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  • Writer's pictureSteve McAtee

His Pre-salvational Ministry to Unsaved People

Updated: Nov 3, 2020

Notes compiled by Marty Zide and Steve McAtee

The Holy Spirit ministers evangelistically to unsaved people by showing them their spiritual need for salvation. He does so by convicting them of their sins, testifying to Jesus’ atonement, and imparting salvational faith to those given to the Son by the Father.

1Pet 1:1-2 - Peter, an apostle of Jesus the Messiah, To those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus the Messiah and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure.

2Thess 2:13 - But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth.

The Holy Spirit’s ministry of conviction to unsaved people

The Lord Jesus gave a very clear description of the convicting ministry of the Holy Spirit in His upper room discourse as found in John 14-16.

John 16:8-11 - And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me; and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged.

The word “convict” means to bring to light, to expose, to point something out.” The Holy Spirit shows the unsaved person his or her spiritual need for salvation from sin and God’s wrath. This is done as they read or hear the Word of God proclaimed, particularly the components of the gospel.

John 3:19 -20 - This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light lest his deeds will be exposed.

The reason why the Holy Spirit’s ministry is necessary for exposing the sins of individuals is that unsaved people are spiritually blind. They are also spiritually dead. As a result of being spiritually dead, they are unreceptive to Divine things and cannot understand them.

2 Cor 4:3-4 - And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Messiah, who is the image of God.

1 Cor 2:14 - But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.

Eph 2:1-3 - And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.

The content of the Spirit’s conviction consists of sin, righteousness, and judgment. Sin is the unsaved person's problem before God. Righteousness points to the unsaved person’s lack before God, judgment points to that which awaits them.

When we witness to someone, we are cooperating with the Holy Spirit by proclaiming these truths. He uses the truth from the Word that we give them to show them their spiritual condition. The Holy Spirit points the unsaved individual to the person of the Lord Jesus as the only solution to their spiritual need.

John 15:26 - When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me.

A person is not ready to respond to the gospel until they know they are lost. If we see someone beginning to understand these spiritual truths, it is because the Holy Spirit is opening up their heart and enabling them to hear the truth.

Luke 19:10 - For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.

Acts 16:14 - A woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshiper of God, was listening; and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul.

Left to themselves, unsaved people would never receive the Lord Jesus as Savior. Because of their complete depravity and inability, they neither desire nor they able to take the initiative to move toward God.

John 6:44 - No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.

John 6:65-66 - And He was saying, For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father. As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore.

When a person is ready to receive the Lord Jesus as Savior, the Holy Spirit will give them the faith that is necessary to trust Him. He does

Eph 2:8 - For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.

not have this faith already existent within him or herself, it is a gift.

Some examples of the Holy Spirit’s conviction of sin:

The crowd at Pentecost,

The Ethiopian eunuch,

The Philippian jailor,

Felix the governor,

King Agrippa

Acts 2:37 - Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, Brethren, what shall we do?

Acts 8:34-37 - The eunuch answered Philip and said, Please tell me, of whom does the prophet say this? Of himself or of someone else? Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture he preached Jesus to him. As they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch said, Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized? And Philip said, If you believe with all your heart, you may. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus the Messiah is the Son of God.

Acts 16:29-30 - And he called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas, and after he brought them out, he said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?

Acts 24:24-25 - But some days later Felix arrived with Drusilla, his wife who was a Jewess, and sent for Paul and heard him speak about faith in Messiah Jesus. But as he was discussing righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix became frightened and said, Go away for the present, and when I find time I will summon you.

Acts 26:27-28 - King Agrippa, do you believe the Prophets? I know that you do. Agrippa replied to Paul, In a short time you will persuade me to become a Christian.

Coming Next – The Holy Spirits Ministry to All Saved People


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