Are You Discouraged in Preaching the Gospel? -- By: Tom Wells

Journal: Reformation and Revival
Volume: RAR 01:4 (Fall 1992)
Article: Are You Discouraged in Preaching the Gospel?
Author: Tom Wells


Are You Discouraged in Preaching the Gospel?

Tom Wells

You know this already, but let’s just remind ourselves again at the beginning of this article: Evangelism is difficult and unpredictable work.

Where there are brave and far-reaching efforts to win men to Christ, two problems arise. First, the results are always less than we hoped for. Second, they are usually less than they seemed to be at the outset. These two problems sometimes dampen our zeal to point men to Christ. They shouldn’t, but they do.

I think it will help us to see that the Lord Jesus faced these same problems. After He fed five thousand the crowds dogged His footsteps. Listen to what happened between Him and them, from John 6:

When they found Him on the other side of the lake, they asked Him, “Rabbi, when did You get here? (v. 25).

Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, you are looking for Me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On Him God the Father has placed His seal of approval” (vv. 26–27).

They asked Him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” (v. 28).

To begin with, most teachers would be pleased to have others follow them around. Isn’t that what teaching and preaching are all about, having people to speak to? And the more the better!

The Lord, however, looked for godly motives. He knew that these men had failed to understand Him. They had had their bellies filled. To them, that was more important than His teaching, and much more important than His person. That, in turn, must have tempted our Lord to be discouraged.

Was all His incomparable teaching in vain? It might have seemed that way. Jesus had to tell these men that there is other food to seek beyond the food that feeds our flesh.

Let’s look back to see how bleak the situation was. Verse 28 looks as if it contains a ray of light. We would be glad to have someone ask us, “What must I do to do the works God requires?” When we keep on reading, however, we find that the ray of light was more apparent than real.

Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the One He has sent” (v. 29).

So they asked Him, “What ...

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