Titus 3:3 At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures.
Wow. Talk about a description of modern society! It’s important to note that Paul isn’t giving this description from a superior position, but rather as someone who has been there. That’s why he could write so beautifully and convincingly of the grace of God, as he does right after this: he knew he needed that grace as much as anyone. That’s a vitally important thing about grace: we have to know we need it in order to receive it. That actually is the sticking point for many people about becoming Christians: they don’t want to admit they are sinners. One advantage of prison ministry is that the prisoners don’t have to be told they are sinners, since the courts have already told them that. Interestingly, even in prison some people try to insist they aren’t as bad as the next guy. The problem with that is that any sin disqualifies us from fellowship with an absolutely pure and holy God. God had to send His Son as our Savior precisely because we were hopeless otherwise. It’s when we really grasp and accept that fact that we open up to receive the abundance of grace that God has provided for us, just as Paul writes in the following verses. Evangelism that just tries to entice with all the good stuff God has for us isn’t going to generate genuine disciples, however many people might be added to church rolls. However, trying to scare people into heaven doesn’t work very well either. We need to be up front about what people (including us) deserve, and then talk about what God has made available through faith in Christ. That way it is Good News indeed.
I am constantly being called back to this definition of the Gospel, precisely because evangelism is so difficult in Japan. It is a horrible mistake to try to take the convicting work of the Holy Spirit on myself, (John 16:8-11) but I must always speak the truth in love. (Ephesians 4:15) giving the Holy Spirit the ammunition He needs. I am not to decide on my own who is ready to make a commitment, but I must be sensitive to the Spirit to make the most of every opportunity. (Ephesians 5:16) I am to be a good example in all I say and do, but not project a holier-than-thou attitude at all. Like Paul, I’ve got to remember that I need the grace of God at least as much as anyone else.
Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for the lady who attended the service again yesterday, and for the various indications that You are working on her. Thank You for all You are doing in the man who has already said he wants to be baptized in the spring. Thank You for all the people You are drawing to Yourself that we don’t yet know about. Help us be effective harvest workers, inviting and drawing others into the grace that we ourselves have received, for the salvation of many and for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!