Have you ever wondered why your friend will simply not listen to you when you try to tell them about your faith? Jesus explains…
“If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.” John 8:46-47 (ESV)
Some people just cannot hear, because God has not given them ears. Or, as Jesus put it, they are “not of God.” Therefore, our first step must always be to ask God to give them hearing.
This truth reminds me of the story of the homiletics (preaching) professor who one day took his class to the cemetery. The bewildered students stood around a grave, and he asked one of them to begin preaching to the dead person, telling him to come to life. The student thought the prof was joking. He said he was quite serious. So the student began to talk to the grave, and then seizing the moment, actually began to shout at the dead person.
Satisfied that the young man had done what was asked, the professor looked around and said, “Do you understand the lesson?”
The students said nothing, which seemed the safest course.
So the professor continued, “One day, God willing, you will be called to a church. And some of those people in the pews will say they are alive, but they will dead. When you try to talk to them about conviction of sin, or repentance, or new life in Christ, they may nod their head, but there will be no change…because there will be no life. And similarly, when you relate to a professing unbeliever in the community about Christ, he or she will not be able to hear you, because they will be spiritually dead. They might as well be 6 feet under.
“So you must remember that the new birth is not something that you can manufacture with persuasive arguments and especially good illustrations, or with compelling preaching. Your church services may have terrific music and your preaching may be wonderful, but unless God makes someone alive, it will all be for naught.”
And so it is true with those we love and long to see come into the Kingdom. We must be faithful to share with them, but ultimately, our only hope for their salvation is the power of the Holy Spirit.
If He moves, they will be moved. If He makes them alive, only then can they come out of the grave.