The Power of the Gospel
“Faith is the result of hearing the teachings of Christ (the gospel)." This understanding is not just of an intellectual nature. Human wisdom serves its purpose in the secular realm, but it is static and to no effect in bringing eternal life. If Christ is life, then His Word is alive, and it exercises its power to compel one to believe in it." In I Thessalonians 1:4 and 5 Paul wrote, "We know God has chosen you, because we did not simply bring you the gospel in words only, but it was presented in its inherent dynamic power and the power of the Holy Spirit..." "Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the Holy Spirit as the result of obeying the Law and doing its works, or was it by hearing the message of the gospel and believing it?" "For the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power making it active, operative, energizing, and effective; it is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating to the dividing line of the breath of life (soul) and the immortal spirit, and of joints and marrow of the deepest parts of our nature, exposing and sifting and analyzing and judging the very thoughts and purposes of the heart."
We read in Romans 1:16 and 17, "I count it to my highest honor and glory to proclaim the gospel...for it (the gospel) is the dynamic, self-reproducing power of God that leads to salvation for everyone who believes. Within the gospel, the righteousness of God is revealed to those with faith." The Word of God is so powerful, it is able to bring eternal life to we who were born spiritually dead. Jesus said, "And if and when I am lifted up on the cross, I will draw all men unto myself."
Conviction by the Spirit
God draws man to Christ the Savior by exposing the existence of their sins through the gospel. But some of us were very stubborn in answering His call. On that glorious day, we will be very surprised to find how many times He visited us only to go virtually unnoticed. He may have sent us an obvious message, and we simply didn’t care. Maybe we ignored His voice and hoped He’d go away, because we didn’t want the burden of a conscience. Or maybe He was too intense for us to deal with that day. We should stop right now and praise Him that He has been so patient with us. Even after the Holy Spirit first calls upon our hearts, each of us have different points at which the light bulb over our heads finally goes on.
On the contrary, biblical evidence shows that those of the young church converts responded immediately to their conviction. “After hearing Peter’s gospel, the hearts of the Jews were utterly and immediately pierced…and they repented and were baptized." Elsewhere we read, “While Peter yet spoke to them, the Holy Spirit fell on all those who heard his words, and the Jewish believers were amazed the Spirit had been poured out upon the Gentiles also." The Holy Spirit was working mightily and urgently then, because the foundation of the Christian movement was being laid. Two thousand years later, will we find a much different picture? Jesus said, "Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He find any faith on the earth?" But thanks to our almighty God, just before Christ's return, God will send one final outpouring of His Spirit that will far surpass the times of the book of Acts.
When we respond to God's conviction, we become humbled because all of our hidden inadequacies are made known. We are not shamed because we fell short of society's standards and expectations of what is good and right. Rather, we see sin for what it is and the effect it has on the Godhead that loves us beyond our understanding. Tears of remorse are especially powerful, because we are overwhelmed by the full cognition of God’s Spirit. In our distant, jaded existence, we cannot help but be jolted by the contrast of the beauty of pure Truth.
God allows believers to be tested in hopes to purify them and make them spiritually acceptable to be Christ’s brethren. But God's Spirit also works behind the scenes in the lives of those who are not yet saved, in order to draw them to Himself. He may do this in any way He chooses. He may intervene in human affairs to cause some to re-evaluate their moral destinies. For some, He may see the need for a near death experience or the passing on of a loved one. Another individual may need a life-affirming epiphany at a crucial moment. God may even use others to cause some to reconsider their behavior. For example, they may admire those who live healthy, clean, benevolent lives or disapprove of those who break the law or take advantage of others. Any attempt by God to teach us can be considered a revelation. But like all true divine intervention, it must point to the cross.
I believe when God ordains these experiences for someone, it leads up to the hearing of the gospel. Then, God's previous attempts at winning their hearts comes into sharp focus. They can then recognize that all those seemingly random events were actually His carefully choreographed mercy. Of course, this is not to say that one cannot come to Jesus simply by hearing the Word.
Till next time, God bless you!