A common mistake Christians make derives from the notion that someone can be talked into the kingdom of God. While the motivation may be sincere, the consequences are often devastating.
First, no matter how eloquent you may or may not be, you cannot change anyone else’s heart— only the Holy Spirit can do that. Thus while it is your responsibility to “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” (1 Peter 3:15–16), it is God who changes the heart.
Furthermore, the problem is not that people cannot believe, it is that they will not believe. In other words, it is often not a matter of the mind but a matter of the will. To wit, the maxim: “A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.” As Jesus Christ declared, “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed” (John 3:19–20). The Christian faith is reasonable, but reason alone will not compel a person to embrace Christ.
Finally, I am utterly convinced that if we are “prepared to give an answer,” God will bring into our paths those whose hearts he has prepared. Thus, it is our responsibility to prepare ourselves to be the most effective tools in the hands of Almighty God.
For further study, see William Lane Craig, Reasonable Faith (Crossway Books, 1994), chapter one.
“But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord.
Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who
asks you to give the reason for the hope
that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,
keeping a clear conscience, so that those
who speak maliciously against your good behavior in
Christ may be ashamed of their slander.”
1 Peter 3:15–16