A common mistake that Christians make is to suppose that someone, by your apologetic or by your well-reasoned answer, can be talked into the Kingdom of God. The motivation might be sincere but the consequences are often devastating. No matter how eloquent you may or may not be, you can’t change anyone else’s heart. Only the Holy Spirit can do that. Thus, while it’s 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, it is ultimately God who changes the heart.
The problem is not that people cannot believe – it’s that they will not believe. In other words, it is often not a matter of the mind. It is a matter of the will. As Jesus Christ explained, “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 light and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.” This is Jesus talking.
The Christian faith is reasonable, but as Jesus Christ made clear, reason alone will not compel a person to embrace our Lord. I’m utterly convinced that if we’re prepared to give an answer God will bring into our paths those whose hearts He has prepared, so it’s our responsibility to prepare ourselves to be the most effective tools in the hands of almighty God. That’s what we’re doing – preparing. We’re getting ready to give an answer. Then pray that the Holy Spirit will use our answer as the means through which He transforms a life for time and for eternity.
Often in our thrill-oriented society, we’re looking for the next experience. You want a real experience as a Christian? Try learning how to give a defense of the faith and then see God use your well-reasoned answer as a springboard or an opportunity to communicate the Gospel and see a son or daughter of Adam come into the Kingdom. Let me tell you, there is no more wonderful experience than that. You will be exhilarated. What you thought was a duty will become a delight.
All too often the Christian church has missed the experience because they’re looking for experience in all the wrong places. They go to Pensacola or to Toronto or now to Lakeland, Florida, and I hear about barking in the Spirit or laughing in the Spirit or the gold dust revival. God is etching crosses on gold teeth today, and people buy into it and wait in line for it and they get all jazzed up and all worked up, and a week later they are more depressed than ever before because they bought into something that over-promised and under-performed.
But if you get back to basics and get into the Word of God and get the Word of God into you – now that takes some work, there is a reward. There’s a real payoff. It will enhance your witnessing, your prayer life, your counseling, your relationship with mother and father, with husband and wife, with siblings and with friends.
Try it sometime. Try becoming an equipped Christian. Your life will be revolutionized, a foretaste of what will happen when you cross the veil into eternity and meet the person that God brought into your path, and you were able to share the Gospel or provide it for ministries like this that did so, and realize that you had a part in that process, and then hear Jesus say this to you: “Well done, good and faithful servant.”