The Pilgrim’s Digest is a sampling of Christian writings throughout the centuries on many subjects from
Reformers, Puritans, pastors, and various theologians. Let’s take a short walk with the saints.
Soli Deo Gloria!

Why Do Some Sinners Come To Christ While Others Do Not?

by Ernest C. Reisinger

Ernest C. Reisinger, builder, pastor and author, has been described as an ‘unsung hero of the twentieth-century renaissance in Reformed Theology’. Reisinger, a Reformed Baptist pastor, helped lay the foundation for what became the Founders Ministries, which was instrumental under God in returning Southern Baptists to their Reformed beginnings. This excerpt is from his book, Today’s Evangelism: Its Message and Methods. (Craig Press, Ch.10, pp107-110, 1982).






     And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be

gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness

instructing those that oppose themselves; if

God peradventure will give them repentance to

the acknowledging of the truth; and that they may

recover themselves out of the snare of the devil,

who are taken captive by him at his will.

— II Tim. 2:24-26                         


     This passage is very relevant to our whole subject of evangelism because here we have one of the greatest evangelists who ever lived giving instructions to one who was told to “. . . do the work of an evangelist. . .” (II Tim. 4:5). Surely these two facts demand our careful and sober consideration. If we are serious about being biblical in our evangelism, we cannot ignore these instructions.


     There are several things in these few verses that would correct much of the error in man-centered evangelism, not only in the expected responses, but in the message and methods of evangelism. Let us carefully examine this passage, which contains instructions to one who was given the apostolic command to do the work of an evangelist. In this passage (II Tim. 2:24-26), we have some excellent instructions for the evangelist, preacher, and personal worker, and some necessary evangelistic principles if our evangelism is to be God-centered.


State of the Unconverted

Every preacher should know the condition of the unconverted.


     1. He is ignorant of saving truth. This is clearly seen in the words in verse 25, “. . . in meekness instructing those. . . .” They need instruction because they are ignorant of spiritual truth.

     2. He is a slave to Satan, which is seen in the words in verse 26: “. . . that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil. . .”

     3. He is a captive of Satan (in Satan’s prison house), verse 26: “. . . taken captive by him [Satan] at his will.”


Who Has the Key — God or the Sinner?

     Both man-centered and God-centered evangelism believe that sinners are ignorant of spiritual realities; they are slaves to Satan, and in Satan’s prison. The difference is that man-centered evangelism tells the sinner he has the key in his pocket to get out any time he wills to get out. The appeal is to the sinner’s will, his decision and his power to do something for himself. This is the opposite of the New Testament principle of boxing up the unconverted to hope in God alone and in God’s power.


     God-centered evangelism also believes that sinners are ignorant of spiritual realities—that they are slaves to Satan, and in Satan’s prison, and worse, that they are on death row. God-centered evangelism does not flatter the sinner or try to give him hope by telling him that he has the key in his pocket to get out at will, because the unconverted are all by nature unwilling and unable.


     The God-centered approach is to tell him he is in Satan’s prison house, yes, and he is on death row, and that he does not have the key in his pocket to get out! If anyone gets him out, it will have to be God. The sinner’s only hope is in God’s mercy and God’s power.


     This God-centered truth is found in the passage before us in the words, “If perhaps God.” The sinner’s only hope is in “God” (verse 25: “If perhaps God” will do something). This truth is not only hopeful to the sinner, but it is very hopeful to the preacher. The preacher’s only hope of a saving response is “if perhaps God” will do something for the sinner that he cannot do for himself and that no preacher can do for him. Please remember, this was written to a young preacher who was meant to do the work of an evangelist (II Tim. 4:5). This fact should give weight to all I am saying on this point. Certainly we should expect to find some principles for evangelism in these Epistles.


Efforts of the Servant of God

We also have in this passage the efforts that this young preacher was to exercise.


     1. Teach and instruct (v. 24: “. . . apt to teach. . .”; v. 25 “. . . in meekness instructing. . .”)

     2. Rescue them, if possible, from Satan (v. 26: “. . . that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil. . .”).

     3. Set before them the claims of God as their only hope, not just tell deathbed stories, seeking a psychological response.


Manner and Method Employed by the Servant of God

The passage also has the instructions as to the manner and method to be employed. “The servant of the Lord. . .” (v. 24):


     1. Must not strive (or be quarrelsome).

     2. Must be gentle (be kind to all).

     3. Must be able to teach.

     4. Must be patient (when wronged).

     5. Must instruct in meekness (with gentleness).


     Think how much more biblical and God-centered evangelism would be if all the zealous preachers and evangelists would have heeded these clear instructions found in this passage.


     What I am trying to show is that the Bible teaches that evangelism is a work of divine grace, divine power, divine sovereignty. Therefore, if evangelism is to be true, biblical evangelism, it must be God-centered and aim at a God-centered response from the sinner.


The Pilgrim’s Digest, Vol. 4: Why Do Some Sinners Come To Christ While Others Do Not?

7 thoughts on “The Pilgrim’s Digest, Vol. 4: Why Do Some Sinners Come To Christ While Others Do Not?

  1. StarWars Fan says:

    Hi brother it’s Reformedguy from Parler as you know the app has been taken down we can talked on your site as long as my google account works. I enjoyed talking to you on Parler God bless and talk when we can.

    • Great to see you on here! Thanks for visiting, brother! You can always message me here, or email me, of course. I hope you might enjoy some of the content I put on here as well. 👍

  2. Thanks. Your welcome I’m on MeWe under Reformed Guy you can talk to me on there as well. The hardest about covid and the church not being together is I remember after my grandma died in 2018 I was around other believers and a brother even gave me a hug which was nice had that happened in 2021 I don’t think I would have had that.

  3. Hi brother I know you heard Biden is president I think we can say the death of the republic 1776-2021 am I wrong? Will you be doing a post? With persecution coming with whatever time we have until we are thrown in prison and killed what will you do as a family? I’m still single no wife or children for me unless the Lord wills but we have to teach the next generation agree? How do I show my family with what’s coming I don’t believe they are saved and I think they think we will vote in 4 years.

    • Hey my friend! I think it is yet to be seen, but we’ve been hurling that direction for some time now. As Christians, we have to do our best to uphold the right values, and just continue to preach the gospel to a lost and dying world.

      Not sure if I’ll be doing a post on that anytime soon, but possibly! We definitely have to raise up and teach the next generation properly, biblically. To reach others, we just need to be sure they understand Christ as He presented Himself in the New Testament; working through Romans is an excellent way, of many, to make sure we understand.

  4. Your welcome I don’t believe so on MeWe but that’s fine we are linked on Gab I’m on there we can chat on there too I don’t use MeWe that much I check it out I am posting on Gab. Maybe we can talk about this on Gab but what’s the difference between LBC 1689 and Westminster?

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