John 6:44-45 “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me.”
This puts a different slant on evangelism. There are many things in the Bible we can’t sort out by human intellect, and the conflict between free will and the sovereignty of God is certainly one of them. If free will were not genuine, we would bear no responsibility for sin, because we would only be acting as we were programmed to do. However, if God were not sovereign, He wouldn’t be God. Just yesterday I watched a video of a child prodigy neatly proving from the laws of physics that there had to be a Creator, flatly refuting the arguments of Steven Hawking, among others. We are faced with having to trust that such a Creator is benevolent, but if He weren’t benevolent toward His creatures, why would He have created us in the first place? The Bible states in many places and in many ways that God wants “everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9) As Paul pointed out, “If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” (Romans 10:9-15) In other words, as Jesus said, no one can come to Him except the Father draw him, but we are to be instruments in that process, or it will never come to completion. We can save no one, but we are not to rest until all have had the opportunity to respond to the Father’s call.
This is my conflict in a nutshell. I have been called and sent to present the Gospel in Japan, the one nation on earth that has the absolutely lowest rate of return on time, resources, and personnel invested in evangelism. I cannot give up, because that would be denying the Lord who commissioned me, and besides, He has given me a love for the Japanese people that I believe mirrors His own, and I earnestly desire their salvation. Humanly speaking it borders on the impossible to apply myself fully and at the same time release everything into God’s hands. I feel I am constantly failing on one side or the other of that. My comfort lies in two things Paul wrote to the Philippians. “For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” (Philippians 2:13) “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6) I can’t do it – I don’t even know how – but God can be trusted, both with me and with the task He has assigned to me.
Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for telling me years ago to rest, relax, and rejoice in You. I struggle with that! Thank You for all that is on the schedule for the next week. Just thinking about it is overwhelming. Help me take it one step at a time, allowing You to work Your will in and through me in each detail, for the blessing of everyone involved and for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!