Acts 13:48-49 says, "48And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed. 49And the word of the Lord was spreading throughout the whole region."
This last Saturday I went with my family to the "3 i Show." It's a big exhibition where companies, mostly in agriculture, show off their products. My father-in-law is a farmer, so he wanted to check it out. I'm not sure what all of the "3 I's" are but I think one is implement and maybe another is irrigation. Regardless, there were all kinds of farm equipment such as tractors, combines, you name it. But this show has evolved and they have lots of other things like car dealers, as well as entertainment and things like that. It was kind of neat to look at all the incredibly large machinery (like the $300,000 combines). But God blessed me with an opportunity at the "3 i show" that was better than just looking at monstrous contraptions.
My wife and I were looking at cars that were at the show. They had Toyota, Chevy, and Mazda and maybe a few others. We were just kind of checking it all out for fun and eventually we came to the Mazda tent. A young and eager salesman greeted me and wanted to show me all the cars they had and see what he might help me with. He seemed like a nice guy, making the usual small talk that sales people do when they are trying to sell you a car. Eventually he asked me what I do for a living, and I told him I was a pastor.
Seeing how just dropping the word "pastor" tends to change the subject a bit for many people anyway, I decided to ask him if he was "a follower of the Lord Jesus." His response was "yes." He told me how he had been into drugs and some other problems, but now his life was much better because of Jesus.
I thought to myself "that sounds great" and I was tempted to leave it at that, but I felt the need to press him a little further. I asked him a question that I often use when sharing Christ, even though the question is a little silly because I don't think it will go down quite like this on judgement day, but it makes the point. I asked him, "If God were to ask you why he should let you into Heaven when you die, what would you say?" His response was that he would tell God that he is "a great person." I became very glad I decided to press him further.
I took this young man through just 3 of the 10 commandments. I said that God says you shall not lie and I asked him if he had broken that commandment. He said that he had (I admitted that I had also) and I asked him what that made him. He admitted that it made him a liar. I did the same thing with "Honor your father and mother" and "You shall not steal" and he admitted (as did I) his guilt on all counts. I told him that we could go through more, but there was no need, he got the point.
I asked him again, what would you say to God? He said that he didn't know. You could literally see fear on this mans face. No longer was he able to justify himself in his mind before God. He knew he was guilty and that he was in trouble. I asked him "So if you can't tell God that you are good, what is going to get you into heaven?" He had no idea. (Remember this guy called himself a follower of Jesus.)
I then explained to him that we are all sinners (Rom. 3:23) and that all of us, if left on our own, are doomed to an eternity in Hell. Our works can never be good enough, our righteousness is worthless to God (Isa. 64:6). And then I told him about who Christ is and what He did. I explained that God sent His son Jesus Christ, He lived a sinless life and fulfilled perfectly the law of God that we break all the time, and then He died on the cross for sinners and rose from the dead three days later. I told this man, "If you will repent of your sin, that is turn away from it and put all of your hope and trust in Jesus to save you, He will." We cannot hope in our goodness, but in Christ's.
This guy looked at me and said "I don't believe in chance, you were meant to be here today." I asked him if he was going to place his trust in Christ to save him and he said "yes." I then shared with him the importance of reading the Bible to grow in his relationship with God and encouraged him to find a church that teaches the Bible as God's word. And I have been praying for him everyday since then. I can't read a mans heart, but I really think that we as Christians gained a new brother that day.
I tell you all of this to encourage you. I'm certainly not trying to make you impressed with me, I don't want praise and a pat on the back. It was God who saved this man and gave him faith and repentance (Eph. 2:8-9). But I tell you this to encourage you to do evangelism. The verse I mentioned at the top of this post is a clear indicator that God has appointed people to eternal life. He has done this from the foundations of the world (Eph. 1:4). This should encourage the Christian greatly, because what this means is that when we preach the gospel and share it with friends, family and complete strangers, some will believe. Indeed as many who are "appointed to eternal life" will believe. God has his elect out there in this world, and when we are faithful to proclaim the gospel, when the gospel is proclaimed to the elect God will insert His Spirit into them and give them life and faith and repentance. When the gospel is proclaimed, the elect hear the voice of the good shepherd and they follow Him!
I can be confident that if i faithfully share on a regular basis, some will come. Not because I'm convincing as if I could convince a dead man to live. Rather because God has people whom He has chosen to be saved and they are sprinkled throughout the earth, waiting for the person whom God will use to preach the gospel to them.
"14But how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!"
Be faithful, share the gospel, those appointed will believe.