The contemporary Church is renowned for providing assistance and substantial help in times of crises, including relief during natural disasters and education when necessary.
So is the American Red Cross.
The Church prioritizes placing dignity on the marginalized, the broken, the orphan, and demanding justice for the voiceless and hopeless.
And so does Amnesty International.
The Church seeks to care for people who are down-and-out, empowering them to contribute meaningfully to society.
Goodwill does the same thing.
Uh oh. If humanitarian service is all the Church offers the world, then we have edged ourselves into becoming redundant, obsolete even.
There is something paradigm-shifting that separates the Church from any secular charity. One key element distinguishes us from all others. Not only is this component the single most important aspect of who we are and what we do, but it is the very component that people are desperately, oftentimes frantically, searching for. It’s the supernatural element: the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The Church needs to declare the liberating power of the Gospel!
And the Church needs to demonstrate the liberating power of the Gospel!
Now, please don’t misunderstand me. We are saved to do good things (Ephesians 2:10). Faith without action is dead (James 2:17). Showing kindness and justice to others is indicative of love for Jesus (Matthew 25:31-46). I am certainly not allowing a “pass” on advocating for social integrity; I wholeheartedly preach that from the born again believer’s heart naturally flows a propensity to see justice established in forgotten, dark holes around the globe. But to those Christians who have removed the Gospel from their message and missions: you have unknowingly removed your relevancy. You have obliterated the significance Christ intended you to have. And most heart-wrenching of all, you have robbed people of actual hope.
And let me stress again, the world urgently—urgently—needs to be presented with the Gospel, in declaration and demonstration.
Every Christian I’ve ever met honestly desires to fulfill the Great Commission and share the Gospel—I’m sure you do, too, my reader—but oftentimes there is simply confusion about what the message is we are to carry.
So what is the Gospel?
“The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8). The work of the devil on earth is death—both physical and spiritual. Sickness, poverty, unforgiveness… all of these and more are symptoms of Satan’s work, but especially spiritual death which, if untreated, results in permanent, conscious damnation… separation forever from God the Just. And every human has plunged himself headlong into this fearful kingdom of Death and Darkness through the wide gateway called sin. Everyone has sinned. And now we can’t escape on our own, no matter how valiant our efforts or how desperate we get, and we’re certainly not capable of avoiding sin’s descendant Death.
But Jesus, mysteriously both fully God and fully man, came to undo this fatal curse by living a perfectly sinless life—completely resisting temptation and submitting to God the Father in all things—and dying on a cross. He abolished the reign of Death and overthrew Satan from his abusive, tyrannical rule by bodily resurrecting from the dead, proving that victory and ultimate authority belong only to Him! (For more on the theological significance of Jesus’ death and resurrection, read here.) And with His ultimate victory, we are introduced to a new system of life—no longer the kingdom of Death but the glorious Kingdom of Jesus! The coming and establishment of His pure Kingdom cements abundant life, literal healing over sickness and emotional baggage, eternal provision, and happy prosperity for all who will receive it. Yes, really! It is a supernatural reversal of the enemy’s works! And we enter into this Kingdom by repenting of sins and confessing that Jesus is Lord. (For more on entering into the Kingdom, or being “born again,” read here.)
What are we declaring?
Friends, we must declare this good, good news! No matter if a person lives in a white-collar suburbia in the States or lives orphaned in the slums of Calcutta—each soul is searching for freedom from sin and death found only in Christ. We must present the Gospel! We must declare the coming and establishment of His glorious Kingdom that breaks chains and thrusts darkness out! Social justice will not save people’s souls (although I am for social justice)! 10 steps to healthier living will not rescue people from darkness (although I am for healthier living)! Spreading cheer and laughter will not restore people back to God (although I am for cheer and laughter)! What people need, urgently and swiftly, is for you and me to declare the Gospel to them.
Time is short. People are desperate. Jesus has commissioned us. Declare the Gospel!
And what are we demonstrating?
In the Scriptures, never once did Jesus declare this good news without a confirmation of its reality. By that I mean, how else would people understand that He was driving darkness out unless He… drove darkness out? Jesus was famous for healing all who were sick, exorcising all those who were demonized, and providing for all who had lack. And in Luke 9, we begin to see Jesus task His followers with the very same: “He gave [His followers] power and authority to drive out all demons, and to cure diseases, and He sent them out to preach the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick” (verses 1-2). And the result? “They set out and went from village to village, preaching the Gospel and healing people everywhere” (verse 6).
In fact, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in Me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater than these, because I am going to the Father” (John 14:12, emphasis mine).
After Jesus was resurrected into Heaven, we continue to see supernatural signs and wonders demonstrated all throughout the New Testament Church as the standard. Peter healed a crippled beggar (Acts 3:1-10); Philip cast out demons and healed paralytics (Acts 8:6-7); Barnabas and Paul performed “miraculous signs and wonders” in Iconium (Acts 14:3); and generally, the apostles “performed many miraculous signs and wonders among the people” (Acts 5:12). Please note, I cited here only a few examples, but throughout Acts you will find numerous more.
I have personally had the opportunity to ask Jesus to heal a boy of scoliosis—and not only was his scoliosis completely gone but his back straightened right up! I prayed for a man’s life-threatening, bulging tumor to disappear after he had been given a certain length of days left to live—and over the course of a weekend, the tumor was gone! I prayed for a man’s holey lungs to be healed and for his use of a tracheostomy tube to be unnecessary—that night, he plucked the trach tube out and could breathe normally, and could even outrun me! (The man in the photo at the top of this page is him, actually!)
I’ve witnessed cancer victims supernaturally healed instantly, a woman’s short leg physically grow to match the length of her other normal leg, poor hearing restored, people set free from demonic oppression, pinched nerves completely healed, irritable bowel syndrome gone, peripheral neuropathy healed over the course of a few hours, pancreatitis healed instantly, a woman who couldn’t walk without support due to both fibromyalgia and osteoporosis suddenly receive healing and the ability to walk unsupported, a woman who couldn’t bend her knee because of joint knee fusion healed so she could bend her knee normally — I could go on and on, literally. The stories just get better and better.
And I say none of this to show off—I’ve also prayed for probably hundreds of people who did not get their breakthrough instantaneously, or at all. (This happens for a variety of reasons as Scripture teaches, but probably mostly because I am still learning and growing as Jesus’ disciple.) But I mustn’t let those cases stop me, because the next person I pray for might well be the one to receive the healing. And I’ve seen the demonstration of Jesus’ supernatural power enough to be addicted (can I say addicted?) to bringing this freedom to people everywhere!
So, Church, let’s continue to be relevant by continuing to be supernatural.
Let’s declare the liberating power of the Gospel.
And let’s demonstrate the liberating power of the Gospel. Amen!!