The Simple Gospel
by David J. Stewart
“Not With Wisdom of Words”
"For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect." —1st Corinthians 1:17
I recently received an e-mail from a man inquiring how to witness to a Roman Catholic. He said he had a friend who was really having a hard time with the matter of "works" not being necessary for salvation. I shared with him the Bible's teaching on salvation, stressing that salvation is "by grace through faith" and NOT of works (Ephesians 2:8,9; Titus 3:5). I also shared with him Galatians 2:16...
He e-mailed back again, saying that "his friend" needed "proof" of exactly where the Catholic religion teaches that "works" are mandatory for salvation. I responded by referring him to the Vatican II documents of the Roman Catholic church, in which the Vatican requires baptism into the "Catholic" church, holy communion, and the keeping of the seven sacraments to go to heaven.
The man responded by saying that the Lutheran religion also requires Baptism and Holy Communion to be saved, and then he accused me of failing to expose them as I had the Catholics. I responded by assuring him that I DO expose the Lutheran religion and sent him the link to my false religions page.
The man e-mailed me again, claiming that his friend absolutely would NOT accept my innuendos and needed "proof" that the Bible didn't require works to be saved. He quoted me several verses such as Luke 13:9... "And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down." He tried to defend the heresy that "works" are necessary to salvation with such Scriptures. The Bible does NOT contradict itself, hundreds of Biblical references teach us that good "works" are a sure road to hell (Isaiah 64:6).
After e-mailing back and forth several times, the gentleman became belligerent and it was apparent to me that he was more argumentative than hungry for the truth. At this point I realized that he probably didn't have a friend and was just wanting to defend his false religion. I remembered his first e-mail which he had sent to me, asking for help witnessing to his Catholic friend. Then the Holy Spirit reminded me of the following Scripture...
Whether the man was sincere or not didn't matter to me at this point... either I was trying to use the WISDOM OF WORDS to convince an unbeliever, or the man was sincerely trying to use the WISDOM OF WORDS to win his unbelieving friend to the Lord. Either way, it wasn't going to work. The Bible teaches that the GOSPEL (i.e., God's plan of salvation for mankind) is the power which saves a person; not our own eloquent words...
I kindly wrote the man back and explained 1st Corinthians 1:17 to him. I explained to him that the way you witness to a Catholic is the same way you witness to anyone... with the GOSPEL (defined in 1st Corinthians 15:1-4 as Christ's death, burial and bodily resurrection). We are ALL sinners deserving of hell-fire. Jesus Christ (the Son of God) paid for our sins with His blood; Jesus DIED; Jesus was BURIED and Jesus ROSE from the dead for our justification.
All we need to do for salvation is to trust upon Jesus Christ by faith to forgive our sins (Romans 3:10, 23; 5:8; 6:23; 10:9-13). Acts 10:43 states, “To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.”
The way to witness to ANYONE is to simply present the plain truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to them. If a person doesn't want to be saved after having the simple Gospel, then they don't want to be saved. There's no wisdom of words to convince the skeptic of the truth—the Gospel is what it is. If a man will not obey the simple Gospel, then he will not listen to the wisdom of words... “lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect” (1st Corinthians 1:17).
I sometimes forget this Biblical principle and find myself arguing religion with people. To date, I have never known a religious person to come to Christ as a result of debating beliefs. But I have seen some religious people come to Christ right away when they heard the plain Gospel. A person who wants to be saved WILL trust Christ immediately, you do not need to argue anything with them. A person who wants to DEBATE religion has already rejected Christ in their heart and is now defending their unbelief.
Even if you prove them dead wrong with the Scriptures, they will still hold onto their unbelief (Mark 7:6-9; Luke 16:31). There are people all over the world who want to argue religion. We do NOT need to debate with them; but rather, just keep giving them the simple Gospel of Jesus Christ. The POWER of God which brings salvation is the GOSPEL itself, and not our cleverly worded arguments.
There are billions of people in this world who have never heard the Gospel, many of whom would happily trust Christ; but we are too busy arguing religion with conceited fools. Oftentimes we erroneously think that if we could just word our presentation a little differently that perhaps we might be able to win a hardened unbeliever to the Lord. God does NOT want us to try to win the lost using our own wisdom of words; but rather, with the plain Gospel of Jesus Christ.
If they won't accept God's free gift of eternal life from just hearing the Gospel, then there is NOTHING we can say to make any difference... "And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets [i.e., the Bible], neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead" (Luke 16:30,31).
All we can do to get people saved is to express God's unconditional love for them by sharing the Gospel truth with them, pray for them, never give-up on them; but also, NOT get into heated futile debates that go in circles and waste precious time.
So I say to you my dear reader, let's focus on the Gospel itself, and let the power of God take control.