In his book, Grounded in the Gospel: Building Believers the Old-Fashioned Way, J.I. Packer has a chapter entitled “The Gospel as of First Importance.” In that chapter, Packer discusses the pastoral and formational applications of the Gospel. Many are familiar with the quote from Tim Keller that “the Gospel is not the ABC’s of the Christian life; it is the A through Z of the Christian life.” Packer writes,
“In that spirit we offer the following ‘Gospel Alphabet’–twenty-six pastoral and formative reasons why the Gospel must retain primacy as the content of Christian education” (108).
This week, we come to the letter “E”.
E is for Evangelism
The Gospel is food for believers. But it is also the only saving medicine for those who have not yet believed. And we are compelled by the love of Christ to declare this Good News to all people. St. Francis of Assissi told his friars not to preach unless they had permission to do so. But, he added, “Let all the brothers, however, preach by their deeds.” Francis’s words have often been paraphrased along these lines: “Preach the Gospel always; use words when necessary.” The fact is that words are necessary, every time. We are always witnesses to the Gospel (Acts 1:8) and, as witnesses, we shall be called upon to testify. When we are, we must be sure to get the message of the Gospel right for there are many counterfeit “Gospels” in the world.