Monday, December 21, 2015

Thinking about Evangelism- The Book of Acts

  Of all the books in the Bible the Acts of the Apostles stands out as a predominant resource for missional and evangelistic thinking. I know "missional" is not a word, yet it is often a term used to express a purpose driven movement that is akin to the kind of things, actions, events, and so forth we read about in Acts. The key verse in Acts, in my opinion, is 1:8, where we read the words of Jesus: "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and the farthest parts of the earth." Moreover, Acts is the sequal to the book of Luke, or if you prefer, the Gospel of Luke. While being the other half of the story regarding the life and mission of Jesus, it comes as no surprise to look at another verse which mirrors in some ways our verse above. Lets think on Jesus' words mentioned by Luke, "Then He (Jesus) opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures, and said to them, 'thus it stands written that the Christ would suffer and would rise again from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.'" (24:46-47)
    Okay, now that an initial look into the missional and evangelistic content of Acts has been briefly summarized, I would also point out the ten major sermons found scattered like a shotgun blast throughout the Acts (Peter's sermons: 2:14-41, 3:11-26, 10:27-48; Stephen's: 7:1-60; and Paul's sermons and defenses: 13, 17, 20, 22:1-21, 24:10-21, and 26). These sermons reveal the key message of the Apostles, namely the crucified and risen Christ is  Lord and commands all men everywhere to repent and be saved. The power of the Holy Spirit is evidently displayed showing God's faithfulness to keep his promises and empower his people for the task appointed. The writer to the Hebrews points out how "God confirmed their witness with signs and wonders and various miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will." (Heb 2:4) 
    So, here are a few observations about the Missional and Evangelistic drive in the Acts:
I. How? Preaching Christ crucified for sinners. Preaching Christ's resurrection, truly, He is risen indeed! Touching on guilt and hope. Preaching the Covenant of God and His fulfilled promise to His people. Use the word, arguments, history, social and political issues, whatever the occasion affords. Because the Lordship of Christ covers all areas, there is not one thing going on in the world where his message is not relevant. Speak clearly and pointedly learn from Peter, Stephen, and Paul.
II. Who? Who goes for Jesus now? His messengers who proclaim the gospel. Men who are Spirit filled and empowered to preach Christ. Who do the messengers go to? The nations.
III. Where? In the midst of the world. Not just in the church with the world shut out, but God's messengers must take the message of Christ crucified and risen to the nations. Start in the neighborhood. I guarantee you not all the people in your local area are saved!
IV. When? As the opportunity affords itself. As God leads. Pray for doors to be opened. 
V. Why? To make know to unbelievers the unfathomable riches of Christ, who is the power and wisdom of God. 
    Let me close by suggestion we call to mind the Lord's Great Commission: "Therefore Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you and remember I am with you, even to the end of the age." May God bless us as we ponder the power of Christ Crucified and Risen. Let us be faithful to the Great Commission. May it not be said of us or our churches that we have practiced the Great Omission. 

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