Have you ever wondered why prosperity preachers draw huge crowds while unknown missionaries labouring in remote parts of the world seldom see their work bearing fruit? Do you realise that the Gospel, by nature, is convicting of sins and offensive to sinners? Jesus gave enough warning to His disciples of what preaching the truth begets – hatred towards the preacher. The truth of man’s depravity and plight of eternal doom is not a welcome message to anyone, unless God regenerates a stony heart to make sense of the Gospel. The tact or talent of the preacher has no bearing on the reception of the Gospel he preaches. In fact, the Gospel is “the power of God unto salvation” in which human wisdom plays no part in the design and application of it. It is wholly the work of God alone.
And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.
1 Corinthians 2:1-2
In my few months on the docks, last month was the first time seafarers have refused my offer to pray for them. This does not mean that I offer to pray on every ship, but only do so when I have discerned from my conversation with them that it would be wise to ask if I could pray for the things that they have shared with me. If they are not Christians, I also take the opportunity to “pray the Gospel” so that they may hear it as I pray. Having said that, this is what one seafarer told me when I offered to pray: “No, thanks. Nice words are enough.”
Really? Are nice words enough? Weren’t the words of the serpent in Eden nice enough? Weren’t the words of Peter before Gethsemane nice enough? The first Adam fell for nice words. The second Adam saw through those words and rebuked Satan! Nice words do not bring forth discipline in the family, in the school, in the cavalry and in the court of justice. Nice words are but roses on the broad highway to hell. Often times, nice words come through as wise and intellectual. But they do not show the simplicity of the Gospel and point sinners to Christ, their only hope. The Apostle Paul said, “I did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” (1 Cor 2:1-2) When nice words replace the true Gospel, we end up preaching a “different” Gospel. When we try to make the Gospel palatable to the unregenerate heart, we give them nothing more than momentary calm, temporal relief, and raise up a cosy wall of foam and padding that blocks the view of the cross.
Would you please pray that I will not be ashamed of the Gospel and preach it boldly in the docks of Liverpool? Would you please pray that seafarers would understand that there is love and discipline and salvation in the words of the Gospel? Would you please pray that the Holy Spirit will keep me from resorting to finding new tact and techniques to share the Gospel, but simply preach the Word of God faithfully? Would you please pray for “Francis” and “Tomas” who think they do not want prayer, but are truly in need of all our prayers for their salvation? I did leave copies of the Gospel of John, and Gideon’s Bibles along with Daily Christian Readings with them.