Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
October 14, 1954

The Holy Spirit And His Work

Ernest A. Finley, Carlsbad, New Mexico .

Jesus said, "No man can come to me, except the Father that sent me draw him; and I will raise him up at the last day." (John 6:44.) There is a failing that characterizes many who quote this passage of scripture which asserts the necessity of being drawn to Christ. That failing is their practice of ignoring the next verse. The very next verse tells us exactly how the Heavenly Father draws sinners to his Son. "It is written in the prophets, And they shall all be taught of God. Every one that hath heard from the Father, and hath learned cometh unto me." (John 6:46.) True, then, we are to be drawn to Christ. We cannot come to him without being drawn. But we are drawn to him by being "taught of God," hearing from the Father and learning from Him. The process is most simple. It is: teaching, hearing, and learning.

Religious teachers of our day are doing the alien sinner a grave injustice in telling him that he must wait for some direct power to come from God to overwhelm him and save him. Souls are being lost because they have been convinced that when God gets ready to save them some irresistible influence or overwhelming power will lay hold on them and compel them to turn to God, make them turn away from sin, and make them live a life of righteousness. But that is not the way God works in saving men. Salvation is not a matter of being predestined unto eternal life, specially selected by God, and then being swept off one's feet. God does not give any opportunity to one individual to be saved that He does not give to every other individual. God is not just "touching" a few telling them that they are among the chosen; on the contrary, His invitation is extended to all men. There is not a single person in the entire world whose salvation God does not desire. His invitation to salvation is just as assuredly extended to one person as it is to another — from the most moral person on the earth to the vilest that lives. It is not a question of waiting till God gets ready to save you — he is ready now. "Now is the accepted time" ... "today is the day of salvation."

Every sinner who lives on earth has an invitation to come to God for the salvation made possible through Christ. "Come now, and let us reason together, saith Jehovah: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." Isa. 1:18.) Notice this, my friend, God did not say, "Come now and let us agonize together." Neither did he say, "Come now, let us shout and scream and jump and roll on the floor." God said, "Come now, and let us reason together." Serving God is a reasonable thing. Seeking God's pardon does not involve an irrational, hysterical display of shouting, crying, and moaning. These things are not only ridiculous but they are utterly unnecessary. God's plan for man's salvation is as far from such conduct as daylight is from dark.

God saves man through the medium of the gospel. The gospel is God's saving power. Paul wrote, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel; for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek." (Rom.1:16.) In order for this gospel to save a lost soul, that soul must learn the truth. God accomplishes this by preaching or teaching, "For seeing that in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom knew not God, it was God's good pleasure through the foolishness of the preaching to save them that believe." (1 Cor. 1:21.) In the Roman epistle Paul shows that salvation is not brought about until the truth is taught to the individual. "Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? and how shall they preach, except they be sent? even as it is written, how beautiful are the feet of them that bring glad tidings of good things." (Rom. 10:13-15.) Through Paul, God ties salvation and the preaching of the gospel inseparably together.

On the day of Pentecost, the first after the resurrection of our Lord, many people called upon the name of the Lord for salvation. But notice that it was the teaching or preaching of the gospel which caused them to do this. The record says, "Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their hearts." (Acts 2:37.) When they heard what ? When they heard "this." This what? The things that Peter had said! They heard his gospel message. They heard the truth. They heard him as he accused them of being murderers of God's only Son. It was what they heard that caused them to be pricked in their hearts. It was what they heard that cut into their souls. The divine record does not say "when they FELT the irresistible influence of God or of His Spirit," but rather it declares, "when they heard" Peter's message, they were pricked in their hearts. There is not the slightest implication that there was any direct work of the Holy Spirit involved in their conversion. The preaching of the gospel was the thing that led them to call upon the name of the Lord.

Does this leave the influence of the Spirit out of the alien sinner's conversion? Most certainly not. The Spirit influences us through the word of the Gospel. Stephen, the first Christian martyr, accused his hearers of resisting the Holy Spirit. But what had they done? They had simply refused to believe the gospel message. Stephen said, "Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do ye." (Acts 7:51.)

God does not want one soul to be lost. Not one! He does not desire that any should perish in hell. "The Lord is not slack concerning his promises, as some count slackness; but is longsuffering to you-ward, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." (2 Peter 3:9.)

Thus, one must be drawn to Christ. But no one would know the way to follow in coming to Christ had not God pointed the way. If the Holy Spirit had not inspired men and "guided them into all the truth" (John 14:26), a sinner could never know or learn the way to heaven.