Use Words If Necessary

Preach the Gospel at all times. Use words if necessary.

It’s a very popular phrase. It’s typically (and falsely) attributed to St. Francis of Assisi. I understand the thought behind it – “Let’s live lives that indicate the truth of the gospel. Let’s show the world the results of the gospel.”

I know that this phrase receives a lot of criticism and even scorn heaped on it. It is, interestingly enough, a true statement in many respects:

  • We should preach the gospel.
  • We should preach the gospel as often as we can.
  • We should use words when it is necessary to do so.
  • Here’s the kicker: It’s always necessary to use words to preach the gospel.

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!”
Rom 10:14-15

You can’t proclaim the gospel without telling the story of Jesus.

And what is that story? You’ve recently told me how you explain the gospel, I’ve given you my definition of the gospel and we’ve looked at how those definitions might forget something important. Here’s what I’m going to say the next time I need to explain the central message of Christianity:

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.
1 Cor 15:3-7

I feel that, in many respects, this article isn’t particularly unique. Explaining the inadequacy of the quote is en vogue. However, we rarely touch on something incredibly important about it: Preach the gospel at all times.

Is that something you do?

I know it isn’t something I do well. I’ve been convicted about my lack of evangelism recently. I’m working on ways to improve that and you’ll be hearing about my plans early in 2013. In the meantime, I want you to think about your efforts in evangelism and I want to showcase your successes. What are you doing to reach the lost with the gospel?

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3 thoughts on “Use Words If Necessary

  1. I have been feeling that same conviction. I feel like my ministry is primarily in teaching & equipping Christians, yet I feel a longing to directly reach the lost too. Not sure of my place in that. The nature of my work as well as my temperament and personality keep me isolated, yet I still feel the urging of the Holy Spirit. I need to spend time in prayer on this. I look forward to reading about what you are doing in this area.

    1. Kari,
      I’m in the same boat as you. I am actively involved in teaching/preaching roles many hours a week. I have a great desire to share the gospel but I’m terrible at beginning evangelistic conversations. And I suspect that a lot of Christians also have trouble initiating gospel-centered conversations. To that end I’m working on a way to help Christians quickly and naturally begin conversations related directly to the gospel. Stay tuned!

      1. I am terrible at them to. My focus in the class I teach has been cultivating relationships. This definitely is related to being evangelistic. For me, something regarding mentoring and accountability is connected to this desire too. Looking forward to what you have coming.

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