It seems like lately I’ve been gravitating toward books that talk about the gospel, whether directly, or indirectly in biographies (I love biographies!). I’ve been wrestling with a lot of questions, praying, reading my Bible too, of course, and reading these good books. God is using all this to grow my concern for those who don’t know Him. I’ve been praying that the Holy Spirit will fill me and give me boldness and opportunities to share Him with others. I am so weak in this area.
Elizabeth Elliot, in her biography about Amy Carmichael called A Chance to Die, talks about a conversation between Amy and another woman who worked with her at a mission hospital in India:
Saral came one day with an idea for drawing the women to hear the gospel. She would teach them to knit with some pink wool she had been given, ‘and they will love me more and like to listen when I talk about Jesus.’
Amy could not say yes to that. She explained that the gospel needed no such frills. It [the gospel] is the power of God for salvation. Saral protested that there was nothing in the Bible which bore upon pink wool and knitting needles. ‘Indeed there is–Zechariah 4:6 says, “Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.”‘
There was no need for tricks which might open houses–houses were open (the Holy Spirit opens hearts to the gospel). No need for methods of helping to humanize and fill bare and empty lives–“these women have a full day’s work.” To try to help God with pink fancywork was, she felt, plain unbelief.
It is certainly something to ponder. I guess this is another opportunity to ask ourselves, “Who am I trusting in?”
There is nothing wrong with teaching other people how to knit. But if we do this type of thing thinking that people will like us more and therefore listen to the gospel then we are taking too much on ourselves, and think that God needs us in order to save people. But all He needs is the Holy Spirit and the Bible. We are simply His messengers who are called to testify to the gospel by our changed lives and by preaching the word of God. The focus is on Him that way, instead of on us and what we can do. “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” Romans 10:17. Not everyone will believe our message, just as not all the Jewish people believed (Paul was speaking of that in the Roman’s passage I quoted from). But it won’t be because we weren’t entertaining enough. Some believe and some don’t; we just need to be faithful to share the truth.
And the truth is that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. We have none of us loved God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. Instead we have loved ourselves with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. Since the greatest commandment is love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and since we have all broken that command, we are all sinners deserving of God’s wrath. But, because God loves us, He sent His only Son Jesus, the perfect Lamb of God, to be our Savior. He took God’s wrath on Himself when He died on the cross. All who come to Him and repent of their sin, believing that He is able to save them, and who are willing to make Him Lord or ruler of their life, will be saved. Matthew 22:34-40; Romans 3:23, 10:8-9
We must not be ashamed of the gospel message, or try to make it more appealing than it already is. Paul says, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, the righteous shall live by faith” Romans 1:16-17.
Jesus says, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? Or what shall a man give in return for his life? For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done” Matthew 16:24-27. It sure doesn’t sound like Jesus wants us to entice people into the Kingdom with entertainment. Following Christ is a wonderful, glorious thing! But it is not easy. We should not deceive people by making it look like it is. We should graciously tell them the truth–the reason for the hope that is in us, that is evident because of the way the gospel has changed our lives. It changes us because once we are saved, we daily die to our wants and take on what God wants. That is not something we are capable of doing without the Holy Spirit’s help.
Well, that’s what I have been mulling over for a while. I know this is a much debated topic, but this is what I am convinced of, and just wanted to share it here. Maybe you’ve been wondering about these things too? May God give you wisdom as you seek Him for answers. And may He make us faithful witnesses of His glorious gospel.