Holiness and Advancing the Gospel

“I remember once in a church which I knew very well, I was being entertained by a lady who seemed to be one of the leading lights in the church, and to my astonishment I found that her husband never went near the place at all. I subsequently discovered that the probable reason was that the lady, while very active and busy in church work, was failing lamentably in certain practical aspects–she did not always pay her grocer’s bill, for example. Yes, she was a great church worker but she was negligent in matters like that. Subsequently this lady, who had only been a nominal Christian, really became a true Christian. And what happened next? Only six weeks after his wife’s conversion, and without anyone asking or pleading with him, the husband began to attend that place of worship. He now came because he saw that something had happened to his wife. There was no need for anyone to say anything: he saw the genuine thing, he saw the change in her, and then he began to wonder what happened and so he came to see it for himself. That is sanctification. If Christians are to evangelise the world, they themselves must be right… This is vital…

But, I suppose, the ultimate reason why our sanctification is vital for evangelism is that God can only use people who are sanctified… Let us face the facts: there is nothing that is really going to touch the world as it is today except a mighty revival of the Spirit of God. You may think I am being pessimistic, but I do not hesitate to prophesy that all the efforts and all the organizations, whether we invoke the aid of the press or not, will come to nothing. I have watched so many campaigns, and the situation of the church has gone steadily down in spite of them all, and that will continue. Nothing but the operation of the Spirit of God can possibly deal with the situation, nothing else at all… It is so plain and clear… if only men and women would put all the energy that they are ready to put into organizations, into seeking God and living in his presence and becoming truly sanctified, then revival would come at once. But we are willing to do anything rather than this; the thing that God puts first is the thing we never mention–sanctification.

So I suggest that if we are concerned about the present state of affairs we must ask ourselves this question: If my life is not influencing others and bringing them to Christ, why is it not? My friends you do not need a course of instruction in how to evangelise people–such a thing, were it not tragic, would indeed be ludicrous! Do you think early Christians attended special coaching classes? Of course they did not! What happened was that they became true Christians and inevitably they were evangelists. When a man has the Holy Spirit within him he does not need instruction, he does it! …we need to start with ourselves and to be in such a relationship with God that he can use us. There should be a kind of radiance about us, and something emanating from us, which, when people meet us, makes them say, “What is it in this man or woman? What is this peculiar, strange thing?” When people are sanctified, they will act as evangelists.”

Martyn Lloyd Jones, “Sanctification and Evangelism” in Sanctified through the Truth: Studies in Jesus’ Prayer for His Own (Crossway, 1989), 26-28.