“What shall we do with these men?…But in order that it may spread no further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to anyone in this name.” -Acts 4:16a, 17
“So they called them an charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right to listen to you rather than God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” -Atcs 4:18-19
And so the story goes that these men and many more would not, no, could not be silent for they could “…not but speak of what they had seen and heard.”
I wish this were always true for me. I mean, that I was so filled with passion and zeal that I could not be silent about my Jesus.
The Christian life today (in the western world) is becoming more and more parallel to the that of the Christian life of the early church. In Acts, the disciples were met with threats for spreading the gospel in the streets not only from the common people of the city but also by the authorities.
Today, a father and son doing the same were met by the local police with the same threats. The only difference today is whereas Peter and John had the support of the local church (Acts 4:23-31) for what they were doing, we cannot say the same is true today. (Link to video here)
And Rob Bell is not the only one. He is among many other confessing Christians who portray anything outside friendship evangelism as simply rude and unloving.
Many Christians are told to “preach the gospel and if necessary use words.” Along with these ideals are making sure when one “has to” use words never to use the words: sin, wrath, hell, judgment, penalty, death, etc. Instead we are to use exclusively words like: love, peace, hope, etc.
There are at least two major problem with these ideals.
First, sharing, teaching, preaching, telling the gospel requires words because the very definition of “gospel” is “good news.” It is impossible to share news without words.
Second, excluding words such as “wrath” eliminate for the sinner a reason to being saved (not to mention exclude in the gospel what the person is being saved from).
I am not opposed to frienship evangelism. I think there is a place for it. However, I don’t think it is always the best method for all circumstances (i.e. airplane ride, dieing person etc.). I am also bound by Scripture; which sees a place for passionate filled saints to preach the gospel in the streets, whether culture sees it acceptible or not.
And finally, when you do proclaim the gospel, please don’t eliminate words that would defeat the very purpose of sharing it.
Let us stand with the Apostle Paul who has seen the risen Christ and could not be silent of Him thereafter. And let say with him:
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it (the gospel) is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes… -Romans 1:16 (parenthesis added by me)