Thinking Seriously About the Lost People You Love

Half of Noël’s life and almost half of mine has been here, and it’s been sweet. You had three services in the morning and then one service in the evening. That was work. People think we work today. That was work to preach three times in the morning. And that service in the evening wasn’t the same service. That was a new service with a new message. So those were pressured days, and God was so good.

Abraham was six months old when we came, so that is about as early as you’ll get of a picture of the family when we started here. We lived in the yellow house where Tom Steller lives now over here in Elliot Park. And then when our family grew, we then decided we probably needed a little more room. Barnabas came in 1983. When Barnabas was born then we moved to where we are now over across the freeway, about the same distance from the church.

We have five children, and the oldest is Karsten. He’s 40 now. Benjamin is 37 now. And Abraham lives just a few blocks from here with his four children now. And then there’s Barnabas who lives near Chicago. And there’s Talitha who is seventeen. So we have kids from seventeen to 40. We’ve been parenting all our lives it seems like, and we’ll be parenting until the day we die, we have now learned.

Those Who Did Not Trust Christ

This is what I want to talk about because Keith said it might strike a chord in all of us: thinking about our children or grandchildren who do not trust Christ. I won’t ask for a show of hands, but my guess is that if it’s not a child or a grandchild, it’s a sister, or a brother, or a dad, or an uncle, or a nephew that is breaking your heart with regard to not following Jesus. And so what I want to do is put that in a biblical framework.

“Let your kids know we depend on mercy. This has to be a mercy-based family, not a deed-based family.”

One of the things we’re doing right now as a family, that is three of us at home, is having devotions in the morning, and we’re working through the New City Catechism produced by Tim Keller. It’s an app for your phone or your iPad, and it’s free, and it’s one question from the Catechism of the historic churches for every week of the year. And it’s got a little video of two or three minutes of a pastor speaking on the question. And the question, and some commentary from history and a prayer. We just watched Mark Dever answer the question, “Who is the Redeemer?” And Mark spoke for three minutes, and his face was bright, his eyes were gleaming, and the truth coming out of his mouth was biblical and articulate and beautiful. And I just felt inside: I love to hear the gospel. I love it when somebody tells me the good news clearly, every sentence of which I know by heart. I just love to hear it, especially when somebody radiates it.

And so I was thinking, probably there are no new thoughts for you about lost people that you care about, about salvation, about how to be saved. But it might be good to rehearse it together. And that’s what we’re going to do with some practical helps along the way. None of us likes to talk too much in detail about any of our kids’ problems, and we all know that if you’re married, or if you have kids or nieces or nephews, or somebody you care about, everybody has problems.

A Wonderful Place to Be

It was a huge privilege to bring my kids up at this church. This is all they’ve known. They don’t remember any other church. So if they have bad feelings about the church, it’s us. And if they have good feelings, it’s us. From my standpoint, those of you who invested in their lives in Sunday School, Brad investing in their lives, and then the others who have led, I thank God that I was here.

I used to brag to the church. I said, “You know, we’d been gone on vacation for four weeks and my kids, about two weeks into it, said, ‘When do we go back to Bethlehem?’” How many pastors’ kids say that? There’s a lot of them who don’t ever want to go back. They are just happy to be in another church somewhere because dad is so beat up that they don’t want to even be there because it’s hard for dad to be there.

I hope my kids never tasted that because I never felt that. I felt so supported. Our council of deacons first, for ten years, and then our council of elders for the next twenty years have been a source of strength to me, not a drain to me. I love to think about that. To walk into a council of elders meeting and believe when you go home afterward, even though you may have rough and tumble arguments, these men are on the same page. They love me, and I love them. This is pulling together. What a great team. And I have felt that for 30 years. And so it’s been a wonderful place to be, and a wonderful place to raise our children.

Not Without Struggles

We still had our struggles, though. Noël and I have to remind ourselves, as she did to me yesterday morning, of issues that our teenagers had when they were here. When I have these idealistic memories of good things for her, and she’s reminded me it wasn’t all that way. And just so you know, it wasn’t all that way. I won’t name any names and don’t want you even to try to associate with any particular of my sons, but there was one instance, for example, where one of my sons disappeared. Noël was away, and I was there by myself with him, and he wasn’t there when I got up in the morning. He left a note on his pillow and said, “I’ll be all right. Don’t worry about me. I’m sorry I let you down,” and he’s gone at age15.

What am I going to do? It’s Friday, and I thought okay, he’s smart; he knows that he’s got friends, and I didn’t do anything. I walked into church, wondering if he would be there. So picture me trying to preach, and I don’t even know where my son is. And he wasn’t there. I let one man know; I called one leader in the church to pray with me because I didn’t want to put this son in a bad light. And then when he didn’t show up on Sunday I called the school where he’s supposed to be, and I said, “Is my son there?” And they said, “Let me check.” And she said, “Yeah, he’s in class.” And I said, “Can I come down and see him?” “Well yeah, you’re his parent.” I said, “Okay. I’m coming to the school.”

And so I came to the school, went to the principal’s office. They called him up, and I stood outside the principal’s office and he comes walking down the hall toward me, and we fell into each other’s arms, and I said, “Will you come home tonight so we can talk?” And he said yeah. He had lied to me the night before about why he got home an hour late, and that’s why he said, “I’m sorry. I let you down.” He said he had a flat tire. He didn’t have a flat tire; he was out with his friends too long. It was an hour after he was supposed to be there.

That night, he and I, alone in our house, had one of the best talks we’ve ever had. I asked him, “Just deep down, what do you want?” That’s probably as far as the story should go. It was a happy ending, but just want you to know that pastors — and this pastor in particular — have walked through some hard things with our kids, even here at a church as sweet as this. And there are other stories I could tell you as well. There are no greater sorrows than the sorrows of our kids, and few greater joys than when things go well.

The God of the Gospel

So what about having kids who are not there, or you’re not even sure where they are. So let’s step back and walk through the gospel, and I’ll just go through some passages here. Keith is right that God has been the focus. God exists, let’s start there.

“Conversion is not behavioral training, it is a miracle of the Holy Spirit.”

I am God, and there is no other;
   I am God, and there is none like me,
    declaring the end from the beginning
    and from ancient times things not yet done,
saying, “My counsel shall stand,
    and I will accomplish all my purpose.”

So we start at Bethlehem with a big God. Then, we know this truth: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). So all of our kids are sinners, and we are sinners, parents are sinners. We need to confess to our children often. If I had to do over, I would confess my sins more to my children than I did. I did some, but still they had an idealized view of me that was too exalted and too perfectionistic. I did not confess often enough, I don’t think, to them that I am a sinner, and I need their forgiveness and I constantly lean on God for forgiveness. We live a gospel life and they’ trying to make that up for their own families now. Build it on the gospel. Let your kids know we depend on mercy. This has to be a mercy-based family, not a deed-based family.

The Essence of Sin

What is sin? Sin is preferring creation over the Creator. “Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images” (Romans 1:22–23). So you’re offered the glory of God for your soul’s satisfaction, and you don’t want it. You trade it for a car, or for television, or for food, or for a job, or for a wife, or for anything. You just exchange the glory of God, and it’s not your treasure anymore. That’s what sin is. Sin is spiritual deadness. “God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses” (Ephesians 2:4–5). Your kids are born dead. Your grandkids are born dead. They don’t just do sin, they are sinners. They don’t have spiritual life. Life is a gift. They need life. This is a deep reality, which is why conversion is not behavioral training; it is a miracle of the Holy Spirit that we pray down into their lives and our lives.

Sin is spiritual inability. “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14). So notice it says they are not able. Do you see that? They are not able to understand. Sin is spiritual. “For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot” (Romans 8:7). So when you’re looking at your kids or your grandkids, or the people you care about, you realize there’s a deep, deep inability here — a spiritual deadness, a hardness.

Look at this verse. This is one of the most striking verses about the layers of problems that we face as fallen people. “They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart” (Ephesians 4:18). Do you see how layered that is? At the bottom is hardness. That produces ignorance, alienation, lack of understanding. But at the bottom is hardness, and you’ve all felt it. You’ve sat down with somebody you care about, and you try to say something that will move them, or touch them, or awaken them. And they’re just blank. They’re just hard. They don’t have any spiritual taste buds to say, “That tastes wonderful.” It doesn’t taste to them at all because their taste buds, their spiritual taste buds, are hardened. They’re calloused, and what the Holy Spirit has to do is just cut off the callousness of our spiritual taste buds so that we have a sense of sin, and then Christ.

What Does It Mean to Be Lost?

There is real lostness. “The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10). When you use that word, that’s a biblical word. If you say, “I know somebody who is lost,” or, “I care about the lost,” the world may not know what you mean by that, but you should know what you mean by that. There is real lostness. What is it? Lostness is no God, no hope. “Remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12). That’s the condition of lostness. No hope and without God in the world.

Lostness is being under the wrath of God. Notice how this is worded, these words of Jesus: “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him” (John 3:36). It doesn’t say, “Comes upon him,” it says, “Remains upon him,” which means that it was already there. So the wrath of God is resting on fallen, dead, rebellious, hard people, and by faith, it will be taken away — the wrath of God will be taken away. We’ll see that in a moment, but right now we’re just defining lostness. Lostness is the remaining of the wrath of God on us.

Lostness is eternal fire. “And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire” (Matthew 18:8). And of course, this is why we weep. This is why a parent can’t sleep at night, for fear this could happen to our children, this could happen to our grandchildren or your friends.

Lostness is anguish. The rich man “called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame’” (Luke 16:24). Or the old version says, “I’m in torment in this flame.” So hell is eternal torment. There’s no rest, there’s no minute of relief.

The Justice of God

This raises the question, Is that just? So that’s why I’m going here next. There is justice.

The Rock, his work is perfect,
nbsp;  for all his ways are justice.
A God of faithfulness and without iniquity,
nbsp;  just and upright is he.

Yes, whatever else is true, God is just. Nobody will be in hell who doesn’t deserve to be in hell. That’s a rock-solid biblical truth. He is just. “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just” (Genesis 18:25)?

I’ll give you a little illustration of that text. Elsie just the grand old older lady of the church for years and years and years and she had a friend named Odette who would sit in the left-hand corner down there with noisy wrappers, unfolding them during service, feeding candy to her boys to keep them quiet, and I could hear it from the pulpit, and I loved Odette. And she asked me to do the funeral for her brother, who was an out and out known unbeliever. The first funeral of an unbeliever I had ever done.

I find funerals of believers wonderful. I love funerals. I’d rather do a funeral than a wedding any day, because people are so serious. They’re serious about life, they’re serious about eternity, they’re just drinking in any good news that you can tell them. Weddings they just want to get done. Get on with them.

“We’re all lost; we’re all sinners; we all deserve hell, and nobody has to go there — if they will have a Savior.”

So I did this funeral. We did it down at the funeral home down on Cedar. It was snowing like crazy. There was probably twenty people at the service, including Elsie and a few of her friends. And I thought what do you say at the funeral of an unbeliever because nobody in that room thought that this man was a believer, and they all are Christians, and they wondered what I would say. So I shared the gospel, which is what I think a pastor should do, the good news about us who are living, and the comfort that we can have, and that God is good, and that God provided a way. And when I was almost done I said, “Why don’t we all come to the front because we’re not going to the graveside in this weather.” These people are all over 80 years old, and it’s snowing like crazy and below twenty degrees. And I said, “I’m not going to even tempt you to go to the graveside, so we’re going to have it right here, right now.”

So we gathered around the coffin in a semi-circle. I looked at them and I said, “I know what you’re all thinking. You’re all thinking he’s lost.” I said, “We are not the judge. Nobody decides but God, where anybody is, and whether or not in any given last-minute, eleventh-hour repentance, like the thief on the cross, they might be saved. Nobody is the judge but God. But this we know for sure; shall not the judge of all the earth do what is just?” And there was, I think, a minute of a sense of, “All right, as painful as the possibility of his lostness is, God will do no wrong to him.” We really have to hold onto that. “There is no injustice with the Lord our God, or partiality or taking bribes” (2 Chronicles 19:7).

Now this is a text you don’t get preached on very often. Don’t even know if I have preached on it. I may have alluded to it:

And that servant who knew his master’s will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating. But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more. (Luke 19.47–48)

From which I infer there are degrees of punishment in hell. Do you think that’s a fair inference from that passage? This is a picture of a master who is punishing a slave, and the principle is that the more you know the worse the beating; the less you know the less the beating, which ties in with James 3:1: “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.” Can you imagine what it’s going to be like for me at the last day? What I have studied and what I have told you to do; can you imagine? I mean, there’s a thousand things I’ve told you to believe and told you to do, that the Lord Jesus will look at me and say, “So why didn’t you do more of that?”

We’ll talk about the Good News, but right now we’re just talking about lostness and the justice of God in it because I don’t want you to comfort yourself by saying, “Oh, well maybe there is no hell,” or, “Maybe there is no such thing as lostness,” or, “Maybe God is just all mercy and there’s no wrath.” That’s not a way toward comfort; that’s a way towards illusion. So we’re going to take seriously what we have seen here.

The Good News

Now we start the good news. God sent a Savior. What many people can’t grasp is that if they hear me say, “The wrath of God is resting upon unbelievers,” they’ll say, “Oh, I thought he was a God of love?” Well he is, and therefore he didn’t leave it with just his wrath. He’s now sending a Son who’s going to get under here. He’s going to lift his own wrath. That’s what the world can’t seem to handle — a God who is both wrathful and loving. A God who not only threatens with wrath, but then bears the wrath himself. So let’s watch for that. “The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15). Beautiful central statement. Yes, we’re all lost; yes, we’re all sinners; yes, we all deserve hell, and nobody has to go there — if they will have a Savior.

What did the Savior accomplish for us? This is beautiful, this is where I start seeing Mark Dever’s face radiant with the gospel because when I was typing these things I was thinking, Yes! Yes! Yes! This is really good news. He purchased the forgiveness of our sins: “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace” (Ephesians 1:7).

Let the Gospel Overflow with Joy

I’m going to say at the end that one of the things we should be doing as parents and grandparents is praying like crazy — and I’ll show you why that’s relevant — for our children and grandchildren and their conversion, and that we should be feeding them good news. Now there’s a way to do that that’s preachy and off-putting, and there’s a way to do it that is sweet and testimonial.

So what I want you to hear, for these next few slides, is these are pieces of glorious good news that should so thrill your soul, they just bubble over in emails, bubble over in phone conversations, bubble over in birthday cards, bubble over not with preachy, like, “You should believe that,” but rather, “I love this!” That’s what they want to hear you. That’s what you should say; “I love this,” not, “You should,” but, “I do.” Can you make that distinction? Of course they should, but for you to tell them that, they know that already, and they’re so tired of hearing their parents say that you should; they’ve heard about 10,000 “you shoulds” in their life, and even at age 35 and 40 they probably just don’t want to hear any more “you shoulds” from mom and dad. That’s immature I think, but real.

And so, do we just shut up then? Do we never say anything? Do we not talk or write? No, I don’t think that’s right. They know what we believe, and they won’t be offended I hope; some might, and you have to judge if you just tell them what’s making you happy this morning.

The Gift of Righteousness

He performed the gift of righteousness. “As by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous” (Romans 5:19). I have a Savior whose obedience counts for me and my righteousness! God requires perfection: “Be perfect for I am perfect” (see Matthew 5:48; Leviticus 19:2; 1 Peter 1:15). All of us fail. We’re done for, unless we have a Savior who not only covered our misdeeds, but provided obedience that will count as our obedience. And that’s what Romans 5:19 says de does.

Condemnation Gone

Our condemnation fell on him. “God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh” (Romans 8:3). He condemns sin in the flesh. Whose flesh? Mine? No, Jesus’s. Whose condemnation? Jesus’s? No. mine. So in his flesh, my condemnation happens.

Just think of it. If you in your most discouraging moments think, “Okay, I’m getting near death. I’ll have to face God, my Maker, and there is condemnation and there is salvation awaiting out there. Will I face condemnation?” What you should preach to yourself at that moment is, “No. My condemnation is over.” It happened already 2,000 years ago in the flesh of Jesus. God put your condemnation on him. And if your kids would believe, that would be true of them.

Curse Removed

He bore our curse. “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us “ (Galatians 3:16). He defeated Satan’s damning power. He canceled “the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him” (Colossians 2:14–15).

“Keeping people faithful is God’s work.”

I just love the thought that Satan has been de-fanged. Remember that? I did that for the kids in church. I said, “Yes, Satan is still alive. Satan is still going around like a roaring lion, but his teeth have been pulled out, so all he can do is gum you.” And I did that, and all the kids laughed, and a kid came up to me later and said, “He can only gum us.” He has strong jaws and the gums can bruise, but he can’t damn you anymore. He has no affidavit to put on the court of the bench of heaven. When he puts down a folder of accusations, it’s empty. The blood has covered it all. Satan has no compelling case against you anymore. That’s the way he’s been defeated.

Peace Secured

He secured our peace with God. Since we’ve been justified we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. He obtained our adoption into God’s family. “When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father’” (Galatians 4:4–6). So these two great benefits were obtained for us by Jesus: adoption into the family of God, and the Spirit of God dwelling within us.

I sing the song, “Prone to wander, Lord I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love. Here’s my heart, oh take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above.” I love that song because John Piper, at any point in these 32 years, could have totally made a shipwreck of my faith in this church. Why didn’t that happen? The Holy Spirit didn’t let it happen. Don’t ever chalk that up to John Piper. Don’t ever, ever take away from God his right.

Do you know that when you say at the end of Jude, “Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority,” what’s the point of that? The point of that is John Piper didn’t stay faithful; God kept him faithful. He didn’t go to another woman. He didn’t steal any money. He didn’t abuse our children. He kept us on the way. Why? Because God had him like claws. God chained him. Take my heart and bind it like a fetter, bind it like a fetter, to you. God didn’t let him go. And I’ve got a few years to live, maybe. Don’t stop praying. I think God used your prayers to keep me faithful. The most common thing I would pray, as I knelt there in my little prayer corner in my room, is, “God please, please, please keep me faithful, because I just don’t think it’s in me.” Keeping people faithful is God’s work.

So I thank him for his Spirit, and that adoption peace. Do you feel right now the wonder of being in the family of God? A sister or a brother of Jesus Christ? That’s unspeakably glorious. I’m looking at kings and queens of heaven.

Eternal Life Obtained — Received by Faith

He obtained the gift of eternal life. “And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son” (1 John 5:11). He brings us into the presence of God. “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18). He died to bring us to God. We’re heading for God, and he’s not angry at us anymore.

Pleasures forevermore. “In your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11). How do we get these gifts? By faith — justification by faith. Justified by faith apart from works of the law. Forgiveness by faith. “Everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name” (Acts 10:43). Everyone who believes in him.

Eternal life by faith: “God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Peace with God by faith: “since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). Children of God by faith: “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12). This is real clear. You don’t work for your salvation. You don’t get all these blessings and benefits by doing. All doing in the Christian life is fruit. But you get into the vine, you get into the blessings, by faith alone.

The Essence of Faith

This is what we want for our kids. We want them to have that faith. So what is it? What is faith? Faith is receiving and trusting Jesus. “To all who did receive him, who believed in his name” (John 1:12). Faith is embracing Jesus for the satisfaction of your souls. “Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst’” (John 6:35). So when you believe, your thirst is satisfied; your aching soul-thirst is satisfied. You don’t need to look anywhere else. It’s the old, “If I work harder, or if I have a different set of relationships, or if I could get well from this disease, or whatever, then I would have satisfaction.” You won’t. You will have satisfaction in one way. Jesus will be it forever, or we won’t have it.

And faith is treasuring Jesus over everything. “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field” (Matthew 13:44) because everything is as nothing. “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Philippians 3:8).

Faith is a gift of God, not of works lest anyone should boast (Ephesians 2:8–9). “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him” (John 6:44). The Lord opened Lydia’s heart to give heed to what was spoken by Paul.

No Sinner Beyond God’s Reach of Mercy

No one is beyond God’s power to save. You may think your grandkid, or your kid, has been rebellious, has squandered so much knowledge and so much privilege that there’s no hope. And Jesus said, “Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God” (Matthew 19:24). And of course the disciples then say, “Who then can be saved” (Matthew 19:25)? A camel can’t get through the eye of a needle, period. It can’t be done. And Jesus says, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26). Period. Your kids are saveable, not because they aren’t bad, but because God is sovereign.

“Jesus has accomplished every necessary thing to save his people. No one is too hard for God to save.”

This is so encouraging. Look at this. “The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I [Paul] am the foremost” (1 Timothy 1:15). He said that because he was a Christian-killer. He killed Christians. He imprisoned men and women. He was hostile against Jesus and shook his face and held the coats as they stoned Stephen. He was angry and bitter and murderous towards Christians. “But I received mercy.” Why? Why did God choose Paul in his mother’s womb, let him become a Christian-killer, and then save him on the Damascus road sovereignly? Why? Here’s why. “But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life” (1 Timothy 1:16).

This means that if your child for 60 years has been a Christian-killer, Paul was saved for his encouragement, for your encouragement. “Patience”, do you see that? His perfect patience was shown in the life of Paul as an example to those who were to believe for eternal life.

So God uses means: through you, to save; he uses the word, “faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:14); uses prayer. “Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved” (Romans 10:1). As Matthew 7:9–11 says, “Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” Yes, He will.

Keep God central in your life. Take sin and eternal lostness seriously. Remember lost people are spiritually dead. Realize we don’t have the power to save others. Never forget that God is always just. Above all, keep the cross in view, and remember Jesus has accomplished every necessary thing to save his people. No one is too hard for God to save. Pray earnestly and regularly for the lost ones you love. In emails, in letters, in cards, in conversations, share what you are seeing and enjoying about your precious Savior. Trust God’s timing. Hard to do.