you remember the old Johnny Horton ballad called “Sink the Bismarck”?
told the story of a naval battle, early in the Second World War, when a group
of British ships set out to sink Nazi Germany’s most powerful battleship, the Bismarck. One of the lines in the song
goes like this: “We gotta sink the Bismarck ‘cause the world depends on us.”
a lot like the approach that we evangelical Christians tend
to take in spreading the gospel. We act as though we’re spreading the gospel
because “the world depends on us.”
mindset certainly drives many people to do some heroic things. But there is a
downside. It can make us think that salvation is something that depends primarily
on what we do.
the Bible tells us that salvation depends on Jesus, not on us. Jesus did all
that needed to be done – all indeed that could be done – to secure the
salvation of the human race. That is the good news of the gospel.
we try to add to that – thinking our efforts are needed to somehow finish or complete
the process – we end up distorting the message. The world’s salvation does not “depend
on us.” No one’s salvation depends on us.
we are blessed to have a part in the process of sharing the good news; we have
the privilege to preach it, spread it, share it, print it and broadcast it. There
are so many ways we’ve been blessed to take part, but no person’s salvation is
won or lost on our account. God is never hamstrung by our ineptitude, lack of
effectiveness, irresponsibility or laziness – any more than he is spared from
losing anyone because of our great skills of oration or persuasion.
have a part in the work of the gospel by grace, not by necessity. It is
by grace we share in the work of the gospel, but the Father, the Son and the
Spirit are the ones getting the job done, not us. Jesus said in John 13:35, “By this everyone
will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Christians work together in love, the understanding of the faith grows. But
when Christianity has been used as a cloak for greed, aggression or political advantage
– the gospel has been discredited. Real Christian love produces a climate in
which the gospel can germinate and bear fruit in others.
world’s salvation doesn’t depend on us, and thinking that way easily leads to
mistakes and a false sense of importance. But Jesus is at work in us – through
the Holy Spirit – to live up to what we believe, according to our opportunities
and means. As we do that, we may not change the course of history, but we will,
by God’s grace, in Jesus’ name, and in the power of the Spirit, have made a
I’m Joseph Tkach, speaking of LIFE.