- Attributed to Francis of Assisi (incorrectly as it turns out)
There are few hokey quotes that I despise more than that one. Maybe the only one I dislike more is the Gandhi quote about liking Jesus but not Christians that I see all the time, mostly from progressives virtue signaling how terrible their fellow Christians are (I addressed that nonsense here). The reason I don't like that quote, besides it being pompous and demeaning to the work of evangelism, is that it is anti-Biblical. Notice that I say anti-Biblical. It is not just something that is not directly found in Scripture, it is directly contrary to what the Bible teaches by way of command and example. The implication of that false quote is a direction contradiction of the Bible.
The Gospel is Good News, not Good Deeds. Our good works are a critical demonstration of our changed lives and evidence of such and often our good works are a way of opening hearts to hear the Gospel but unless we actually tell people the Good News, it isn't Gospel proclamation at all. For example, in Acts 3:1-10 we read the account of Peter and John and the healing of a man lame from birth. How wonderful! But what happens next is the true miracle. Having performed this wonderful work of healing and mercy which attracts a lot of attention, Peter then takes the opportunity to preach the Gospel, just as he did after the miraculous manifestation of the speaking of foreign tongues a chapter earlier at the day of Pentecost. From Acts 3:12-26 we see Peter preaching the unadulterated Gospel and even though they were arrested for it, we see the fruit of his preaching:
But many of those who had heard the word believed, and the number of the men came to about five thousand. (Acts 4:4)Healing a man lame from birth is pretty incredible. Seeing 5000 men, absolutely dead in their sins, being brought to new life by the power of the Gospel working with the Holy Spirit? That is the true miracle. Here is the kicker. If Peter had simply healed the lame man and then he and John had left, they would not have been arrested and not a single person would have been saved that day, apart perhaps from the lame man who was told to walk in the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 3:6).
You can do all sorts of wonderful works and that is great and we should be doing more works of mercy but if you never get to the point of telling people the Good News of Jesus Christ, you really are only making their life more comfortable until they land in hell. Soup kitchens, food pantries, medical clinics, crisis pregnancy centers, orphanages. Those are all marvelous but if they are not accompanied by the Gospel they are empty, dead works. Check out this short video from John Piper where he addresses this topic and got me fired up this morning, also includes a bonus "The Holy Spirit As An Airplane" impersonation. Vintage Piper.