Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 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 as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. (Ephesians 1:3-6)
Am I helpless to contribute anything to God’s plan of salvation? What am I to make of His command that I go and share the good news when it is only effective based on His calling, His grace and His choosing? I cannot cajole, coerce or connive anyone into Heaven. Am I nonetheless a genuine contributor in His plan? He is the one who sends me. He commanded me to make disciples “of all nations.” Some will even ask, “In light of His choosing, why would he instruct us in this way?”
It is true, we don’t know who will and will not be saved, but God has condescended to use us in the process. We are told build up our children in the fear and admonition of the Lord (Deuteronomy 6:6-7; Proverbs 22:6). We are told to go out (Psalms 96:3; Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:15; John 20:19-23). We are told to make disciples. We are told to pray. We are instructed in how to love (the believer and the unbeliever). We are called the fragrance of life to some and the fragrance of death to others (2Corinthians 2:14-17). We are to participate in the work of God at every level of our being (Galatians 2:20-21; 1Corinthians 9:12). As He is in us and we in Him, we take on the burden that He has (John 3:16). Our participation – our witness – is effective, or He would not have said so.
I meet people all the time who point to a person in their lives who bore the marks of having been with Jesus – marks which led them to Him. My wife and I were the recipients of the fervent prayer of a young nanny who served a family in our cul-de-sac and poured out her heart in prayer for our souls.
God means to instruct us in what to do, to minster to and through us, and to reap His harvest. As imperfect as it is (and it is), the church is the one and only Incarnational Kingdom community in this world. So I am not taking responsibility for the souls that God will win… rather I am recognizing my part in God’s master plan. That is how I am sent with the Gospel, plain and simple. It starts in our homes and it extends throughout our relationships. If I did not believe this, I might become fatalistic and miss out on participating in God’s humble glory.
In the blog Magnet, I wrote of the number of people who would be saved if each Christian built one relationship per year with an unbeliever who then responded to God’s calling. I certainly wasn’t suggesting that as a methodology (I don’t like such things), if that is how it was read. I was merely pointing out that God is gathering his people and a small impact of one person per year has an unbelievable multiplying effect – it was hypothetical and illustrative. But I would not hesitate to encourage people in that regard.
And the Gospel is God revealed in Jesus Christ – all of Him; His life, death, resurrection and glory. In Jesus we see the passion, the self-sacrificing love and the righteousness of the humble, living Creator of the Universe. This merciful God loves His Creation and calls us to be in an eternal union with Him.
“…if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.” (Romans 10:9-10)