The following was written in response to something I heard on “Christian radio” this morning that really troubled me. It is written for the benefit of Christians. I hope it helps somebody.
Every human being who is saved—who is a believer in Christ, regenerated/born again, made a new creation in Christ, eternally saved from the holy wrath of a just God—is a miracle! Absolutely no one is saved because they chose to be saved. No sinner chooses to be saved, because no sinner WANTS to be saved! “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one” (Romans 3:10-12).
And no non-Christian can blame his/her lostness on someone else, saying “I would be a Christian if it weren’t for (fill-in-the-blank).” Mohandas Gandhi famously said, “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” And, supposedly—or so the story goes—Gandhi rejected Christianity because of the behavior and attitude of Christians. In other words, it was Christians who kept Gandhi away from Christianity.
Modern Evangelicalism, in large part, is responsible for this mischaracterization of salvation. It has created a God who is weak, who can only save if given permission, and can only reach sinners if flawed, fallible and sinful Christians don’t get in the way. (Liberal, apostate “Christianity,” on the other hand, doesn’t believe there is any need for salvation, having eliminated any concepts of God’s wrath, Judgment or hell.)
But this idea of a God who unable to save unless given permission—and, then, only if people don’t get in His way—is totally wrong. If you are not a Christian—if you are not a follower of Christ, if you are lost—it is because you are a sinner, because your sins have separated you from God, and in your heart you are in a state of rebellion against the Holy One. “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear; but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear” (Isaiah 59:1-2). And people don’t come to Christ because, in their lostness, they are blinded by the devil. “If our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world [i.e., the devil] 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 Corinthians 4:3-4).
My point: Stop lying on God, and stop lying to people! Stop making God impotent and making human “free” will omnipotent. “Let God be true though every one were a liar” (Romans 3:4). In other words, stop listening to lost people (Gandhi and others), and start listening to God (if lost people really knew so much and had so much insight, they wouldn’t be lost!).
Salvation is a miracle, only made possible by the supernatural intervention of God. Human are powerless to save themselves or others. Therefore being raised in church won’t make anyone a Christian. Being raised in a Christian home will not guarantee that one will be a Christian. Taking your kids out of public school and putting them in Christian schools (or homeschooling them) won’t guarantee they’ll grow up to be Christians. Using certain evangelistic techniques won’t save anyone (nor will failing to use the right technique cause anyone to remain lost). None of us can raise the dead or give sight to the blind, and that’s exactly the state of every unbeliever—spiritually dead and blind. We need God! He must raise the spiritually dead to life, He must give sight to the spiritually blind. “Salvation belongs to the Lord!” (Jonah 2:9). If people are to be saved, God must save them.
When we truly believe this—believe what the Bible says about the lost—it will change how we pray, how we preach, how we share the gospel, how we evangelize. If people are to be saved, GOD must do it. But, because God is truly omnipotent, everyone He intends to save WILL be saved! As I heard one preacher say: “If God goes out for you, He’s coming back with you!” So, Christian, let’s pray for specific people, that God will save them. And, as God gives opportunity, let’s share the gospel—the good news about Christ Jesus—knowing that the gospel “is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16). The gospel has power because GOD has power.