Let the Spirit Do His Thing
September 13, 2012 § Leave a comment
My eldest niece became a Christian this past weekend, as a result of my mother giving her a Bible and explaining the gospel in simple terms to her. My niece, the oldest daughter of my oldest brother, is a year older than me (due to the lateness of my own arrival). After forty or so years of wandering in passive rejection of the gospel, she is now saved.
When I think about how my mother led her to Christ, I don’t think there was much of what I’ve considered to be apologetics. My mom didn’t present any of the classic theistic proofs, or Kalam’s cosmological argument, or C.S. Lewis’ Trilemma, or any evidence for the resurrection. She gave her a Bible and told her what Jesus did for her.
William Lane Craig, an accomplished debater well-known for his reasoned defense of Christianity on the basis of the evidence, acknowledges the work of the Holy Spirit in his coming to faith:
“The way in which I know Christianity is true is first and foremost is the basis of the witness of the Holy Spirit in my heart. And this gives me self-authenticating means of knowing Christianity is true wholly apart from the evidence. And therefore, even if in some historically contingent circumstances the evidence that I have available to me should turn against Christianity, I do not think that controverts the witness of the Holy Spirit.”
Some people are persuaded by the evidence, and some are persuaded by something else in Christianity that reveals itself as the solution to a problem. My niece was battling a life crisis, and she decided with conviction that she could not go through life without a relationship with Jesus Christ.
The Spirit can use many things—reason or emotion—to open eyes to our need of a Savior. The gospel message has power, and by simply giving her granddaughter a Bible, which she began to read, my mom was letting the Spirit do His work. It’s easy to get preoccupied with apologetic method and our perceived need to reason people into belief.
In John 5:24, Jesus says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.”
Although I lean pretty heavily on a “faith first” reformed, presuppositional apologetic method, I understand that God can and will use many things to draw someone to Himself—sometimes through some type of evidence, and sometimes even through an almost fideistic (faith independent of reason) approach to accepting the Word of God as truth. As with any worldview, some measure of faith is always necessary, even a great measure in those who “receive the kingdom of God like a little child.” (Luke 10:15).
The important thing: If you can do nothing else for an unbeliever, other than prayer, give them a Bible. “Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12) Explain the Gospel if you can, but don’t make the mistake of thinking you must walk them through it and hermeneutically present all that they need to know before they will believe. Let the Holy Spirit do His thing.