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 Saint Francis . . . A Sissy?

Saint Francis . . . A Sissy?
- By Ray Comfort

One hundred and fifty thousand children had been on the brink of starving to death, but thanks to the kind gift of a very generous billionaire, every child now had enough food to keep him alive. That gift had arrived in the form of one big check. The horror was now over. It was finished. It was just a matter of distributing the food using the few relief workers we had. Without them to get the food to the children, there would have been many more deaths.

Some days later, a frantic worker burst into the camp and cried, "Some of the relief workers have stopped distributing food. Masses of children are dying!"

Why would the workers stop when there was plenty of food? It didn't make sense. The distraught man said, "It's because one of them held up a sign that said, 'Feed the starving children. Where necessary, use food.' That has caused some of the workers to simply befriend the starving children without giving them food. It's insane!"

The first time I ever heard of Saint Francis of Assisi was back in 1965. It was during the surf movie "The Endless Summer." Four surfers who were chasing the sun discovered the perfect wave, at a place in South Africa called "Cape Saint Francis." The sight of the perfect wave excited me beyond words.

The Unspeakable Gift

The next time I heard of him was when I heard that he said "Preach the Gospel at all times. Where necessary, use words." That statement upset me beyond words, because it was a philosophy that I knew sounded deeply spiritual . . . to those who were spiritually shallow. It made as much sense as "Feed starving children. Where necessary, use food."

On 16 July 1228 Francis of Assisi was pronounced a saint by Pope Gregory IX. That's a long time ago, so it's a little late for questions, but if I could I would like to find out why anyone would say such a strange thing? Was it because he was fearful to use actual words to preach the truth of the Gospel? Or was it because he thought that people would see that he had good works and hear the message of salvation without a preacher, something contrary to Scripture's "How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?" (Romans 10:14).

Whatever the case, 800 years since Francis we have many who profess faith in Jesus, and are no doubt using this popular philosophy to justify being speechless. To them salvation truly is an "unspeakable" gift.

Recently someone told me about a conference where 100,000 Christians gathered to worship God. When I asked if they were exhorted to go out and preach the Gospel to every creature, it was no surprise to me that they weren't. Instead, they were exhorted to live a life of worship. Again, that sounds spiritual, but you can't worship God without obedience to His Word, and His Word commands us to preach the Gospel to every creature.

I regularly meet those who think they can obey the Great Commission without using words. When they hear the Gospel preached that are usually offended and say things like, "I appreciate what you are saying, but I don't like the way you are saying it." With a little probing, they are the relationship folks, who think preaching the Gospel means building relationships with the lost, and never mentioning words like "sin," "Hell," and "Judgment Day." They think that real love is to withhold the Bread of life from those that are starving to death. Remember that Jesus said, "Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels" (Mark 8:38, italics added).

According to the dictionary, a "sissy" is "a timid or cowardly person." From what I understand of Saint Francis, he was no sissy. He was a loving man who was not afraid to use words when he preached. He wasn't frightened to preach repentance to a sinful world. However, there have been times when I could have been called that name. I have felt the grip of fear and have wanted to drop words such as sin, Hell, repentance and Judgment Day when I have preached to sinners. I don't want to come across as being unloving or judgmental, but I fear God more than I fear man. So when God's Word tells me to use words, I use words, despite the consequences.

Listen to the Apostle Paul's sobering warning to his hearers: "Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God" (Acts 20: 26-27). Perhaps he spoke about being free from their blood because he was familiar with God Himself warning Ezekiel of his responsibility to warn his generation: "When I say to the wicked, 'You shall surely die,' and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life, that same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand." (Ezekiel 3:18, italics added).

When someone thinks that they can feed starving children and not use food, that's their business. But when their philosophy spreads throughout the camp, it becomes an unspeakable tragedy. If we become passive about the Great Commission because we are more concerned about ourselves than the eternal well-being of others, we may be able to hide our motives from man, but not from God. He warns, "Deliver those who are drawn toward death, and hold back those stumbling to the slaughter. If you say, 'Surely we did not know this,' does not He who weighs the hearts consider it? He who keeps your soul, does He not know it? And will He not render to each man according to his deeds?" (Proverbs 24:11-12).

There's an interesting irony to this story. After a little research I came across a quote about the famous saying. It is from someone who had been a Franciscan monk for 28 years--and had earned an M.A. in Franciscan studies. He co ntacted some of the most eminent Franciscan scholars in the world to try and verify the saying. He said, "It is clearly not in any of Francis' writings. After a couple weeks of searching, no scholar could find this quote in a story written within 200 years of Francis' death." (1.)

So if it wasn't Saint Francis who said not to use words, who was it? Who is it that would like to see the truth of the Gospel hindered from being preached to every creature? That doesn't need to be answered.

The time is short. The laborers are few. Please, cast off your fears and equip yourself to preach the Gospel with words. They are necessary.

 2007/8/21 15:46
murdog
Member



Joined: 2006/2/4
Posts: 352
Fort Frances, Ontario

 Re: Saint Francis . . . A Sissy?

Jim,

Well whoever said the quote I do not know. I understand what Ray was trying to convey in his article. What that quote always meant to me was that our lives should be so fruitful that our testimony does not have to rely on words only. That when the world looks at our lives they see such a difference in our conduct, thoughts and attitudes that it preaches to them.

Of course words are necessary to preach the gospel, but for most people today that is all they have. Words and no fruit.


Murray


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Murray Beninger

 2007/8/21 17:36Profile
intrcssr83
Member



Joined: 2005/10/28
Posts: 246
Logan City, Queensland, Australia

 Re:

14But how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”
Romans 10:14-15

14Afterward he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at table, and he rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen. 15And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. 16Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
19So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. 20And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by accompanying signs.
Mark 16:14-20

If anyone honestly thinks that the above two passages can be applied through silence, then they don't need to be part of a church; they should be part of a catwalk.


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Benjamin Valentine

 2007/8/21 17:46Profile









 Re: Saint Francis . . . A Sissy?

[i][b]"Preach the Gospel at all times. Where necessary, use words."[/b][/i]

I interpret this sentence like this:

"Do what Christ taught you to do. Feed the hungry. Clothe the naked. Comfort those in distress. Help relieve the debts and burdens of your neighbors. Take in the fatherless as your own children, the widows as your own mothers... if and when someone asks why you do these things, tell them about your King."

"If you're not doing these things, don't dare preach the gospel. You're a hypocrite and damned if you do."

Our Father, Christ and the Spirit compel us to [i]do[/i] good, not simply preach the gospel.

"Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city." (REV 22:4)

"When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, [i]Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me[/i].... Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not...[b]And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.[/b]" (MATT 25:37-43)

"What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? [i]Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.[/i]" (JAM 2:14-17)

If we preach the gospel and leave the lost destitute, indebted, hungry, naked, and homeless, our lot is in hell with the hypocrites.

"He also shall be my salvation: for [i]an hypocrite shall not come before him.[/i]" (JOB 13:16)

"[i]An hypocrite with his mouth destroyeth his neighbour[/i]: but through knowledge shall the just be delivered." (PRO 11:9)

"But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in." (MATT 23:13)

 2007/8/21 18:29
Santana
Member



Joined: 2006/8/17
Posts: 286


 Re:

It's impossible to preach THE GOSPEL without words but IT IS possible to preach Christ without words.


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Leonardo Santana

 2007/8/21 18:49Profile
PreachParsly
Member



Joined: 2005/1/14
Posts: 2164
Arkansas

 Re:

I would say that if you live the Gospel you must preach it since it's commanded that we preach it. And you should live what you preach. Wouldn't that cover living that Gospel and preaching it?


_________________
Josh Parsley

 2007/8/21 19:06Profile









 Re:

Santana said

Quote:
It's impossible to preach THE GOSPEL without words but IT IS possible to preach Christ without words.



It's also possible to preach the Word without producing Fruit.

"And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And presently the fig tree withered away." (MATT 21:19)

And it's possible to intimately study the Gospel, teach it to others, and eat and drink communion to one's own damnation.

"Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." (MATT 7:22-23)

PreachParsly said
Quote:
I would say that if you live the Gospel you must preach it since it's commanded that we preach it. And you should live what you preach. Wouldn't that cover living that Gospel and preaching it?



Agreed.

"Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven." (MATT 7:21)

"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." (MATT 5:16)

"Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation." (I PET 2:12)

"Conversation" in the old English denotes lifestyle and interaction, not simply 'communication' as it does today.

 2007/8/21 20:13









 Re:

I just found a few more jewels on restraining the tongue and doing good:

"Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God." (JAM 1:19-20)

"But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed. If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain. [b]Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.[/b]" (JAM 1:22-27)

"My brethren, [i]be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation[/i]. For in many things we offend all. [b]If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man,[/b] and able also to bridle the whole body.... Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom... But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy... [i]And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.[/i] (JAM 3:1-18)

 2007/8/21 20:59





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