A Fourth Means

Finally, God not only attempts to draw people through creation, conscience and calamity, but also through the calling of the gospel. As His servants obey Him and proclaim the good news, the same message of creation, conscience and calamity is reaffirmed once again: Repent!

You can see that what we do in evangelization in comparison to what God does is of no comparison. He is continually evangelizing every person every moment of every day of his or her life, whereas even the greatest human evangelists might speak to a few hundred thousand people over the process of decades. And those evangelists generally preach to any given group of people only once for just a short period of time. In fact, that single opportunity is all such evangelists are really permitted to offer people in light of Jesus’ command to wipe the dust from their feet whenever a city, village or house does not receive them (see Matt. 10:14). All of this is to say that when we compare God’s never ceasing, universal, dramatic, inwardly-convicting evangelism with our very limited evangelism, there is really no comparison.

This perspective helps us to understand better our responsibility in evangelization and in building God’s kingdom. However, before we consider our role more specifically, there is one other important factor that we must not overlook.

As stated previously, repenting and believing are things people do with their hearts. God desires that everyone humble himself, soften his heart, repent and believe in the Lord Jesus. Toward that end, God continually works on people’s hearts in the numerous ways just described.

God also knows of course, the condition of every person’s heart. He knows whose hearts are softening and whose are hardening. He knows who is listening to His never-ceasing messages and who is ignoring them. He knows whose hearts are such that a certain calamity in their life will cause them to open their hearts and repent. He knows whose hearts are so hard that there is no hope of their repentance. (He told Jeremiah three times, for example, not even to pray for Israel because their hearts were beyond repentance; see Jer. 7:16; 11:14; 14:11.)[1] He knows whose hearts are softening to the point that just a little more conviction by His Spirit will result in their repenting.

Keeping all of this in mind, what can we learn about the churches’ responsibility to proclaim the gospel and build God’s kingdom?

[1] Beyond this, Scripture teaches that God may even actively further harden the hearts of those who continually harden their hearts against Him (like Pharaoh). It would seem unlikely that there is any hope of such people repenting.