Monday, July 25, 2011

The Gospel is ONLY Communicated through WORDS

    I have just returned from an interesting week of preteen camp. The first night was what I expected. The gospel was proclaimed and we saw a couple of our kids saved by Jesus! As the week went on I noticed that the speaker and musician kept emphasizing that the gospel must be seen and that actions are more important than the words themselves. While I do believe that actions are important (faith without deeds is dead James 2:17), they do not take primacy over the object of our faith, the gospel. Oddly enough there weren't kids saved through the service provided to them by our camp staffers, but only through preaching.

    The gospel literally means "good news." Specifically, it is the news concerning the person and work of Jesus for the salvation of his people. News cannot be communicated through deeds performed. At best you could possibly mime or play charades to communicate news to someone, but serving other people in and of itself communicates no involved message. It is not until the people you are serving ask you, "Why?" that you can communicate more than the fact you are a decent human being. It is true that actions do add weight to the words being spoken, but the words of the gospel alone transform hearts, minds, and communities for Christ. So let's stop saying, "we don't need another sermon, we just need God's people to act like God's people."

We need God's people to become passionate about the message of Christ, and share it as they serve Christ and others rather than themselves. Until the gospel is beautiful to them they will only serve others from guilt, fear or prideful self-righteousness. God's people need to hear the gospel too, it alone can transform them daily into a people that are conformed to Jesus' mind and heart. The Holy Spirit uses the gospel to change people from the inside out for justification (becoming a Christian) and sanctification (being daily changed more like Jesus)*.

"How will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?....So faith comes from hearing and hearing through the word of Christ." Romans 10:14-17 (ESV, emphasis mine)

*Obviously I am not giving technical definitions of the words, "justification" and "sanctification," but simple concepts for people to distinguish and grasp them.