“I only say, that, when the stupid hardness of heart, which the wicked eagerly court as a means of despising God, becomes enfeebled, the sense of Deity, which of all things they wished most to be extinguished, is still in vigor, and now and then breaks forth.”
John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion 1.3.3
Most Christians find sharing the gospel with a non-Christian terrifying. And I agree that it is. The whole experience is filled with nervousness and fear at the uncertainties about how the non-Christian will respond.
Will he simply ignore it? Will he get upset? Offended? Hostile?
These fears, along with the awkwardness of the situation, keeps many Christians from sharing the gospel.
Along with the fears of evangelism, there is also the discouragement. So many people who hear the gospel are indifferent or hostile to it. What we believe to be important is ignored by so many people that we talk to. This is especially difficult when the non-Christians are close friends or families.
The situation can even be downright depressing, as it can seem that our loved ones will never accept the gospel.
If the above quotation from Calvin is correct, then what he says can help encourage us to share the gospel.
Calvin says that every person, no matter how sinful, has a sense of God. This sense is an awareness that God exists, but it is often hidden underneath sin. It is so hidden that many people do not ever realize that they have a sense of God’s existence in their lives.
How does this help us share the gospel with less fear and discouragement?
Every once in a while, the sense of God breaks forth clearly from the hearts of the non-Christians. Something happens in their lives that cause the wicked part of their heart to weaken and for the sense of God to break through.
At this moment they are most receptive to the gospel. If we share the gospel when possible, eventually we will be sharing the gospel with someone at the moment the sense of God is clear in her life.
We should not be fearful or discouraged, because we should know that everyone has a sense of God that could, at any moment, break forth. No one is hopeless. Even someone who might be hostile to the gospel will eventually have a moment when the sense of God breaks through.
It motivates me to know this. The gospel will not always fall on a calloused heart.