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April 18, 2017

3

Proclaiming the Foolishness of the Gospel

by Dave Malnes

The message of God’s grace appears utterly foolish to an unbelieving world. For those who believe in Christ, it can be equally foolish when people choose to reject God’s grace. How Christians respond to rejection makes a huge difference in proclaiming the gospel.

“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Cor. 1:18)

Jumping out of an airplane with only a parachute on our back is utterly foolish to most people. But it’s all a matter of perspective in comparison to other foolish things that we do.

Think about it.

We calmly climb into small vehicles and drive like small missiles on the interstate and think nothing of it.

With some trepidation, we board jet planes that cruise over 30,000 feet in the air.

Today’s accepted mode of travel would be considered crazy one hundred years ago.

It’s all a matter of perspective.

“God made the gospel the greatest truth the mind of man can receive.” [Rev. Carleton Toppe]

Faith is insane, unnatural, and utterly foolish.

It requires a leap into the unknown that’s scary, unreasonable, and requires a measure of trust in something outside of ourselves.

Like jumping out of an airplane, faith means trusting that the parachute will open. When you safely reach the ground, it’s no longer a leap a faith. The object of the person’s faith has proven trustworthy.

Faith leaps.

Believing in Christ’s promises, one steps into the abyss of foolishness and instantly receives all the benefits Christ won for us. Only after a person lands on the solid ground of biblical truth does that foolishness turn to wisdom and weakness to strength. It is only then that the fruits of joy, peace and love miraculously appears and become the hallmark of a life in Christ.

“For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel – not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.” (1 Cor. 1:17)

To help overcome the barriers of fear that accompany evangelism, Christians need to understand and accept that faith alone supersedes foolishness. Faith in Christ is a miracle and can only be received by the power of God’s Word. It is the message of cross. This truth helps to overcome frustration and impatience in the face of a person rejecting God’s message of grace. To a heart untouched by the hand of God, the gospel is crazy, foolish, and untrustworthy.

Proclaiming the gospel means conquering the fear of rejection, because we don’t like to appear foolish. We feel frustrated when unbelievers – especially those we care about — throw away opportunities to receive and consider a gospel message. We feel sadness, because we know the eternal consequences of rejecting Christ.

“God made the cross the world’s most powerful instrument for good.”  [Rev. Carleton Toppe]

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I think that faith and proclaiming the gospel is like learning a foreign language.

I used to teach English as a Second Language to people who came to American from Asian countries. They needed to learn new words, but also be trained how to form new sounds with their tongues and teeth. If they didn’t take the time to learn how to form new sounds in conjunction with new words, then most native-born Americans would have a difficult time understanding them.

The same is true for native-born Americans who attempt to learn how to speak Chinese or Vietnamese. It’s a completely different language that requires you to use muscles in your throat to form the proper sounds. It doesn’t matter if you learn a new word or not. If you don’t know how to articulate that word, then the listener will have no idea what you are trying to say.

I should know. It took me several years for me to study and practice Vietnamese in order to communicate at a very basic level. I know what it’s like to speak to a Vietnamese person in their language and have them stare back at me wondering what in the world am I saying! They were probably also wondering what language I was attempting to speak!

When I finally arrived at conversing with a Vietnamese, it was fascinating to discover how our brain functions. There comes a point in time where suddenly something inside our head clicks and you enter a new world of language where you can understand and be understood. It’s almost as if you feel a new part of your brain working.

Proclaiming the gospel is like speaking a foreign language. Without God’s power and his ability to open hearts and minds, people will have no idea what you are talking about. They will look dazed, confused, or express no interest.

You can teach a wonderful message, proclaim the truth in love, and preach a heart-felt message, but only through the power of the Holy Spirit – not human wisdom – can there be a “click” in the soul for the gospel to be understood. The wisdom of God only makes sense through faith and trust in His promises. That’s the power of the cross. And that can only be done through sharing the message of the gospel.

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A person cannot be whipped into faith by the sheer will of a loved one. By doing so, the message of the cross is emptied of its power.

Faith takes risks. Proclaiming the gospel accepts rejection – because it has nothing to do with us, but everything to do with God. Despite the risk and rejection, we proclaim the gospel anyway. Because that’s what God has commissioned us to do.

God’s wisdom made the cross to be the most powerful instrument for good. And that is utter foolishness.

 

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3 Comments Post a comment
  1. Apr 27 2017

    I was struck by what you said about sharing the gospel requires the power of the Holy Spirit. We cannot convince people of the power of the cross unless we are praying for God to open doors for our message. Trying to “convert” unbelievers with our own strength and intellect is fruitless. Thank you for a powerful reminder about where the power comes from.

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    Reply
    • Apr 27 2017

      Thank you, Terri, for your insightful comment. You are right, we are not asked to convert lost souls to Christianity, but introduce Jesus Christ through His Word.

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