Winning Ways - from Hillcrest Baptist Church, Austin, Texas 
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(Sermon series beginning June 26)
Hillcrest Baptist Church

Does God Find You Useful?
by Tom Goodman
June 29, 2011

Last Sunday we began a new sermon series called Word! Changing Lives with Unchanging Truth.  But is it our job or God's job to change lives?


"I am sending you to open their eyes," the risen Christ said to Paul (Acts 26:17-18).  Opening the eyes of the spiritually blind is God's work (2 Corinthians 4:6), but Jesus sends Paul to open their eyes.

"I have become all things to all people," Paul wrote, "that by all means I might save some" (1 Corinthians 9:22).  He knew that God does the saving (Jeremiah 24:7), and yet Paul said he did whatever it took to "save" people.

"Whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering," James wrote, "will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins" (James 5:20).  Isn't God the one who brings people back to himself (Jeremiah 31:18; Isaiah 57:18)?  Yes, and yet the Bible calls us to bring people back from sin and death.

"He will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God," the angel said of John the Baptist, "and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just." (Luke 1:16-17).  Again, though God works to turn hearts to himself (2 Thessalonians 3:5), John was commissioned to turn hearts to God.

"You have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God," Peter wrote, adding, "and this word is the good news that was preached to you" (1 Peter 1:23-25).  So, the same Bible that says the Spirit of God causes new birth, blowing where he wills (John 3:8), also says that the new birth comes from someone preaching the gospel.

So, according to the texts above, we are to "open their eyes," "save some," "bring back" sinners from their wandering, "turn many" to the Lord, and see people born again through announcing the good news to them.

In a recent article, John Piper reviewed these texts and concluded: "God is the decisive, ultimate cause of conversion, but we are his agents, and he calls us to join him in this goal.  Not to aim at it is to put ourselves out of step with his command and his Spirit."

So... are you in step?

Join us this Sunday as we re-commit to being useful instruments in God's hands.


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