“Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men” (2 Cor. 5:11). If we read a few verses before this text we learn that the subject under consideration is the universal judgment. Every one of us must appear before the judgment seat of Christ to receive the final reward or punishment for what we have done with this present life. This is even true of the apostle Paul, for he includes himself in the expression “For we must all appear…” Considering this judgment Paul states in verse 9, “Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.” Paul knew that he would be judged on the account of his labors by the Lord of justice, so he was busy “persuading men.” Should not every one of us so labor in the task of persuading men, in the fear of God?
To persuade is “to induce one by words to believe.” Thus, we persuade men when we preach to them the Gospel of Christ, because the gospel is the only word which can induce one to faith. “Ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe” (Acts 15:7). “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17). Knowing then the terror of the Lord, and in full realization that we shall stand someday to be judged, we ought to be trying to meet the responsibility that God has placed upon us by preaching the Gospel unto the lost of the world. This is not so much a plea for more evangelistic endeavor on the part of churches, as it is a plea that individual Christians take full advantage of the opportunities which constantly present themselves to us in the course of our daily lives. Our neighbors, our friends, our business associates, need the Gospel. They shall be judged according to whether or not they accept it. We shall be judged according to whether or not we preach it!
“For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men. I should not be the servant of Christ” (Gal. 1:10). There is a difference between pleasing and persuading. Paul was seeking to please God, as a good servant, while he persuaded men. How many modern preachers have this in reverse? They are seeking to please men and persuade God. Such procedure may be popular but it will not save souls. Before one takes upon himself the work of an evangelist he ought to engage in a period of introspection to decide what he is really interested in. If he wants popularity, prestige, and the praise of men, there are other places to get them than in the pulpit. But if he has in his heart a glowing passion for lost souls, he will preach what they need, not just what they want. There are too many folks in love with the preacher who are not in love with the Christ. Their conversion may not be genuine; it cannot be unless they are persuaded by the Gospel. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek” (Rom. 1:16).