The Holy Spirit Works In The Heart
Jesus had warned His disciples to expect persecution (John 16:1-4). So, should they retreat from the world to keep safe? No! Jesus had commanded them to speak openly about Him (John 15:27). But even though He would leave them, they would not be alone. The Holy Spirit would be in them, giving them the courage and power to announce the gospel; and He would also work powerfully in the hearts of people who hated them. The apostles were to preach the gospel and then the Holy Spirit would convince people that the gospel is true and that they needed to repent. Of course, conviction is not conversion: action is always needed, to agree with the Holy Spirit, repent of sins and believe in Jesus.
Three areas of conviction are necessary for worldly people to turn to Jesus. Firstly, they need to know that their biggest problem is being outside of Christ; whether through ignorance, indifference or arrogant rebellion. Secondly, they need to know that only Jesus demonstrated God’s perfect standard of righteousness … therefore people whose lives do not completely match His, are sinners under God’s condemnation (unlike Holy Jesus who was welcomed back into heaven). Thirdly, judgment is looming for Satan and all those who believe His lies (Revelation 20:10): when Jesus cast out demons and rose from the dead He proved that He had power to crush all evil, darkness and death.
We have a responsibility to tell people the truth about Jesus, but unless they are convinced that it is true and take action, they cannot be saved. It is our job to explain the facts of the gospel clearly (see www.crosscheck.org.uk), but it is the Holy Spirit’s work to convict their hearts. We may convince their minds but He burns the truth into their hearts. Of course, some may resist the Spirit and persist in their rebellion, but some will repent and believe (Acts 28:24).
So when you tell your friends and colleagues the truth about Jesus, you are not alone. The Holy Spirit has helped you to witness (Acts 1:8); and when you have finished the conversation the Spirit will continue to take the truth you have shared and He will convict your friend’s heart. Whenever that person turns to Jesus, and it may take some time, you can be sure that the Holy Spirit has been at work - in you, to witness faithfully, and in your friend as well.
© Dr Paul Adams