Many of you have heard the famous quote assigned to St. Francis of Assisi which states “Preach the gospel always and if necessary, use words.” I understand the famous friar’s intentions but I would have to emphatically disagree with him. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the Good News and you do not simply live good news but proclaim it. Romans 10:14-15 clearly states:
How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!’
God uses His Word and us proclaiming His Word to save sinners. This means proclaiming the Gospel and backing up your testimony with your life. However simply living a righteous life is not the same as sharing the Gospel.
In defense of my standpoint I give one example. A hardened atheist in a bed and God’s tool named Hudson Taylor. Hudson Taylor was one of the first missionaries to China, founder of China Inland Mission, and lived in the 19th Century. However, before Taylor left for the Lord’s work in China, he worked as a medical assistant.
One of his first assignments was to change the bandages on a man who had severe gangrene in his foot. This man was an ardent atheist who had a violent temper. He had already spit in a pastor’s face and loudly ordered several men to leave before Taylor was assigned to him to change his bandages daily.
Hudson Taylor started immediately to pray for the man’s salvation and the first few days he simply focused on changing the man’s bandages. Although this eased the man’s pain and the man was touched by the kindness, Taylor knew if the man died, he would die in his sins.
Many people like St. Francis of Assisi would state that they were showing Jesus’ love to the man and that is “living the Gospel,” however people are not saved by the simple duty of changing bandages that could have been performed by an atheist medical assistant. People are saved by hearing the Gospel and responding in repentance and faith in Christ alone by God’s grace alone for His Glory alone.
And so the story begins:
But Hudson Taylor was concerned for this man’s eternal destiny.
So the next day, after carefully changing the bandages, he did something different. Instead of heading out the door, he knelt down by the man’s bed and shared the Gospel. He explained his concern for the man’s soul, told of Jesus’ death on the Cross, and that he could be saved from his sins. The man grew furious, said nothing, and turned his back to Hudson. So — Hudson got up, gathered his medical equipment, and left.
This pattern continued for some time.
Every day Hudson tenderly changed his bandages, then knelt down by the man’s bed and spoke of Jesus’ love. And every day the man said nothing — and turned his back to Hudson.
After a while Hudson Taylor started wondering — was he doing more harm than good? Were his words causing the man to become more hardened?
So with great sadness, Hudson Taylor decided to stop speaking of Christ. The next day he again changed the man’s bandages. But then, instead of kneeling by the bed, he headed toward the door to leave. Before he walked out the door, he looked back at the man. He could tell the man was shocked — because this was the first day since Hudson had started sharing the Gospel that he had not knelt down by the bed and spoken about Jesus.
And then, while standing at the door, Hudson Taylor’s heart broke. He started weeping. He went back to the bed, and said — “My friend, whether you will hear or not, I must share what’s on my heart” — and he earnestly spoke of Jesus, again begging the man to pray with him. This time the man answered — “if it will be a relief to you, go ahead and pray.”
So Hudson Taylor got down on his knees and prayed for this man’s salvation. And — God answered. From that point the man was eager to listen to the Gospel, and in a few days he prayed to trust Christ.
Do not simply live the Gospel with your life, but proclaim the Gospel. The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation and we are called to verbally proclaim this message of salvation and our lives are to be evidence of Jesus’ overwhelming love that He has shown to us.