*WARNING* – Some might find this offensive…sorry.
One well-known charismatic minister who identifies himself as an “evangelist” published this quote recently in one of his books. “We can preach the Gospel all day long, but that won’t win souls. That won’t win the hearts of the people. We can talk, try to theorize, theologize, reason, argue, debate, and spend time trying to prove that Jesus lived, but that won’t win a heart. How often do we see the religious mindset that believes that the more Scripture quoting, the more yelling, the more hell fire and brimstone preaching, the greater the chance to win someone over for the Kingdom? Likewise, how often do we see people sitting or standing there listening in stone-cold silence or indifference?”
This comment is typical of an attitude I have been seeing more and more in Christian circles recently. There seems to be this contempt for the preaching of the Gospel accompanied by the idea that it simply not enough. Preachers seem loathed to preach the simple message of salvation as though it were beneath their academic level; an insult to their profound intellect. I have seen how some crusade preachers never touch the core elements of the Gospel choosing rather to address social issues and give tips on better living. I have not heard the Gospel coming from the vast majority of the most fashionable preachers on television or the popular preaching circuit. I have heard recently how some have declared that the “Gospel” is really not the message of the cross while another told me recently that he wasn’t even sure how to preach the Gospel.
The apostle Paul encountered similar attitudes, even in the first century church. To the Jews, the Gospel was offensive. It made the hierarchy most uncomfortable confronting hypocrisy and challenging religiosity. It was to them a “stumbling block”. For the Greeks, the cross was just too simple and lacked the philosophical sophistication that they were accustomed to. They wrote the Gospel off as “foolishness”.
Early in Paul’s ministry to the gentiles we see how he attempted to conform his message to reach the Athenians by using a sort of “seeker-sensitive” approach. On Mars Hill, He preached a “culturally relevant message” that seemed both profound and appropriate. Rather than preaching the cross, he preached about one of their altars dedicated, “To The Unknown God”. He then went on to borrow poetry from a popular local author. Although a few people believed, the consensus seems to have been relative indifference. The people agreed to discuss the topic more saying; “We will hear thee again of this matter.” But where was the transformational, revolutionary power of the Gospel? It seems to have been missing.
Paul’s approach changed as his ministry matured. In the end we find him confidently declaring, “I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ for IT IS THE POWER OF GOD UNTO SALVATION for everyone who believes…” (Romans 1:16). When you read that verse, put the emphasis on the word “it”. IT is the power of God unto salvation. The power is not in clever speeches, dynamic concerts, prophetic conferences or powerful prayer meetings. The power is in the GOSPEL…IT IS THE POWER OF GOD UNTO SALVATION. This is exactly what Paul discovered. It is the great secret – all the supernatural resources of Heaven come to bear when the Gospel is preached. The Gospel could easily do what persuasive words of man’s wisdom could never accomplish. IT is the power of God unto salvation.
I must confess…my heart is heavy because I feel as though my generation has forgotten the Gospel and has lost the art of preaching it. Sure, once and a while I hear an “altar call” tagged onto the end of a message about “Seeing Your Dreams Come Alive”, “Living A Fulfilling Life” or “Loose Weight and Feel Great”. But where is the raw, declaration of the Gospel message: Sin & Salvation – Heaven & Hell – Repentance & Faith. When is the last time you saw people running to an altar to repent of their sins. When is the last time you saw sinners confessing their sins and being baptized by the dozen? When is the last time you saw drug dealers, alcoholics and prostitutes getting saved and becoming faithful church members? In the crusades we see these things all the time, but that is because we preach the Gospel and the power is in the Gospel. If you don’t preach the Gospel, you will have good services and profound messages and stirring prayer times, but you will not see transformation come to society. When people don’t see results in their ministries they will inevitably resort to more prayer meetings begging God for a revival (because this what we have been taught to do), when all along the answer is so close to us Paul says “it is in your mouth”. I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ – IT is the power of God unto salvation.
I would like to go on the record as saying that the preaching of the Gospel is indeed the key to winning souls (regardless of what the above “evangelists” book says). Fashionable trends in preaching may come and go, but in the end, like Paul, we will find that it is the Gospel that brings the results. I have had the privilege of leading millions of people to Christ face to face along side Evangelist Reinhard Bonnke in our Great Gospel Crusades around the world and the great secret has been nothing other than the simple declaration of the Gospel with the power of the Holy Spirit. I will stand by it and preach it with confidence until the day I die. “I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ”. Are you?