"We Persuade Men"
The Apostle Paul wrote, “Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men . . .” (2 Corinthians 5:11).
If modern preachers had written that, honesty would have compelled them to say, “We entice men.” There’s often not much persuasion in contemporary sermons. It’s mostly generalities and feel-good fluff. Less and less is said about doctrinal matters, reflecting the growing mind set that what one believes really makes little difference. Too many have abandoned the concept of truth and the power of truth. They rely on entertaining assemblies, tasty dinners, and social services to seduce followers.
The cults should say, “We manipulate men.” They gain disciples by making them socially dependent on cult leaders. Those strong personal ties are then used to keep folks in line.
A few zealots could write, “We coerce men.” This is the yield-or-suffer approach. The Romans used it in an attempt to “win” Christians to emperor-worship. It is the terrorist’s technique. It is also the approach of those who badger legislators or judges to impose their brand of morality—or immorality! Economic boycotts and constant bashing through public or social media are powerful tools in the hands of those who seek to get their way through intimidation. For followers of Christ, however, “the weapons of our warfare are not carnal” (2 Corinthians 10:4).
Paul’s practice was to reason from the Scriptures, persuading all he could (Acts 17:2-3; 18:4). God requires wholehearted devotion; apart from a dedicated heart, outward acts are empty. It is the truth that makes us free (John 8:32). Faith, which comes by hearing (Romans 10:17), is indispensable. That all adds up to persuasion being the only legitimate evangelical approach.
Paul went on to say in our text, “But we are made manifest to God; and I hope that we are made manifest also in your consciences.” Never forget that a vital part of persuading others is demonstrating in our own lives the truth we proclaim. Our lives must always be in sync with our lips.