• Caleb Rawls

Christianity: The Word Game?

Words explain things. They help us express our self in conversation and in written form. If you have been in church recently then you have probably heard the term, “gospel.” Your pastor might have even explained the core foundations of this gospel to you in a way that you can share with others. This is important for each follower of Christ to know the heart of their faith and the command to go and tell. But is that all that there is? Paul thought more of the gospel than I often have. For Paul the gospel was not just words; it was power from the very essence of God.

“Our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction.”

- 1 Thessalonians 1:5

Power is often times best understood in physical terms. We have power plants that produce “power” that in turn can be brought to our homes for heating and cooling. Gas being combusted causes “power” that can propel an automobile forward. But what “power” does the gospel have? Let’s look at a couple passages of Scripture.

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

- Acts 1:8

“But as for me, I am filled with power,

with the Spirit of the Lord,

and with justice and might,

to declare to Jacob his transgression

and to Israel his sin.”

- Micah 3:8

"Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working."

- James 5:16

The power of God through the Spirit of God how we are to be witnesses to the world, advocates for justice, and genuine prayer warriors. And this is only to name a few, but it this what Christianity really is in our lives today?

A.W. Tozer warns us of being Christians who play word games over those who live by the transforming work of the Spirit.

“As an athlete uses a ball, so do many of us use words: words spoken and words sung, words written and words uttered in prayer. We throw them swiftly across the field: we learn to handle them with dexterity and grace; we build reputations upon our word skill and gain as our reward the applause of those who have enjoyed the game. But the emptiness of it is apparent from the fact that after the pleasant religious game no one is basically any different from what he had been before.”[1]

This was not written in my generation but in the generation of my grandparents and great-grandparents, which is often romanticized as the days when God was at the center of life here in America. Tozer didn’t seem to think so. Each generation has it’s problems and our ancestors had them as well

The question we must wrestle with is if this is still true today? Is Christianity more of a word game that builds our church communities morale and self-esteem for the week ahead or is our church functioning on the powerof the Holy Spirit? Are we great at crafting words into theories that are conversed in our small groups and Sunday School classes all void of any real transforming work of the Holy Spirit?

There is no doubt that the gospel is proclaimed with words, but what is propelling those words? What power are they functioning upon? Let us evaluate ourselves to see if we really are people who proclaim the gospel in the power of the Spirit or craft empty elegant words that we ourselves often have a difficult time believing.

Caleb Rawls – is the pastor of Pleasant Home Baptist Church in Laurel Mississippi, and husband to Taylor Rawls. Together they strive to lead the church to reach out to their community and world. And yes, they have a dog named Tiglath-Pileser.


[1] Tozer, Aiden. "God's Pursuit of Man" Moody Publishers. 1950. pg. 361

#ChurchLife #Tozer #1Thessalonians #HolySpirit