I will proclaim the name of the Lord. Oh, praise the greatness of our God! (Deuteronomy 32:3)
As a pastor who stands in the pulpit every Sunday, I am acutely aware of the difference between proclamation and persuasion when it comes to preaching the Gospel of Christ. The model that was set before us by Jesus Christ could not be clearer: proclaim the Good News to all the world and leave the results to God. Proclamation—not persuasion—is the call on every Christian.
Now, that certainly doesn’t mean that we aren’t passionate about the message we are delivering to a fallen and broken world. Could there have been anyone more passionate about preaching Christ than John the Baptist? On the day of Pentecost, Peter preached a stirring message of salvation with every bit as much passion as there was power. After his Damascus Road Experience, the apostle Paul would plead with unbelievers to receive the truths of the Gospel. Yet each one of these men knew the difference between proclamation and persuasion.
There is a role for persuasion, but that role is played by the Holy Spirit. Our calling is to simply proclaim the Good News to every creature; it is God the Holy Spirit’s job to do the persuading. You see, the Holy Spirit persuades from the inside out. He renews the mind, recalibrates the heart, and realigns the will. Salvation is all of God, and it takes place in the inner sanctum of the soul. But we have the great and powerful privilege to be instruments of salvation in His mighty right hand when we live out the Great Commission in our interactions with a fallen world.
Here is how I like to explain it when I teach others how to share the Gospel: we are not “selling” Jesus to anyone. We simply set Him before them—His birth, His life, His death, His resurrection, His ascension, and His promised return. It is not uncommon for those who are trying to sell Jesus to their audience to produce an emotional response to the “sale” and not a conversion to the Savior. Days, weeks, or months later, when the storm winds begin to blow, many fall away because they were converted to a person’s presentation, not the promise of Christ.
When you look at our Lord’s ministry, persuasion was as far removed from His words as the east is from the west. At times, it almost looked as if He was intentionally driving people away, because He never shied away from proclaiming the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Often His proclamation was couched in phrases like “Count the cost,” because He was not interested in emotional responses to the Good News. When Jesus said, “Follow me,” He was telling His true disciples that they would have to die to self in order to live for their Savior.
You and I must be willing to proclaim this truth when we share the Gospel. We practice proclamation, not persuasion, and we leave the results up to God.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!