Each man that served his country in the war was given a copy of the Gideon's New Testament. Rather than reading the abridged version of the Bible he was issued, one soldier chose to use the pages of the scriptures as rolling papers for his tobacco cigarettes. ˆ
Little did he know, those 'rolling papers' would save his life one day, both physically and spiritually.
While I was on a 15-minute break at a previous employer's establishment, a co-worker recounted the story of a fellow veteran who was an atheist. The fellow marine, who claimed he did not believe in God or want to hear anything about Him, experienced the awesome grace of God and thus was forever changed. ˆ
During an encounter on the battlefield, those remaining pages in the fellow's Gideon's New Testament Bible served as a buffer that saved his life. An enemy soldier fired a shot that connected with the athiest's chest, leaving him to believe that his life was nearing completion.
However, the small Bible that he used for cigarette papers absorbed the majority of the impact and left the serviceman with only a small graze on his chest.
Following the supposed near death experience, the marine placed his trust in Jesus Christ as personal Savior and hence from the episode received physical and spiritual salvation.
Now, not every conversion experience is nearly as dramatic as the case in which this soldier received eternal life, but every sinner who places his faith in Christ is nonetheless saved by the power of God.
When writing to the church in Rome, Paul the apostle penned the following words concerning the might of the gospel: 'So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.' (Romans 1:15-16)
Paul was always ready to share his faith and preach the good news of salvation through the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He knew that the power to save one's soul resided within God's hands and that his mission was to spread the word of Christ's miraculous defeat of death. ˆ
Attempting to force or coerce fellow humans into making a profession of faith was not a part of Paul's tactics, for he knew that he did not possess the saving power. God called Paul to serve as a minister in the advancement of the Lord's Kingdom through the dissemination of His Word; no more, no less. Paul knew that he was powerless in the process and that God was conversely all-powerful.
The fact that the power to save souls abides within the Maker's hands is pointed out by Paul again within one of his letters to the Corinthian church. A portion of the apostle's letter states that all laborers within the kingdom of God work toward a common goal: planting and watering the Word of God in the hearts and minds of individuals, so that they may see their need for salvation and place their trust in Christ.
'I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.
So then neither is he that planteth anything, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.' (1 Corinthians 3:6-7)
Paul explains that he was the first to tell the people of Corinth about the saving power of Jesus, and that Apollos proclaimed the truth to these people thereafter. But, God is the one who gave the increase, or saved the souls of the people.
Saving souls is solely the duty of God. The duty of men and women is to share the Word of God with others, for it is the medium through which the Lord shows individuals that they are sinners and need a savior. ˆ
Regardless of the year, whether 2011 or 3011, two constants will remain: everyone born into this world is a sinner in need of salvation through Jesus Christ, and the Lord will work through his Word and the Holy Spirit to open the eyes of lost souls so they can see their need of salvation. ˆ
My hope is that followers of Jesus Christ open their mouths and share the Word of the Lord with others, and through love, pave the way for God to use His immeasurable saving power.