January 7, 2020

Evangelism: The Acts Way — 1

Winter Bible Study Session One Summary — 5 January 20

Acts 1:1-8:

Let’s remember what “evangelism” is all about, viz. “good news,” that’s what the word means! Jesus says that we are his “witnesses.” And who are witnesses but those who have responded to the “good news” — we are witnesses of the “good news” that caused us to turn around and be different — to live as friends of God!

And, that is the recipient of the Book of Acts — Theophilus, which means “friend of God.” How did he become a “friend of God” but by responding to the first word he had been given, viz. the Gospel of Luke, a word that points to the reality of the Kingdom of God come in Jesus! Jesus points us to the “rumbling overhead” of us, as if we were able to pull back the ceiling and look up into a whole new world that exists above our heads. A world where people live differently. The more we look into that world the less satisfied we become with the world “down here.” We can’t help it but we have to take another look, and then another, and another, into that other world up there and the more we look, the more we try to live that way “down here.” The more we focus on the Kingdom of God, the more we pray for it to “come on earth as it is ‘up there.'”

This kingdom life that the Theophilus of Acts knows from the Gospel of Luke (Luke wrote Acts too!) is well-illustrated by the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25ff. A parable told by Jesus when a man asked, “What must I DO to inherit eternal life?” Jesus’ story about a Samaritan (huh, spit) who is a neighbor to a beaten man when all the pious Jews had just walked by his distress, shows that there is NOTHING you can DO to inherit life. You can’t DO anything for your own salvation. It’s impossible to DO something to be saved, just as it was impossible for the dirty ole Samaritan to be kind and gracious to the hurt man EXCEPT that the kingdom of God was living through him. He couldn’t do it on his own.

And that’s our “good news” — God does for us what we cannot do for ourselves! Salvation is not humanly possible. It is a gift from God. We are witnesses to the gift — “look what God did for me!” Evangelism is about telling that “good news!”

Side note: Have you ever noticed Jesus’ style of evangelism? He told stories. Have you ever noticed that Jesus didn’t expect every person to come into the kingdom the exact same way? Jesus met people where they were. To one lawyer he told the parable of the Good Samaritan. To one Council member he said, “You must be born again.” We will soon see in Acts other ways people heard the Gospel. Just tell the good news your way and watch what God does in the telling. Trust God to lead you into engagement with others. When you trust him and you tell the good news of what he’s done in you, then the pressure is off!

Training notes: When you tell something “good” that has happened for you it creates a smile, folks are happy and joyful and thankful. It’s literally a “delight” to be around people who are talking about “good news.” All of us have the ability to be such people! And, there are plenty of broken people around us who need to hear that “good news.”

What will it take for YOU to share the “good news?”

  • Remember: It’s not as hard as we make it out to be.
  • Be willing to engage someone and share briefly.
  • Pray for open eyes to see broken people. We just need to pay better attention.

Always remember to have some scripture on the tip of your tongue as you share what God has done for you. It can be one verse or a few but God is at work in the sharing of his word. Here’s a series of verses known as the Roman Road (because each verse is from the Book of Romans):

There’s alot of bad news in the world but I know some good news: “I am not ashamed of the Gospel because it is the power of God for salvation for everyone who believes” (1:16).

The bad news is “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (3:23). We need some power at work.

That’s where the good news comes along that “God demonstrated his love for us in this: While we were still sinners Jesus died for us” (5:8)

The bad thing is “The wages of sin is death” but the good thing is that “the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus.” (6:23)

What needs to happen next, you ask? Good question: “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and you believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, then you will be saved.” (10:9-10)

So, since “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved,” (10:13) simply open your heart and confess Jesus as Lord (trust him as your life’s guide) and believe that God raised him from death to walk with you every day. And guess what? He will!

And because he will walk with you, he will empower you to “not conform any longer to the patterns of this world but to be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (12:1-2) and become the person God created you to be when you were born!

The Roman Road

So let’s plan to share “good news” this week and come back for session 2 of our Winter Bible Study on Sunday, January 12, at 5:30 PM in the Gym beginning with a soup and sandwich supper.

Thanks to Dr. Robert Canoy for the Bible Study portion and to Rev. Leland Kerr for the Training portion.