Dependent on the Spirit
If there is any truth which is vital for the evangelist, it is that of our dependence on the Holy Spirit
when we proclaim the gospel. St Paul says in 1 Corinthians 12:3, “No one can say that Jesus is Lord,
except by the Holy Spirit.”
This is a remarkable utterance. And it means that neither you nor I, nor any of our family, nor anyone we brought to Christ was ever able to say, “Jesus is Lord”, except through the inner working of the Holy Spirit within them. It was not our work, our eloquence, nor our persuasive powers which brought anyone to Christ. It was the Holy Spirit at work in the hearts of our listeners.
The 16th Century Reformers called this doctrine, ‘The Illumination of the Spirit’. This meant that the
Holy Spirit worked to illuminate the minds and hearts of those hearing the gospel so that they had
the capacity to respond positively to Jesus Christ, discern his Lordship, and then receive Him as
While a student at Fuller Seminary I read James Packer’s book, Evangelism and the Sovereignty of
God. This book expounded the truth I am talking about and underlined its importance, stressing that,
“…it prevents us from inflation when we see results and from deflation when we don’t.”
In that first mission to Pietermaritzburg in 1962, the initial responses were considerable. But then
they tailed off. The Director of Counsellors challenged me: “Young man, when are you going to
produce? Many of my counsellors are not even being used.” At that point, this doctrine and Packer’s
book rescued me. I told him that results were the work of the Holy Spirit and looking to Jesus only,
and not to me nor any given evangelist.
I then challenged him and his lead counselors to join me and our team for a night of prayer when
we would get our eyes fixed on Jesus and get ourselves dependent on the Holy Spirit only. And we
did just that.
The following night the City Hall was packed beyond capacity, the atmosphere was electric, and all
our team and the counselors were looking to Jesus and the Spirit and not to Michael. The response
was overwhelming and so great that there were not enough counselors to cope with it! That made
me rejoice. And chuckle!
Beloved colleagues, please take this truth ever more deeply into your hearts and minds as you
proclaim the gospel to the cities of Africa.
Michael Cassidy – Founder African Enterprise.