If we are going to be on mission with God, we must realize that there are 3 things that we are incapable of accomplishing in the salvation of sinners.
1. We cannot resurrect sinners from spiritual death.
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience…”
The opposite of being spiritually dead is being spiritually alive.
And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (John 17:3).
Eternal life is not a place. Eternal life is not assurance that you will go to heaven when you die. Eternal life is knowing God, having a relationship with him through Jesus.
How can we be made spiritually alive?
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ…For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:4, 5, 8, 9).
The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12-13).
The only one who can resurrect the spiritually dead is the Holy Spirit.
2. We cannot illuminate the eyes of the spiritually blind.
“They [the spiritually dead/blind] are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart” (Ephesians 4:18).
“The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor. 2:14).
“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day” (John 6:44).
“And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing. IN their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Cor. 4:3-4).
What can we do?
“For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake” (2 Cor. 4:5).
Only God can shine a light out of darkness.
“And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light” (Gen. 1:3).
“For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6).
3. We cannot liberate a captive will.
Before salvation, we are all slaves to sin.
“But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart” (Romans 6:17).
“For when you were laves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness” (Romans 6:20).
Our wills are not free. When God grants faith and makes us his children, we only change masters. We go from being sin’s captive to being a captive of Jesus Christ’s.
Repentance and faith are not within the unconverted heart of man. Repentance and faith are gifts of God.
These realities must influence our evangelistic efforts.
- They should bring us to a conscious awareness of our total dependence on God.
- They will prevent us from using any methods that have not been appointed by God.
- They will draw us to a prayerful use of God’s ordained means.
- They will prevent us from being filled with pride when our evangelism appears outwardly successful.
- They will prevent us from being overwhelmed with despair when our evangelism is not outwardly successful.
(All of the above comes from our notes taken during the Christ-Centered Evangelism Conference led by Mr. Ed Lacy.)
If salvation is all of God’s work, then what can (what MUST) we do?