Who Desires To See People Saved?

     For many years, I struggled with a desire to witness and see people getting saved and not feeling it happened often enough.  I took a seminary course where the professor talked about how he ‘won’ people to Jesus nearly every day.  He proudly declared that he had ‘led’ as many as 30 people per week!  I hope that is true but I have some doubt. 

   “Getting Saved” should be the same point as when a person becomes a new creation in Christ.  Jesus called it, “Being born again”. While the seminary professor is certain about his evangelism, I’m not convinced those professing Christ have led to a changed life.  The fruit of the Spirit doesn’t yet grow on a sprout. It takes time, watering, and patience. 

   Saul was on his way to Damascus to arrest the followers of “The Way”.  Jesus appeared to Saul in such a way that there could be no doubt that Jesus was God.  In that moment, everything Saul thought he was doing for God, was shown to be selfish pride and arrogance.  Jesus told Saul to,  “get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” (Acts 9:6).  Jesus desired to see Saul saved, but in faith, Saul obeyed.  

   This leaves a little speculation about when Saul was actuallyborn again’Was He saved the moment he believed Jesus? Was He saved when he took the hand of his assistant to walk toward Damascus instead of turning tail and going home blind?  Only God really knows.  What we see however is that God doesn’t just save people and then leave them on their own. He had a plan for Saul to encounter Ananias.  Then Saul was healed of his blindness and filled with the Holy Spirit.  Then Saul immediately began proclaiming Jesus in the synagogues: “He is the Son of God.”(v20) and “Saul grew stronger and kept confounding the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Messiah”(v22).

   As a good Southern Baptist I would say, Saul was saved when the Holy Spirit entered him.  However, I would argue, didn’t God know He was planning to save Saul all along?  Wasn’t it God’s plan to save?  

   God wants to save people even more than we want to see them saved. After all, God endured watching His only begotten Son crushed and bled out upon a cursed tree, wouldn’t He want every last bit of Jesus suffering to cover as much sin as possible?  

   But we, the redeemed, don’t get to decide when a person is saved because we don’t do the saving. Jesus does. He’s the righteous judge. All we are is obedient servants. We choose whether we take the hand we are offered and follow where He leads. This is faith and this is observable.

   The only way an evangelist can really know a person has been saved is if they see observable faith.  It may be that speaking the sinners prayer out loud is observable, but it may be said without faith. However, when a person has been truly born again or saved, they are going to be obedient to Jesus.  It will be observable. This person, like Saul, needs a chance to learn and grow in their newfound faith.  Like the parable of the vine and branches, they are being pruned to bear fruit but the fruit takes time to grow. Fruit is observable. 

   So, I do want to see people saved, but it takes time to bring a person from salvation to bearing fruit.  I am not satisfied in only doing half the job for Jesus. 

   In conclusion, the mission of evangelism is best served through multiplication, not addition.  If I tell one person about Jesus, and they tell one person, and they tell one person, there will be a singular line of people getting saved. But, if just one person (in this example) fails to do their job, the line will be broken. 

   However, if I tell two people about Jesus, or even better, teach them how to win others to Jesus, then some day, when I enter heaven, I will likely be greeted by hundreds or maybe thousands who have come to faith because of the work done here on earth. 

   Jesus said we are to “Go and make disciples” and remember, Jesus wants to see them saved more than you do.