We Must Speak God’s Words!
Evangelism must contain the proclamation of the Gospel; God commands it!
“…how shall they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher”? Rom. 10:14
A sign posted outside of a Christian church read; “You can preach a better sermon with your actions, rather than your words.” Another sign of a local church ominously read; “Preach the Gospel by how you live, and if necessary, use words.” In other words, both signs insinuated that you can have a successful Gospel outreach and “attract” those to Christianity, by just living a godly life without proclaiming the Gospel. Although, there is truth to that statement, we ought to live a sanctified life, always demonstrating the Gospel and Christ-likeness. But, it is perilous to eliminate the essential vehicle the Holy Spirit employs to grant souls unto salvation. In fact, the use of words is God’s chosen method to convey His truth, the Gospel message; a message vitally necessary for everyone to hear. Scripture commands us to proclaim God’s truth in many verses and obviously this command includes the use of words (Matt. 28:19-20, Luke 24:47, John 20:21, Acts 1:8, 5:20, 10:33, 42, Rom. 10:14-15); as well as in numerous other places in the Bible. Both, in the Old Testament and the New Testament God’s servants, prophets, or Apostles, were commanded to declare His unadulterated truth especially to recalcitrant and stony-heart people.
The Old Testament prophets were commanded by God to proclaim words of repentance, judgment, wrath, or destruction to His people. God did not simply “suggest” to His servants, that they live in a godly way, with the hopes of others responding positively to their examples. But rather, He commanded them to proclaim with words exactly what He desired them to “speak”. For example, the prophet Isaiah was commanded to preach a message of imminent destruction and captivity to the city of Judah. Furthermore, God declared to Isaiah that nobody would listen to his warnings. When Isaiah beseeches God how long he was to proclaim that impending judgment on Judah, God replied, “…Until cities are devastated and without inhabitant, Houses are without people, And the land is utterly desolate.” (Isa. 6:10). That was an extremely difficult command for Isaiah to obey. Just think, if you were commanded by God to proclaim ineluctable judgment on a very hostile nation, and had no good news to tell them; no light at the end of the tunnel. Yet Isaiah unwavering obeyed God!
Jeremiah faced similar circumstances, but even harsher. Throughout the book of Jeremiah, the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah and commanded that he speak (deliver a warning message of judgment) to the house of Judah. Thus says the LORD; “…And all that I command you, you shall speak.. “Then the LORD stretched out His hand and touched my mouth, and the LORD said to me, “Behold, I have put My words in your mouth….” (Jer. 1:7b, 9). And even though both Isaiah and Jeremiah yearned for their fellow countrymen to repent, obedience to God reigned supreme. John Calvin commenting on Jeremiah wrote; “…Jeremiah, who at first complains of the hard task assigned him of proclaiming destruction to the people, but afterwards revives his courage and proceeds boldly in discharging the duties of his office (Jer. 1:6, 17).” “Such was also the state of Isaiah’s mind; for being desirous to obey God, he earnestly proclaimed His judgments; yet had some regard for the people…he was moved with compassion, and desired that so dreadful a punishment be mitigated.” Calvin goes on to state; “But those feelings ought to be restrained in such a manner as not to obstruct our calling; just as they did not hinder the Prophet from proceeding in the discharge of his duty; for to such an extent ought we to acknowledge the authority of the Lord over us, that when He orders and commands, we should forget about ourselves and what belongs to us.” Calvin’s Commentaries Volume VII, pg. 220-221.
Graphically, the prophet Ezekiel was commanded by God to go and speak strong words to the Israelite’s and was literally force-fed a scroll, which contained the exact words he was to declare them (Ezek. 2:1-3:11). God appeared to Ezekiel and commanded him to proclaim a hard message; “Son of man, I am sending you to the sons of Israel, to a rebellious people who have rebelled against Me; they and their fathers have transgressed against Me to this very day. “And I am sending you to them who are stubborn and obstinate children; and you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God.’ “As for them, whether they listen or not– for they are a rebellious house– they will know that a prophet has been among them. “And you, son of man, neither fear them nor fear their words, though thistles and thorns are with you and you sit on scorpions; neither fear their words nor be dismayed at their presence, for they are a rebellious house. “But you shall speak My words to them whether they listen or not, for they are rebellious. “Now you, son of man, listen to what I am speaking to you; do not be rebellious like that rebellious house. Open your mouth and eat what I am giving you.” (Ezek. 2:3-8).
God commanded the prophets to heed His word, and all of them obeyed (with the exception of Jonah, but after God severely chastised him for disobeying; he obeyed) His calling and heeded God’s commands. Even Moses, who implored God to choose someone else because he was slow of speech, capitulated to His command (Ex. 4:10). Interestingly, God orchestrated Moses’ brother Aaron, who was fluent in speech, to reiterate the words God commanded Moses to convey to Pharaoh (Ex. 4:15-16). And even though God informed Moses that He would deliberately “harden Pharaoh’s heart“, Moses still was expected to be obedient (Ex. 4:21, 7:3, 14:4). As did all other prophets: Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi, and John the Baptist; they all obediently proclaimed the words of God.
In the New Testament the Apostles of Jesus Christ, heralded the Gospel message with unwavering fortitude, despite the looming insidious and pernicious threats from various groups of people. The book of Acts is a repository of examples of such valor and boldness. For example, beginning with Peter who preached the message of Jesus Christ mere days after Jesus’ crucifixion to the very people responsible for His death (Acts 2:22-31, 3:12-26, 4:5-12). Peter confronted those who behaved in a mob-like fashion, vociferously clamoring for Jesus Christ’s death and crucifixion (Luke 23:21, John 19:6, 15). Furthermore, to add even more of a stumbling block or to pour gas on a fire, so to speak, Peter “declared” that Jesus Christ whom “they crucified” was the only way to salvation (Acts 4:12). Talk about infuriating the already hostile people! The Jewish leaders, the Sanhedrin, ordered the Apostles to cease speaking in Jesus’ name; the Apostles refused to listen to men, but rather obeyed God (Acts 4:19, 5:29). Because the Apostles defied the orders of the Jewish leaders, they were confined to jail (Acts 5:18). But, an angel of the Lord freed them and commanded them to. “… speak to the people in the temple the whole message of this Life.” (Acts 5:19-20-underlining added). Again, the Apostles were jailed, released, but this time they were brutally flogged. Scripture reads; “So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name. And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they kept right on “teaching and preaching” Jesus as the Christ. (Acts 5:41-42-emphasis added).
Saul from Tarsus, who when converted was named Paul, mercilessly persecuted the church. He was on his way to Damascus, because he possessed written authority to persecute the Christians there. But, the Lord in a violent fashion converted him; He knocked Paul down and blinded him while on the way to Damascus (Acts 9:3-5). God removed his heart of stone and gave him a heart of flesh (Ezek. 36:26). As a blinded and stunned Paul stumbled to his feet, The Lord commanded him, “… enter the city, and it shall be told you what you must do.” (Acts 9:6). Ananias who was sent to heal Paul of his blindness, had doubts about his character. But the Lord commanded; “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name’s sake.” (Acts 9:15-16). Thus, began Paul’s ministry as probably the most prolific and tenacious advocate for proclaiming Jesus Christ; Paul declared; “… but we preach Christ crucified…” And,“ For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. (1 Cor. 1:23b, 2:2). From the moment of Paul’s conversion in Acts 9 and throughout the rest of the book, we read of his bold proclamation of the Gospel of Christ. And that bold proclamation came with a heavy price. Paul suffered for the Gospel unlike any man has ever suffered; (2 Cor. 11:23-28) and that is not including the “thorn” in the flesh given to him by God Himself, in order to keep Paul humble (2 Cor. 12:7).
Whenever he journeyed to a new city, he went right to the synagogue or wherever teaching or preaching was conducted and he “reasoned” from the Scriptures (Acts 17:2-3, 17:10, 17:17, 17:22-31, 18:4-5, 18:19, 19:8). Paul did not act independently or fanatically, as you might be thinking. For example, at Corinth he experienced a vision at night, the Lord appeared to him and commanded him to proclaim the word of God to the people. (Acts 18:9). It may be that too many modern Christians desire an “experience” such the Apostles did, which would explain the lack of urgency for the lost, and the insipid, reticent and anemic evangelism of our day.
By the use of spoken words, God created everything; He spoke everything into existence (Gen. 1-2). He then spoke to prophets and then His eternal Son, who in turn, commanded believers to speak the words of eternal life to all nations (Matt. 28:19-20). “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. (Heb.1:1-2). That very Son, Jesus Christ, is the Word, the Logos. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1). In the beginning was the “Word”, not an “action”; Jesus Christ was the Word; He became flesh and tabernacled among men. (John 1:14). How can we communicate to the lost, repentance from sin and their utter need for the Savior, Jesus Christ, without using articulated words? Jesus taught using sermons, verbal illustrations, hyperbole, and parables, to help people understand what He spoke; He spoke words of eternal life. Dr. Al Mohler, speaking at the 2012 T4G Conference, stated; “The Word was brought near to us…now it’s our sacred responsibility to preach it to others.” Dr. Mohler went on to state; “It (the Gospel), requires articulation; and the call to salvation requires a response; a confession.” (Rom. 10:9-10).
The Holy Spirit teaches us by the written word of the Bible; “… men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God. (2 Pet. 1:21). Forty authors all inspired by God, wrote down the words He decreed for our sanctification, illumination, and revelation which pertain to everything required to live this life and the life to come. (2 Tim. 3:16-17, John 6:68).
Human beings communicate with words. But even more importantly God created the function of communication to be performed by employing words. The Bible is a huge tome of written words; God’s “Special Revelation”; we are the only age of humanity, that is able to refer to the complete canon of the Old and New Testaments. How tragic, if people abandoned God’s special revelation to this age! Especially when the perspicuity, inerrancy, infallibility, absolute authority, full sufficiency, and authenticity, of the Bible is absolute, containing God’s pure truth.
As we witness the lack of turning to God’s full authoritative Word eroding rapidly in this age through a chosen defiance or ignorance and rejection, how much more will they be held accountable if they disobediently and deliberately disobey God’s word? We must bow down to Jesus Christ as Lord, Messiah, and thank our Father God for the Holy Spirit’s inspiration for which we have our Bibles.
In this era, we have more revelation than ever before in church history. Additionally, we are technologically advanced with the means, methods, and capability to transmit massive amounts of media (in an appropriate sense, God’s truth), globally and in an instant. Therefore, we ought to be heralding God’s pure unadulterated word at a mind-boggling rate! Some churches do just that, God bless them for doing so. And yet, we need to pray for those who ignore or flippantly handle God’s revelation of His Word, the Bible. Anthropocentric agendas seem to monopolize the various venues available which should be used to glorify God. It was God who blessed mankind with the knowledge to invent advanced communicative capabilities, yet we reserve meager amounts of time and cyberspace to the spread of the Gospel. Let us stop squandering away myriads of opportunities to serve God in that capacity or His judgment will be all the more severe. Let us honestly examine social media and consider how many people could be reached and ultimately saved. Let us zealously and faithfully study, preach and teach God’s words, scrutinizing the Scriptures of our Bibles daily. And then, on each Lord’s Day, with our church body’s; teaching, preaching and equipping the saints to go out and share the precious “words” that contain the way to eternal life; the good news of Jesus Christ! Amen.