Carol had come to a Bible study for about two months. While clearly interested in spiritual things, the church she attended had instilled in her a false hope in faith plus works for eternal life. When she turned to me to ask a question about heaven, because a strong relationship of trust had been established, I responded in a way I never had to any lost soul. I asked exactly why God should allow her into heaven. When she answered with a mixture of faith and works, I told her, “I’m sorry to say, you are not going to make it to heaven.” This so shocked her, and shook her previously held confidence that she sincerely wanted to know more. The result was, moments later, Carol gloriously trusted in Christ alone by grace alone for eternal life.
When the religious leaders of Israel, the Pharisees and Sadducees, came to observe the multitudes being baptized by John the Baptist, he was very direct with them. He called them a generation of vipers for their spiritual hypocrisy. He also warned of God’s “wrath to come” (Matthew 3:7). He explained they did not automatically have eternal life simply because they were the descendants of Abraham, who believed God’s promises to him and had his faith counted for righteousness. The response of John the Baptist seems very harsh and would not be the usual approach to an unsaved soul. However, it was exactly what these hard-hearted individuals needed to hear. Steeped in their spiritually dead religious pride, if there was any hope for them to come to eternal life, their false confidences needed to be shaken. They needed to realize their unrighteous condition and the gravity of eternal punishment awaiting them. They needed to know that they were spiritually lost, and that now was the time to respond in faith, that they might escape the eternal punishment of their sin in unquenchable, everlasting fire.
When we witness to lost souls, we should normally use a much less abrasive approach. Nonetheless, no lost soul is likely to trust in the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ, apart from all works or personal righteousness, unless we help them see that these things cannot save them from eternal punishment. Every lost soul must first understand their lost condition, that they are helpless to do anything of themselves to merit eternal life, and that they must trust in Christ alone for eternal life. Make sure your witnessing is always this clear.
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