When we have friends, neighbors, or family members we want to see saved, we may find ourselves wishing for a supernatural occurrence to help them to believe. I’m not here talking about the work of the sovereign God on a heart to draw someone to Christ. Rather, I am thinking about something that is considered amazing, miraculous, and somehow a proof of the truth of the gospel. We want our family members to see a healing, to have a dramatic impression of the presence of God, or be miraculously preserved from a car accident. Then we think that they will let that evidence lead them to faith.
But such a belief is not in accord with the very words of Jesus. Our Savior did not say that the lost need a dramatic experience of evidence. Nor did he say that they need a really good argument. Jesus said that the lost, if they are to be saved, need Scripture.
In Luke 16, Jesus gives us the story of the lost rich man and the beggar, Lazarus. The rich man is in hell and Lazarus in paradise. The rich man has a conversation with Abraham, and that conversation represents the teaching point. First the rich man asked for relief from his torment, but that was not possible or proper. Then the rich man asked for Abraham to send Lazarus to be a miraculous witness to his brothers so they could avoid hell.
Luke 16:2931 – 29 But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ 30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31 He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’ ”
Note what is said here. The rich man wants something miraculous, something dramatic, something that feels like irrefutable evidence. Abraham says they have Scripture. The rich man does not think Scripture is enough. Who would ever expect that just continuing to quote the Bible, continuing to preach verse after verse, would somehow have an impact.
But what does Jesus tell us through the mouth of Abraham in this account? If they will not hear the word of God in Scripture, nothing will make them believe. They will not believe, even if a person rises from the dead. Of course, Jesus knows a thing or two about people rising from the dead in front of the lost.
Christians, may we see that the word of God taught by the Son of God here tells us that what the lost need is not a sign. The lost do not need to talk with the dead. The Lost do not need an irrefutable argument. After all, you and I have all seen people ignore irrefutable arguments. What the lost need is the clear presentation of the word of God. Because, if they will not believe the word of god, they would not believe if they saw a dead person resurrected before their eyes. That is what Jesus said, and it is still true today.
No, this does not make me anti-apologetics. What it makes me is one who recognizes what apologetics can and cannot do. Apologetics might make someone stop yelling at you long enough to listen to you. Apologetics might make a person think you less of an idiot than they originally thought you to be. Apologetics might gain you a hearing in a person’s mind. But, friends, at the end of the day, the only thing that will bring a person to salvation is the word of God spoken and the power of God sovereignly bringing a dead heart to life.