“How can this strange story of God made flesh, of a crucified Savior, or resurrection and new creation become credible for those whose entire mental training has conditioned them to believe that the real world is the world which can be satisfactorily explained and managed without the hypothesis of God? I know of only one clue to the answering of that question, only one real hermeneutic of the gospel: a congregation which believes it.
Does that sound too simplistic? I don’t believe it is. Evangelism is not some kind of technique by means of which people are persuaded to change their minds and think like us. Evangelism is the telling of good news, but what changes people’s minds and converts their wills is always a mysterious work of the sovereign holy Spirit, and we are not permitted to know more than a little of his secret working. But – and this is the point – the holy Spirit is present in the believing congregation both gathered for praise and the offering up of a spiritual sacrifice, and scattered throughout the community to bear the love of God into every secular happening and meeting. It is they who scatter the seeds of hope around, and even if the greater part falls on barren ground, there will be a few that being to germinate, to create at least a questioning and a seeking, and perhaps to lead someone to inquire about the source form which these germs of hope came. Although it may seem simplistic, I most deeply believe that it is fundamental to recognize that what brings men and women and children to know Jesus as Lord and Savior is always the mysterious work of the Holy Spirit, always beyond our understanding or control, always the result of a presence, a reality which both draws and challenges – the reality who is in fact the living God himself. And God’s presence is promised and granted in the midst of the believing, worshipping, celebrating, caring congregation. There is no other hermeneutic of the gospel.”