I just finished reading the current Leadership Journal. It was all about a current battle between generations within the church. My generation cut our teeth on Billy Graham type evangelism, Share the gospel, Jesus died for your sins and resurrected to give you new life, and you must choose. The current generation in the historic pendulum swing away from the preceding generation says, “Preach the Gospel and if necessary use words.” In other words, feed and clothe the poor, go around doing good, rebuild your community and other’s will see and be drawn in. The back page of the leadership had the best answer for this dilemma I have yet to see. John Stott a theologian from a century ago had the answer. Both sharing the gospel and doing good are the church’s responsibility and they are unique things. You don’t do good in order to get an opportunity to share the gospel, it just cheapens both. We share the gospel, with words, which is the only way the gospel is really shared, “how shall they believe if they don’t hear?” The gospel has content, it’s a message. Good works have a context. They are done to help people because we love people. Doing good works isn’t spreading the gospel, it is doing good works. Trying to marry the two is where we get into error. The Red Cross can do good works. A Muslim can do good works, A heathen can do good works, so good works clearly are not sharing the gospel. But Christians are called to do good works as well. Some may even see them and glorify your Father in heaven, but honestly most won’t! But Christians are uniquely given the task of “preaching the gospel to the whole world, baptizing and teaching all things Christ taught us.” We have a monopoly on sharing the gospel because no one else has it! No one else has a Savior who died for the sins of the world to talk about!
So, I believe the more we can separate these two Christian means of spreading the love of Christ the less confusion we will cause in the church and people’s minds. Tell the Gospel AND do good works not do good works so you can tell the Gospel. Not do good works in place of telling the Gospel. Do good works AND tell the gospel. They are two totally separate privileges of being a Christian.