I’ve been reading some Facebook posts and hearing conversations lately regarding our ability to make an impression upon unbelievers so that we might win them over. Mind you, I think we should always work on our presentation skills, but it’s not a matter of presentation that changes a person’s mind with regards to Jesus. Yes, a server can sway a customer from chicken to beef solely upon presentation, but you and I cannot change the heart of a human when it comes to Jesus.
In fact, we can get ourselves into some dangerous territory if we start to think that we have the ability to “turn on that switch” of salvation. Can we imagine someone’s pride being fed by this? Indeed, it can. But here’s the down side. If you and I are able – by improving our communication skills – to save people from the damnation of eternal hellfire, then why aren’t we doing just that every single waking moment of our lives? In fact, how could we possibly get any sleep whatsoever knowing that someone will be forever condemned if we don’t work our charm on them.
Folks, God won’t give you that kind of power – or responsibility. You and I cannot possibly live up to that. More than likely, we will only abuse the power. Paul saw fit to address this problem in both of his letters to the Corinthians. Let’s take a look.
1 Corinthians 1:18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
That’s the opening shot. For space sake, let’s look at select verses in the rest this passage.
v. 22-23, 25, 27, 29-31 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles….For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men….But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong….so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom and our righteousness and sanctification and redemption. Therefore, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
Let’s go a little further. Paul is clear about who teaches whom.
2:10, 12-13 these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God….Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.
Now, here’s a clincher.
2:14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.
So, what are we supposed to talk about with people? Certainly, we can tell our story. That’s a great method because it is a story that you already know. But here’s the deal. Don’t try to impress anyone with YOUR story. Impress them, instead, with what God has done for you. It’s one thing to say you were a drunkard that Jesus saved. It’s another to go into great detail exactly what kind of drunkard you were. The point is not the depth of our despair lest you forget that the 10-year-old school girl is just as lost as the guy passed out in his own vomit. We are all infinitely separated from God unless we take the hand of Jesus. In that, there is no distinction between any of us.
My emphasis here is that we should be pointing to Jesus and not ourselves. Whether or not someone believes because of our words is God’s business. Ours is to point the way. What does this look like? Let’s take Paul’s example:
15:1-8 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you – unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.
This message is just as much for me as it is for you. Paul says the FIRST IMPORTANCE is what? Christ died, was buried, and rose from the dead. All as prophesized and recorded in Scripture. This whole business was foretold and happened just as God said it would. Certainly, it is a fantastic story, one that I still find difficult to comprehend. Yet, that is the story – of first importance.
I’ll be honest, that’s not the way I lead it when sharing the gospel. Why? Perhaps I would rather talk about me.
Father, thank you for revealing things in me that I do not like, things that need to be changed. I didn’t save myself, yet I want people to see what I have done. Why do I forget that you are the one who saved me – the one who died, was buried, and rose from the dead all according to scripture? Am I ashamed to tell the story that people will find foolish? Forgive me, Father. Amen.
Copyright © 2018 Scott Powers