Preach the Gospel AND Use Words!

St Francis of Assisi is said to have said something to the effect of “preach the gospel at all times and, if necessary, use words.”

In their zeal for the gospel many have taken to social media to post and tweet this quote to convey the message that your life must preach a gospel without necessarily communicating it verbally.

Such a quote is problematic because this is not what the Bible teaches. It is further problematic because no one can actually prove that Francis said this.

None of the biographies written in the 200 years after his death contain a reference to such a quote. It somehow made it into the folklore, and social media is taking it as fact.

Contrary to his modern image of a gentle soul, Francis was known not only for his finesse but also for his severity in sermons.

Early biographers wrote: “He denounced evil whenever he found it and made no effort to palliate it; from him a life of sin met with outspoken rebuke, not support. His words were neither hollow nor ridiculous, but filled with the power of the Holy Spirit, penetrating the marrow of the heart, so that listeners were turned to great amazement.”

Known as a preacher who sometimes preached as many as five sermons per day, it is unlikely that Francis of Assisi would have said this quote.

Evangelism is absolutely dependent on verbal communication, with nonverbal action playing a supporting role, and definitely not the other way around.

Jesus said in Mark 16:15 “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.” This entails telling, speaking, and preaching the good news.

And one of my favorite verses, Romans 10:14 “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?”

The world must hear our preaching. Your unsaved friend must hear the good news. Your neighbor must hear you telling them the Gospel.

Let’s alter this quote into “preach the gospel at all times, and it is necessary to use words!”

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5 comments on “Preach the Gospel AND Use Words!

  1. The original quote don’t imply to much risk….your version have plenty of risk….we live the days when you plan to say the TRUTH, unaltered TRUTH be sure to have already reserved the ticket to Egypt….better one way; other way your brothers will use the….camel to send you there.

  2. We’ve got big font, little font, colored font and blinking font. Sharp displays, retina display, 4K and, oh, more great stuff to follow. There’s even papyrus! And we can use all of this to type the Word of God, or, chisel it in stone – but surely there’s “something” about *speaking* the Word of God.

    I find it interesting and no coinicidence that the bible describes how God and Jesus Christ performed miracles by speaking. Surely miracles could have been done in silence, or with whatever gestures, but often God and Christ spoke them. I mean, God even spoke things into existance and Christ raised the dead by speaking.

    No doubt in the power of the spoken word – and it is life-giving when one proclaims and preaches the Truth (or life-taking when lies are told). And not only does the bible teach us to preach the Word of God, but also tells us that we must acknowledge God aloud, with our voices.

    I guess the Truth cannot remain silent ;). Be loud!! 😉

    • Welcome to the blog Tibi. Given the information age we live in, there are so many way to communicate the truth, but ultimately we must speak it and preach it. There is a reason why Jesus is called the eternal Word. This communicable attribute of communication is given to us by God and we must use it.

  3. Chris, you are right, but isn’t it so much more convenient to just clap our hands instead of proclaiming a loud and clear “Domnul sa te binecuvinteze”? I should point out that Christ didn’t call us to a gospel of convenience.

    It’s true we must have ” fapte vrednice de pocainta”, but that’s only one facet of evangelism.

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