Thursday, May 31, 2012
Works and Words: Why you can't preach the Gospel with deeds
Works and Words: Why You Can't Preach the Gospel with Deeds | Christianity Today | A Magazine of Evangelical Conviction: How often do we hear these days, with passion and approval, the famous dictum attributed to Francis of Assisi: "Preach the gospel at all times. Use words if necessary"? . . . At first blush, this sounds right. Except that it isn't.
. . . Some today will claim that there is no true evangelism without "embodied action." In fact, according to one critic, "Unless [Christ's] disciples are following the Great Commandment, it is fruitless to engage in the Great Commission." According to this view, the gospel is without its own potency. Its "fruitfulness" depends upon us.
But this is not the testimony of the New Testament. According to Paul—whose itinerant ministry met few of the "embodied action" criteria—the power of the gospel does not reside in us; it resides in the Spirit's application of the message itself. "I am not ashamed of the gospel," Paul said. Why? Because "it"—the verbal gospel, the "word of the Cross," the Good News of Jesus Christ proclaimed—is "the power of God for salvation" to everyone who believes (Rom. 1:16). So strong was Paul's confidence in the gospel's inherent Spirit-infused power that he could rejoice even when it was being preached, not merely in the absence of "embodied action," but out of overtly sinful motives (Phil. 1:12-18).
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