Monday, November 29, 2010

The Impossibility of Evangelism & Preaching

Just after preaching the worship service at Sovereign Grace, I went to lunch with an unbelieving man. We had a great conversation and I was able to talk extensively about the gospel. He enjoyed the conversation and was more than happy to engage. He seemed to understand what I was saying conceptually, yet looked at me through the eyes of someone who wasn't connecting to my descriptions of the grace of God in the gospel at all. I enjoyed my time with him and hope to spend a lot more. I also was reminded of some precious biblical truth with regard to the impossibility of evangelism and preaching.

Christianity does not teach that truth is merely conceptual. Truth is personal. It is personal because Jesus is himself the truth. As a result, I can explain the truth and provide biblical descriptions of the truth, but it is impossible for me to describe the truth sufficiently enough for you to actually know the Truth. You can't know a person by hearing a description about him. You must meet and experience him. The problem is that men are not, in and of themselves, able to know the Truth. They can understand the descriptions I provide in preaching and evangelism. They can't, however, taste and see that the Lord is good through my descriptions of him. In the moments when I realize this, I feel like a man trying to describe honey to someone who has never tasted its sweetness.

The Bible is clear that the eyes of unbelievers have been blinded to really knowing and believing the truth. They can't see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ (2 Cor. 4:3-4). So, trying to describe the grace of God in Jesus to them is like describing the majesty of a sunset to a blind person. They can't see it based on my descriptions. They must receive sight. The Bible also refers to unbelievers as those who are spiritually deaf. I can sign the greatest description of a symphony to them, but they still don't know the beauty of its sound. So, in one sense evangelism and preaching are an impossible task. Apart from God opening the eyes of the spiritually blind, giving hearing to the spiritually deaf, or giving life to the spiritually dead so they can taste and see that the Lord is good, no man will ever know and trust in the Truth, Jesus Christ our Lord!

This reality drives me to my knees to plead with God to give spiritual sight, hearing, and life to unbelievers. The impossibility of evangelism and preaching in this regard should inform the church's prayer life. We must pray for men to be saved because God must work in them if they are to see and hear and know the Truth. So, I will continue to describe the goodness of the Lord in the gospel to people and I will also continue to pray that God enables them to taste the sweet honey of the gospel.

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