I have learnt over the years of ministry that one needs to try as hard as you can to win a soul. Lots of prayer, love, friendship, bridge building and discussion about Jesus and His claims are required. You persevere and persist because you don’t know how near or far that soul is from believing or rejecting. However, there must come a time when you reallocate your resources and energy to someone else, should the one you are working with stubbornly refuse to allow your efforts to proceed beyond hearing. I am not saying you stop praying or being friendly. I am saying your energy and labor needs to change to another soil that might be more fertile.
You see, when a land stops yielding a crop, there are many reasons. The farmer might have fertilized it, watered it, even added calcium or other additives … but even with this, that soil will not produce a worthwhile crop. Maybe the farmer needs to leave the land for a few years to see whether it will recover. Maybe what you have done with the person you have worked with can’t go any further. Maybe they stubbornly refuse the Gospel or you might need to prayerfully leave that soul and trust someone else will rise to work with it in the future. Paul reached the point with the Jewish Leaders in Rome where he says:
Ac 28:28 “Therefore I want you to know that God’s salvation has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will listen!”
Remember this is God’s inspired Word!
1) Time out. Paul had realized that he could go no further with the Jewish Leaders of Rome as a collective. Like with other Jews spread across the Gentile world and in Jerusalem itself, resistance to the Gospel was at fever pitch, even though adequate explanation, proving from the Scriptures they had that the Messianic Promise was fulfilled in Jesus Christ, whom they put to death (predicted by their Scriptures). I would believe Paul remained in prayer for these people, but unless they requested, his future Gospel efforts to them would cease. As mentioned above, we cannot waste precious time with those who stubbornly reject the Gospel Message. There are souls to be saved and we need to go and find them. Our labors need to be fruitful. Let me remind you that time is so precious because there is urgency. Few people, even many Christian who want to understand that death is imminent for all of us! True some live into their nineties and beyond. For some life is short … teenage or young adult. For others it is somewhere in between. Do you know how long you will live? Do you know how long other people will live? The answer is a definite “no”. When people continue to reject the Gospel we move on to other people who might respond positively.
2) God’s salvation. The term “salvation” as used here is the same concept used in Titus:
Tit 2:11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.
God’s salvation is Jesus Christ! The only way any person may be saved is through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. There is no other way. The apostles Peter and John said the same thing:
Ac 4:12 “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”
God does not have another salvation plan! It does not matter how nice and friendly people are from other religions and sects. It does not matter how seemingly easy and sensible their “salvation offer” might be. They are wrong and will lead people to damnation because unless their “salvation plan” is the gospel the Bible clearly teaches, faith in God’s Son’s substitutional sacrificial death and substitutional resurrection, there is no salvation! This is not harsh or cruel. This is what God says. This means that salvation is not automatic for the Jew! Just being born as a physical descendant of Abraham carried no value where it came to salvation through Jesus Christ! Faith in His death and resurrection leading to a transformed life is the only means of salvation for the Jew and everyone else.
3) The Gospel to the Gentiles.
Ac 28:28 “Therefore I want you to know that God’s salvation has been sent to the Gentiles.”
Remember the saying … “use it or lose it?” Use the Gospel or lose the Gospel! It is so desperately sad that so many in our western Churches listen to good Gospel Presentations regularly, yet they refuse to follow through … hearing to believing. This was the way the Jewish leaders in Rome responded to the Gospel message they heard. Those chosen in Abraham to be Gods special possession spurned His salvific plan. They heard Moses speaking in the Law of the coming Messiah. They heard the prophets speaking of the coming Messiah. They heard. They rejected. They followed the elders’ teachings. They were ritualists. They were legalists. They wanted a Messiah shape by their choosing. They did not want God’s Messiah. They showed their rejection by crucifying Him. This is exactly what happens when people reject the Gospel today. They crucify the very Gospel that would give them eternal life!
4) They will listen. Horror of horrors! Because the Jews don’t want God’s rescue plan, God says … God’s salvation has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will listen! The Jews would not take God to the Gentiles. This was God’s Word to Abraham in Genesis 12:3. Not only did they reject God’s will for the Gentiles, they rejected God’s Messiah for themselves, so moved by the Holy Spirit Paul announces God’s Gospel from then onwards will be taken to the Gentile Nations. This does not mean to say Jews cannot be saved. If they come to God through the Lord Jesus’ Blood sacrifice alone, in repentance and faith they shall be saved. But their rejection of the Gospel of God’s Messiah ended their position as the people of God.
Now, Abraham’s seed is all Jews and Gentiles who surrender to the Lordship of Jesus as God’s true Priest, Prophet and King. Now look at the last phrase … “they will listen”. The words “will listen” do not just mean to listen with the physical ear. It means to hear with understanding. The Gentiles will hear the Gospel. They shall understand the Gospel. They shall respond positively to the Gospel. Naturally not every Gentile will believe, yet Gentiles in their multitudes shall come into God’s Kingdom throughout every generation until the Lord Jesus returns in all His reigning glory to judge the living (those saved by grace through faith in Jesus) and the dead (those not covered in the Blood of Jesus). As humans we cannot fathom how the Holy Spirit works:
Jn 3:5 Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
The Spirit gives life as He enables hearing, understanding and believing the Gospel.
Dear God, thank You that You enable the hearing, understanding and believing. Graciously permit many to experience this in our life time as we prayer in Jesus’ name. Amen.