What do you think when you’ve got an opportunity to share the gospel? Do you worry what people will think of you? Do you worry whether you’ll share it well enough? Are you concerned about being on your own with such a huge mission in the world?
Don’t worry, God is with you. It’s a glorious thing we have been called to do, to take the gospel to the world.
People already know right from wrong
“They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.” (Romans 1:19–20, NLT)
Also, people know right from wrong, and know what they should do, without ever having come across God’s Word in the Bible:
“All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.) This will take place on the day when God will judge men’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.” (Romans 2:12–16, NIV-84)
So, everyone knows about God from the world around them, and about sin and right/wrong from God’s moral law which is written within their own hearts. We don’t need to tell people that they are sinners – we just need to remind them! We are often not telling them something new, we are just making their consciences more sensitive, we are reminding them of things that they had pushed away at the back of their minds.
But the gospel is only known when the message is told, using words!
Paul argues in Romans 10:9-15 that people cannot be saved unless we go and tell them. How can they go unless they are sent, Paul continues.
“If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved. As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.” Jew and Gentile are the same in this respect. They have the same Lord, who gives generously to all who call on him. For “Everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved.” But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, “How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!”” (Romans 10:9–15, NLT)
In a recent blog, Ed Stetzer writes:
There’s a popular saying often repeated by Christians. It has found new life on Facebook and Twitter. Maybe you have even uttered these words, commonly attributed to Francis of Assisi: “Preach the gospel. Use words if necessary.”
I think we can appreciate what many are getting at when they say something like this. As Christians, we should live in such a way that our lives point to the person and work of Jesus. However, good intentions cannot overcome two basic problems with this quote and its supposed origin. One, Francis never said it, and two, the quote is not biblical.
The gospel requires—demands even—words.
So let’s preach the gospel, and let’s use words, since they’re necessary.
The Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20 is the Church’s mandate to go and tell the good news about Jesus Christ.