Not Our Job to Convert Anyone

The Question: In one of your articles you wrote that it isn't your job to 'convert' people.....that you share the gospel and it is up to the Holy Spirit to do the work....I thought I had bookmarked it.....but I can't find it. Will you email me a copy?

The Response: I often call upon Paul's words in his first letter to the Church at Corinth to point out that our job is to share the Gospel, not to bug people until they finally throw up their hands in frustration and shout, "All right, darn it! I believe. Now leave me alone."

We should explain to the lost that they indeed are lost and have no hope of any future that does not include the snap and crackle of eternal fire. Certainly, we should help them to understand that good works will not save them. There are many things we can share with the lost, but we absolutely cannot share our salvation with them. A good and persistent salesman can convince a person to make an emotional "decision for Christ," but that is nothing more than the flesh reacting to stimulation. An energetic preacher can induce people in his congregation to "come on down" to the altar rail and pray a sinner's prayer, but that again is the flesh reacting to stimulation. In any case, is not "going on down" and repeating a canned or coached prayer the same thing as the Catholic's baptism and semi-Pelagian works salvation?

Our Scriptures are liberally salted with references to God's having elected some to eternal life. There are no references, that I am aware of, to man having the power to elect anyone to eternal life, not even himself. We teach, we preach and we share the Gospel. We pray and we hope, but only God can grant the grace that results in saving faith. We can coach and urge and cajole, and we can listen as our "student" prays a canned prayer or, perhaps, hits the floor after being smacked in the forehead by a charismatic preacher or evangelist, but none of that can result in bringing a single soul to salvation unless God calls and grants the grace needed for regeneration and justification.

It is our fervent desire to see people saved. Perhaps, in our pride, we manage to convince ourselves that WE are able to bring a lost soul to salvation. We cannot do that. It is God's exclusive province, and when we seek to encroach upon it, I fear we may be in danger of committing the same sin as Lucifer: seeking to be like God. When a preacher or evangelist, or even people like thee and me, announces that he has "saved" a lost soul, he is boasting, or lying, and boasting is a prideful act.

We know from Scripture the importance of sharing the Good News with the lost. We also know from Scripture that hearing the Gospel message is no guarantee that anyone will be saved.

11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.
13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?
15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!
16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?
17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
-- Romans 10:11-17

This passage opens with a pair of insights: 1) salvation is by grace through faith; and 2) that no one was ever to be excluded from God's salvific plan—not even Gentiles. In verse 13 we are told that “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” This “calling on the name” refers not just to God the Father but also includes acknowledging Jesus Christ, whom He raised from the dead, as Lord.

The Apostle uses rhetorical questions in verses 14 and 15 to make clear that hearing the Gospel message always precedes saving faith. Saving faith is much more than a simple raising of the hand or recitation of a canned 'sinner's prayer' at the prompting of a preacher or evangelist. It is a gift from God and is the condition of those who hear and sincerely believe the Gospel.

In verse 16, Paul reminds those who received his letter of the prophetic words of Isaiah (53:1-5) concerning his description of the substitutionary death of Christ; concerning the Gospel message (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).

Though no man has the power, or the authority, to convert anyone, believers do have a vital role in the salvific process. We are to take the Gospel message to all nations, “teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you:” (Matthew 28:19-20)

I believe that it is enough that we do our part in God's plan by sharing the facts of the Gospel with others and leaving God to handle His part.

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