by Mike Stallard
– I appreciate last year’s article by Duane Litfin in Christianity Today, May 2012, entitled You Can’t Preach the Gospel with Deeds and Why It’s Important to Say So. In some earlier posts and previous articles I have lamented the problem of expanding the definition of the gospel of eternal life to include within the umbrella of the definition the social implications of that gospel. Hence, attempts are made to place what has been termed the “social gospel” under the definition of what the Bible means by the word gospel. Litfin’s article assists us in the direction that I would like to see us go. It is the biblical direction in my view. It is also not a denigration of the responsibility of Christians to do social action as a witness to the gospel or an act of love in Jesus’ name. But Litfin articulates with clarity the importance of the out loud declaration in words of the content of the gospel of eternal life. Note this paragraph from his article:
“So let us say it again: The belief that we can ‘preach the gospel’ with our actions alone represents muddled thinking. However important our actions may be (and they are very important indeed), and whatever else they may be doing (they serve a range of crucial functions), they are not ‘preaching the gospel.’ The gospel is inherently verbal, and preaching it is inherently verbal behavior. If the gospel is to be communicated at all, it must be put into words.” (p. 41)
I have not yet read Litfin’s new book Word versus Deed: Resetting the Scales to a Biblical Balance. However, in light of the CT article, I think I would find it agreeable and useful. Beyond that, the expected harmony with Scripture makes the book an attractive purchase. Interestingly, Jesus said in John 5:24, “…he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life…” Our good deeds may point people to God so they can consider His work (Matt. 5:16), but salvation comes by believing in the words of eternal life.
Originally published at Our Hope
Image courtesy of Wolfgang Moroder