of hell and if we don’t rescue them then they will certainly fall into the fiery abyss. Here’s what we need to remember –
Every single person who has not believed is already condemned. Spiritual lostness is not about living people who have gotten off track. Spiritual lostness is the realm of existence for everyone outside of Christ – it is full, present condemnation. They are not heading toward condemnation as misguided people who need to eventually make a decision for Jesus; they are comprehensively dead people who must be brought to life from an outside source. That outside source is no less than God Himself who will awaken them to life so that they may move from condemnation to emancipation.
Why is this important? Well, for starters, I need to remember that God will give life to some through the hearing of His truth. The Holy Spirit brings dead intellects to life – minds that were dormant and darkened to spiritual truth can be made fully alive by God’s gracious work. This quickened mind will be able to comprehend the Gospel of Jesus Christ and those who will be saved will, in the moment of decision, desire Christ more than their sin and will humbly receive God’s unmerited provision of Jesus Christ. Therein is great motivation for evangelism because God will surely save some as we present the means by which they can be made alive. Salvation is wholly of God from beginning to end, yet He has entrusted the message of this salvation to those who are His children. Heaven will be populated with people who were blessed to understand and receive the message of Jesus Christ. They engaged their will to respond to God’s call to believe and said, “Yes, Lord” when He commanded them to obey the faith (Romans 1:5, 16:26). Every single sinner who responds in trust to God’s command to believe Jesus Christ will be made spiritually alive, receive absolute forgiveness and be granted oneness with God throughout eternity. No exceptions, no forfeitures, no loopholes – anyone who says “Yes, Lord” will be comprehensively forgiven.
My lack of skill in sharing the saving message of Jesus Christ cannot cause a sinner to be condemned. It is impossible to make it worse than death and darkness for them, their present reality because of their unbelief. I’m also relieved to recognize that their eternal souls’ destinies are not determined by anything other than God’s grace and their consequent faith. I certainly am accountable and privileged to share the Gospel with them, but I need never worry that my presentation is the deciding factor or final word concerning their salvation. If that were true then I would quit ministry today being unable to bear the weight of someone’s “heaven or hell” being placed upon my narrow spiritual-shoulders. I am free to pray for them, look for opportunities to tell them the truth and compel them to obey God by trusting Christ. The fact that salvation is a work of grace does not diminish my passion for bringing the clear word to them. For those who reject, there is no reality of them moving an inch closer to condemnation, they are already fully condemned by having not believed. Dead is dead and my personal witness merely allows for the opportunity for them to be brought to life. Compassion carries a breaking heart for them but sound reason allows me to believe that my witness will not return empty to me. God’s truth will accomplish His purpose for them. Because of this, I can exhale my fears, love sinners, share the Gospel, intercede for individuals and…leave the rest in the hands of God who loves them immeasurably more than I could ever fathom.
Are you free to share the Gospel? Do you understand that people must hear His truth if they will be saved? Can you welcome God to love people through you to the extent that He actively shares His saving message through your lips of clay? More to come on this train of thought later. Please add your own comment below if you wish.