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A Powerful Gospel

September 21, 2015

A popular saying attributed to St. Francis of Assissi declares, “Preach the gospel at all times, if necessary use words.” No evidence exists that St. Francis actually said these words or accepted the sentiment. Unfortunately, many today are convinced the gospel can be preached by compassion and kindness. To those ones, the only response is, “Preach the gospel at all times. Words are always necessary.” The gospel is a message of essential truths about an individual. Those truths cannot be communicated by good deeds, gracious living, hard work and general compassion. Delivering a meal to a needy family by itself can never say, “Jesus is God the Son and God the Savior, who died on the cross suffering the punishment of your sin and rose to life again three days later. He is eternally alive and will give full forgive to all who seek it of him.” Unless you have a very remarkable can of Alphabet Soup, just doing a good deed will never give the gospel. The gospel is a message that must be preached. The gospel is communicated by word.

However, the gospel does not become effective merely by oratory, lecture, dialogue or pithy quotes. The gospel is not preached apart from words, but it is not effective by words alone. The gospel must be communicated with power. The gospel is a call to repentance and faith. The aim of the gospel is much greater than convincing someone to change their opinion about religion. The gospel is not like knocking on someone’s door and trying to convince him he needs new windows. The gospel is a call to become a follower of Jesus. The gospel is a call to a radical rejection of the old life to embark on a new life. In the end, the gospel transforms the entire person, heart, soul, spirit, mind and body. Faith, repentance, justificaion and sanctification do not happen by impressive speeches or compelling proofs. Gospel transformation only happens by a remarkable, super human power.

The power of the gospel comes from the Holy Spirit. The gospel was effective in the city of Thessalonika because Paul and Silas preached it in the power of the Holy Spirit. If the Holy Spirit is not empowering the gospel, there will be no salvation. The success of the gospel is completely dependent on the power of God. The eloquence of the speaker, the strength of the argument, the force of the personality, the persuasiveness of the presentation or the emotional impact of the testimony never make the gospel powerful. A skillful presentation does not make it more likely the gospel will save. The gospel itself is the power of God to salvation. Adding a couple nice potted plants and a carefully selected painting to the Grand Canyon does not make it magnificent. Saying boom does not make dynamite more explosive. So it is with the gospel. The gospel doesn’t need human help, decoration or improvement. The gospel is powerful on its own because it is the power of God to save.


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