So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it (Isaiah 55:11).
We do not know when God’s purposes will be accomplished. We do not always know whether the divine plan is to harden the heart or to soften it. We do not know the outcome of our work. But we should know that our work in the word is never in vain. No sermon from the word, no bible study, no time of prayer in the word with your children, no memorizing of scripture, none of it is wasted.
If there is time spent in the word, God promises it is working.
Working something. The same sun which melts the snow hardens the clay.
Why should missionaries continue to labor in the hardest parts of the world with limited success, or no success at all? Because they are confident that God will have a people for himself from every tribe and language and tongue and nation. And so they stay.
John Newton once wrote a letter to Reverend Thomas Jones stating, “If I were not a Calvinist, I think I should have no more hope of success in preaching to men than in preaching to horses or cows.” Which is not much different than Paul saying he endured everything for the sake of the elect (2 Tim. 2:10).
One of the most common objections to the doctrine of election is that people do not see the point of sharing the good news and working hard for the gospel if God has already chosen who will believe. But human logic sometimes runs in the opposite of biblical logic. The world says “Why speak if God has chosen.” The Bible would have us ask, “If God has not chosen some to believe, why bother speaking?” Paul remained in Corinth because God told him there were many people in that city (Acts 18:10). This is precisely the reason to keep on speaking—because God has chosen some; because God is sovereign; because God has elected; because some will believe.
And if they don’t? God has a plan for our good and his glory in that too.
God’s sovereignty is fuel for our faithfulness–not a deterrent to hard work and sacrifice but the best motivation for it.