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Oracio
Member



Joined: 2007/6/26
Posts: 2037
Whittier CA USA

 The Myth of “Preach the gospel at all times; when necessary, use words.”

The following is a blog post taken from this blog: http://thehasbeenhymn.wordpress.com
I thought I'd share it here.

"We have all heard the exhortation “Preach the gospel at all times; when necessary, use words.””, or some variation thereof. More often than not it is attributed to St Francis of Assisi, though it is extremely doubtful that he would have uttered such a pithy expression, as not only is there no evidence that he had done so, but it seems unlikely in light of his reputation as a forceful and ferocious preacher who preached often, up to five times a day.

In any case, the trouble with this quote is that it’s simply not true and has no functional possibility in a practical setting. Because first of all, what is the gospel? The term gospel is found almost a hundred times in the scriptures. In the Greek New Testament, gospel is the translation of the Greek noun euangelion- “good news,” and the verb euangelizo meaning “to bring or announce good news. In 1 Corinthian 15:1-8, Paul offers a deft summary of the gospel message- that is, the death, burial, resurrection, and appearances of the resurrected Christ. “Now I want to make clear for you, brothers and sisters, the gospel that I preached to you, that you received and on which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold firmly to the message I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I passed on to you as of first importance what I also received—that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day according to the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve…”

This early Christian confession gives us the heart of the gospel and shows that the resurrection is an integral part of the gospel. Note that Paul described this as “of first importance”—a phrase that stresses priority, not time. The stress is on the centrality of these truths to the gospel message. That is what the gospel is then- it is the message of the good news of salvation, the word of truth offered to mankind by grace through faith in the finished work of Christ on the cross. It is a message not only of eternal life, but one that encompasses the total plan of God to redeem people from the ravages of sin, death, Satan, and the curse that now covers the earth. RC Sproul puts it this way “The Gospel is called the ‘good news’ because it addresses the most serious problem that you and I have as human beings, and that problem is simply this: God is holy and He is just, and I’m not. And at the end of my life, I’m going to stand before a just and holy God, and I’ll be judged. And I’ll be judged either on the basis of my own righteousness – or lack of it – or the righteousness of another. The good news of the Gospel is that Jesus lived a life of perfect righteousness, of perfect obedience to God, not for His own well being but for His people. He has done for me what I couldn’t possibly do for myself. But not only has He lived that life of perfect obedience, He offered Himself as a perfect sacrifice to satisfy the justice and the righteousness of God.”

And that’s the problem with all this- such a wonderful truth will never be proclaimed and declared just because you are doing nice things for people. You can open doors, pull out chairs, let people go first in traffic, be a good friend, drop off hot meals for widows, work in a homeless shelter, constantly edify others, etc., ad infinitum. But if they don’t know that you do those things because the beauty of Christ is more desirable than serving yourself in those instances, nothing separates you from a self-conscious Mormon or Jehovah Witness, or a well meaning Hindu or Buddhist, or even just a “nice” atheist. Because everyone is capable of doing good deeds and being a decent human being. So how will the differentiation occur between you the Christian and a Muslim who is capable of being just as kind and considerate? Surely we would not suppose that a Muslim is preaching the gospel by his acts of kindness. For a man lost and fallen and oblivious to the need for Christ to die for his sins and forgive him, how is it even possible to read into your actions and his need for a Savior? Major disconnect.

Can we look at tribes of pagans and conclude that the sum of their good deeds towards each other is ultimately a testament to the Gospel of God? Of course not. That’s ridiculous. And so why do you think you are sharing the Gospel and proclaiming Christ on the cross when you buy a hungry man a meal, or toss 2 dollars into his hat? What are the chances they’ll see this act of kindness and demand to know Jehovah and his son Jesus? My friend Patrick Stafford unpacks it as such “A person will only respond to good works if they already understand the gospel. You can only preach the gospel to someone who hasn’t heard it THROUGH words. They will not see someone feeding the poor and automatically think “JESUS!” You need to explain the gospel to them first – plain and simple.”

He’s absolutely right. The truth of the gospel is very specific and precise. It must be explained, not used as a means of conjectured revelation when replaced by actions that do not easily or readily follow. In Romans 10:14-15, Paul says in the context of the salvation message “How then will they 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? And 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!” In this he uses a series of rhetorical questions to demonstrate the chain of events necessary for a person to be saved, and of utmost importance is hearing the gospel message preached. That’s why Paul was so insistent about spreading the gospel and doing all his missionary work; because he felt such a great sense of weight and urgency because he believed that the only way to be saved was to hear and believe in the gospel.

On the flip side though, no one is advocating that we can just preach the gospel without having to act right. A quick, cursory knowledge of Titus and James is enough to know that we must do more than just say the right things, but must genuinely be conformed to the image of Christ in word and in deed. In many instances, it is the witness of our actions that can make or break the perceived genuineness and sincerity of the gospel we proclaim. Just as faith without works is dead, so likewise is works without faith dead. As it were, acts of social justice do not proclaim the good news of the gospel. Doing nice things and living a nice life at all times does not constitute peaching the gospel at all times. Loving yourself and loving others and loving loving your neighbour does not constitute you preaching the gospel. Claiming Micah 6:8 as your life verse -“And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” does not constitute the gospel. Talking to people about Jesus and his vicarious death for their sins, does. Telling them about the forgiveness of sins and the joy of redemption offered by Christ on the cross, does. No one’s ever going to persecute you — let alone crucify you — for raking leaves, serving in soup kitchens, holding food drives, letting people go first in traffic, not cursing around them, helping someone fix a flat tire, etc. But they will persecute you — maybe even kill you — when you preach the Gospel, because you testify that their deeds are evil and that they need forgiveness.

There’s a better and more precise way to understand this. Instead of the false adage “preach the gospel at all times, and if necessary use words , we might say “Preach the gospel—use actions when necessary; use words always.” or perhaps “Preach the Word always, and don’t let your your life contradict the message you preach.” Anything but the former."


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Oracio

 2010/12/2 17:52Profile
therick2018
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Joined: 2010/7/12
Posts: 65


 Re: The Myth of “Preach the gospel at all times; when necessary, use words.”

Amen dear brother or sister! :)


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Rick

 2010/12/2 18:01Profile









 Re: The Myth of “Preach the gospel at all times; when necessary, use words.”

"And that’s the problem with all this- such a wonderful truth will never be proclaimed and declared just because you are doing nice things for people. You can open doors, pull out chairs, let people go first in traffic, be a good friend, drop off hot meals for widows, work in a homeless shelter, constantly edify others, etc., ad infinitum"

The need for love in us, through us and by us has nothing to do with works. I have met many jaded social workers, and they do good works. There is a love and a burning fire of compassion in us that loves what God loves, the lost. And it is a light and it lights up a dark world.For too long the Gospel has been preached, spelled out, deceminated, sliced, diced, theologized. 1St Cor 13 expresses the fact that we can know all things and explain all mysteries and even give our bodies to be burned but without love, what does any of that profit? 1st John teaches that they will know us by our love for one another. So this expression about preaching the Gospel, and if you must, speak, in my mind is adressing the fact that one can know the Gospel back to front and preach the Roman road with eyes closed but without the Love of God burning at the center of our being we are merely sounding brass and clanging cymbal.

"He’s absolutely right. The truth of the gospel is very specific and precise. It must be explained, not used as a means of conjectured revelation when replaced by actions that do not easily or readily follow."

I knew no Scripture when I came to Christ. I did know of Jesus and I knew that He loved me and required all of my life.I knew that because I was told that and knew a few radical Christians who loved me enough to share just this. This alone brought me to my knees and I gave my whole life to Jesus and He changed me from the inside out in the most radical way, not as a child or even as a teenager, but as an adult. I then had a unstoppable hunger for the Word of God and it certainly was and is a Lamp unto my feet.

So, I would say to all Christians out there. Do not be intimidated if you cannot explain in a "specific and precise," manner. Share the love of Jesus with someone. Love the lost. Have a passion for people. Perhaps you will earn the right to share the Gospel with your co-worker because they know that you love them. If you have no love for the lost, get on your knees and stay put until you love what He loves. It begins and ends with Love. The Word of God is wielded by the lovers of God. And so, in a nutshell, and in a not very precise manner,if you can tell someone that God loved them so much that He sent His Son to die for them, and that if they are willing to give up their lives and surrender all to Him and make Him the Lord and Saviour of all of their lives and believe that He died and rose again for them, even while they are yet in their sin, and that they can be delivered from that sin, then you can share the Gospel..........brother Frank

 2010/12/2 20:22
EverestoSama
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Joined: 2010/5/17
Posts: 1175


 Re:

You pegged it Frank.

I'm sure this article was well thought out, and with good intentions and all, but try living in a country where you don't speak a lick of the language. What's to be done? You'll learn to live by the words, "preach the Gospel at all times; when necessary, use words".

Are words important?
Of course.
Romans 10:17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.

But many times they're the last part of the equation. Sort of the "coup de grace" if you will. This misconception that words and truth in themselves have the power to convict, stems from a misunderstanding of the Holy Spirit's power in salvation, and how salvation actually happens. Do you know that there are men in China who walk around without saying a word, and people are convicted of their sin and need for a savior just by being in their presence? This powerful demonstration of the Holy Spirit was also not unknown in times of revival as well.

In the beginning of Luke chapter 5, Peter confessed to the Lord that he was a sinful man, but it wasn't in direct response to the Gospel. It was a revelation to him by catching lots of fish on Jesus's command.

Should we be ready in season and out of season to share the Gospel? Absolutely, and by all means. But I can speak for myself saying that many times I'm not given the convenience of being able to use words. So what do I rely on to preach?
Christ in me. The Holy Spirits convicting power. I just try to unstuff my ears and figure out what He wants me to do, and try to love all men and women with a love that the world knows nothing of. The time for words will come.

 2010/12/2 20:59Profile
intrcssr83
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Joined: 2005/10/28
Posts: 246
Logan City, Queensland, Australia

 Re:

“Preach the gospel at all times; when necessary, use words.”


"Feed starving Children. If necessary, give food."


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Benjamin Valentine

 2010/12/2 21:03Profile
EverestoSama
Member



Joined: 2010/5/17
Posts: 1175


 Re:

Quote:
"Feed starving Children. If necessary, give food."



That's all well and fine. But unless the Holy Spirit takes the gags out of their mouths, they can hardly be expected to eat it. And most of them are not even aware that they're hungry, let alone starving.

 2010/12/2 21:21Profile
therick2018
Member



Joined: 2010/7/12
Posts: 65


 Re: The Myth of “Preach the gospel at all times; when necessary, use words.”

If we ever think we can save people by proclaiming the Gospel we misunderstand. You are right Everest, the Holy Spirit alone can regenerate a sinners heart. But our responsibility is to preach the Gospel and it is the way God has chosed to draw people to Himself (Rom 1:16) the most common problem I believe, is that what many people call the Gospel message, is not the gospel message. Most people think salvation is just admitting that your a sinner and that you want to go to heaven and all you have to do is raise your hand or walk up the alies, however you spell that :), or repeat a prayer. We have fallen away from the glory and Power of God in salvation in the work of regeneration, repentance and faith and from the realization of how sinful we are. Once again only the Holy Spirit can do this. But we tend to forget the unbelievabilty of our message.
This isnt something that only smart people can do or intellectual people; its usually the other way. We must remember that God has chosen the foolish things to confound the wise.(1 Cor 1:21) In other words when we stand up and preach the Gospel we ought to a look like a complete idiot in the eyes of the world. This isnt about us being eloquent or trying to look smart. We are commanding people to believe that the One God of the universe came in the flesh, was born in a manger amongnst the beast, worked as a carpenter, has the power to forgive sins, performed miracles beyond count, claimed Himself to be divine, died on the cross for our sins under the judgment of God, rose again the Third day, acsended into Heaven, now at the right hand of the Father and is coming again to Judge the quick and the dead and that every tongue will confess that He is Lord. Sometimes I forget how unbelievable this message is. God gets the most glory when he uses the most foolish sounding message and weakest men to bring glory to Himself. (1 Cor 2:1-4)


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Rick

 2010/12/2 22:01Profile
EverestoSama
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Joined: 2010/5/17
Posts: 1175


 Re:

Quote:
God gets the most glory when he uses the most foolish sounding message and weakest men to bring glory to Himself. (1 Cor 2:1-4)



For certain.

 2010/12/2 22:14Profile
Oracio
Member



Joined: 2007/6/26
Posts: 2037
Whittier CA USA

 Re: Two Extremes To Watch Out For

On the one hand, cliches like the one on the original post usually stem from a lack of passion or burning desire to share the saving message of Christ. It can be for a number of reasons, like simple laziness, apathy, fear, misunderstanding, thinking we need to fast for 40 days, thinking we need to "earn" someones respect and know them for many months or years("friendship evangelism") before we can share the truth with them,etc.

On the other hand, one can endeavor to preach all the time without fervent prayer and a genuine witness in conduct, and therefore lack the love and power of the Spirit in the message being preached.

Scripture clearly lays out both needs brethren.

One brother pointed out that he believes we have had the gospel preaced too many times without the love and power of God being displayed. I would disagree with that assesment.

I believe we have not had the true gospel preached enough in this day and age. Instead we have had many false and watered-down gospels, and many fearful Christians remain silent when they should be declaring the truth in love with their loved ones friends and neighbors.


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Oracio

 2010/12/2 22:58Profile
EverestoSama
Member



Joined: 2010/5/17
Posts: 1175


 Re:

That's a fairly balanced approached, Oracio. I guess it all boils down to the heart of the matter, and understanding the intent of the original phrase.

Is it an excuse for apathy?
Or is it total reliance on the Holy Spirit working though everything about you?

Sadly, many who parrot this quote do it to justify the former, and not the latter.

 2010/12/2 23:40Profile





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