The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.
- Psalm 19:1-4
But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our message?” Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ. But I ask: Did they not hear? Of course they did:
“Their voice has gone out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.”
- Romans 10:16-18
In the Dinner Conversation episode between Mark Lowry and Andrew Grier with guest Will Graham, Will Graham said that he was using the same proclamation evangelism technique that his father and grandfather had used. Mark Lowry asked about the movement toward other methods, and Will Graham bristled.
Will Graham quoted the KJV by saying that faith comes by hearing – hearing the Word of God. You cannot “hear the Word of God” with Lifestyle Evangelism or Relationship Evangelism. He went on to say that none of us are so “good” that people will accept Jesus strictly by how we live. We will screw up and then they will be fully justified in disregarding the rest of the “good” works as not being good enough. He said several times that they must hear the Word of God, and his chosen method is proclamation evangelism.
First, the Scripture that he quoted. He quoted the KJV version of Romans 10:17 above. It is clear that the spoken word is important, and we should not be afraid to tell our story. As Rev. Will Graham went on to say, our walk should match our talk. It is simply that our walk would never be enough or good enough on its own, when what we are doing is, through our flawed efforts, doing the best we can to imitate Jesus.
But the verse that he quoted is followed by a quote from Psalm 19:4, which talks about words again. But when you place Psalm 19:4 into context with Psalm 19:1-3, we see that the heavens proclaim God without using words, thus the “words” in Psalm 19:4 are the unspoken words.
Indeed, the Lifestyle or Relationship Evangelism supporters use Psalm 19:1-4 as one of their building blocks. If the heavens are mute, yet God’s greatness is obvious, why can’t we be nice to people and they see God in us and convert to Christianity?
Actually, Joseph Aldrich’s book Life-Style Evangelism states that you cannot be mute forever, and he provides a plan on how to tailor conversations into speaking about God, and when to back off if the relationship is not strong enough. Yet, most who adopt Relationship or Life-Style Evangelism do so with the express intent of never bringing it up. As a member of the “Evangelism” team that I led suggested when I asked how he would defend his faith, he said, “I will tell them that I have no clue, but I can introduce you to the pastor and he will explain it.”
If we have that kind of riveting “relationship” with our Savior that we have no idea what we believe, maybe the question is “Do we believe?”
I whole-heartedly agree with Rev. Will Graham. We need to proclaim our faith. We can never be so good that we lead people to Christ by our actions, but we should be good enough to show that we are different, and hopefully, appealing in our actions and our attitude toward others.
It is rather strange that the two styles of evangelism are connected in these verses, but they are connected. We must act upon our convictions, and we must state what we believe.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.