Go ahead and think about the person whom you think is the most unlikely to become a Christian. Now, ask yourself why you think this. Odds are you are looking at the way they order their life and in particular their blatant distaste and disregard for God. But you need to correct this thinking. It's unbiblical to look at what you have to work with and think, “I could see them becoming a Christian” or “There is no way they could become a Christian.” In both cases grace is neglected.
Let me give you an example. In Acts chapter 6 we read: “And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith” (Acts 6:7).
Let that sink in.
These are the priests. They are the guys who vehemently opposed Jesus and the Apostles. They approved of the killing of Jesus and the eradication of the ministry of the church. But now, they became obedient to the faith. They bowed their knee to King Jesus and joined the church. Amazing.
These guys would clearly be in the category of “most likely to not become a Christian”. But God does not always work in ways that we can predict or with things that we can see.
Realizing that many of the things in Acts are not normative in the life of the church (consider Phillip being snatched away), however, many of them are key to the life of the church in every age. Therefore, if ever you wanted to try to reverse engineer this process from Acts you might consider the following:
Prioritize Prayer as a Church Family. If you just start reading Acts you will stub you toe on multiple prayer passages. It was their reflex. They prayed and God answered, sometimes very surprisingly (Acts 4:23-31).
“Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day's journey away. And when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James. All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.” (Acts 1:1214)
Prioritize Faithful Preaching. These guys were homiletical beasts. Peter, Stephen, and later Paul. They were fearless, faithful, humble preachers. Read chapters 2-4 again. Peter, whenever he is given opportunity, is just crushing it.
Prioritize the Ordinary Means of Grace. It wasn't only the preachers though. Everybody was in on it. The preachers preached. People gathered. They ate together and served one another. It was nothing flashy but it was gospel-licious.
“And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:4247)
Serve by Giving Generously. Not only did they take it in but they gave it out. They served one another by giving themselves away. It is like they believed that God gave them something far greater than they could comprehend (cf Acts 6:1-6).
“Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need. Thus Joseph, who was also called by the apostles Barnabas (which means son of encouragement), a Levite, a native of Cyprus, sold a field that belonged to him and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.” (Acts 4:3237)
Fear God Instead of Men. After being locked up for their preaching and ministry these guys just kept on with it.
“And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them, saying, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man's blood upon us.” But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”” (Acts 5:2732, ESV)
Be Hospitable. How do you know when the gospel has taken root? People open up their homes and serve one another. This is what we see in Acts (2:42-47).
Is it likely that any of us would be saved? NO! this is the point! It is all of grace and always of grace.
But at the same time let's not over complicate this. God does save people and he uses his prescribed means which are his ordinary means. God is not so much calling us to be creative as much as faithful.
Part of this faithfulness is believing that God can do great things, far above what we can even imagine. And another part is remembering that he does these great things through his prescribed means in the lives of his church. As a result, we pray big and live faithfully.