How does one get saved from his sin? Bible believing Christians should be able to get together on this one and come up with, "Repent and believe the gospel". At that point you may end up disagreeing on how that comes about. Is God sovereign? Is man's free will the ultimate deciding factor? Wherever you are in your Soteriology, we have to have the Bible as our final authority. Look at Noah for instance. Was he any better than all the other people who stood by mocking him as he built the ark? Probably not. But God chose him and his family to be saved. I doubt there was a line of people who had chosen to get on the ark and God was smacking these people off the door hinges. God may however, have given the rest of the world over to their own depravity. Just like he did with Pharaoh and just like the people described in Romans 9 who are "vessels of wrath prepared for destruction." Conversely, for those who are saved, remember that chapter 9 of Romans also states that "it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy". We are again reminded in Ephesians 2, "that by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast." God has countless passages that remind us how humbling of an act salvation should be viewed as by saved people and as people looking for others to be saved. Let's take a look at a great example of God doing a mighty work in a very famous king's life.
I wanna stay back in the Old Testament for this one. A few days ago Kelli and I were reading the book of the Prophet Daniel. The portion of scripture we were reading in was about Nebuchadnezzar's second dream which Daniel, yet again, interpreted for him. King Nebuchadnezzar starts out by praising the Most High God. We'll get to how he gets to that point soon. He then goes on to explain his dream in great detail. Let's pick up after that and get into Daniel's(Belteshazzar's) interpretation. Chapter 4, Verses 19-26 read:
“My lord, may the dream be for those who hate you and its interpretation for your enemies! The tree you saw, which grew and became strong, so that its top reached to heaven, and it was visible to the end of the whole earth, whose leaves were beautiful and its fruit abundant, and in which was food for all, under which beasts of the field found shade, and in whose branches the birds of the heavens lived— it is you, O king, who have grown and become strong. Your greatness has grown and reaches to heaven, and your dominion to the ends of the earth. And because the king saw a watcher, a holy one, coming down from heaven and saying, ‘Chop down the tree and destroy it, but leave the stump of its roots in the earth, bound with a band of iron and bronze, in the tender grass of the field, and let him be wet with the dew of heaven, and let his portion be with the beasts of the field, till seven periods of time pass over him,’ this is the interpretation, O king: It is a decree of the Most High, which has come upon my lord the king, that you shall be driven from among men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. You shall be made to eat grass like an ox, and you shall be wet with the dew of heaven, and seven periods of time shall pass over you, till you know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will. And as it was commanded to leave the stump of the roots of the tree, your kingdom shall be confirmed for you from the time that you know that Heaven rules.
Daniel uses his God given gift to interpret the king's bizarre dream. But he doesn't stop there. Check out what he tells him in verse 27:
Therefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable to you: break off your sins by practicing righteousness, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the oppressed, that there may perhaps be a lengthening of your prosperity.”
Many times in the Old Testament, prosperity was correlated to God's favor. We see that in Daniels warning to King Nebuchadnezzar. When I see those words that Daniel gave to the King, however, they remind me of Jesus saying plainly, "No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” over in the Gospel of Luke. But back to Daniel. Now, you would think that after Daniel had already correctly interpreted Nebuchadnezzar's first dream back in chapter 2, the king would listen to him on this one. Of course that doesn't happen. Look at the king's lack of humility in verses 28-33:
All this came upon King Nebuchadnezzar. At the end of twelve months he was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, and the king answered and said, “Is not this great Babylon, which I have built by my mighty power as a royal residence and for the glory of my majesty?” While the words were still in the king's mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, “O King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: The kingdom has departed from you, and you shall be driven from among men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. And you shall be made to eat grass like an ox, and seven periods of time shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will.” Immediately the word was fulfilled against Nebuchadnezzar. He was driven from among men and ate grass like an ox, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hair grew as long as eagles' feathers, and his nails were like birds' claws.
So even though Nebuchadnezzar was given more then sufficient warning from Daniel, Daniel's words were not enough to break down the kings pride. He thought himself to be a self-made man and no mortal's words were about to change that. It took a miraculous work of God to get Nebuchadnezzar to humble himself. It took 7 years of eating grass like an animal when all he had to do was simply listen to a prophet who had never steered him wrong. He finally was humbled and as promised earlier in verse 26, his kingdom was confirmed after he knew that Heaven ruled. His kingdom was restored and glory was given to God by Nebuchadnezzar in verses 34-37:
At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever,
for his dominion is an everlasting dominion,
and his kingdom endures from generation to generation;
all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing,
and he does according to his will among the host of heaven
and among the inhabitants of the earth;
and none can stay his hand
or say to him, “What have you done?”
At the same time my reason returned to me, and for the glory of my kingdom, my majesty and splendor returned to me. My counselors and my lords sought me, and I was established in my kingdom, and still more greatness was added to me. Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, for all his works are right and his ways are just; and those who walk in pride he is able to humble.
All this to say that as evangelists we are to remain humble. After all, we are just being obedient to God's commands, leadings, and giftings. Daniel was all about obedience. He only did what he was called to do. He said all the right things to Nebuchadnezzar. His accurate interpretations along with the warning to repent should have brought the king to his senses but ultimately God did all the work in getting the king broken, then restored. Nebuchadnezzar finally went from glorifying himself to glorifying God. Daniel, though obedient, had nothing to do with it in the end. Like Paul Washer has said, "God saved you from Himself, God saved you for Himself and God saved you by Himself.” Nebuchadnezzar would have to agree with Paul Washer on that one. We see that in his response in verse 37. It tells as that he was humble. Nebuchadnezzar acknowledged that his restoration and new found praise for the Most High had nothing to do with any decision he had made. It was all of God. So whether you are saved or you are the person who is out in the world telling other people how to be saved, show some humility. To God alone be the glory for salvation and for the free gift of eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord!!
I just want to leave you with a couple last thoughts. We may say all the right things to someone as we witness to them and, like Daniel, have nothing immediate come from it. Don't get discouraged, God is in the business of saving people. It could be that God has saved people that we have shared the gospel with but to keep us humble, perhaps we don't get to see those results in this life. Remember that it took Nebuchadnezzar 7 years to come to repentance! If someone does turn from their sins and put their faith in Jesus through our message that's great! Let us stay humble about it and give all glory to God. We just need to concentrate on continuing in our obedience to the Lord Jesus and His Great Commission by giving lost sinners the biblical message. I love what John MacArthur said in a sermon. "No one should be so humble. No one should be so meek as those who preach the gospel. Because, we're the only profession in the world where we can take absolutely no credit for everything we do." We see that in this story of Daniel and Nebuchadnezzar. We clearly see that salvation is a truly amazing gift of God. It came to me in a hospital room as my daughter was near death. I wasn't looking for it but He came looking for me nonetheless. Why? Sometimes I just have no idea. It still baffles me to this day how much He loves me no matter how much I fail Him. This beautiful information doesn't keep me nearly as humble as it should though. That God would write my name in the Book of Life from the foundation of the world and that He would take my place on a Roman cross is truly amazing grace(Ephesians 1)! So I write this to keep myself humble. If it works to keep you humble too, Soli Deo Gloria!! Let's humbly do the work of evangelists, God will take care of the rest.
English Standard Version (ESV)
Our God is a God of salvation,
and to GOD, the Lord, belong deliverances from death.