Picking up from Part I, we ask the question: How do we come to know the truth about sin and its hold on us? The Holy Spirit.
And when he comes, he will convince the world of sin and of righteousness and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in me; of righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. (John 16:8-10)
We all are born “sons of disobedience” and “children of wrath” and so our minds are darkened as to the truth about sin. We need the Holy Spirit to bring us a light that can reveal the truth. This light is faith.
For it is the God who said, “let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. (2 Cor. 4:6)
Always a miracle and a gift of the Holy Spirit, faith is a light that brings understanding and reveals the truth about God and about who we are before Him. By it, we see reality in a way we never could have through our own efforts.
But how does faith – this work of the Holy Spirit by which we are convicted of our sins and can see the glory of God – come to be in us?
How are men to call upon him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without a preacher? So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes by the preaching of Christ. (Romans 10:17)
And now we come to the main point of these posts: Knowledge of one’s sinfulness comes from the faithful preaching of the Gospel.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel: it is the power of God for salvation to every one who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith; as it is written, “He who through faith is righteous shall live.” (Romans 1:16-17, emphasis added)
St. Paul is totally convinced of this. When we just preach the Gospel, there is tremendous power in it, whether we feel it or not. The Holy Spirit is alive in that proclamation.
For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. (1 Cor. 1:17)
For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God… For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. (1 Cor. 1:18, 25)
When I came to you, brethren, I did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God in lofty words or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified… and my speech and my message were not plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. (1 Cor. 2:1-5)
We just have to say the words. We just have to preach the Gospel. Yes, we have to say it as best and most attractively as we can, to be sure. But, in the end, we just have to deliver the mail! And then let the Holy Spirit back that message. Does this mean that everyone will be plowed over by the truth of the Gospel (the truth of sin) and come running to Jesus? No.
And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the likeness of God. (2 Cor. 4:4)
So if the path of evangelization runs through knowledge of sin, and knowledge of sin comes by way of the Holy Spirit beaming the light of faith into our darkened minds, and this revelation of faith comes through hearing the Gospel proclaimed, then we need to sow the seed and let the Word of the Gospel do His thing. (“What is ‘The Gospel,’” you ask? Go here. Or here.) We need to have confidence in this!
For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. (1 Corinthians 1:21)
We may speak in eloquent philosophies, lofty wisdom, apologetics and all kinds of theological expositions, but if we don’t preach the Gospel so that the hearers may be convicted of their sin, our mission to evangelization will seem to us like trying to suck water from a rock.