I had a conversation with the leader of one of the world’s largest evangelistic organizations a few years ago. There had been a dispute in the church, and we were meeting to try to solve the problem. We were able to resolve the problem, and this man leaned over to me and said, “If we hadn’t had this meeting tonight, millions of people would’ve been lost.” And I responded, “If we wouldn’t have had this meeting tonight, not one person would’ve been lost,” because when God, from all eternity, elects somebody to salvation, you can bet the last dollar you have that person is going to come to faith. God does not make those sovereign determinations and leave their fulfillment up to chance.
The point we have to see in the New Testament is that our witnessing and our preaching are the means by which God brings to pass the ends of His divine purposes. Though God does not depend on me to preach or to teach or to witness to bring about His perfect purpose, nevertheless He gives me the unspeakable privilege of participating in His plan of redemption. As Paul writes in Romans 10:14–15: “How shall they believe unless they hear? How shall they hear unless there’s a preacher?” Then he goes on to quote the Old Testament: “How beautiful on the mountain are the feet of those who bringeth good tidings and who publish peace.”
Now, I know that I came to Christ through the witness of an individual who told me about Jesus. And because of his witness to me, I will love him forever and be eternally grateful to him. I also know that God could’ve converted me without him, but He didn’t; He chose to use the witness and the testimony of that person as the means by which He brought me to saving faith.
So, we can never ever diminish the importance of our witnessing, our bearing testimony, and our proclaiming the gospel to friends and family and everybody else. At the same time, however, we know that their salvation does not depend on us, but on God the Holy Spirit.