Thursday, June 14, 2012

What is "it"?

I was listening to a guy speak the other day and he quoted a popular verse of scripture. It is a verse I have heard numerous times but for some reason I heard it yesterday and could not shake free from it. I have always focused on one part of it and yesterday I realized I needed to focus on the other part. This is a very familiar passage for many who read this.

Romans 1: 16 I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.
Where I used to focus my attention was on the first half of the verse. Pastors have said that we need to be bold in sharing our testimony, we need to be bold in our faith, we need to speak proudly when we share with others, we don't need to be ashamed, we don't need to cower when sharing our faith. And to a certain degree I would agree with that. But if you notice most of those statements seem to emphasize the person who is sharing. That is where speakers tend to focus their energies. However, as I heard this verse read yesterday I honed in on the word "it". I am not the power of God, you are not the power of God, the most articulate communicator is not the power of God. "It" is the power of God. What is "it", "it" is the gospel.

The gospel is the power of God unto salvation. The speaker is not "it", the speaker's testimony is not "it", the religious ceremony is not "it", the gospel is "it". This is what we must share with a world that is lost and dying. Take a look at these verses about the power of the Word of God.

I 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.
Again, "it" does not point to the person, "it" does not emphasize Paul. "It" is the word of the cross, the gospel.

Hebrews 4: 12 For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
There is that word "it" again. "It" is the word of God. "It" is not the pastor, "it" is not the missionary, "it" is the word of God. "It" is living and active in the Believer's life.

So what do we do with "it". We have to read "it" and we have to speak "it". The only way to have the word of God penetrate our lives is to read "it". It will not be able to penetrate our lives unless we are reading "it", unless we are spending time in "it".

The only way we can help others come to a saving knowledge of Christ is through speaking "it", emphasizing "it", not us or someone else.

Romans 10: 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
Those who are lost will only respond to the gospel when they hear it. The popular saying that is often spoken by Christians is "Tell them about Christ and only use words when necessary." It sounds nice and noble but it is not correct when you compare it to scripture. Peter, John, Stephen, Paul and all the others spoke the word and people were challenged. Some responded positively and some negatively. Ultimately we are not responsible for the results, God is. We are not to get into the business of trying to coerce people into responding or guilt people into professing something.  All we are called to do is to proclaim "it". God will do the rest.

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