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The Quiet Side of Soul-Winning

The missionary picked up a plate in the food line, and glanced around for a place to sit. There were no chairs, so he chose a low rock in the shade of the building and sat there, surrounded by the Guatemalan brethren. An unconverted man was looking on, and the missionary’s action stirred him. Later, after his conversion, he said: “Something about seeing him sitting on the ground eating caused me to see my need for Jesus. That was the first nudge that led me to the Lord.”

How do we account for something so unexplainable? Why would such a small thing hold such consequence? There are spiritual dynamics in the work of Christian witness that we seldom consider, and II Corinthians 4 helps explain some of them.

The first seven verses are dedicated to solving a problem. How can the darkness of unbelief be penetrated with the glorious light of Jesus? Anyone who desires to bring others to Jesus has likely pondered this question. Although the resulting methodology varies widely, the spiritual dynamics in these verses cannot be dismissed.

First, consider our available resource. Though we grew up observing and hearing truth, one day we saw Him . In His face we beheld the glory of God, and our lives were changed. We are like earthen vessels of the most common sort, yet within is contained an unspeakable treasure. The vessel itself does no more to convict a man than an empty cup does to quench thirst, but there is a drawing power in the treasure within.

Next, consider the problem. II Corinthians 4:3 But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost. All over Christendom, we grapple with the problem of a veiled Gospel. In the King James, this verse casts the problem back on the Christian. Other versions seem to cast it on the blinded unbeliever, in agree-ment with the flow of the surrounding verses, which show that Paul did everything possible to make the Gospel visible, while Satan blinded the unbeliever.

The light of this Gospel is not inherent to the Christian, and is not produced upon command. It is the inner presence of Jesus himself, and can only find expression in our world through a person who gazes on the Glory, and abides in Christ, and is being transformed into His image.

Of the two ways this Gospel may be veiled, the first is at its very source. Consider Moses, who returned from spending forty days with God with a face that glowed with Divine Glory. But Moses covered the glory at its source, and the light was hidden.

Hebrews 10:20 compares the temple veil —that which hid the glory of the inner sanctuary from human view—and the human body of Jesus. Only when the flesh was crucified, the Divine Glory within was revealed and made accessible. Invariably, when the Gospel is veiled at its source, it is the fault of uncrucified flesh. Unbroken human nature, unyielded will, a cocky attitude, self-centeredness, and self-exaltation are all part of the smothering veil that hides the glory of Jesus. And no mat-ter how many tracts we hand out or messages we preach, the only result we can leave is the rotting stench of self.

II Corinthians 4:2 shows Paul’s passion to “unveil the source” by cleansing his inner life and walking in perfect truth before God. We would do well to do the same.

The second way that the Gospel is veiled is at its destination: the heart of the hearer. Well after Moses’ face was uncovered, a veil of dullness rested on the heart of the Jewish people. Blindness is the strategy of Evil, designed to hold men captive. For this reason, though our testimony be clear and our light bright, many people still cannot grasp the truth.

But even the spiritually blind have not totally lost their inherent sense of right and wrong, and nothing pricks it like a holy example. Paul’s strategy was simple, yet profound: by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience . . .

The conscience of the lost tends to react to what it sees in the Christian. If they observe expressions of uncrucified flesh, they will be pleased to note that we are nothing more than they. But if the flesh is crucified, they will see the Glory of Jesus standing in sharp contrast to their own condition.

A visiting board member recently pointed out the colt that Jesus rode into Jerusalem. Consider it. An untrained colt, for the first time feeling the weight of a man on its back. Crowds of shouting, waving, singing people. Clothes on the cobblestones, palm branches waving. The stage was set for disaster. If the colt would have gone berserk, as colts tend to do, the eyes of the crowd would have been on the colt. But the colt plodded quietly ahead. The colt was forgotten, and the crowd beheld the Master.

The world needs to see Christ in the Christian. Shame, if it has seen a corral of kicking, unbroken donkeys! Shame, if it has smelled the rotting stench of uncrucified flesh, and if our sin has made it more comfortable in its own! May we diminish, that He might increase. May the veil be rent, that He might shine. May we be the donkey, and Jesus the King.

~ Brian Yoder

 

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March/April 2011 Newsletter

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