Is it Possible to Preach the Gospel Without Words?

Is it Possible to Preach the Gospel Without Words?

It’s impossible to preach the gospel with a person’s life. A person’s testimony and lifestyle is certainly important, but nobody will ever be saved by merely watching how people live. They must come to know the law of God which confronts sinners with their guilt and shame. It’s then that they come to hear the good news announced which points them in the direction of the Savior of the world—Jesus Christ.

Gone are the days when we simply received little clichés and pithy statements on bumper stickers alone. Now, with the highways of the internet and social media, we have access to a wealth of information which can be profitable and dangerous at the same time.

Every so often you will see this common phrase circulating around social media: “Preach the Gospel at all times. Use words if necessary.” The statement is often attributed to St. Francis of Assisi, but in all reality, there’s little evidence that he actually spoke those words.

The real issue is with the meaning of the phrase itself rather than the origin. Is it possible to preach the gospel without words? Is it possible to be faithful to God by proclaiming the good news with your life alone?

The Danger of Cliché Christianity

I love a good quote from a good author, but those quotes are not enough. We need the Scriptures. One of the great tragedies of modern evangelicalism is the shallow approach that is popularized through social media. We are bombarded with messages, quotes, and man’s opinion on many levels on a daily basis, and oftentimes these messages drive us in the direction of superficiality rather than robust faithfulness.

Some common clichés circulating today might include statements such as:

  • God never gives you more than you can handle.
  • When God closes a door, he opens a window.
  • God helps those who help themselves.

The fact is, God often gives us far more than we can handle for the sanctifying purpose of revealing our weakness and our need for God. Sometimes when God closes a door, he simply closes a door. It should also be pointed out that God helps those who learn that they cannot help themselves without the power and strength of God. The sappy cliché approach to following Jesus does not work.

When genuine Christians study the Scriptures, they soon learn that the worldly clichés that are so commonplace in our day are at odds with the very Word of God. It’s at this juncture that Christians are moved from a steady diet of sloppy cultural phraseology to the rich streams of God’s holy Word where an abundant supply of wisdom and knowledge flow into the hearts and minds of God’s children.

Preaching is Far Superior to a Personal Testimony

When we hear people who press a personal testimony above the actual gospel itself—that’s confirmation that there’s a massive misunderstanding regarding the gospel. To be clear, people are not saved by listening to a personal testimony. People do not need more stories.

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