Wednesday, September 04, 2013

God's Character and Evangelism

Evangelism always requires preaching on the attributes of God.  When Jesus met the Samaritan woman at Jacob's well (John 4), he taught her that God is a Spirit.  When Paul addressed the heathen on Mars' Hill (Acts 17), he had to devote even more of his evangelistic message to the character of God, who was unknown to them.  He began by speaking of God as the Creator, as the Sustainer of all life, as the Mighty One who raised Jesus from the dead.  This element, of exalting God's character, is essential to bringing honour to God in our preaching.

Much of modern preaching is anemic, with the life-blood of God's nature absent from the message. Evangelists centre their message upon man.  Man has sinned and missed a great blessing.  If man wants to retrieve his immense loss he must act thus and so.  But the gospel of Christ is very different. It begins with God and his glory.  It tells men that they have offended a holy God, who will by no means pass by sin.  It reminds sinners that the only hope of salvation is to be found in the grace and power of this same God.  Christ's gospel sends men to beg pardon of the Holy One.

There is wide difference between these two messages.  The one seeks to blaze a trail to heaven for man while ignoring the Lord of Glory.  The other labours to magnify the God of all grace in the salvation of men.  The first would give a technical answer to, 'What shall I do to inherit eternal life?',  with an adequate foundation.  The last says,

Wait a moment.  The God with whom we have to do is
thrice holy, alone good, unapproachable in brilliant holiness!
We will return your question in its subordinate place.  But 
now take your eye from yourself and behold the holy God
of the Scriptures.  Then you will see yourself as you truly
are--a creature in rebellion against an infinitely pure God.
You are not yet prepared to discuss yourself and eternity.

This does not mean that preaching about the character of God is isolated from seeking the salvation of a sinner.  Preaching on the attributes is essential to the conversion of a man.  Without a knowledge of God, a sinner does not know whom he has offended, who threatens him with destruction, or who is able to save him.  Apart from some clear apprehensions of God, there can be no personal approach to God, and 'personal Savior' become s hollow phrase.

Walter Chantry
Today's Gospel
Pages 16-18

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