Hebrews 4:2 – For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it.
I am a firm believer in the power of the gospel. As a matter of fact, I wholeheartedly agree with Paul when he wrote:
Romans 1:16 – For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.
Many times in a service, or in one to one evangelism we witness people “getting saved” and later find that their lives have not been changed at all. The reason I put “getting saved” in quotes, because after many years of watching altar calls and being a part of evangelism, I have to admit that I grew cynical to the process of what we term as witnessing.
I believe that I have been redeemed by the Blood of Jesus! And I believe that anyone can be redeemed. Yet and still, people pray “the sinner’s prayer” and continue on in life as if nothing happened.
I was so puzzled and troubled by this that I had to go to the Lord.
Hebrews 4 gives a powerful insight to this dilemma. When the gospel is preached (the power of the gospel to get people saved) is in the message. And there is nothing wrong with the message! Both Romans and Hebrews agree with the key to that happening, “faith has to be mixed with the gospel”. Plain and simple faith. It was true for the people in Word, it was true during the Reformation period, it was true, during the Great Awakening, it was true when I was born again, and it is still true for the millennias and generation Z.
When I was in high school, my English teacher had a quote on the wall that read, “A man convinced against his will, is of the same opinion still”. Benjamin Franklin is noted for having said this. I have never forgotten it. So when I share my faith in the Lord Jesus, I never ever try and convince people to believe. I want them to believe and I pray that they will believe, but I never try to make them believe. Because I can’t! When we try to “strong arm” people with the gospel, they will walk away from you still believing what they believed beforehand. As a matter fact, they now have another belief: a belief that Christians are pushy!
In a service, when the altar call is given and people come to altar it can be a really sad time or a time of rejoicing. If people come to the altar for salvation because they want to embrace the Savior, Jesus, then it is a time of rejoicing. The Word tells us that all of heaven rejoices when even one person come to the Savior. If they come because someone pulled on them, it can be sad, for they leave thinking that they are alright when they are actually not alright! Or they leave knowing that they didn’t believe what they prayed, they just wanted to get you off of their back!
The power for salvation is in the gospel. If people don’t believe it, they are not going to be any different afterwards because they heard the gospel but didn’t add faith in the mix. Therefore, they didn’t profit from the benefit of having heard it. However, when they believe the gospel is not only truth, but truth for them, they are born again of the Spirit of God. And their profit is great!
A wise man once told me, “I can’t be the Holy Spirit in people’s lives. Only He can! So I let Him!” And so as much as we want to see people saved from eternal damnation; as much as we want to see people live blessed lives, as much as we want to see people in heaven when we get there; we absolutely must allow the Holy Spirit to work on the hearts of those people and lead them to the Savior.
Paul wrote, “Some plant, some water, but God gets the increase!” We must realize that our responsibility in the ministry of reconciliation is to plant and water and to trust God with the increase! People need Jesus! And Jesus saves and desire that none should perish. So the Holy Spirit will help us in witnessing. Let’s just remember the part that we play and stop trying to convince people that they are saved because they prayed when faith was never involved in the mix. Wonderful Jesus!