"Preach the Gospel at all times, and if you must -- use words"
St. Francis of Assisi
"Preach the Gospel at all times, and -- you must use words."
St. Hal of Kansas City
It is a commonly accepted observation that a large percentage of the church in America goes for months, even years, without conscious effort to witness for Christ. But let's look past those who never share their faith to those who at least attempt to do so.
Most of us have heard the pithy saying of the gentle monk, St. Francis. To give St. Francis the benefit of the doubt, I understand his exhortation to be "make sure you're livin' what you're preachin". But alas!
For centuries his words have provided an 'escape route from obedience' to millions of Christians. Many in the church have seized upon his words to mean, "I witness with my life, therefore I do not feel the need to speak about Jesus Christ." And with one broad brush, the fearful, the lazy and the carnal sweep away the testimony of the entire Bible...i.e. the use of words to tell about God.
Our human nature always wants the easy route. It is no exception in evangelism. We want to do evangelism because it is commanded by our Lord, but we do not want to speak directly to unbelievers about Jesus because we fear man more than God, love comfort more than obedience and are distracted by the world rather than fixing our gaze on Jesus and His word. Furthermore, our fallen nature and the devil team up to persuade us that simple words of truth spoken in love come across as "crass, religious, traditional and ineffective". To assuage any lingering conviction, we produce 'evangelistic strategies' that leave us in our comfort zone and the unsaved person in his darkness. (Let the reader understand.) Such self-deception dishonors God and helps no one.
Conscience is a funny thing. Either it demands action or excuses inaction. Either it points to true north or excuses misdirection. If not trained properly and exercised constantly by Bible truth, our conscience becomes a "couch potato" that sanctions our inactivity in evangelism when it should be chiding us. When people do not love truth, God gives a "deluding influence" (2 Thes. 2) and a "spirit of stupor" (Romans 11). Therefore we must "always exercise our conscience to be void of offense toward God and man." (Acts 24) In regard to evangelism, this simply means speaking with unbelievers about Jesus.
Wrong trends left unchallenged become the accepted and even venerated church standards until God rescues us from the error of our ways.. (Listen closely...'church history' students are saying "Amen”.) This ‘silence trend’ in evangelism has been unchallenged so long I fear it has ensconced itself in our thinking as if it was a legitimate Bible teaching. It is time for a reformation of common sense based upon Biblical example regarding how we reach the lost. It is time to speak up for Jesus Christ.
A Little Greek Lesson
Evangel means: 'Good News'
Evangelism means: 'Telling Good News'
Evangelist means: 'A Person Who Tells Good News'
There must be words about Jesus Christ for evangelism to take place. Words about Jesus may come in many forms such as the printed page, one on one conversations, film, video, DVD, web pages, T.V., radio, etc. But regardless: NO words....NO evangelism
The angel said to Cornelius, Call for Peter for he will speak words to you by which you will be saved, you and your household." Acts 11 For an interesting study on the absolute necessity of words in evangelism see the attachment: 'Evangelism is Words”Find Someone and Say Something About Jesus !