“The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” – John 3:8
Way back in 1965 British singer/songwriter Donavan recorded a song called “Catch The Wind”. It was his first recording and a chart buster. It was a love song about the woman he later married. Perhaps the most memorable line, repeated at the end of each stanza and a few times at the end of the song was (at least to this guy):
“Ah, but I may as well try and catch the wind.”
What does a ‘Golden Oldie’ have to do with this blog post? Thanks for asking!
Well, the song compares the romantic thoughts a young man has concerning a young woman, and the chances of real romance being as elusive as ‘trying to catch the wind’. That memorable line line came to mind this morning while I was doing my morning workout and listening to a short teaching by a Baptist Pastor concerning evangelism; specific methods used, and of course the topic of obtaining an immediate decision for Christ, or ‘closing the deal’. If we can just obtain a ‘decision’ we can add another ‘saved’ soul to our evangelistic tally sheets. The question he posed the listener was “Who really ‘closes the deal?”
And an excellent question it is! While a decision for Christ is sometimes an immediate result of an evangelistic encounter (we see several accounts in the book of Acts alone), are decisions for Christ the product of our efforts or the result of the Holy Spirit’s work of impressing upon a human heart the gravity of sin, opening that heart to hear and receive the message of the gospel, offering grace through the gift of faith, and in essence ‘closing the deal’.
When we realize what happens in the above process, we can also see that there needs to be someone who delivers the gospel message. That’s where we come in, and it seems to be our only role – just a messenger. But not ‘just’ a messenger. The good news we have for the lost and dying all around us is the greatest news a person could ever hear!
In that encounter with Nicodemus in John, Chapter 3 we have displayed before us, the sovereignty of God in the salvation of men.
Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ “– vv. 3-7
How does the ‘new birth’ happen? Do words of men, cleverly presented produce the new birth? Is it our presenting an attractive Jesus the hearer might like do it? Does the ‘fire and brimstone’ of threats of eternal punishment in Hell do it? Can we direct, steer, or otherwise influence a spiritual rebirth? I think not! Listen the very next verse:
“The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (v. 8)
The one who ‘closes the deal’ – produces faith to to believe, is none other than the Holy Spirit. It’s the Holy Spirit who gives life to spiritually dead men and women, who turns hearts of stone into hearts of flesh, creates a desire for God where there was none, who opens hearts to hear the message of the gospel, impresses the truth of the gospel on the human heart, causing the one who realizes his/her condition apart from Christ to run to the Cross!
At the same time, we are to persuade others of the truth of the gospel, since we have been entrusted with the ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor 5:11). In our persuading however, we need to remember that it’s not our job to ‘close the deal’. Rather, remember Donavan:
“Ah, but we may as well try and catch the wind.”