Tolle Lege: Marks of the Messenger

Readability:  1

Length: 122

Author: J. Mack Stiles

This is a really rare book on evangelism, it focus is on the evangelist, hence the title, Marks of the Messenger, without obscuring or contradicting the message, that is the gospel. Other books on evangelism that focus on the evangelist tend to emphasize method or technique so as to optimize results, Mack wants to focus on faithfulness. The subtitle says it all, “Knowing, Living and Speaking the Gospel”. This is not a book to guilt you into evangelism, but one to glory you into evangelism.

Further Mack does not write from an ivory tower. He left the States post 9/11 to minister in the UAE (United Arab Emirates). This also means you can’t accuse Mack of being failing to be transcultural. We can all learn from him.

Finally, this thoroughly Biblical book is loaded with great stories that illustrate precious truths. It is as joyous as it is convicting to read.

[A]s evangelist we want to be people who are more concerned with our faithfulness in presenting Christ clearly that we are with results. We want to be the kind of evangelist who take people more seriously that to manipulate them into a prayer of commitment. And we want to be people who present the gospel with care, knowing spiritual lives are at stake.

There is a tendency to think that our sins are bigger than our sin – maybe because its that rare case when the plural is smaller than the singular. Sins are those individual acts of rebellion, symptoms of the bigger problem. Our sin is the biggest problem: it’s our condition or state which is in hideous rebellion toward a holy and good God. When Christians feel that sins (acts) are bigger than sin (condition), they see evangelism as an effort of moral reform rather than explaining the steps that need to take place to rip our wicked hearts and replace them with new hears – that amazing work of God that Jesus called being born again.

[I]sn’t it true that “a hungry man has no ears”? “Isn’t it ‘the gospel just to take care of their needs?”

When our missionary friend Mike McComb tried to introduce protein into the diets of the largely illiterate Guatemalan farmers, it was a masterful combination of expertise, training and strategy. He started his work toward the end of the murderous civil war. Mike faithfully shared the gospel too. And Mike noticed it was the gospel that allowed for protein to get to the people.

When the gospel was understood and accepted in villages, Mike reported, men stopped getting drunk and beating their wives. As they attended church they started to attend to their crops as well as their children’s education. Tomas, the mayor of Nebaj, told me that it was only when the gospel came to the Ixil lands that real change happened. Mike says that the preaching of the gospel did more to eliminate hunger than fish farms or crop rotation ever did. We must never forget that the gospel brings more long-term social good than any governmental program ever developed.

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