4/16/12 Julio, about 45
"One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.” So Paul stayed in Corinth for a year and a half, teaching them the word of God." (Acts 18) Some people use the doctrine of "election" (God's choice of who will be saved) as an excuse not to evangelize. They reason that God's elect will be saved whether or not we witness to them. But if this was the case, why did Paul go to Corinth and stay for so long after being told by the Lord that He had "many people in this city"? I believe its because the primary reason for evangelism is obedience to the Lord, not because responsibility for the salvation of others rests on us. This thought frees me to joyfully share the gospel and let the Holy Spirit handle the details - which I did today while waiting in line at the DMV for my drivers license renewal. A man named Julio said he believes he will go to heaven because God is merciful, not because he deserves it. This sounded like a great answer, but I'm learning to dig a little deeper - "So if some people end up in heaven but others in hell on judgment day, why might you end up in heaven?" "God looks at the good and bad in my life" was his answer. From his answer I believe his faith is in his own righteousness - despite his initial humility. In addition to good deeds, many people trust in their own repentance or humility, but the gospel calls us to faith in Christ alone. Julio didn't respond with repentance and belief as I shared gospel truths with him, but the doctrine of election lets me know that he may be one whom God has chosen to believe - just not today. Election lets me know that when God commands us to go "fishing for men", he guarantees that we will catch some "fish", whether we are aware of it or not!