The first phrase of Isaiah 55:7 reads, “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts…” This is a glorious challenge and call to repentance in the proper context. But sometimes we use the philosophy of the invitation in our efforts to confront the challenges of our culture, and often see minimal if any results. Sometimes it is totally scorned by the culture we are trying to persuade to change their view from wickedness to righteousness.
Have you ever discussed the pro-life position with an unsaved woman who sees an abortion as the only possible option for an unwanted pregnancy? Have you ever attempted to convince an agnostic or atheist that there is a God in Heaven Who has given us His Word to teach ethical standards and govern behavior for the benefit of the individual and the culture? As the former director of a pregnancy care center, a staff member would come into my office and say something like, “The woman I am working with is a (fill in the blank for a non-Christian religion). I have never worked with anyone of this belief before. Everything I said has had little effect on her or her decision to keep her child.”
The reason our views are typically met with cold stares and hard hearts is that we are challenging unsaved people to obey the Lord! Yes, God has placed within people a conscience, but clearly the conscience can be defiled (Titus 1:5), seared (1 Tim. 4:2) and thus are often hardened to righteousness. So it is somewhat difficult to expect “… the wicked” to “… forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts …” if they are dead in trespasses and sins.
But in the context of Isaiah 55 we find the formula in v. 6, “Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near …” The answer to hardened unbelievers – and the secular culture we are called to shine as lights and preserve as salt – is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. People have to change from the inside out, they must be “made alive” in the Lord Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit. With a regenerated heart and mind and the power of the Word, people change! Too often we focus on the problem (abortion, euthanasia, sexual promiscuity, …) rather than the cause of the problem – people need to hear and heed the Gospel!
The power of the Gospel is miraculous, extraordinary and life changing. Thus do we have Paul’s testimony, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.”
It is a blessing that the pregnancy care centers established under Baptists for Life of Wisconsin emphasize the Gospel. Yes, they present a strong pro-life message and emphasize moral purity, and provide valuable and practical help for the clients. But the most important ministry is sharing the Gospel which, if accepted, changes lives now and forever!
Perhaps we need to redirect some of our efforts back to the basic message of the New Testament. When Paul went to Corinth, he didn’t go to present high morals or condemn them with their wicked lifestyles or godless worldviews. Instead, he wrote “And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” 1 Cor. 2:1-2. There is power in the Gospel! It worked in Corinth, it has worked across the world and across centuries … and it still works just as effectively today!
Devotional written by:
Pastor Richard C. Rogers, Calvary Baptist Church of Sturtevant
President of the Board, Baptists for Life of WI
President of the Board, Alpha Women’s Center of Milwaukee, WI