Without the Holy Spirit of God, and the conviction He provides man through the Word of God, conversion is unlikely. Consider the story of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16. The statement Abraham makes to the rich man, after he begged Abraham to send Lazarus back from the dead to his family, is very telling. "He answered, 'Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father's house, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.' Abraham replied, 'They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.' 'No, father Abraham,' he said, 'but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.' He said to him, 'If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.' (Luke 16:27-31)
What a story! Some of us might read this text and think of how sad it must’ve been for the rich man. However, Abraham does not leave him without hope. That’s right… there is hope beyond the grave for lost. They have no hope, but there is hope for their loved ones still on the earth. Abraham reminds the rich man that his relatives still have the Holy Scriptures. When we read passages like Romans 1:16, 10:14-17, we become aware of the fact that without the Word of God, there is no gospel. Read Psalm 119 and see all the benefits of the Word of God. It shows us the way! And, its Author must be commended (II Timothy 3:16-17).
There is no doubt that salvation depends upon faith in Christ and the steps taken to obtain salvation (read the conversions in Acts). We also know that righteousness is available only through Christ and judgment comes on those outside of Christ (read Ephesians). But how can people hear the gospel, or believe in the gospel, and avoid the judgment without the Word of God? God has revealed Himself to the entire world through His mighty works, but His word tells us what we need to do be saved!
Paul said, “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our report?” So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:14-17)
The first steps of faith are taken by those who have recognized that there is a Creator, that He has given us His Holy Word as a guide, and then started following what it says. The Holy Spirit has an active role in leading people to Christ through the Word of God. He may gently nudge us, as He did Cornelius (Acts 10), but He waits for us to examine the truth of the gospel before He invades our life. He will not enter a person until they become child of God (Acts 2:38-39). All these hopes and promises we have discussed over the past several weeks are absent unless we are baptized into the precious blood of Jesus Christ for the remission of our sins.
God wants you to examine His Word. He wants His Holy Spirit to refresh your soul. Will you allow God to work in you and through you? Read your Bible. Meditate on it and let God’s Spirit move you! Have a great week!
You are loved.
Dr. Ray Reynolds
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