The Great Privilege

I don’t know about you, but I get tired of always hearing about process where I work as a government contractor. “Process” seems to have taken over everything! It’s not like when I was running a communications shop in the Army, or even when I was the Operations Sergeant Major in the Battalion Headquarters. At least then ‘process’ was about more effectively getting the job done. Sometimes that meant figuring out to do more with the same or fewer people. Sometimes it was learning to accomplish the mission with the resources that were available. If the ‘process’ worked, it ended up as part of somebody’s SOP (Standard Operating Procedure). These days it seems the ‘process’ is the mission! I sit next to a ‘process engineer’ and sometimes, when I overhear his side of phone conversations, I feel his pain!

Well, guess what? God is into ‘process’! Check this out:

“For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. How are they to call on one they have not believed in? And how are they to believe in one they have not heard of? And how are they to hear without someone preaching to them? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How timely is the arrival of those who proclaim the good news.”[1]  But not all have obeyed the good news, for Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our report?”[2] Consequently faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the preached word of Christ. Romans 10:14-17 (NET)

That looks like a ‘process’ to me! Just in case you missed it, let’s identify the process ‘steps’.

· Call on the name of the Lord and you will be saved. (The end state.)

· Before you can call on the name of the Lord you have to believe.

· Before you can believe you have to hear.

· Before you can hear there needs to be a ‘preacher’

· Before there’s a ‘preacher’, there is a ‘sending’

If it didn’t before, does it look like a process now?

Where I work, my Process Engineer (PE) buddy keeps track of all the written processes we use and helps develop new processes when they are needed. He also ensures people are actually following the established processes.

The Apostle Paul, who wrote the letter to the Romans, is reminding Christians in Rome of the process, like my buddy at work does. You might also see Paul as one of the ‘sent preachers’, since after his conversion he dedicated his life to preaching the gospel, at times while working a regular job (tent making). Now the process ‘developer’ – that’s another story. In fact, you’ve probably already figured out that God is the originator of the process – the grand architect.

The only part of the process not specifically mentioned in the above passage from Romans is the work of the Holy Spirit in the heart of the person who has NOT yet called on the name of the Lord for salvation. In order for any person to call on the Lord, that person needs to have come to the point of realizing his/her condition of being lost and helpless, without a hope in the world of being saved through human effort. Some would say that this is the ‘drawing’ by the Father to the Son that Jesus spoke of in John 6:44 and the ‘enabling’ spoken of in John 6:65.

When that ‘drawing’ happens in the heart of the one who is needy and the gospel is ‘preached’ there is a supernatural combining of the realization of one’s ‘lost’ condition and the hearing of the word that results in calling out to the Lord and the saving of a soul for eternity!

This amazing process that brings such sweet relief on the day of our salvation even “honors” the human will by turning the human heart, which is totally dead and unable to choose anything but sin (Romans 3: 10-18), toward God, so that our decision for Christ is out of our own ‘freed’ will. We choose Christ because we desire him. We desire him because God has given us mercy and placed the necessary desire within us.

You could say God ‘owns’ the process, using the terms of the workplace. All three persons of the Trinity act in unity to miraculously create the new birth in Christ! The Father is the master architect, the Son suffered, died and was resurrected to make it possible, and the Holy Spirit operates at both ends; preparing the heart of that one lost in sin and prompting someone to share the gospel (read ‘sends the preacher’).

So what does all this process ‘stuff’ have to do with the ‘The Great Privilege’? Let me answer that with a couple of other questions:

Did God have to develop a ‘process’ to save anyone? No! Isn’t He God? Yes! After all, didn’t he confront Paul on the road to Damascus without human intervention? Yes! God can save ANY ONE, ANY TIME, ANY WAY He wants! At stake are the eternal souls of men and women and God decides to use a method to save them that involves using regular, ordinary people as ‘process agents’.

Consider the original twelve disciples. Among those Jesus chose were some fisherman, an IRS agent and at least one political activist. None of them had any sort of higher education. There wasn’t a learned religious leader, popular speaker, or finely dressed rich guy among the lot. Peter denied him, they argued about who was the greatest, and when he went to the Cross, all but one (John) disappeared from the scene. Why these guys?

About all I can say to that is that He is GOD and it’s HIS choice. The Apostle Paul, speaking to Christians at Corinth provides a better answer:

“Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things–and the things that are not–to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.” [3]

There are probably other reasons why He chooses to use bumbling believers as ‘process agents’, but for the moment, it’s enough that He chose the method – ‘designed the process’.

That’s where ‘Privilege’ enters the picture. God doesn’t need people to save anyone – you, me or anyone else. It’s our Great Privilege to take the good news to the world around us. If He prompts me to share that news and I refuse, He’ll send another. If that one refuses, He’ll send another. The mission WILL be accomplished, with or without me. God WILL send a man or woman obedient to the call and souls WILL be saved according to HIS plan! As one pair of evangelical writers said so well:

“The Spirit of God uses the Word of God through men and women of God to make the message about the Son of God available to all who want to know the truth. There is no limit to the creative ways God can use to bring about this process.” – from “I’m Glad You Asked” – Ken Boa and Larry Moody

Reader, listen closely. Do you remember when you first embraced your Savior? Did not something happen inside you to cause you to desire God? Did you not somehow ‘hear’ the good news of salvation in Christ and then call out to Him for that precious gift? Are you saved, to your eternal benefit and His everlasting glory?

If so, the one who saved you now ‘sends’ you into the world to share the greatest news mankind can will ever know! That’s not my opinion. Hear some of the last words of Jesus as He prayed earnestly to the Father on behalf of his closest disciples, those 12 ordinary men, shortly before He went to the cross of Calvary.

“But now I am coming to you, and I am saying these things in the world, so they may experience my joy completed in themselves. I have given them your word, and the world has hated them, because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world.  I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but that you keep them safe from the evil one. They do not belong to the world just as I do not belong to the world. Set them apart in the truth; your word is truth. Just as you sent me into the world, so I sent them into the world.” John 17:13-18 (NET)

Do you desire to be called? Are you prepared to go when called? Will you share the Great Privilege?

I leave you with the question and pray that the answer is a resounding YES – that like the prophet of old, you will hear the voice of the Lord saying , “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And you will say, “Here am I. Send me!”[4]

[1] Isaiah 52:7

[2] Isaiah 53:1

[3] 1 Corinthians 1:26-29

[4] Isaiah 6:8

Posted 8 March 2008

3 responses to “The Great Privilege

  1. Thanks for stopping by, being the first comment in my entire WordPress blogging career, and your enouragement. I had to delete the ‘canned’ comment (Whoops). “Blogger” growing pains?


  2. Pingback: Born on ‘Death Row’ « The Battle Cry

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s