That quote is often attributed to Francis of Assisi though it is unlikely that he said it. Regardless of who originally gave this quote, thousands have continued to repeat it. The only problem is that this is not taught in Scripture. You cannot preach the gospel unless you use words.
The idea being promoted is that simply being a good person is enough when it comes to evangelism. The argument is that you witness with your life, not your lips. It is true that at times our “actions speak louder than our words.” Scripture also says: “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). But we fall short if we never actually speak.
Here are just a few verses that address the issue that the gospel must be articulated:
- So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. (Romans 10:17)
- For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! (1 Corinthians 9:16)
- How then will they call on 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 someone preaching? (Romans 10:14)
- Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15).
- “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.” (I Peter 1:23)
- ” … it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” (I Corinthians 1:21)
Yes, we are to live good lives. Yes, our testimony does enhance our credibility. Yes, we must not feed the reputation that Christians are hypocrites. But ultimately, the gospel must be spoken.
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