Thanks to everyone who has submitted interesting questions in the Questions for PB box. Here are the next two selections:
- How should we interpret the Bible’s admonition, “to whom much is given, much will be required” in light of the fact that we have so much in the U.S. and there is so much need in the world and in our own back yard?
This is a very good and important question. The quote is from Luke 12:48:
“Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.” (English Standard Version)
This verse clearly teaches us that when God entrusts us with His gift of salvation, then it is our responsibility to live for God and be prepared to meet God whenever this life ends, either in our death or at Christ’s Second Coming. The message of this parable actually goes back to the preceding parable in Luke 12:35:
“35 “Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning, 36 and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks.”
It is the wise and faithful servant who is prepared for his master’s return whether in daylight or in the middle of the night. The wise and faithful servant is defined as one does his master’s will such as is said in Luke 12:42, “42 And the Lord said, ‘Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom his master will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the proper time? 43 Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes.’”
This parable of our Lord Jesus is a sober reminder that we need to keep the right focus, that life is a gift given by God. We are to live serving the Lord and doing His will in every area of our lives. Christian service is the result of being saved by God’s grace through Jesus Christ, we do good works because we have been forgiven of our sins through Jesus Christ. Further, to the point of the question, we in America have been given a heaping measure of God’s blessings, both material and spiritual. We need to be mindful of being good stewards of God’s grace and gifts. These gifts of both salvation and material wealth are not just for our own personal enjoyment. They are given to be shared. So, whether we serve the Lord in some other country in missionary service or we are serving the Lord in this country, we need to live out the Good News of Jesus Christ and share with other people the Lord’s gracious gift of salvation through His Son Jesus Christ.
2. How do we close the deal when witnessing and evangelizing? Or do we leave it to the Holy Spirit?
In addressing this question, it is important to be reminded of what the apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 3:5-7,
“5 What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. 6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. 7 So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.”
I refer to this passage precisely because Paul tells us what we are responsible to do in our Christian witness and evangelism and what we are not responsible to do. Paul and Apollos were to proclaim and teach the Word of God and the Gospel. They were to faithfully tell the message of God’s Word: we are sinners, and the forgiveness of our sins comes only through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ who lived for us, died on the Cross for our sins, and rose again from the dead on the third day. Jesus’ last words to the apostles before He ascended were about proclaiming to all nations the message of repentance and forgiveness of sins. At the end of the book of Matthew, Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” This is what we as Christians are responsible to do.
But what we are not responsible to do, in fact, what we don’t even have the ability to do, is cause someone to believe the Gospel. We are to plant the seeds of the Gospel and teach people who are willing to listen about God. But it is God alone who brings about the growth, who brings people to faith in the Lord Jesus. We therefore cannot seal the deal for it is only the Holy Spirit who causes the person to be born again and come to faith in God’s only Son and our Savior. Every one of us comes to the knowledge of our own sinfulness and need for forgiveness in different ways and at different times. These are the things that we can share! For some, believing can happen in one bright flash of a moment, but for others it may take years of hearing the truth and God softening the heart. We can lay out the truth before people through relationships with people who trust us. We then pray for the Holy Spirit to regenerate their hearts. Stand firm in the truths of the Scripture, ask God to show you opportunity and the people He has in your life that He wants you to tell about Jesus, then pray!
Lord, I thank you for Your saving faith and Your promise of eternal life. Make me ever grateful for these blessings and increase my willingness to serve You, especially to witness of Your gracious love for all sinners. Forgive me where I have failed. Help me to see opportunities for witnessing, and give me the courage to speak up. Increase my concern for lost souls and my desire to witness, and strengthen me according to need. Lord, I often do not know what to say, but you know what they need to hear. Make Your words my words. Make Your love for them my love. In Jesus name. Amen. (From the Lutheran My Prayer Book)