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!
Posted on October 24, 2011, in Daily Word, theology and tagged 1 John 4:8, buda, how to witness, new gospel, promiseland church, san marcos. Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.
great point bro…. what they did sure did seem to work well…
the apostles, that is….
i pray that love will be perfected in me… that is the way bro.
great blog man… so proud of you and how you are allowing Love to work through you
Wow Pastor Robin God speaks the truth through you and thank you for listening and submitting yourself to him. I feel the love it is what finally I submitted to and now feel constantly. It is like I am in love for the first time in my life. I was sad and desperate for someone to love me. I looked and looked for that person to finally love me with out constantly hurting and berating me. I never found that in a person but feel it now when I am asleep and awake and just out doing my daily life. The love of Jesus makes me sing and gives me more joy than I have ever felt in my life. When that love is in you it is almost impossible to not give it out or you just feel too full and it has to come out. His love overflows and that is where we that know Jesus should start because, as you said yesterday it is a Billboard that is written all over your face. People notice the person that is not there anymore that was always complaining about what that person did and this person did to me. Now those words are getting almost rare but now it is praise of our lord Jesus. And seeing the beauty. It is also a much better filter of my thoughts when I find myself judging I put up the mirror and see that it is usually something in me that I don’t like that I will find myself thinking judging thoughts of another. So now I am able to see that and remember that I am forgiven and it is easy for me to put the judgement aside and just find love rather than the old club that I used to beat myself and others up because, of my imperfections. I remember Jesus loves me just as I am and it makes me want to do more to make him proud of me I am his child and children love to make their daddy proud. Well there is my tangent today thank you for saying your truth that helps me to feel my truth. I am really glad you went to Africa I felt a new level of God’s love flowing through you yesterday. It spilled over throughout the church. I was standing right behind you and felt the love of God flowing all around you.
Thanks so much for the comment, Ronda!
Thank you, my bro
Have you read Greg Boyd’s book ” Repenting of Religion: turning from judgement to the live if God” ? I’m half way through it and already I think it’s exactly what you’re saying. Think you’d love it.
Although I think this angle would relate to a lot of people on many levels, it lacks one of the foundational principles of which the Hebrews were well-aware: the principle of sin, its consequence, and the necessary atonement.
Without that element, I think delivering a beautiful speech on love would be effective for increasing morality, but it does not explain pain, suffering, sin, death, or the depravity present in all mankind. Nor does it explain the biblical definition of love—that God’s love is so great and so deep that even WHILE we were sinners, He gave His Son to pay the ultimate price and atone for that sin; we did not and cannot do anything to deserve it.
I would be cautious in delivery as a result, since sin, death, hell and atonement are silent in your above example. Perhaps adding in the following prior to the above example:
“Love is something we all experience, but can you imagine a love so powerful and so deep that it would love even those that did not deserve it? God himself IS that love because, while we were utterly rejecting Him—while we were steeped in our own selfishness and sin, he STILL chose to sacrifice his perfect and beautiful Son. In this manner, He provided a way that He would love us no matter WHAT we had done. When once we were slaves to sin and deserving of death, the Ultimate Love became incarnate and died on a cross—just because God loved His children that much—and now we can become slaves to that Love (Christ), aspiring to His ways.”
Good points, Frank. The text I quoted talks about the propitiation of sin. That has to be core.
Cassandra, I haven’t heard of that book. I’ll check it out. Thank you.
Pastor, wonderfully, well written truth! So thankful that I know Him who is Love and want to share Him with others. Thank you!
Ronda, your writing is a beautiful example of someone who has been touched by Jesus Christ! Great job!
My heart is overflowing this morning! 🙂
Very well stated Pastor. Amazing Love – how sweet it is. The scripture you quoted on 1 John 4, I believe summarizes a combination of John 3:16, where because of his Love, God sent his begotten son to lay down his own life for our sins and 1 John 3:16 telling us that we should also lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters in Christ. Oh, may we follow the footsteps of our Lord Jesus Christ and be Christ minded so the fruits of his spirit flow through us and may we keep on witnessing Christ’ Love all over central Texas and other parts of the world.
Cristo vive! Y pronto viene! Aleluya!