“He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead’” (Luke 16:31 ESV).
The rich man, in torment from the flames of hell, cried out to Abraham asking that the poor man, Lazarus, be sent back to his father’s house to warn his brothers to repent so that they wouldn’t share the punishment he suffered. Abraham responded that his brothers have the law of Moses and the testimony of the prophets, that should be good enough. The rich man, perhaps growing more desperate with every word, pleaded that if Lazarus came back from the dead, they would listen to _him_. Abraham was clear that if they hadn’t listened to Moses and the prophets, not even a dead man raised would bring them to faith.
When I read this passage of scripture, I can’t help but be amazed at the _power_ of _God’s Word_! Maybe you have never thought about this verse from that perspective; it’s my first time, too.
When I was in College I spent a lot of time with fellow believers in numerous Christian groups and Bible studies. They taught me the importance of accountability. I learned from them how to share my faith with the lost. But the most important lesson I gleaned from them was a deep respect for the Word of God. I also learned that these three things are interconnected.
We are _supposed to_ be accountable to each other in community. Being in relationships where honesty, sometimes brutal honesty, is important. Paul came before the other apostles, sharing with them the message that he preached. “I went up because of a revelation and set before them (though privately before those who seemed influential) the gospel that I proclaim among the Gentiles, in order to make sure I was not running or had not run in vain” (Galatians 2:2 ESV).
When we allow others, more mature, in our lives to ensure that we are handling God’s Word correctly, and to ensure that we are walking according to God’s Word, we can have confidence before God. When we go it alone, we become proud, for we cannot see when, where and how we left the path laid out before us.
We undoubtedly know that we have a responsibility to share our faith. The imperative is clear. Yet we are hesitant to obey. One of the greatest bits of advice about witnessing that I gained from my time with the Christian groups in college is that it is not our job nor our responsibility to save the lost. It is, however, our responsibility to share God’s Word with them.
I learned to trust the power of the Word. Without the Word, nothing I say when witnessing has any real power or influence. My calling, _our_ calling, is to share the Word of the Gospel of Christ. It is the responsibility of the Holy Spirit to use the Word to draw people to Jesus! You and I have a relatively small part to play in the lost coming to faith; but we have a part to play, nonetheless.
I found that truth to be incredibly liberating. We can share the Gospel and our personal testimonies. We can help the lost to understand the Gospel. We can make the path to salvation as clear as we possibly can. But we cannot make the decision for them. We have to trust that the Holy Spirit will empower God’s Word to bring salvation.
Our verse in Luke 16 reminds us of this fact. It is God’s Word that holds the power. We are, quite simply, the vessels that deliver the Word. So we can take great comfort in knowing that when we have been faithful to God’s Word, when we have made ourselves and the message we share accountable to those more spiritually mature than us, and when we have shared the Gospel with the lost, we can trust the Holy Spirit to take it from there.
Blessings on your week!