The Holy Spirit Is Convicting Unbelievers

Daily Devotional: Day 150

“Then Peter opened his mouth and said: “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him” (Acts 10:34-35, NKJV).

Peter made a life changing discovery when he visited the house of Cornelius to preach to him the message of salvation. Up to this point, the Gospel had been preached to only Jews and Samaritans. But in God’s plan, the Gentiles, too, were destined to become part of God’s Israel. Initially reluctant to go to Cornelius’ house, Peter finally changed his mind upon the prompting of the Holy Spirit. After listening to Cornelius’ account of the vision of the angel, Peter became convinced of the character of God regarding His election of people for salvation. Amazed, he declared, “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.” What can we learn from this passage?

First, God is no respecter of persons. For centuries, most Jews believed that salvation was their exclusive right based on their ethnic identity. But God reveals that He is interested in anyone who sincerely seeks the true God through repentance and righteousness (cf. John 16:7-11). That is what Cornelius did, and God accepted Him. God is not moved by our looks, our race, our ethnicity, our socio-economic standing, our education, etc. Peter least expected that God would appoint the Gentiles for salvation, let alone pour His Holy Spirit upon them. But that day, he discovered that God’s heart is big enough to welcome people of all nations who heed His voice.

Second, regardless of people’s prior religious background, if they seek the truth, God will reveal it to them and lead them to salvation in Christ. Cornelius was a Roman soldier, and not a Jew. But he sought the truth, and little by little, he realized that the true God was not to be found in idols, demonic ceremonies and rituals. God gave him all the help he needed and eventually opened to him the door of salvation. This is an important point for us Christians.

Consider the Bible passage in John 16:7-11. Through the Holy Spirit, God is reaching people of all nations and religions, convicting them of sin, righteousness and judgment. If anyone heeds His voice, God will lead him to Christ. We should, therefore, not rule anyone out (regardless of their current religion or lack of religion). God is actively at work among unbelievers to draw them to faith in Christ. Let’s pray that they will not resist the convicting voice of the Holy Spirit. Additionally, let’s reach out to as many unbelievers as we can, trusting that the Holy Spirit has gone before us to prepare the ground for the Word of God.

Have a blessed day, and may the Lord reveal His true nature to you! Amen.

For further study: Acts 11:1-18

God Does Not Save People Against Their Will

Daily Devotional: Day 132

“[God] will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4, KJV).

Grace to you! Today, I’d like us to build upon yesterday’s message; seeing that many of us will be sharing the Gospel with people at some point in our life. The main point of yesterday’s message was that some people do not want to be saved.

Look at today’s Bible text. It says that God wants all men to be saved. That is true. But the question is: “Do all men want to be saved?” The answer is, “No.” God will not save people against their will. Throughout the Bible, you’ll see examples of this. You’ll also observe that God does not pursue people forever. Knowing this helps us to be more discerning and effective when presenting the Gospel to people. Let’s look at two examples from the life of Jesus.

In John chapter 5, Jesus healed a sick man who had sat by the pool of Bethesda for thirty-eight years. Following the healing, a heated conversation ensued between Jesus and the Jews, because Jesus had healed the man on the Sabbath. At one point, Jesus told the Jews, “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life” (John 5:39-40, NKJV; emphasis added). Did you catch that? Jesus says they were not willing to come to Him that they may have life. Jesus was willing to save them, but they weren’t. Therefore, He left them to live with the consequences of their choice. Jesus didn’t push, manipulate or coerce them into believing in Him for salvation. We all need to learn a lesson from this when we present the Gospel to people.

The next example is from Luke 13:34, where Jesus lamented, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing!” (bold emphasis added). Again, you see evidence of people not willing to be saved. Did Jesus insist that Jerusalem accept Him? No. He grieved over the city, but He respected their choice and He moved on.

God does not pursue people indefinitely, as some suppose. If they reject His love and truth, at some point He will turn away. When people’s hearts are hardened, there’s very little anyone can do. After a while, God lets them do as they please, handing them over to a reprobate mind (cf. Romans 1:27-28). At this point, it becomes nearly impossible for them to be saved. I pray the Lord will give you discernment and understanding regarding these matters as you share the Gospel with people. When presenting the Gospel, respect people’s free will at all times, no matter how strongly you feel about your views. 

The peace of Jesus Christ reign in your heart today! Amen.

For further study: Matthew 13:10-15

Some People Do Not Want to Be Saved

Daily Devotional: Day 131

“Then Paul and Barnabas grew bold and said, “It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles” (Acts 13:46, NKJV).

Paul and Barnabas spent time in Antioch of Pisidia teaching people about Jesus, the Messiah. On two consecutive sabbaths, they spoke the Word of God. On the second occasion, however, certain Jews in Antioch fiercely opposed Paul and Barnabas, contradicted their message and stirred up persecution against them. On the bright side, though, a considerable number of people believed the Word of God. Today’s Scripture reading focuses on part of Paul and Barnabas’ response to the Jewish opposition. Let’s proceed to examine the reading and see what we can learn from it.

When Jesus came into the world, He understood that His mission was to focus primarily on the Jewish people, not Samaritans or Gentiles. For example, He once stated, “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 15:24; emphasis added). The Apostles also understood this. Thus, at the beginning of their apostolic ministry, their priority was to preach to Jews first. Against this background, we can understand what Paul and Barnabas said to the Jews in Antioch: “It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first.”

But notice that right after affirming the necessity of preaching to the Jews first, the Apostles turned quickly to the Gentiles. Their charge against those Jews was that they had rejected the word of God and had judged themselves unworthy of everlasting life. These are serious words. Notice also that Paul and Barnabas did not push; they didn’t employ any tactics to get those Jews to believe. They understood when to stop, leave them alone and move on to someone else. That is the proper way of ministering the Gospel to people.

We can learn many important lessons from today’s story. But as usual, there’s only so much we can discuss in a Devotional; so, let’s focus on one important point, and that is: Some people do not want to be saved.

If you are not aware of this, you will waste your time and resources on them, while those who are truly hungry for truth and salvation are left without help. People who do not want to be saved are usually people who are not lovers of the truth. Even God leaves such people alone, and He gives them what they deserve by sending them a strong delusion (cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12). People who love truth don’t need much convincing, for they recognize truth when they see it and they will follow it wholeheartedly, even if the truth is a hard pill to swallow.

Through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, prayer and study of the Bible, learn to recognize those who do not want to be saved. Share the Word of God with them, but do not waste time on them. If they are interested, you will know. If they are not interested, your job is done. Don’t push; don’t insist. Respect their choice and move on to someone else.

May the Lord let His face shine on you today! Amen.

For further study: Romans 1:18-22

Answer for Yourself

Daily Devotional: Day 41

Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Thou art permitted to speak for thyself. Then Paul stretched forth the hand, and answered for himself” (Acts 26:1, KJV).

It’s a privilege to be asked to defend your faith in Jesus. Yes, it is! When you get an opportunity to answer for your faith, it’s an honor for which you should be extremely grateful. Think about it: you get to speak for the Son of God and Savior of the world. Here on earth, there’s no greater honor. In our world today, there’s no shortage of opportunities for you to publicly answer for your faith in Jesus. When friends, relatives, or co-workers ask you questions about your faith, don’t get upset, and don’t panic. They’ve presented you with a golden opportunity. Confident, yet humble, embrace the moment, and go for it! Heaven is watching. Don’t be ashamed of Christ and his Gospel. Defend your Master and Savior. Tell people why you believe what you believe, and why you’re stuck with Jesus. It’s too late to be silent or indifferent. The day you got born again, the battle line was drawn. Therefore, like it or not, you’re on the battle field. It’s a battle for the truth of God and his Christ. Take your place and answer for yourself. Don’t back down.

Today’s passage recalls a moment in Paul’s life when he was held a prisoner in Caesarea. One day, he had to answer to the charges brought against him. He stood before King Agrippa, Bernice, Festus, the Roman Governor, and prominent Jews. King Agrippa said to Paul, “Thou art permitted to speak for thyself.” Then, Paul, standing before a King, a Governor and prominent people from among the Jews, he begun to answer for himself. For Paul, this was a chance to tell all the people about the Good News of Jesus Christ. Everyone’s situation is different, but everyone has someone to whom we can witness about Jesus. Your audience may be someone at the mall, a relative, a friend, social media friends, a co-worker, your spouse, or your classmate. Don’t avoid conversations about Jesus; welcome them. And when you do, present a convincing defense of the Gospel, and explain why people should care about Jesus. Go for it.

Pray:

Daddy, I thank you for saving me through your Son. By your grace, I confess that I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is your power unto salvation. Fill me with boldness and wisdom from your Holy Spirit. And enable me to make the most of every opportunity to defend the Word of your Grace. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

For further study: Acts 26:1-29