Monday, July 27, 2015

Proclaiming the Gospel through Actions, But Evermore – Through Words

 (by Kerry Patton)
 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.Matthew 28:19-20

Years ago, there was a television commercial for Coty perfume that suggested: “If you want to capture someone’s attention, whisper.”  Another commercial, this one for laundry detergent, suggested that to get out a tough stain, you needed to: “Shout it out!”  And finally, a popular cell phone company commercial sought to illustrate their effective coverage area by showing a technician walking all around the country with a phone to his head asking over and over: “Can you hear me now? Good.” 

Whispering, shouting, and speaking normally, the church cries out to a lost and dying world: “Can you hear me now?” Our calling is to communicate the love of our Lord Jesus.  But how?  Quite simply, we speak.  Well, most all of us do.  I suggest and perhaps you will agree that all of us speak in some form or another not only by the words we use, but our actions, our attitudes, and perhaps sometimes even by what we don’t say, and don’t do.  We speak.

An oft referenced, (if misattributed to Francis of Assisi) quote is: “Preach the Gospel, and if necessary, use words.”  I confess that I both really like, AND really dislike this quote.  Here is why: In its essence the statement is true.  Whether we are professional clergy or laity, the charge is ours…all of ours…to communicate the saving Gospel of our Lord Jesus.  And to do so, through every proper means we can, to the best of our ability, every day that we are alive.

The statement fails in one important sense however in placing too much emphasis on proclamation through actions, rather than words.  For while the spirit of the Gospel can and must be communicated through the actions of our daily living, the basic information of the Gospel…and most specifically, the crucifixion, death, and resurrection of the Son of God as the only sufficient payment for the sins of humanity, MUST be communicated in some means; effective enough to relay the essential elements of the faith which would lead an individual into a personal saving relationship with Jesus, and thereafter, into an active life of Christian discipleship and evangelism.  To this task, mere actions alone are insufficient. 

Yes, the Gospel is to be lived…yes, and amen! But it MUST be proclaimed.  Says Duane Liftin, president emeritus of Wheaton College:It's simply impossible to preach the Gospel without words. The Gospel is inherently verbal, and preaching the Gospel is inherently verbal behavior.”* Liftin’s words echo the message of Paul’s letter to the Romans chapter 10, verse 14 which reads: How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?How indeed? We, you and I, are in this world to be that preacher.

Over the next few days, I will be exploring the task of communicating the Gospel, not in the elements of the Gospel itself…but in our own presentation of it.  Asking a simple question: “Through our words and actions, how loud should we speak?” For we whisper, we speak normally, and we shout the Gospel.  And we do so, because Jesus did.  Stay tuned to see how it unfolds!


Almighty God, We groan and we complain about how the world has forgotten you.  We are offended at how it ignores your holiness, and perpetuates sin. We cling to your Gospel, lay claim to the blood of Jesus for salvation, and rely upon your Word and the Holy Spirit to guide us.  And we know that You are the only hope the world has.  They have no help but you.  We realize that they will not come to know you…unless we tell them about you, and show them your love.  To this end, O God, we need to be prepared; we need to be always at the ready to show them your light and love.  Help us, Father.  Help us, and empower us to proclaim the Gospel.  To the honor and glory of thy name, I pray, Amen.

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