There is one revelation I have become more convinced of than ever, and it is that we cannot logically convince someone to become a Christian. I know this may sound strange or even heretical to some people but please hear me out. True evangelism is not an earthly technique, but a spiritual reaction brought about by a supernatural convergence of man and God.
First of all, I grant that the scriptures says that the Apostle Paul “reasoned” with the Jews in the synagogues, “Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, / explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, ‘This Jesus whom I preach to you is the Christ’” (Acts 17:2-3 NKJV). The word “reason” means to raise ideas for consideration that may be objectionable. A synonymous word here is convince. Preaching is a term depicting speech in a convincing manner—to confidently proclaim.
When we preach Jesus to those in the world, we are reasoning with them. We are presenting the truth of the Gospel in a convincing manner to some who will believe and to others who will not. The Holy Spirit supernaturally convinces them instead of our logically convincing them.
There are three basic responses to this type of reasoning according to Paul’s teaching. He said the Gospel is foolishness to the Greeks (intellectuals), to the Jews (religious people) it is a stumbling block, but to those who are called (those who believe) it is “Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” (see 1 Corinthians 1:23-24 NKJV).
The intellectual in his mind thinks it foolish that a person’s lot in life could be improved by Jesus who was crucified and resurrected; he thinks educational enlightenment is the answer. The religious person stumbles over the teaching that man can become righteous before a Holy God by faith in the crucified and resurrected Jesus, because he believes his good conduct will gain him favor with God and earn him the reward of eternal life. Those who hear the message of Christ and have that spiritual “aha” revelation of the truth enter into the way of life and cross the threshold of salvation in Christ.
The scripture says, “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. / For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:9-10). The belief in the heart is that spiritual revelation of Jesus’ death and resurrection that brings salvation. It is that spiritual “aha” revelation. This is not mental assent to truth but a spiritual revelation of the truth. A verbal confession without the “believe in your heart” part is only empty words that results in faulty assurance and sinners without a new spiritual birth certificate.
In Romans 10:17 (NKJV), it says, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” This scripture describes the breath of God blowing on the dormant seed of faith in a man’s heart causing that seed to supernaturally germinate to life. It is a parallel to the natural seed where moisture and warmth causes the dormant seed to germinate into a living plant. In this spiritual delivery room, a sinner is born anew into a covenant relationship with God through Jesus.
Too often some think we can use a sales technique to “win” people to Jesus. Or we think, that “our” power of persuasion is enough to convince someone to follow Jesus. These are all evangelism techniques in the power of man which produces false confessions that add to the earthly roll but not to the Heavenly number. Only the Holy Spirit can convict (convince) someone of their sin and of the reality of the crucified and resurrected Savior, Jesus Christ.
Yes, we intercede for those who need Christ. Yes, we witness to the grace of God, the lostness of man, and the power of God to save. Yes, we preach the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. And yes, we preach convincingly of the truth we hold. In all these things, we obediently and passionately do our part, but we cannot save the sinner.
It is in the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit, in that mysterious place of the spirit of man; where new spiritual birth takes place. God does His work in that spiritual domain in the life of a person where we are not allowed to tread. We till the ground and sow, but it is God’s seed and it is in the unseen and untouched place where the seed is germinated to life.
Harry L. Whitt