|Q95 : Resisting the Truth|
I am witnessing to a co-worker right now who has also said “I am not ready right now.” This is a very difficult critical time for me and her. I have a responsibility here that is very scary. I would hate for something that I say keep her from accepting Christ and sending her to hell. Pray for us.
Her reasons are her past; she wants to be perfect after she gets saved; thinks she wants to go to hell because she doesn't deserve heaven. I have told her that it doesn't matter what she has done in the past. I have told her we are none good, no not one. Jesus is the only perfect one. Getting saved means putting your faith and trust in God to change you. Not of ourselves, but God.
I have told her that we all deserve hell but he made a way of escape through the shedding of the blood of Jesus Christ and that he is the only way to Heaven. I do not know what else to say. Do you have any suggestions?
|A95 : by Tony Garland |
Several things come to mind which prove helpful as you minister to your friend.
- It sounds like she still has some of the confusion shared by most who fail to understand the basic gospel message—that God’s dealing with her is primarily based upon her good or bad deeds (past, present, and future). As you know—and have plainly communicated—God’s dealing with us is founded on whether we trust in Christ and thus have obtained the righteousness of Christ on our behalf. The Great Divide is not based on our performance, but on our response of faith to the salvation offer of God. Only then will our acts enter the picture as a secondary aspect to determine degrees of punishment (unbelievers, Rev. 20:11-15) or reward (believers, 1Cor. 3:12-14). The Holy Spirit needs to open her eyes to the reality that the most heinous human act cannot separate us from the love of God and the most holy human act is as filthy rags in His sight. So our past performance—in the sense it pertains to salvation—is irrelevant. It sounds like you have laid this out pretty clearly.
- Perhaps it might be effective to share some of the examples of “great Biblical men of God” who committed very serious crimes yet attained eternal life? Examples which come to mind include Moses (murder, Ex. 2:12), David (adultery, murder, manslaughter, 2S. 11:4,15,17,24), and the Apostle Paul (accomplice to murder, Acts 8:1). The case of Paul is especially relevant as he was completely unrepentant until God met him on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:3-5). These men all went on to serve God in incredible ways and are now considered heroes of the faith.
- Salvation is a sovereign act of God. Although He uses our witness as part of the process, it is impossible for us to “make someone saved.” Our will simply is not what determines their spiritual condition and response to God’s Spirit. Notice especially what is taught in John 1:12-13 and what Jesus said in John 6:64-66. It is God’s election which ultimately determine’s a person’s personal destiny. The teaching that God ordains those whom He will to eternal life is an unpopular teaching in our day, but Scripture is full of this important truth. Passages which touch on this issue include: Ps 65:4; Eze 3:17; Mt 24:24; 24:31; Mr 13:20; Lu 18:7; Joh 1:13; 6:37,44,65; 13:18; 15:16,19; Joh 17:2-11,24; Ac 2:39; 13:48; Ro 1:7; 8:28-31,33; Ro 9:15-16,23; Ro 10:20; Ro 11:5,7; 1Co 1:2,9,21,26,30; Eph 1:4; Eph 4:1; Php 3:12; 1Th 1:4; 2Th 2:13; 1Ti 6:12; 2Ti 1:9; 2:10; Tit 1:1; Heb 9:15; 1Pe 1:2,10; 1Pe 2:9; 1Pe 5:13; 2Pe 1:3; Jude 1:1; Re 17:14.
The main point to notice here is that although we are responsible to be available and to speak the truth of God into each situation, we are not responsible for the spiritual results which are directly the sovereign work of the Holy Spirit. Thus, as Paul declared to the Ephesians, we can have a clear conscience so long as we have fairly and fully declared God’s truth in the situation:
Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God. (Acts 20:26-27)
This is critical to understand or else we will try to carry the burden of the individual salvation of all those we encounter and this crushing weight is overwhelming. It would be impossible for us to function or experience rest in Christ. Thus, we can neither force nor thwart God’s salvation and election. We are simply messengers. What a freeing truth that is!
I would also suggest that if your friend continues to resist the truth you are sharing that perhaps the reasons she gives are not the real reason—that they are the simplest excuse that can be given—even if she believes them to be true.
In that case, we are not called to frustration by continuing to “hit our heads against a cement wall.” Instead, after a fair presentation of the truth in the face of continued lack of response, we are to move on to other more productive ministry (Mark 6:11; Luke 9:5).
May God continue to use your compassion to help open the eyes of your friend. May He also help to set you free from personally carrying the burden of opening their eyes (John 12:37-40).