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Thoughts from Life, Thoughts from the Word

‘God may perhaps grant them repentance’

I’ve consistently had conversations with people over the last couple of years about how long to pursue people with the Gospel or entreating someone to get involved in church.  Inevitably as we engage in purposeful relationships with people we will run across those who are resistant to the Gospel message or simply have no desire to engage in spiritual things.  It’s easy to grow weary of the pursuit in these situations but I believe we’re called to continue to go after people until God draws them to repentance or until they reject us along with the gospel and the message we’re preaching.  There are principles from many passages that apply, but here are a couple that I believe are relevant.

John 3:19-21 states, “And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”
  • This is the reality of sharing the gospel with people…they live in darkness and they love the darkness.  Those who are unsaved don’t desire to come to the light apart from the work of God in their life to draw them to the truth and expose their sin.
II Timothy 2:24-26 states, “And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, [25] correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, [26] and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.”
  • Our role is clearly seen here…as the ‘Lord’s servants’ we are not to be argumentative and seeking to prove we are right.  Rather, with the ability to teach, with patience, and gentleness we are to correct them.  The goal of our correction is that God may perhaps grant the repentance they desperately need and they may escape their bondage in sin.
II Corinthians 7:10 says, “For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.”
  • This is what we desire from those we minister too…true repentance.  Not a sadness over the consequences of their sin but a true repentance that produces godly grief.
I John 3:11-13, “For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous. Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you.”
  • The hope is that people will repent…this is what we pray for and why we continue to pursue people even when they offer initial resistance.  However, in some situations people are hardened to the gospel and have no desire to repent.  Inevitably you will run into someone who will want nothing to do with the message your proclaiming. This passage exhorts us to continue to love one another but to not be surprised when people hate us because of it.  Cain killed Able because Cain’s deeds were evil.  His sin was exposed by the righteous acts of Able and he hated Able for it.  The darkness hates the light, hates being exposed to the light, and those walking in darkness will hate you for walking in the light unless God does the work to draw them to repentance.

The approach I’ve taken is simple…I’ll continue to pursue a person as long as they’re open to hearing what God’s word has to say in their life.  I’ll continue to proclaim the truth, encourage them to do what is right, and expose to them to the light.  However, they may reject the gospel and they may reject me because I continue to stand by God and His Word.  At this point, I’ll continue to pray for them and ensure that they know that I’m still open to talking with them if they ever change there mind.

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About Marshall Walter

Marshall Walter is the College Pastor at Grace Brethren Church in Simi Valley. Married to Beka, the two of them enjoying living life and sharing in ministry together.

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