Much more could be said, but the main point of this article is to emphasise that God knows the hearts of all men whereas we do not. We can present the Gospel as free to all but we know that only those whose hearts are open to it will accept it and that it is only the Lord by his Spirit that can make persons receptive to the Gospel. We may reason with men and rightly so. Paul did (Acts 19:9). Men are not only self-willed, but they may also have been educated wrongly and we may be able to re-educate them - disabuse their minds of evolutionary theories for instance. However, when it is a matter of will then only God can deal with that: "God will make him yield, not man" (Job 32:13). We have to recognise our limitations. Paul speaks of being "God's fellow-workmen" (1 Corinthians 3:9). We are not left to work on our own. We are to do our part and God will do his - the part that we cannot do. Even as to the ministry to the assembly Paul says: "I have planted; Apollos watered; but God has given the increase" (1 Corinthians 3:6). God must not be left out, else there will be no spiritual fruit just as there would be no fruit for a farmer in the natural world without God. We would end up as the disciples who had to say: "Master, having laboured through the whole night we have taken nothing" (Luke 5:5).

What this all leads to is the simple fact that underlying the blessing of any soul are the operations of God, whether in sending his Son to die on the cross, or in the sending forth of his servants to proclaim the Gospel message. Further God has sent forth his Spirit to work in the world and make souls receptive to the Gospel. All is of God (2 Corinthians 5:17/18).

Note: Some have been inclined to think we should look within ourselves to see whether we are really Christians and have thought that this is what 2 Corinthians 13:3-5 requires us to do. However, what the passage is saying is look at yourselves and you will see that it is evident that you are Christians and this proves that it was Christ that has been speaking in me.

November 2002