Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Evangelist: God Does Not 'Need' You

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 
Hebrews 4:12

How often do we as Christians assert that the Word of God is powerful?  Yet how often do we as Christians live as if it is not?  How often do we as evangelists assert that the gospel is the power of God for salvation (Romans 1:16)?  Yet how often do we as evangelists conduct our evangelism efforts as if the gospel somehow needs our help--the help of our methodologies or, from time to time, what some might consider outright gimmickry?

God has given His children (at least some of them) the ability to be creative.  There is nothing wrong with creativity, even in evangelism.  Trivia, humor, music, slight-of-hand, posters, banners, signs, and crosses--all can be used in legitimate, God-honoring ways to draw individuals and crowds in order to give those gathered the opportunity to hear the proclamation of the Law and the Gospel.

It is when the evangelist sees such gospel-supporting efforts as necessary to the presentation of the gospel that the evangelist can begin to lose sight of an essential truth.  "The word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart" (Hebrews 4:12).

It would do us well, evangelists, to remember that God does not need us.  He does not need our eloquence.  He does not need our creativity.  He does not need our gift of gab, our humor, or our ability as logicians, apologists, and theologians.  What He wants from us, what He demands of us is the faithful, unashamed, loving, courageous, uncompromising, humble, Christ-centered, heralding of the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ.

The sword we carry is not our creativity.  It is not our logical or theological prowess.  It is not our gift of gab or our ability to win the debate.  The sword we carry is not our smooth or sarcastic tongues.  The sword we carry is the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (Ephesians 6:17).

The word of God is living.  It is the means by which God takes the regenerated heart of the person He has caused to be born again and makes so great a salvation visible to the world, through the believer's repentance and faith (1 Peter 1:22-25).

The word of God is active.  It is like fire smelting away the impure dross from fine gold; and like a hammer smashing the hard, stoney heart of the rebellious sinner (Jeremiah 23:29).

The word of God is sharp.  In the mouth of the biblical evangelist, the word is like a polished arrow, piercing deep into the heart of the lost (Isaiah 49:2).  The word penetrates like a hot knife "to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart."

You will know, evangelist, if you are putting too much stock in your creativity--in your use of extra-biblical props--if you find you cannot do evangelism without them.  And you will know if you are neglecting your most powerful weapon, the word of God, if the props become more important than the prophets, debate becomes more important than doctrine, the argument won becomes more important than the soul saved, and the gimmicks become more important than the gospel.

Evangelist! Do not simply carry the sword of Spirit!  Remove it from its sheath!  Wield it for the glory of God and for the souls of men!  And remember, evangelist, God does not need you.  Ah, but thanks be to God that He will use you as an instrument in His mighty hand--provided you not neglect the primary weapon He has given you--the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.