A Gift from God that breeds a love for the lost
10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. 12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. 13 Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: 14 Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: 15 Their feet are swift to shed blood: 16 Destruction and misery are in their ways: 17 And the way of peace have they not known: 18 There is no fear of God before their eyes. 19 Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Rom 3:10-19 (quoting O.T. Psalms)
2 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; 2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: 3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) 6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: 7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. Eph 2:1-10
There is a fundamental misunderstanding in many churches today as to the condition of lost men and women. Many churches believe lost men and woman are basically good and just need a little encouragement to come to Jesus. They believe if we give these men and women the right setting, the right encouraging (positive) message, the right emotion stirring music, we avoid making them feel bad about things they have done, and just when we get them emotionally ready we pop the question to them to come forward to the altar, or raise their hand, or pray the sinners prayer, they will be saved. This outlook makes it seem like there is something ultimately good within man that desires to have God in their life and if the pastor is a good enough public speaker who tailors a perfect message to get the right response they will be saved. This could not be further from the truth that is presented to us in scripture. This view has two main problems I will briefly discuss here. First it robs God of the glory of what He does for the lost sinner. Secondly it can breed a looking down on, or arrogance against, the lost sinner.
Although I could have chosen many, many scriptures to present here to show what the bible really says, I only picked two. When you look at these scriptures together you see a very different picture of the condition of man that is presented in the bible. In the garden Adam was told that if he ate from the tree he would surely die. This was a physical threat of death BUT it was also a spiritual threat of death as well. In committing sin Adam spiritually died and experienced an alienation from God. After this the bible tells us that Adam bore a man in his own image and likeness, Seth. Although there is still some semblance of the image of God left in man it has been horribly marred by sin and so now we bear the image of Adam (1 cor 15:49). The verses I chose, Romans 3:10-19 and Ephesians 2:1-10, explain what this image looks like. All men are born fallen, none seek out God on their own, they are born dead and under the headship of Satan, they speak evil of each other and of God, their ways are full of destruction and misery, they do not fear God and especially do not love God. Paul says in Ephesians 2:3 that ALL of the Christians who have been saved were previously the same as these depraved people. There is no man born holy and righteous. I, as a parent of 4 children, recognize this fact. Although my children were born under the grace of a Christian household they were definitely born sinners. I did not have to teach my children how to throw tantrums, be sneaky, selfish, etc but instead had to teach them that these things were not good before God and that it was in their fallen nature to desire to do these things. This is why God gave us the law, to show us what sin is and how we are all guilty before God and in need of saving (Rom 3:19), and praise God He gave us a way to be saved!
Some people do not view this subject as being a “big deal”. They say that the way we came to salvation is a “secondary issue”. This way of thinking robs God of the glory of what He did for His people. In Ephesians 2:4-10 Paul shows what God has really done. He loved us, even in the wicked and rebellious state we were in (being spiritually dead and unable to save ourselves), so much that He quickened us together with Christ. That word “quickened” literally means that He resurrected us from being spiritually dead and made us alive. When the bible says we were spiritually dead it is saying that like a physically dead person can not do anything physically on his own, we as spiritually dead people could do nothing for ourselves spiritually (reread Romans 3:10-19 now with this way of thinking). This is why the gospel is so glorious. God has done it all for His people from beginning to end. The very capacity for us to believe in His Son came from God raising us from our spiritual grave and making us able to believe. This is why Paul says in Eph 2:8 that even the faith is not of ourselves but is a gift from God!
This subject is also important in breeding a love for the lost within churches. When you think that you saved yourself, because you intellectually came to a conclusion to believe in Jesus on your own, it can breed arrogance against the lost. You can begin to look down on them and think, “I figured this out how can they be so dumb?”. This is not what the gospel should breed in us. We should look in thanks to God for His saving grace and realize that if it was not for God (and God alone) we would be lost too. It should create a desire in us to want to bring this Gospel to others in the hope that God will use the preached word to bring others to salvation as well! These is nothing greater than to see God work salvation in a lost sinners life. To watch people pass from death to life and see God begin to also work sanctification in someones life is amazing! This is a far greater act then healing the sick, curing diseases, or any other miracle that is physical. This miracle of God leads to something far better than physical restoration, it leads to spiritual restoration and a right standing with God in Christ!
Questions for reflection-
How do you view your salvation? Do you view it as solely an act of God, a gift from Him?
What is your view of the lost? Do you sometimes look down on those who are unsaved as if you just figured it out better than them? If so how can you change this view?
What do you do in your life to see people come to a knowledge of the truth?