Five Necessities for Declaring the Gospel with Clarity and Power

“And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” ‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭2:1-5‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Along with Bible reading, many Christians have set for themselves a goal to share Christ with someone in 2019. For some, the prospect of sharing Christ with someone fills them with anxiety. This is true even though many of understand that we heard about Christ from another Christian ourselves and how thankful we are that someone loved us enough to step out of their comfort zone in order to explain the life-giving gospel of Jesus Christ to us.

Who will we share Christ with this year? Perhaps for you sharing Christ is a scary thing. You might believe that you would mess up the message so bad that it would harm rather than help the mission of Christ if you tried.

Some of you have been on evangelism teams in the past or you were once faithful to preach the gospel on a regular basis, but you have slowed down and maybe you rarely go out evangelizing any more. I want to encourage you and stir you up once again to get out there and share the gospel.

To help you have confidence to share your faith I would like to give you five principles, or five marks of a clear gospel message that will glorify God when you share His plan of salvation.

1. God is glorified when the gospel is shared with simplicity (v.1)

“And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom.” ‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭2:1‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Please notice what Paul did not say here. He did not say that he came with superiority of speech, or as the ESV says, “lofty speech.” Here Paul was thinking of highly technical language that the philosophers used. Now, if you speak on a regular basis with philosophers, then use that language because it communicates best to them. Paul was concerned that the Corinthians had continued to be enamored with the so-called scholarly rhetoric that was used by the false teachers.

If you run with mechanics, bus drivers and waiters, then when you proclaim the gospel, speak the language of the people. Avoid using religious language and “Christian-ese”. Don’t say things like, “Have you been washed in the blood of the Lamb?” If you do, I won’t come and bail you out of jail when they call the police! Most people today in America have no context to know what statements like that mean. We need to explain the gospel to people and assume they know very little of the Bible or of the gospel message. Terms like sin, redemption, atonement and even the cross all need to be explained more fully to the average person today.

Paul also said that he didn’t come to Corinth “with wisdom.” This is the world’s brand of wisdom, not God’s wisdom. You do not need to argue philosophy or know everything about everything. The gospel is powerful in and of itself. The gospel isn’t about what you know, but about who you know. Armed with the gospel you can know that you have the wisdom of God, even if the person you are speaking with is a genius about earthly things. The gospel is deep enough for a lifetime of study and yet shallow enough for a child to come to faith.

Pastor Chuck Swindoll tells of a little sign he has on his desk that reads: IDIOSYNCRATICALLY ECCENTRIC PHRASEOLOGY IS THE PROMULGATOR OF TERRIBLE OBFUSCATION. On the back was the translation: “BIG WORDS CAUSE CONFUSION.”

When the message can’t be understood and is muddled or confused, God is not glorified.

2. God is glorified when the gospel is shared with authority (v. 1)

“And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom.” ‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭2:1‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Notice that Paul calls his message “the testimony of God,” it is the witness of God Himself. By using the Bible you are speaking with the authority of its Divine Author.

The unbeliever knows in his heart (even if he or she denies it) that God exists and that he has suppressed this knowledge (Rom. 1:18-19, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.”) and he needs to repent (Acts 17:30-31, “The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.””).

As Christian witnesses to the cross, we are to speak with the authority of God himself who has sent each of us out as his ambassadors and ministers! Second Corinthians 5:17-21 says, ““Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

We do not come in our own power or our own name. We come as children of God and witnesses of the gospel. We come seeking to see our fellow man reconciled to God by the proclamation of the message of reconciliation in Christ Jesus.

3. God is glorified when the gospel is shared with intensity (v. 2)

“For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” ‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭2:2‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Notice here that Paul says that his focus is upon Jesus Christ and the cross alone. Of course Paul spoke about all sorts of issues, but in his initial conversations with the Corinthians, when he shared the gospel with them, he was all about Jesus Christ on the cross and nothing else.

For us. We need to remember that if salvation is not the goal, then we are wasting our time. Paul could have spoken intelligently in regards to a number of subjects but his focus was on presenting the gospel. He was an evangelistic laser-beam. A laser beam is merely light, but focused with such intensity that its beam can cut through rock and steel. We need to preach with accuracy as well as intensity so that our message has power.

When we go off on bunny trails and move away from the central gospel message to look at lesser issues, God is not glorified. I know some Christians who are easily distracted into side issues when they are sharing Christ–the worship of the Virgin Mary, the factual nature of Jonah and the big fish that swallowed him, the issues surrounding creation versus evolution, cultural issues such as crime, homosexuality and more.

Now I don’t mean that we shouldn’t think deeply about these issues nor that the Bible doesn’t give answers. But we need to make sure that we don’t lose sight of our goal–reconciliation and redemption! We need to be like hounds of heaven who won’t get off the trail and will seek out the soul that needs to be saved. Otherwise we will find that we will be constantly frustrated in never ending wrangling about words that will never change the heart until this first issue is dealt with. The unbeliever must come to submit to the Kingship of Christ. It will take the gospel of Jesus Christ to do that!

4. God is glorified when the gospel is shared with gravity (v. 3)

“And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling,” 1 Corinthians‬ ‭2:3‬ ‭ESV‬‬

When we talk about gravity, we mean a type of seriousness or a weightiness. We are all business. We are caught up in a mission and we didn’t come to mess around. Paul’s attitude to the work of evangelism was one of soberness. He knew that he was a tool on the hands of God.

In 1 Corinthians 3:6-7 Paul wrote, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.” Paul didn’t overestimate his importance in the process, BUT he also didn’t underestimate his part as the means by which God brought sinners to faith in Christ. Paul was no hyper-Calvinist. He understood that he needed to take his role with all seriousness and couldn’t throw it off as something that God would accomplish without the means of men preaching the gospel and calling sinners to faith.

That is a sobering truth. He knew that he was sharing a message of eternity in heaven or hell. Puritan pastor Richard Baxter famously said, “I preach as never sure to preach again, and as a dying man to dying men.” Christian, you are dying, but you have hope! The person who needs Christ that you need to speak to also is dying, but they have no hope and without Christ will slide into a Christ-less eternity!

Every disciples of Jesus Christ needs to know that he or she will one day give an account for his or her talents. In Matthew 25:14-30 Jesus spoke about the parable of the talents that are not to be buried, but invested for our Master. There is no greater treasure that we have been entrusted with than the gospel of Jesus Christ. What are you doing with that treasure? When we share the message half-heartedly, or worse, don’t share it at all, then God is not glorified.

5. God is glorified when the gospel is shared with dependency (v. 4)

“and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,” 1 Corinthians‬ ‭2:4‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Clearly, Paul depended upon the Holy Spirit. He knew that without the empowering of the Holy Spirit he was weak for the task. Jesus told His disciples that they would receive power when the Holy Spirit came upon them (Acts 1:8). This power isn’t for showy church services, it isn’t for putting your special spirituality on display for everyone to see, and it surely isn’t for your personal satisfaction or to make you wealthy and famous. Your empowerment by the Spirit was given for the preaching of the gospel to the world.

Someone put together a little power to ask a very serious question:

Where is God’s Power?

A city full of churches

Great preachers, lettered men

Grand music, choirs and organs;

If all these fail what then?

Good workers, eager, earnest

Who labor hour by hour;

But where oh where, my brother,

Is God’s almighty power?

When we do anything in our own power, particularly when we preach the gospel, God is not glorified.

Are you sharing the gospel? We need the message to go out. We need to begin once again hitting the streets with the saving message of Jesus Christ and Him crucified. If you aren’t doing that, you need to be going about sharing the gospel message.

Additionally, God has not called us to just share the gospel, but to do so with an empowered passion that is laser-beam accurate.

The message is clear. It has power to save. What will you do with it? Go into the world and share the gospel.

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