In this unusual time in history, the Western Church is being offered an opportunity to recalibrate. In some cases, we have wandered from the very things that motivated the Early Church to be so passionate and all-in regarding their commitment to Christ.
The first believers knew only Jesus could save a person’s soul from eternal separation from God. Paul even said in a moment of passion he would trade places with such persons hoping in some way to save them from what was to come. That passion has inspired and motivated missionaries for the last 2,000 years to give it all, even their lives, so that others could hear the Gospel.
Repeatedly in Scripture, we see a union between an urgent message of repentance being preached and the need to confirm that message with a demonstration of God’s supernatural power. “And God confirmed the message by giving signs, wonders and various miracles and the gifts of the Holy Spirit whenever he chose” (Hebrews 2:4). That verse followed a warning about drifting away from the truth. A Gospel of only good works, works that can be done by anyone and by most religions without Christ, is not the Gospel of Scripture.
Paul spoke of his ministry to the Gentiles, “They were convinced by the power of miraculous signs and wonders and by the power of God’s Spirit. In this way, I have fully presented the Good News of Christ from Jerusalem all the way to Illyricum” (Romans 15:18).
Do we really think we will reach the nations of the world with another argument over doctrine or by offering a comfortable building for people to sit in for an hour on Sunday morning? Will a message that does not warn people about the consequence of sin have any real impact on how they choose to live their life? Can another devotional sermon presentation bring revival and reformation? Will our preferred politics convince anyone of the validity of the Gospel. In all these considerations only a personal encounter with Jesus Christ can save a soul from eternal punishment. That supernatural encounter takes place when people have seen and experienced the works of a supernatural God.
“And my message and my preaching were very plain. Rather than using clever and persuasive speeches, I relied only on the power of the Holy Spirit. I did this so you would trust not in human wisdom but in the power of God” (I Corinthians 2:4-5).
This is an updated edition of a post originally published on Garris Elkins