Bruce Collins, Evangelist

The personal website of Bruce Collins

Making that which is Simple too Simple!

Meditation for the week of August 12, 2012

For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness.  (1 Corinthians 1:22-23)

Over the years I have tried to help people understand the Gospel who are fairly ignorant with regard to the Bible.  Sometimes I find it hard to know where to begin.  When I was younger we could ask teenagers if they knew a verse from the Bible and nearly all of them could quote John 3:16.  Most of them knew that the Bible claimed to be God’s Word.  Today, many in the younger generation have never heard of John 3:16 unless they have seen a sign held up at an athletic event.  Even then they may not be aware of what the sign is really saying.  Most are not at all convinced that the Bible is worth reading.  Most think it contains fables and myths.  Many are convinced that the people who claim to believe the Bible are the cause of most of the world’s problems.  They remember the crusades, the Inquisition, the Christian support of slavery and segregation and they want no part of it.  So how is a person going to overcome these prejudices and ignorance today in order to help people understand the real message of the Bible?

Apart from the power and work of the Holy Spirit, this job would be impossible.  In Genesis 1:1-3, we see the way the Spirit works on a dark creation.  It was hovering and then God said or spoke.  We find that the spirit of God and the Word of God always work together.  It did in creation.  It does today.  For example, in Ephesians 6:17 Paul writes, “And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” 

Most of us who preach the Gospel are concerned with the urgency of the message.  We know that death lurks around the corner and that it is only while we are alive that we can believe in the Lord.  Because of that urgency we often try to simplify the Gospel so that it can be received quickly and so that it is believable by those who know little about the Bible  Often the Gospel is preached without opening the Bible because “Bible Bangers” are offensive in our culture. 

The verse that is my guide In preaching the Gospel is Romans 10:17, “So then faith (in Christ) comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.”  As we preach the Word, the Holy Spirit will use the Word of God to bring those who actually listen to the Word of God to faith in Christ.  There is no short-cut to that process.  I can give out tracts and I do.  But I would rather give out the Bible.  I was helped by a tract, so I know their value for the one who does know something about the Bible.  But I am always afraid that a person will believe what a tract says rather than what God says.  And no one is saved unless they have their confidence in the Lord and His promises rather than in a man or in anything that a man says. 

I have found that most of our Gospel preaching helps people deal with their arguments with God so that they have the ability to trust in the Lord.  Until people quit arguing with God, they won’t believe in Him or trust Him.  To tell someone that if they “decide for Christ” or “invite the Lord into their heart” or “pray the sinners prayer” before this process that the Bible calls repentance is complete, only gives the person a good feeling and a false assurance. 

The Bible tells people to strive to enter in (Luke 13:24), to seek (Matthew 6:33), to labor to enter into the true rest of God (Hebrews 4:11KJV).  Obviously, coming to faith is a struggle because we all have our minds made up about certain things that we think we know about God.  Where we are wrong we have to admit that.  As a Gospel preacher, I cannot convince people that they are wrong neither can I short-cut the path to faith.  But what I can do is sit down with the Word of God and show people what the message of the Bible is in the context of the whole Bible and in the context of the book we are studying and in the context of the chapter we are studying.  Only God through the power of the Holy Spirit can change minds and produce saving faith in Christ.  But that saving faith is available to every person who actually decides that they want to know the truth of the Word of God.

I have complete confidence in the Bible’s power to make believers out of unbelievers.  I have absolutely no confidence in my ability to make believers out of them.

Bruce Collins

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