8th July 2012

‘Cause The World Depends On Us

“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, ‘Your God reigns. … The Lord will lay bare his holy arm in the sight of the nations, and all the ends of the earth will see the salvation of our God.’”
Isaiah 52:7, 10 (NIV UK)

Do you remember the old Johnny Horton ballad called “Sink the Bismarck”? It told the story of a naval battle, early in the Second World War, when a group of British ships set out to sink Nazi Germany’s most powerful battleship, the Bismarck. One of the lines in the song goes like this: “We gotta sink the Bismarck ’cause the world depends on us.”

That’s much like the approach we evangelical Christians tend to take in spreading the gospel. We act as though we’re spreading the gospel because “the world depends on us.” That mindset certainly drives many people to do some heroic things. But there is a downside. It can make us think that salvation is something that depends primarily on what we do.

But the Bible tells us that salvation depends on Jesus, not on us. Jesus did all that needed to be done—all indeed that could be done—to secure the salvation of the human race. That is the good news of the gospel. Whenever we try to add to that—thinking our efforts are needed to somehow finish or complete the process—we end up distorting the message. The world’s salvation does not “depend on us.” No one’s salvation depends on us.

But, we are blessed to have a part in the process of sharing the good news; we have the privilege to preach it, spread it, share it, print it and broadcast it. There are so many ways we’ve been blessed to take part, but no person’s salvation is won or lost on our account. God is never hamstrung by our ineptitude, lack of effectiveness, irresponsibility or laziness—any more than he is spared from losing anyone because of our great skills of oration or persuasion.

We have a part in the work of the gospel by grace, not by necessity. It is by grace we share in the work of the gospel; but the Father, the Son and the Spirit are the ones getting the job done, not us. Jesus said in John 13:35: “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

When Christians work together in love, the understanding of the faith grows. But when Christianity has been used as a cloak for greed, aggression or political advantage—the gospel has been discredited. Real Christian love produces a climate in which the gospel can germinate and bear fruit in others.

The world’s salvation doesn’t depend on us, and thinking that way easily leads to mistakes and a false sense of importance. But Jesus is at work in us—through the Holy Spirit—to help us live up to what we believe, according to our opportunities and means. As we do that, we may not change the course of history, but we will, by God’s grace, in Jesus’ name, and in the power of the Spirit, have made a difference.

Holy Father, thank you that you that you are in charge, and not us. Even with our best intentions we mess things up and fall short, whereas you always succeed. The more we experience you at work, the more we glorify and magnify your name, as your goal of salvation draws ever nearer. In Jesus’ name we pray.

Study by Joseph Tkach

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