Editor’s Note: I was getting the Newsletter ready after a two-week speaking tour and realized I had not given Moishe any lead time to write a “Musing” for this month. So I thought as a Pentecost reflection, I would “muse” over a couple of things I’ve often heard him say.
Two of my favorite Moishe Rosen quotes have to do with the Holy Spirit and His role in evangelism. You may have seen them previously in our publications, but I don’t recall them presented as two sides of the same coin. They are as follows:
“Salesmanship is no substitute for a Spirit-led ministry”
“You can’t turn off what the Holy Spirit is turning on.”
These two aphorisms are self-explanatory, but taken together they provide a much needed reminder that hearts are not won to the Messiah through our techniques any more than they are hindered by our inadequacies. They also speak to two of the saddest situations that we see in the field of Jewish evangelism:
1. Those who believe that they know “the right way” to communicate the gospel to Jewish people and denigrate the work of brothers and sisters as “doing more harm than good.”
2. Those who do not witness because they know they don’t know “the right way,” and fear that a less than perfect witness will “turn off” their Jewish friend.
Both situations present people who see offence or rejection on the part of the person witnessed to as harm, and continued friendship with the unsaved person as good. This makes perfect sense if friendship between two people is the ultimate good. But might we not do “more harm than good” if we see our friendship with the unsaved as the greatest good that we have to offer, or if we refuse to risk that friendship for a greater good—which is that person’s friendship with God?
Those who think they know the right way to witness as well as those who fear they don’t, need to remember that it is God’s grace and His Spirit that draws people to faith. If we make ourselves available for that process, God will use us. We might be the one to soften the hard soil (e.g. receive the most resistance and possibly anger) or we might be the one to plant the seed once the ground has been broken. We might be the one to water that seed or even to reap the harvest. It’s not helpful to second guess God. Whether He uses us as the first to open the subject of the gospel or whether He allows us to “close the deal” is up to Him. But if we think that the entire process depends on us, or that our tactics determine how people respond to the gospel, we will probably either be too arrogant or too under-confident to be of much use.
That is not to say that missionaries and lay people ought not present the gospel with as much wisdom and winsomeness as possible. It helps to understand why people object to the gospel so that we can challenge those objections on reasonable grounds. But Jesus did not choose to leave a missionary handbook when He ascended to heaven; instead He sent the Holy Spirit to empower His disciples to fulfill His Great Commission.
Even so, may we be sensitive to the Holy Spirit—professional evangelists and lay people alike—making room in our hearts for Him to empower and lead us, and speaking the truth in love to those He brings our way.