“For thus says the Lord God: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness. And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land.” – Ezekiel 34:11-13
Our God is not just a God who sits and waits for sinners to return to Him of themselves, but is One who goes out to find them, seeks them in power, who turns their hearts and their wills (being that they are dead in trespasses and sins), and brings them to Himself. Our God is not a God who just longs and desires for His people to be saved, but who actively goes out and saves them, through and through, from beginning to end, knowing they can do nothing of themselves, being utterly lost and ruined in sin.
In the New Testament, we then have the fulfillment of the verses from Ezekiel in Jesus when he says in John 6:39: “And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.” Jesus has saved His people on the cross, sealed in the resurrection, and it was an effective work, not a potential one. He Saved His people, He didn’t just make them savable. And Jesus shall lose none of those people given to Him by the Father from before the foundation of the world. What a hope!
It is promises like these and the assured hope within them which give those of us believing in Christ the power to live in holiness, lives pleasing to Him. And it is promises like these in which the Lord gives us grace when we turn from Him in sin. He is the source of our salvation, but also the source of our sanctification, or progressive holiness, that is, being made closer into His image and likeness. Apart from His working in us to will and to work for His good pleasure, we can do nothing correctly in any way that pleases Him.
This promise is our hope in evangelism and missions of all kinds. We preach the Gospel through truth and actions, through Scripture and changed lives reflecting the image of God out to the world; and then God, in power, uses that as He sees fit to bring those He’s chosen to save to faith, creating in them that which was not there: belief. God is the One who works to change people’s hearts to believe the Gospel and He will save His people. And our hope in evangelism is that He will use our witnessing, teaching and preaching to save His lost sheep, whom He’s appointed us to gather from among the nations, and down the street. Praise God for His effective grace! As a result, I can only echo with Paul, “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.” (Romans 11:36) That is the message of God’s effective grace, that it comes from Him alone, it is through Him alone in Christ, and it is all for His glory alone.