venerdì, gennaio 19, 2007

The Power of the Gospel

Our pastor is taking us through a year long in-depth study of 1 Corinthians. We started a few months ago, but one thing that keeps coming back to my mind again and again are Paul's words about preaching the gospel.

After one of his sermons on this subject, I e-mail'd my pastor asking for prayer as I knew I'd be having the opportunity to share the gospel with someone dear to me.
His response was this:
"Be bold with the gospel...our confidence is not in "persuasive words of wisdom" but in the power of the gospel itself."

The power is the gospel, not how fluffy, flowery and nice I can make it sound. The Word is clear about what will follow being a Christian: pain, tribulation and persecution. But it is also clear about something else: It's worth it. Infinitely worth it.

I wonder how different our evangelism would look if we were to stop making the cross of Christ void by trying to be clever in our witnessing? What if we instead preached the purity of the gospel in all of its power and glory? What if we said what Christ said "If you follow me you will endure persecution" to people who weren't yet saved? What if the church stopped trying to trick people into coming to becoming Christians by emotional highs and half truths and simply taught them the gospel? What if we began to see what privilege it is just to have the opportunity to worship our great God and were able to share that with others without apologizing that being a Christian isn't "fun" in the secular sense? What if we stopped trying to convince them that if they become a Christian they won't have to give up anything? What if we told them the truth: That they have to give up everything. Everything. Die daily, pick up their cross and follow Christ? What would happen if we then told them of the glory of the world to come, our hope?
I wonder.
The scripture that provoked these thoughts:
"For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, so that the cross of Christ would be made void.
For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
For it is written,
"I WILL DESTROY THE WISDOM OF THE WISE, AND THE CLEVERNESS OF THE CLEVER I WILL SET ASIDE."
And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God."
1 Cor 1:18-19, 2:1-5

3 commenti:

Merisha ha detto...

Hum, I was just thinking something really similar last night. Funny how that happens.
When I get finished reading "God is the Gospel" you should read it. The premise is that the gospel is not that God gives us good gifts, but that he himself is the good gift.

I came across to really good quotes that are along the lines of what you are saying here. They are not restatements of the same point but I think that they fit in well. I'm not advocating everything stated here, as Bonhoeffer was Catholic and Lewis an Armenian, but the just is really great.

Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ living and incarnate. [On the other hand] Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will gladly go and sell all that he has. It is the pearl of great price to buy which the merchant will sell all his goods. It is the kingly rule of Christ, for whose sake the man will pluck out the eye which causes him to stumble; it is the call of Jesus Christ for which the disciple leaves his nets and follows Him.

-Dietrich Bonhoeffer

That is why He warned people to "count the cost" before becoming Christians. "Make no mistake," He says, "if you let me, I will make you perfect. The moment you put yourself in My hands, that is what you are in for. Nothing less, or other, than that. You have free will, and if you choose, you can push Me away. But if you do not push Me away, understand that I am going to see this job through. Whatever suffering it may cost you in your earthly life … whatever it costs Me, I will never rest, nor let you rest, until you are literally perfect—until my Father can say without reservation that He is well pleased with you, as He said He was well pleased with me. This I can do and will do. But I will not do anything less."

C.S. Lewis

Avalon's Fountains ha detto...

Very thought provoking.

And written very well too.

A lot of people are becoming Muslims because it gives them a "noble" cause.

For people fed up on the stupidity of the world this is a pleasing idea.

To cleanse themselves through blood and glory. If I wasn't a Christian being a Muslim would appeal to me far more then being say a "peaceful" type like a Buddhist.

I think I'm going to write a post on this, very good Robin... Very good...

Robin ha detto...

Merisha,
Yes, it is funny how that happens. I shall read "God is the Gospel" when you are finished and if I ever finish "Mere Christianity." It looked like a wonderful book, I'm glad you're reading it :-) We simply must add more of his works to our library!
The quotes are wonderful, very appropriate. Thanks for sharing them.

Christian,
Thanks for the compliment! I'm glad you found the post enjoyable and thought provoking. I wish they all had that effect...perhaps in time!