He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?" - Romans 8:32

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Thursday, April 29, 2010 

Missions: Proclaiming/Preaching the Gospel with Authority

In the first two chapters of First Corinthians, Paul made use of the terms “preach,” “preached,” and “proclaiming.” Paul understood that he must preach, or proclaim, an essential message. Paul employed similar language elsewhere: “We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ” (Col 1:28).

I have always thought Paul to be a good model for those of us who aspire to take the gospel to the peoples of the earth. I recall, however, participating in a seminar in missiology. Throughout the semester, each time I spoke of “proclaiming the gospel” or “preaching the gospel,” the professor stopped me and explained, “We prefer not to use the terms ‘preach’ or ‘proclaim,’ rather, we emphasize the use of dialogue.” At one point, the professor explained that to preach or proclaim is to occupy a position of authority, which can be interpreted by the audience as arrogance.

Well, we DO have something to proclaim, and that with authority! The Bible bears witness to Christ, and we must do the same. Edmund Clowney has understood this Christ-centered witness to be the key to unlocking the meaning of both testaments. For example, in noting the encounter of the resurrected Jesus and the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, Clowney commented: “Their hearts burned within them as they saw how all the Scriptures focused on Christ.” John Stott has reminded us that, not only are we to reveal Christ, but to “unveil him that people are drawn to come to him and to receive him.” Often, teachers of homiletics have counseled their students: “In your preaching, wherever you begin, take that beginning and run straight to the cross.”

Attorney and Bible teacher, David Rogers, has observed: “Christian evangelism should always be respectful, loving and kind, yet faithful to the truth of the gospel. Christians should always present the gospel in a winsomely persuasive manner. To be sure, Christians have not always done so. But evangelism at its best is carried out with the heartfelt desire and hope that others would enter into the abundant life and salvation found only in Christ.”

- Dr. George Martin

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