Years ago, I?d condemn myself when people failed to come to Christ when I shared the gospel with them.
I felt it was my persuasiveness or lack thereof that was the critical factor in whether people came to Christ. ?But the doctrine of God?s sovereignty and man?s willing choices liberated me. ?For example, Jesus said:
All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.
No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. (John 6:44)
Jesus wants us to invite everyone. ?To tell them Jesus will never cast out anyone who comes to him.
Yet we know that God must make them willing to choose him. ?When someone ?freely? chooses God, it?s because the Father has given them to Christ and the Father is working mysteriously in their hearts to cause them to desire to come to Jesus.
We have ?free? will in this sense – we?ll always freely choose only what we desire.
Before God works in our hearts, we have no desire for him. ?We only desire sin. ?So we will always freely choose sin and not God. ?Before God changes us we?re like people who only have a taste for garbage and no taste for good nutritious food. ?You can tell us all you like about the nutritional value of the good food, and how it will make us feel better and live longer, but we?ll never choose it because we have no taste for it.
So God must work in us before we?ll come to Jesus. ?God must make us willing to come. ?He must give us a taste for Jesus. ?And he does this in all those he has given to Jesus. ?One day we have no desire at all for Christ, the next we find ourselves drawn to him. ?I like the way the ESV Study Bible puts it in its note on Jn 6:37:
?Whoever comes to me I will never cast out implies that people should never think, ?Maybe I am not chosen by God, and therefore maybe Jesus will reject me when I come to him.? Jesus promises to receive everyone who comes to him and trusts him for salvation. Yet, a few verses later (v. 44) Jesus states the paradoxical and corresponding truth that once people come to Jesus, they will realize that behind their willing decision to come and believe lies the mysterious, invisible work of the Father who all along was drawing them to Christ.?
Knowing this should encourage us when we share Christ with others.
We invite them to come to Jesus, trust him to save them through the cross, and surrender their lives to him as Lord. ?Then we rest. ?We rest because God must make them willing. ?If they don?t believe right away we don?t condemn ourselves for our poor presentation. ?We do the best we can, but God must give them the desire to come.
So continue to invite people to come to Christ. ?Don?t concern yourself with whether they are elect or not. Invite them to come, and trust the Father to make them willing.