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June 12, 2011
I Can See Clearly Now – Part 1
Pastor Philip De Courcy
Time:
1 Corinthians 2:6-16
Scripture: 
Topics: 

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In this series of sermons, Philip De Courcy warns the church not to settle for two-thirds of God. Christians often fail to grasp that through faith in Christ, they were not only given the gift of eternal life, but they were also given the giver of eternal life—the Holy Spirit—as a further gift. That puts the Christian at a great advantage because the Holy Spirit lives to bring God, vast as He is, within the narrow circumference of our lives.

More From This Series

Transcript

Well, let’s take our Bibles and turn to 1st Corinthians 2:6 as we carry on in our series on the Holy Spirit. You have the advantage and I want to begin a two-part message on the subject of the illumination of the Spirit. The illumination of the Spirit or as I’ve called the sermon, I Can See Clearly Now.

Listen to Paul as he writes in 1st Corinthians 2:6, “However we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age nor of the rulers of this age who are coming to nothing, but we speak of the wisdom of God in a mystery. The hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory which none of the rulers of this age knew. For had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written, eye has not seen nor ear heard nor have entered into the heart of a man the things which God has prepared for those who love him. But God has revealed them to us through his Spirit, for the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him.

Even so no man knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now, we have received not the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches, but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God for they are foolishness to him. Nor can he know them because they are spiritually discerned. But he who is spiritual judges all things yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.”

I Can See Clearly Now. That’s our subject this morning. There’s a beautiful story told by A.F.W. Boreham, a Christian writer from New Zealand that tells of his travels one day on a bus. As he traveled, a woman came to sit beside him and as the journey progressed, the conductor came around to check and collect the tickets. But to the woman’s dismay, she realized that somewhere during the ride someone must have dipped into her bag and stolen two gold coins along with her ticket. Boreham reacts by telling us how embarrassed he was because he happened to be sitting next to her and she kept looking at him with a look of suspicion, but thankfully the problem was resolved. The woman dug a little deeper into her purse and found the coins and found the ticket. There were deep pockets in the purse. Boreham, in his inimitable way, reflects on that journey, on that situation, and he entitles an essay, Hidden Gold, and then he writes these words and reminds us of something.

“Now, this sort of thing is very common. We are continually fancying that we have been robbed of the precious things that we actually possess. The old lady who searches everywhere for the spectacles that adorn her temples, the clerk who ransacks the office for the pen behind his ear, the boy who charges his brother with the theft of his pen knife that lurks in the mysterious depths of his own fearful and wonderful pocket.” Guys, Boreham in that little story is reminding us that we continually fall foul of the idea that we have actually less than what we actually possess. And it’s my conviction that this is especially true in relation to the hidden gold of the Holy Spirit. Few and increasingly fewer Christians today seem to realize that wrapped up in the gift of eternal life through faith in our Lord Jesus is the gift of the blessed Holy Spirit.

Remember what Peter said in Acts 2:38 on the day of Pentecost? “Repent and be baptized for the remission of sins and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” The gift of the Holy Spirit was synonymous with the gift of eternal life through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul tells the Ephesians in chapter 1 verses 13 through 14 that having trusted in Christ after they heard the word of truth, they were sealed with the Holy Spirit. It’s a wonderful thing to realize that God brings heaven to us in the person and presence of the Holy Spirit before he brings us to heaven. The Christian, as we have said, is someone who is indwelt by the gracious and glorious presence of the Holy Spirit and that’s an awesome thought. That’s a life-altering truth, but it’s forgotten. It’s hidden gold and I want us to be staggered just by way of introduction again, at what God has provided for us in the gift of the Holy Spirit. That’s why I believe this series is so crucial to our Christian sanctification and our Christian success.

We need to understand what God has provided for us. “God has blessed us,” says Paul, “with every conceivable spiritual blessing and supreme among those blessings is the ministry of the Holy Spirit.” Remember Paul says in Ephesians 1:3 that, “We have been blessed with all spiritual blessing with Christ in the heavenlies.” In fact, the doctrine of the Holy Spirit is a big theme in the letter to the Ephesians. I think there’s a mention of the Holy Spirit at least 12 times throughout that letter. Bear with me for a few moments as I just recount to you what we have in terms of the presence and the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, both at our salvation and after our salvation. Let’s talk about at our salvation, when we came to put our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. In relation to God, the Holy Spirit regenerates us.

We’re saved by God’s mercy, not by any works that we have done and we have been regenerated and renewed by the Holy Spirit. We’ve been born of water and the Spirit according to John’s gospel. So in relation to God, the Holy Spirit regenerates us. He makes us alive in Jesus Christ. Then he secures our acceptance through his sealing ministry. He indwells us, he seals us, he marks us out as one of God’s children. Ephesians 1:13 through 14. And that’s why then in Romans 8 we learn that he confirms that with a spirit of adoption, with a sense of sonship where he causes us to cry, “Abba, Father,” Romans 8:15 through 16. He regenerates us. He indwells us. He secures our acceptance before God. He confirms our sonship. That’s what happens at salvation in relationship to God and here’s what happens at salvation in relationship to the believers. He unites us to each other.

According to 1st Corinthians 12, we’re baptized into one body and those of us who are united to Christ, are united to all those who are united to Christ. We don’t need to be identical twins to be brothers, but we are brothers in the Lord Jesus Christ. This is one of the ministries of the Holy Spirit. That’s why there’s an instant connection with Christians all over the world because they have all been baptized into the one Spirit. And he bestows us with gifts according to 1st Corinthians 12, verse 7, and verses 11 through 12. We’ve all been given a spiritual enablement, which is to be employed and deployed within the body life of the local church for the edification of all. That’s what the Holy Spirit does. That’s what the Holy Spirit becomes to us at salvation.

And then what happens after salvation and relationship to God? He assists us in our prayer. We learned that, didn’t we? In Romans 8:26, “When we don’t know what to pray for, the Spirit of God prays for us with groanings that cannot be uttered.” We’re to pray in the Holy Spirit. Jude 20. He assists us in prayer. He strengthens us with all might in the inner man according to Ephesians chapter 3:16. He brings all the grace of God to bear upon our lives so that we can abide in all things. He leads us according to Romans 8:14. And he gives us hope according to Galatians 5:5. That’s what he does in relation to God after salvation and in relation to sin after salvation, he delivers us from its power, from its grip because if we’re led by him, if we’re walking in him according to Galatians 5:16 through 17, we will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.

We may sin, but we don’t have to sin. As we submit ourselves to the Spirit of God, we become instruments of a righteousness rather than instruments of sin. Remember that argument in Romans 7 and in Romans 6? He delivers us from Satan. We’re in a spiritual battle. This world is not a playground, it’s a battleground, but we can be strong in the might of the Lord and through the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God and through praying in the Spirit, we can overcome the evil one. In relation to the scriptures, he gives us understanding. The natural man doesn’t understand the things of God, but according to 1st Corinthians 2:12, “We have received not the spirit of the world but the Spirit which is from God that we might know the things that are fully given to us by God.”

In relation to the scriptures, he enables us to proclaim its message. What was Jesus’ word to his disciples in Acts 1:8? He tells them that they will receive power through the Holy Spirit and they will be his witnesses. We see that fleshed out in Thessalonica when people come to faith through the ministry of the Apostle Paul. Paul acknowledges that they received that word not as the word of man, but as it truly is, the Word of God. And Paul says, “I didn’t come and preach to you in word only, but in the power of the Holy Spirit.” In relation to holiness, he produces righteous character in us with the fruit of the Spirit. The kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, is it? No, it’s righteousness, joy and peace in the Holy Spirit, Romans 14:17. He changes us into Christ likeness because where the Spirit of God is, there’s life, there’s liberty, and we are being changed from glory to glory.

That’s what the Spirit does at salvation. That’s what the Spirit of God does after salvation. That’s breathtaking. That’s life changing truth and without question in the light of what we’ve just gone over, the Holy Spirit is an indispensable figure and force in the life of the Christian. He’s not just to be a synonym for warm feelings. You and I cannot be a Christian without the Holy Spirit. Now let’s take a breath and I know that was a lot of stuff, but I don’t want you to view what we just went over as simply a laundry list of theological trivia. I want you to reflect on what we’ve just gone through and see it more as a reading and a rehearsing of what has been bequeathed to you by the dying Savior. I know that was a lot of stuff, but try seeing it as the reading of a will.

The New Testament is Christ’s last will and testament to his church. In the Upper Room Discourse he tells his disciples he must go away, but as we saw early on in this series, that was to their advantage. Another comforter was going to come. The Lord Jesus was taking care of his disciples and in anticipation he was taking care of his church. He was bequeathing to them the gift of the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit is therefore part of our rich inheritance in Christ and we need to be reminded of that. We’re going to get to our subject in a moment, but we need to be reminded of why this series is strategic. We need to constantly go over what the Spirit of God has come to do at salvation and after salvation so that we do not marginalize him or minimize him. He is an integral figure, an indispensable force in the life of the Christian and the Christian life.

In fact, as I thought about that whole issue of bequeathing and the Lord leaving us the gift of the Holy Spirit, I was interested to learn that each and every year there are several billion dollars’ worth of unclaimed inheritances here in the United States. In fact, in 2007 more than 22 billion dollars in assets were left unclaimed or passed into a government property trust account until they were claimed. Sometimes they weren’t claimed because of issues of death or unreported changes of address or illegible records, but of that 22 billion dollars, less than 916 million dollars were claimed. The rest stayed in a government trust fund. Can you imagine that? There are inheritances here in our country unclaimed. What about you and I? Have we claimed our inheritance in the Lord Jesus Christ? I hope this series has helped us to see that the Holy Spirit is part of our rich inheritance from Christ.

Now, as we dig deeper into our understanding of the person and work of the Holy Spirit, I want us to take up a new subject in this study and in the next study. I want us to understand that the Holy Spirit is the one who gives us understanding. Write that down. We need to understand that the Holy Spirit is the one who gives us understanding in relationship to comprehending truth and knowing God. We’ve already read it, but I’ll read it again. In fact, the next time we’re together, we’re going to expand this passage we read and really only going to set it up this morning, but Paul says here, look, “We have received not the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.” If we’re going to know God, if we’re going to know what God intends to do in our life and through our life, we’re going to come to that knowledge through the knowledge of the Holy Spirit.

In fact, in 1 John 2:20, we’re reminded that we’ve all been given an anointing of the Holy Spirit, which allows us to comprehend truth and to know God. Listen to what John says, 1 John 2:20. “But you have an anointing from the Holy One and you know all things. I have not written to you because you do not know the truth but because you know it, and that no lie is of the truth.” Guys, it’s the Holy Spirit alone who irradiates our minds and illuminates our hearts to know the mind and the heart of God. Now, listen to this statement because I’m going to unpack it for the time that remains. This is going to be really the bulk and the bones of this message this morning. Listen to this statement. According to the scripture, it is the Holy Spirit singularly, sufficiently, and satisfyingly who reveals Christ to us, opens the Bible to us, and gives us our experiential knowledge of God.

Let me say that again. It’s the Holy Spirit who reveals Christ to us, opens the Bible to us, and gives us our experiential knowledge of God. Now, I’ll root that all exegetically next time in 1st Corinthians 2:6 through 16. But I want to create a theological umbrella by just going over this statement and unpacking it, helping you to see the critical and crucial role of the Holy Spirit and you and I coming to understand the Bible, coming to understand Christ in all his glory and the implications of his work and coming to know God experientially. Let’s unpack this. The Holy Spirit first of all reveals Christ to us. Remember how he’s described in Romans 8:9? How he described. He’s described as the Spirit of Christ. That’s why there was no loss to the disciples when they lost Christ because the Holy Spirit shares the nature of Christ, knows Christ and therefore was a adequate substitute for Christ. So as the Spirit of Christ, the Holy Spirit will show us the things pertaining to Christ.

Turn back to John chapter 16 as the Lord Jesus Christ describes to the disciples the forthcoming and oncoming ministry of the Holy Spirit and he reminds them here that indeed the Holy Spirit will come and declare Christ to them. That’s his role. Look at verse 13 of chapter 16 of John’s gospel. “However, when he, the Spirit of truth has come, he will guide you into all truth for he will not speak of his own authority, but whatever he hears, he will speak and he will tell you things to come. He will glorify me for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are mine. Therefore, I said that he will take of mine and declare it to you.” Did you notice that the Spirit of God is the custodian of all things belonging to Christ? To him is committed the cause and the credit of the Son of God on earth and as such he’s well qualified at least on two fronts.

He’s well qualified because he has dwelt eternally and he has dwelt equally within the council chamber of the Divine Trinity. From eternity past, the Father and the Son and the Spirit have indeed enjoyed fellowship together. Plus because he’s a divine person, we established that in our early studies, he shares the same nature, power and glory as the Son himself, therefore uniquely knowing the Son. So he comes to us with the same nature as the Son, having dwelt eternally and equally within the council chamber of the Godhead and he comes to declare Christ to us. That’s his ministry, to put the spotlight on Jesus and without doubt he can do that ablely, abundantly and he has. And fundamentally he has done that through moving the apostles to write scripture. Jesus said he’s going to lead you into all of truth.

And it’s interesting if you look at the Upper Room Discourse, I think we can see that through the Holy Spirit’s work in the apostles, we were given the Gospels, we were given the Acts and the Epistles and we were given Revelation which are all a record and a revelation of the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Skip back to chapter 14:26. What does Jesus say? “But the helper, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.” Where do we find the direct statements of the Lord Jesus Christ? In the Gospels. This seems to be a reference to the fact that they would be led to write the Gospels. The Spirit of God through the process of inspiration, would remind them of what Jesus taught and what Jesus did. If you go over then to verse 13 of chapter 16, in the first part we’re told that the spirit of truth will come. He will guide the apostles into all truth. One might assume then that speaks of the Acts, the history of the church documented and then the Epistles, the instruction of the apostles under the leading of the Holy Spirit. And the reason I say that because if you go to the end of verse 13, we read that he will tell you things to come.

That’s the book of the Revelation, prophetic in nature, speaking of a time that takes us up to the end of time. I think that’s interesting, isn’t it? The Spirit of God’s going to come. He’s going to teach them all that Jesus taught them and they’ll remember that. He’s going to teach them more truth and he’s going to teach them things to come. Listen guys, the Holy Spirit has not come to guide us to know all things. He’s come to guide us to know Christ. He’s put the spotlight on Christ and if I’m going to know Christ, I’ll know him through the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

In his book, Heaven’s Throne Gift, J.A. Stewart says this. “In the New Testament the Holy Spirit takes of the treasures of Christ and reveals them unto us. In the Gospels, he shows us the moral glories of the man, Christ Jesus. In Romans, he reveals to us the perfect work and righteousness of the Savior. In Ephesians, he reveals our heavenly position in the ascended Lord. In Colossians, he unfolds treasures of wisdom and knowledge in him. In Hebrews, he unveils before our wandering gaze, the glory of his priesthood after the order of Melchizedek. In Peter’s epistles, he tells us of the preciousness of Christ, although not seen to the devoted believer. In the Revelation he makes real before our eyes, the triumphant glory of the ascended Lamb as he has been slain. The Spirit of God leads us into that kind of truth.”

That’s why I appreciate what Adrian Rogers said to young preachers. “I’d advise preachers not to preach theology. The preacher should use theology to preach Christ, not use Christ to preach theology. All theology is but the cradle in which Christ lies and the scaffolding around the building of the gospel. I think a lot of preachers make a mistake when they preach theology rather than use theology to preach Christ.” Good warning, good reminder because the Spirit of God has come to declare unto us what Christ has declared unto him because he doesn’t speak of his own authority. All right, is get that done. This is what Christ has bequeathed us in the gift of the Holy Spirit, one who can bring us to Christ and bring Christ to us.

But the Holy Spirit not only reveals Christ to us, he opens the Bible to us. I’ll tell you why that’s the case, because he’s the author of the Bible. He’s the one behind the process of inspiration. The writing of the scripture we’re told in 2nd Peter 1:21 that he carried along, he moved men to write the Bible. That makes him by far the best expositor of the Bible because in John 16:13 we’re told that, right? “However, when he, the spirit of truth has come, he will guide you into all truth” and in John, truth is inscripturated truth isn’t it, centered upon the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus is described as the truth. The scriptures are described as the truth in John 17, and so the Spirit of God is going to guide us into inscripturated truth centered upon the message of the Lord Jesus Christ. He will not speak of his own authority, but whatever he hears, he will speak. Whatever he hears from Christ, he will speak of Christ. Therefore, as the author of the Bible, he’s by far the best expositor of the Bible.

William [inaudible 00:26:15] one of the leaders of the Great Evangelical Awakening of the 18th century said, “I am sure God the Holy Spirit is the best writer and I find him the best expositor upon his own writings.” He’s the best teacher of what he’s taught. Makes sense, doesn’t it? Here’s the point not to be missed. This is maybe worth the admission this morning. Anyone can read the Bible apart from the Holy Spirit, but nobody can understand the Bible apart from the Holy Spirit. It’s worth saying again. Anyone can read the Bible apart from the Holy Spirit, but nobody can understand the Bible apart from the Holy Spirit. We did it the hard way, didn’t we when we were young? There were no Cliff Notes. You were told to read a book, you had to read the book, you had to work at it. You had to try and grapple with the author’s intent and the content of the book.

I was in Barnes & Noble the other day and I looked at these Cliff Notes. If you’re given a book to read now, you can buy a book that’s like a fourth or a fifth of the size of the book that will summarize every chapter for you. There are no Cliff Notes that come with the Bible. I’ll tell you better than that. The author himself resides within you and he wants to reveal Christ to you and he wants to make the Bible understandable to you. That’s the amazing thing, which reminds me of something by way of application. The Spirit of God will lead you to the Bible, the Spirit of God will lead you in the Bible and the Spirit of God will lead you by the Bible. Jesus has told us here that he is not an independent contractor. He doesn’t speak or act in his own authority and neither should we. Just as the Holy Spirit acted under the authority of the risen Christ and the Father, you and I must act under the authority of the Holy Spirit as he guides us into all truth.

The Holy Spirit will not lead you besides the Bible, but beyond the Bible, and I think we need to hear that in a day of experiential pragmatism, in a day of charismatic mania, we need to drop our anchor here. We need to test the spirits. The spirit of antichrist has got on into the world. There are false prophets. There are those who are going to come in his name. They’re going to declare this. They’re going to say this is of God. How do we measure it? We put those things into the balances of scripture because the Holy Spirit will lead us to the Bible, in the Bible, and by the Bible. This is what the Protestant reformers called the principle of what? Sola Scriptura. The Bible alone is our authority in all matters of faith and practice.

That’s why Martin Luther summoned before the Pope and the Roman Emperor and told to reject his new-found Protestant faith. He said this. “Since then your Majesty and your lordships desire a simple reply, I will answer without horns and without teeth. Unless I am convinced by Scripture and plain reason – I do not accept the authority of popes and councils for they have contradicted each other – my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot, I will not recant anything. For to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise.” The traditions of the medieval Catholic Church contradicted the Word of God. It was a gospel of works. The practice of indulgence was clearly unbiblical and Luther says, Hey, here I stand. I stand under the authority of scripture. It’s important that we grasp that. It’s important that we believe that because the one who inspired scripture will never contradict himself when he illuminates it.

Here’s the last thought, because time’s rushing on. The Holy Spirit does certain things at salvation and after salvation, and one of the things he does after and at salvation is bring to us an understanding, a spiritual understanding. He reveals Christ. He opens the Bible, and finally just by way of setting this further study up, he gives us our knowledge of God. He’s best suited for that because he is God. We established that in an early study. One example would be that seen in Acts chapter 5, Ananias and Sapphira. It is said that they lied against the Holy Spirit and then it has said they lied against God because the Holy Spirit is one and the same with God. He is God. Now as God then, the Holy Spirit is best situated and suited to give us our knowledge of God, isn’t he?

Paul tells us this in the passage we’re going to expound next time. Look at verse 10 of 1st Corinthians chapter 2. “But God has revealed them to us through the Holy Spirit.” Speaking of the wisdom of the ages, message of the foolishness of the cross which the rulers of the age didn’t get in on. “For the Spirit of God searches all things. Yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of a man which is in him. Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.” Why would Paul say that? Because the Spirit of God is God. Therefore as God, he’s best suited to give us a knowledge of God. The Holy Spirit alone is qualified to give us our knowledge of God since he knows all that God knows being God.

That’s why by the way, guys, the knowledge of holy things is described in the New Testament as spiritual understanding. Isn’t that what Paul prayed for for the Colossians in chapter 1:9, that they would increase in wisdom and spiritual understanding? What is spiritual understanding? Simply this. It’s understanding given to you by the Spirit. That’s where we get our understanding. Man’s knowledge of God comes from God by means of God the Holy Spirit. One of the maxims of historical biblical theology is that man cannot know God apart from God. Write that down. This is one of the cornerstones of our theology. Man cannot know God apart from God. Man cannot feel his way to God, think his way to God, work his way to God. If he’s going to know God, God must make himself known. Ours is a religion of revelation.

For us to know God, God must disclose himself because what does Paul say? The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit. The man outside of Jesus Christ, the man born once, the man dominated by this earth and this world and his flesh doesn’t get it. It’s interesting. Got to be careful because I have something I want to say before we’re done. But you know the world looks at us as narrow people, doesn’t it? As limited in our viewpoint? I want to tell you something. We’re clued in. We are the only people that get it. The natural man doesn’t get it because these things are spiritually discerned. A deep awareness of God is natural to none of us. That’s why Jesus said didn’t he in John 3:3, what? “Except man is born again, he won’t see the kingdom of God.” That’s why conversion is an eye-opening experience. That’s why John Newton’s conversion is described in his hymn what? “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now I’m found, was blind but now I see.”

That’s what conversion is. It’s a work of God that brings us from a state of deadness and dullness to a state of aliveness and spiritual perception. There are new horizons in life because there’s a new heart that has been given. That’s why the Bible all of a sudden opens up to us. Listen to the words of an old puritan, William Grimshaw who told a friend after his conversion, “that if God had drawn his Bible up to heaven and sent them down another one, it could not have been newer to him.” Isn’t that the truth? It was my experience. Sat in the church my whole life as a son of a Baptist deacon. I understood the gospel cerebrally, but I hadn’t comprehended it. I hadn’t understood it in the heart. It didn’t dominate my life. It didn’t motivate my motives. Then that conversion came on the 20th of January 1970 and the Bible I never cracked open all of a sudden became a new book and Sunday morning was something I looked forward to. I wanted to sing. I wanted to worship. I wanted to tell people about the Lord Jesus Christ.

We’ll pick this up a little, but there’s an implication and we’re done, an implication to the point we just made. If man is to know God, God must make himself known. Here’s just a practical application in a couple of minutes that you want to take home with you. If that’s true, that explains by the way, why when you share the gospel clearly, cogently, convincingly to your neighbor, your loved one, your work mate. That’s why sometimes they still look at you like you have horns coming out of your head. If you explained it in double Dutch, it would be no more confusing to them. Why? Because the natural man does not receive the things of God.

That doesn’t mean you don’t share the gospel clearly. That doesn’t mean you don’t share the gospel cogently. That doesn’t mean you don’t share the gospel convincingly for how can they hear without a preacher, but you know what? That’s not the most important thing you can do when it comes to the salvation of someone that’s on your heart. I’ll tell you what is the most important thing you can do. Have you worked it out? What is it?

Pray. Pray.

We need to pray twice as much as we speak. We need to talk to God more about people than we talk to people about God. I think we’ve forgotten that. That’s why Paul prays for his fellow countrymen in Romans 10. That’s why he prays in Colossians 4 for the door of utterance to be open. That’s why he prays in 2nd Thessalonians 3:1 that the Word of God might run free. If only God can open blinded minds, then it’s logical that the seeking of God in prayer on the behalf of those who sit in darkness is a matter of first importance. Homework. Pray today, tomorrow, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday for that loved one you want to see come to Christ. Take the battering ram of prayer to the gates of heaven and move God to take the hammer of his Word to the stony hearts. Evangelism as I close, is more a matter of talking to God about man than talking to man about God. We need to spend less time trying to persuade Uncle Billy that he needs to get saved.

We need to spend more time persuading God that he needs to save Uncle Billy. That’s the truth, lost on a prayerless, pragmatic evangelicalism. You’ll love this story. The story of the conversion of Hudson Taylor. Have you ever heard it? I’ve heard it multiple times, but it never grows old and I’ll tell you why, because it plays into this thought. How was Hudson Taylor the great missionary to China [inaudible 00:38:52]? When his mother was away from home visiting a friend nearly a hundred miles away, and as she sat in that social environment, God burdened her about her son. Hudson wasn’t saved. Hudson sat in the shadow of darkness. Hudson was without Christ and without God, without hope in this world and burdened, that she excused herself from a dinner party. She went up into her bedroom and for a number of hours, she prayed for the salvation of Hudson Taylor, her son.

Back home, back on the ranch, young Hudson at that very time had gone in to his father’s library, picked up a little tract that talked about the finished work of Christ on the cross and as he read that, the scripture leapt into his mind. It is finished and God, the Holy Spirit, irradiated his mind and heart and he said, “if the whole work was finished, the whole debt was paid. There was nothing left for me to do but believe,” and young Hudson Taylor did. Some weeks later, his mother returned and before he could tell her she said, “I know,” and she did. She took the battering ram of prayer to the gates of heaven and God took the hammer of his Word to a stony heart.

Let’s pray. Lord, help us to dig a little deeper into our spiritual walk like the woman digging into her purse, because sometimes, Lord, we forget what we have. Lord, we think we’ve got less than we possess. God, we thank you for the gift of our Lord Jesus Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit with our Lord Jesus Christ. Make us a spirit-filled church. Make us a church that does not grieve the Holy Spirit. Make us a band of men who walk in the Spirit and don’t fulfill the lusts of the flesh. We thank you for all he is. We thank you for all that he does. God, we thank you he gives us spiritual understanding. We thank you he removes the scales from off our eyes. We thank you that he removes the bolts from the doors to our heart.

Thank you for his work of illumination. We thank you he reveals Christ. We thank you he opens the Bible. We thank you he gives us a knowledge of God. We thank you for that day in our lives when our eyes were opened, when all of a sudden Jesus became beautiful because before that there was no beauty we would desire but of a work of grace and regeneration all of a sudden Jesus in all his glory stood before us and we bowed the knee. Thank you, our Bibles that we had held in our hands, but had never worked its way into our hearts all of a sudden became a new book. Those boring church services became alive with the glory of God. Lord, that’s been our experience. May that be our experience and for some may that become their experience. Help us to pray that you might indeed save those who are still without God, without hope and without your Son in this world, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.