Vol.XX No.XI Pg.1
January 1984

Men May "See" God

Robert F. Turner

Will Rogers is reported to have said, "People's minds are changed through observation, not argument." Perhaps that is why the best sermons demonstrate — are more than logic or "proof." It is a hard lesson to learn.

This does not detract from the power of the gospel — unless you believe "gospel" is limited to a "set of commands" which must be hammered into the audience. And have we not learned "a man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still"? The demonstration of love that is seen in Christ's self-sacrifice; of power and hope, that is seen in the resurrection; and fruits or influence of the gospel on lives of others — these things change minds today.

Christ taught by demonstration and appeal to the sense of "right" or "ought" he knew to be in every responsible person. "What think ye..." (Matt. 17:25; 18:12; 21:28). Paul used man's sense of justice and propriety to "sell" his points (Eph. 6:1; 1 Cor. 9: 11; 11:13-14). None of this makes final authority of man's "mores." But it shows the compatibility of God's laws with that deep down "best" in man. It suggests we should start with that, to progress to positive laws; use what is there to lead toward the better and higher things of God. We demonstrate — allow the innate senses to work (observe) and conclude. How else does "faith come by hearing"? Do we think we can force a man to believe? Fear of punishment, appreciation of what Christ has done for us, and the highest love for God — all begin with that part of man which makes him man — more than an animal.

The doctrine of depravity is more widely accepted (even by brethren) than we may realize. Many equate what I have written above with saying man can save himself by his own power. No! All have sinned, and are helpless but for the grace and mercy of God. By giving Christ, the justice of God is preserved though He forgives our sin. But the gospel God gave is suited to the man God made — can be received by all who will hear and heed — not just those on whom God sends an additional "enabling power." God knew man had it in him to believe and be saved. We must apply truth to what is in man.