Have you ever tried sharing the gospel to a family or a friend, yet no matter what you say or what you do doesn’t affect them in the slightest? What should we do in response then? Should we give up and do nothing, or go into arguments and debates with them and prove that Christianity is logical and scientific? But does our knowledge of the bible and salvation shape our response in these scenarios? Let us consider two doctrines about salvation.
“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins”Ephesians 2:1
In Ephesians 2:1, Paul was describing the human condition before conversion. Notice that he uses the word “dead” he didn’t use sick, faint, or weak. But he tells us that we were absolutely dead spiritually. A dead person is utterly powerless to do anything of itself or for itself, and that was the case for us. Unable to recognise the glory of God in our lives even though it is so plainly obvious, indulging in sin and feel no guilt from it, that is what it is like to be dead in sin.
If that is the human condition, why and how are we saved? If we are totally incapable of choosing Jesus ourselves, as all of us are dead in sin, how do we explain our own salvation? Well, the bible gives us a straightforward answer: Salvation is through the work of the Holy Spirit working in us that we may be born again.
The necessity of the work of the Holy Spirit
Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”John 3:3
We find an illustration of the human condition and the work of the Holy Spirit in Ezekiel chapter 37. There Ezekiel was in a valley full of bones, and Ezekiel preached the word of the Lord to the dry bones, and through the power of the Holy Spirit, they were brought back to life again.
The Holy Spirit finds men as destitute of spiritual life as Ezekiel’s dry bones; We were like the bones spiritually, without any sign of life. And the Holy Spirit came and pieced our bones together, gave us tendons, flesh and skin but more importantly, it gave us the breath of life! And only through the work of the Spirit, we are “Born again” and able to see the kingdom of God.
So how does knowing this doctrine of total depravity and the work of the Holy Spirit imply? Does it give us an excuse to stop sharing the gospel with our friends and family? Surely not! If anything gives us hope to press on and continue to preach lovingly, recognising that if it is up to us, no one will be saved, but thankfully that is not the case, for God’s hand is never too short to save.
Yes, we may be discouraged when that family member or friend rejects the gospel, again and again; we may feel sad and impatient but may we never lose hope for our God is a sovereign God, and he delights in saving his lost sheep. Knowing this will bring us on our knees and pray for them, recognising that without the Spirit’s work, our works are in vain. But with the work of the Spirit, even the person that is most unlikely to believe will be able to worship him and sing praises to his name.