Is This The Gospel?
For the last month, I have been studying the book of Acts and it really encourages me. When I consider the ways of the modern church and all of its ‘technique’, it is refreshing to read scripture and be reminded of the power of God apart from our ways.
One of the things that really caught my eye is the way the apostles preach. They preach the gospel of Jesus Christ to the Jews, and it seems to be done the same way every time. The Jews have a strong foundation and knowledge of Jehovah, yet they do not know or recognize that Jesus is the Christ or Son of God. Peter consistently tells them that Jesus is the Christ of the God they ALREADY know. He is not trying to introduce completely new material, but give them a new revelation based on something familiar. After the people accept the truth and commit to Jesus, Paul does not make them remounce anything they believe about God already. It seems that the revelation of WHO Jesus is, is the only truth they need to be set free and saved.
What if we could use the same formula for preaching and bring people to knowing who Jesus is as savior?
We are preaching to mostly non-Jews. They have no teaching or concept of Jehovah, so how could we use this formula? While in Africa, I was working through sermon ideas and it came to me that everyone in the world knows what love is. Love is a universal language that we see between mom and baby, husband and wife, people and their culture, etc. Everyone whether atheist or church goer, understands how strong the power of love is.
What if we go at it from this angle: “This love that you already know is God. Even though you haven’t talked to God or know anything about God. You have seen God in your relationship between you and your kids, you have seen God in the way you feel about your spouse, you have seen God whenever you have experienced love. You really know an aspect of God whether you realized it or not. Scripture says it like this: 1 John 4:8 for God is love. Experiencing Love here or there is beneficial, however, the truth that I want you to see is that we can actually commit to that Love and serve that Love. That Love can become more that something we experience in relationship with others, but that Love can start ruling over our life.
Love actually became a person when Jesus was born. Love was personified and lived on the earth. When we read the story of Jesus Christ, we are reading the actual story of how Love looked, talked, reacted, ate, sleep. Love was a person named Jesus.
Right after 1 John 4 says that “God is Love”, it says in verse 9
In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.12 No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.
God is so much love that He lived on the earth in order that our mistakes could be forgiven. He took on our sins and took them to the cross so that we could be forgiven and live in harmony with Love.
Love wants to be much more than an emotion or part of your relationships. Love wants to dominate you. Love wants to control you. Love wants to personally know and relate to you. Love is God and his name is Jesus Christ.
To me, this is the pattern the apostles used in Acts. They used a context that the people already knew and were familiar with. They did not try to recreate the gospel into something unfamiliar. They used truth that the people were familiar with already. Sometimes it is difficult for believers to realize that unbelievers experience real love, but the truth is that God shows up in everyone’s life as they live on the earth. True love is between mother and child whether that mother is an atheist or Sunday School teacher. The presence of God visits many on the earth and they start to see His nature whether they realize it or not. If we can identify for them this God they already know and have intermittently experienced, then it could be a vital tool to help them see Jesus. Don’t just haphazardly experience God/Love, serve and submit to HIM!