Friday, March 19, 2010

One of the challenges in a PhD program is that I have to read books—a lot of them! Some are wonderfully devotional, others are quite tedious, and still others are just flat out skeptical. Yesterday I spent an hour at an In-n-Out with one of these skeptics. He had not written a book denying the miracles of Christ. But he was a young man who claimed he “once was saved” and was very involved in a local church and he “felt right with God” yet now he denies any sort of biblical inerrancy (historicity for that matter!). He claims that the miracles in the gospels were myth. Why didn’t Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, Paul and Peter all make up the miracles that Jesus did?, he claims. These couldn’t have really happened. Really?

I listened to his story and his critiques for about 30 minutes without saying a word. I kept reminding myself that I’m so glad inspiration is where God through His Spirit sovereignly bestows conviction into the heart and soul of the believer (cf. 1 Cor. 2:14-16). But after he finished explaining why he has left the faith, denies the existence of the biblical God, rejects the Bible and its credibility and historicity, and spoke about his once-present feelings that he had toward Christianity, I finally engaged him in dialogue.

I shared the gospel numerous times including hell, judgment, wrath, and eternal conscious torment. I beseeched him to read the Scriptures since he said he’s been reading lots of material by atheists and others who deny the Bible. I said, we can all read materials about the Bible but why don’t you actually read the Bible. I talked about archaeology, I talked about Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls, I talked about the Greek and Hebrew manuscripts that have been found and how they relate so closely (oftentimes) to what we have in our Bibles today. I talked about Church history and how many have died for this faith. I talked about how ludicrous it would have been for the apostles to fabricate the miracles of Jesus and then a few years later die for that faith they made up! I talked about Thomas who said he would not believe until he saw piercings in Jesus (John 20) and then how Jesus showed him his nail-pierced hands and side and then Thomas believed. Then Jesus, however, noted that blessed are those who believe who have not seen. This is faith. We are called to believe by faith. I pulled out the tools from my kit to share the gospel with this skeptical guy who is very opposed to the historicity of the Bible.

While I was speaking, however, I took great comfort in knowing that it is absolutely nothing that I say that is going to convince this guy to believe. Nothing! I cannot say the right words. I cannot give him the right argumentation. I cannot contrive enough ‘proofs.’ What I do know is that God, if He so sovereignly chooses, will illuminate this dark and dead soul to the light of the gospel and the glory of Jesus Christ. It is God who will transfer this skeptic from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light. It is God’s sovereign Spirit who will remove the hard-hearted and stubborn disbelief and replace it with a humble, believing conviction in God’s Word. I can’t do it. I just can’t. Nobody can.

At the end of the conversation, I asked to pray for the guy. I prayed the gospel. I prayed that God would save this man’s soul and give him eternal life and rescue him from the wrath to come in hell. I prayed that he would read the Bible and that God would open his eyes to the truth of God’s Word.

I am confident that God will do what He sovereignly wills. In sum, I shared the gospel as if everything depended upon me. Yet all the while, I reminded myself that I can do nothing (nothing, NOTHING!) to convert the guy. It is all, totally, always, absolutely, and fully God’s work. Period.


Anonymous said...

Geoff, you are absolutely correct son. You can (and I am sure did) make the case with conviction, clarity and concern but regeneration is all God's work. Excellent reminder.



Subscribe to RSS Feed Follow me on Twitter!