If people are converted to Christ it’s because God stooped to use inadequate people like you and me to confront them with the gospel. Like preaching to a corpse, however, we cannot cause life to invade dead souls, even if we have eloquent, logical, and emotive words.
I heard of a preaching professor who took his students to a graveyard to make this very point. He stood them around the burial spot of a man and commanded them to preach life into the body. They refused, out of embarrassment. But he prevailed as the professor, and the men preached passionately to the corpse. You already know what happened . . . or didn’t happen. You were probably humored when you read this because the scene is so absurd to imagine.
We are adequate in our evangelism only in the way a shovel is adequate to dig a ditch, or a dust pan is adequate to hold what is swept off the floor, or a microphone is adequate to stir a crowd. We fit the occasion and have our place, but the “doing” of it is by God.
I don’t want to demean our efforts for God invites them, but God always condescends to use severely inadequate people whenever we work for Him. No, “categorically inadequate people” is a better term. We play a necessary part; the gospel must be heard, either at one time, or over time, for a person to believe. The gospel is truth to be believed after all. But the saving is entirely of God, and whatever effects we have are always because God uses men and women who are entirely insufficient in themselves to affect the change that is necessary.
When we pray for power in evangelism, what do we want? We want God to give extraordinary effects to our efforts. We want God to do way more than vibrate the timpanic membrane of ears and send electronic impulses to the brain of our listener. We want life to come into his dead soul. LIFE! Your words alone can’t do that.
Remember this simple phrase from Paul as you think about your evangelism: “For by His doing you are in Christ Jesus . . . (1 Cor 1:30). Paul had come to the Corinthians with a message, and others had also shared it, but Paul knew the source of all saving effects.
I know you teach the gospel, but have you seen how it is rejected? Have you seen how it is ineffective without the Spirit doing something special? We preach to all, but when God calls through His teaching, that person is given life and follows Christ (1 Cor 1:22-24). The Father’s teaching is what Jesus spoke of below:
“And it is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught of God,’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me” (John 6:45).
Unlike you, the Father is always effective when He teaches. And when you are effective, it is only because God is effective and has chosen to use you as an instrument.
It is in this sense that Paul answers the question, “Who is adequate for such things” (2 Cor 2:16).
“Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant” (2 Cor 3:5-6).