Preaching the Gospel (Part 2…sort of)

Last week I shared a video clip of Penn Jillette from Penn & Teller, in which he uses the phrase “How much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize?”

You can check out the post here.

But sharing the gospel is difficult. It’s uncomfortable. I’m afraid that I’ll be thought a Jesus-freak, or too pushy, or arrogant, or offensive. I’m afraid that I won’t know what to say, or that I’ll say something wrong. I’m terrified of the awkwardness.

So I shy away from it. Yet, the Bible says that it is commanded of Christians to do exactly that, get out of our comfort zone and spread the message of the gospel, the good news of Christ.

The Great Commission in Matthew 28 says this: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”

Now, before anyone misunderstands me, I am NOT saying the only way to share the gospel is by handing out tracts or walking through Romans Road or talking about the different states of man. It is not only preaching on street corners and in the public halls.

Preaching the gospel is more complicated than that, it is more comprehensive than that. Here are three ways I think we need to preach the gospel as Christians:

With Our Lives – A famous quote goes like this: “Preach the gospel and if necessary use words.” While maybe not theologically perfect, the message is crucially important for us to understand. We are supposed to preach the gospel with every step, every breath, every facial expression, every conversation, every task performed at work, etc., etc. Our daily life is a canvas which is supposed to beautifully declare the truth of the gospel.

1 Peter 3:15 – “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” The assumption within this verse is that the Christian’s life is to look different. More hopeful, more peaceful, more joyous, more fulfilled. And if we live in such a manner, people will wonder why. That is the preaching of the gospel with our lives.

With Compassion – The end of 1 Peter 3:15 says this: “But do this with gentleness and respect…” We must present the gospel with gentleness, with a respectful tone, with compassion. Francis Schaeffer once said that we should see unbelievers not with contempt or disdain, but we should see them as people “dying while they live.” He goes on to point out that if we see them this way, we will have a deep compassion for them.

Keith shared an illustration in a sermon not too long ago that hits this point home. A talk show host of sorts in Chicago (who wasn’t a believer) often would ask religious leaders, pastors, etc. if Jesus was the only way. He would then ask something like – “so does that mean that you think I’m going to hell?” He got the same answer often – “Yes.” But what really affected him was a man who answered his question with more than just one word. This man’s eyes welled up with tears, several of them running down his face. That man answering “yes” to that question, with tears and compassion, spoke powerfully to the host.

With Words – This is where the quote from above falls a little short. Preach the gospel with your life, sure…but it will undoubtedly be necessary for you to use words as well. Paul puts it this way in Romans 10:14 – “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?”

Understanding the gospel for ourselves enables us to preach it with words and clarity so that others too might understand it. This requires bible study, thought, and knowing what bible verses to point to.

We all need help here. More wisdom, more boldness, more graciousness. But the Bible commands us to be preachers of the Gospel. May our lives and our words do just that.

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