There’s a reason we used to do Show and Tell in school growing up. One without the other is incomplete. The audience will be left wanting and we’ll be scratching our heads wondering why they didn’t quite understand.
Biblical Evangelism is about showing and telling the gospel. It’s not an either/or proposition – rather it’s a both/and endeavor. And when we do it well, we’ll make the greatest impact for Jesus.
For our purposes I want to use the terms demonstration (show) and proclamation (tell) in order to amplify our understanding. Jesus is our example, for His life was and is the epitome of a witness for God, for He is God’s Son!
In John 6 He feeds the 5000 then proceeds to tell them in John 6:35 that He is the bread from heaven, saying, “I am the Bread of Life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.”
When He sent out the disciples for the first time in Luke 10 His commission included both demonstration and proclamation, as He commanded them in verse 9 to “heal the sick there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’”
And we get the point. A complete gospel witness includes the two pillars proclamation and demonstration. Without the presence of both, note the lacking:
Proclamation without demonstration lacks authentication. THIS IS TRUTH WITHOUT LOVE! If I tell you about God’s love found in Christ and then proceed not to love you, my testimony is weak and you may think me a hypocrite. Often as believers we can be accused of being hypocrites and of pounding others with our ‘rightness.’ Being an effective witness for Jesus means I back up the proclamation of truth with the demonstration of truth. If God is love and it is HE I proclaim, I need to take the initiative to authenticate the claims of the Savior by loving others in deed.
Demonstration without proclamation lacks an explanation. THIS IS LOVE WITHOUT TRUTH! Some people think, “We just need to ‘love’ people into the kingdom” by doing good works. Well guess what – if they don’t know why you do what you do they’ll be in ‘the dark’ regarding your motivation. For example, people help others across busy streets all the time. One person, who thinks themselves a good person, helps an elderly person across the street because it’s not only a good thing to do, but it makes them look good. This person may not know Christ. In fact, there are many people who do great works in the name of humanity, compassion, self-glory, “it’s just the right thing to do” or…. On the other hand, Jesus said, “I have not come to be served but to serve and give…” This is the why we love in deed and at the end of the day it’s about Jesus glory, not my glory or the glory of man. For man is not inherently good and life is not about man’s glory, it’s about God’s glory. If a person is starving and I give them physical bread today, yet they die tomorrow without hearing about the Bread of Life, Jesus, what have I given them?
When we seek to be salt and light in our world, keeping these two pillars in perspective will help shape our gospel testimony. Each of us is inclined to lean one way or the other – telling them the way it is or simply loving them into the kingdom. But a powerful testimony is a both/and proposition.
Where do you lean? How is God wanting you to grow in one area or another? How can you practically apply what He’s showing you in your daily life? These are good questions to take before the Lord as we seek to be the witness for Jesus He desires for us and from us.
So go out in the power of the Holy Spirit and show and tell of God’s great love and good news found in Jesus – to the Glory of God and for the building of His Kingdom!