How much chance do you suppose you have of convincing other people of the truth of the Gospel?
I’ve spent the largest portion of my life as a Christian thinking that if I could just find the right way to present the Gospel, I could convince people to be Christians. Unfortunately, I wasted a lot of time with that thinking.
What does the Bible say about our ability to understand or accept the Gospel in our natural state, before we are converted? 1 Corinthians 2:14 says:
“But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”
The words translated as “natural man” literally mean fleshly man. Paul consistently uses the term “flesh” to refer to our sinful nature, or in this case, our state before we are converted.
So this verse is saying plainly that an un-converted man, a non-Christian, does not and cannot receive or “know” the things of the Spirit of God.
What’s more, the part that says, “neither can he know them” literally says he does not have power to know.
Many of you may have heard preachers talk about the word we get our word “dynamite” from. The word “dunamis” literally means “power.” It is a form of that same word that is used here: “neither can he know them”; the word for “can” is “dunamai.”
The natural man does not have the power to even be able to accept, or understand, and know the things of God.
Now if you meditate on this truth, it should lead you to ask a logical question. If, when I was in my natural state, I didn’t even have the power to accept the things of God, then how did I respond to the Gospel with repentance and faith, when I heard it preached?
Ephesians 2:8 answers that question when it says:
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:”
So, once you recognize that it was impossible for you to respond to the Gospel unless God gave you the power to respond, which is the Faith – that is a gift of God to all who are being saved – you can truly appreciate the fact that there is no room for boasting. You didn’t respond to the Gospel because you were so smart, or because you were more holy than anyone else. You responded to the Gospel because God gave you the gift of Faith.
So back to my first question, How much chance do you have of convincing someone else of the Gospel? The biblical answer is zero. Only God can open a man’s eyes to the truth, and give him the faith to respond.
However, that being said, it is still God’s way of doing things to convert men when they hear someone proclaim the Truth.
So what is the point in making the distinction? Well, I’m glad you asked.
The point is that if you are relying on your ability to convince people of the truth, you will be often frustrated when you see no good results. On the other hand, if you understand that there is zero chance of anyone responding to your proclamation of the Gospel unless God moves their heart, you will find incredible peace and even fearlessness about sharing the truth with the lost. If the lost do not respond, then they are only doing what it is their nature to do. If someone does respond, then only God can get the credit for drawing them.
So stop wasting your time trying to figure out how to win an argument, or debate an atheist. Instead pray that God will move in men’s hearts, and proclaim the Gospel without fear: loud and clear.