||Spirit Hacks: Tips and Tools for Mastering Your Spiritual Life
||The Good News IS Really Good
If the gospel is such good news (which is what gospel means), why don’t we hear more of it? Especially in a world filled with such bad news, it seems hearing a good proclamation would be a nice change. Well, there are some preliminaries to know about that will help us enjoy telling others the gospel. It’s time for some of us to get over the embarrassment of sharing our faith. It really is one of the most fulfilling activities we can ever engage in.
Connect Recap Notes: February 3, 2019
Speaker: Skip Heitzig
Teaching: "The Good News IS Really Good"
Text: Acts 2:47
If the gospel is such good news (which is what gospel means), why don't we hear more of it? Especially in a world filled with such bad news, it seems hearing a good proclamation would be a nice change. Well, there are some preliminaries to know about that will help us enjoy telling others the gospel. It's time for some of us to get over the embarrassment of sharing our faith. It really is one of the most fulfilling activities we can ever engage in.
- It's a Divine Work ("the Lord added")
- It's a Delegated Work (v. 40 "he testified")
- It's a Double Work ("to the church...those...being saved")
- It's a Daily Work ("added...daily")
It's a Divine
Work ("the Lord added
- The Christian mission—should we choose to accept it—is the Great Commission. Jesus appointed us to "go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15). Although sharing our faith can be hard, it is one of the most satisfying experiences in life.
- As seen in Acts 2, much of the early church's activity concerned the interior life but sharing the gospel is our exterior life.
- Evangelism is God's work, but Christians are a conduit for Him to work through. God created the world and the plan of salvation. He alone has the power to save, but He uses His people to accomplish His purposes (Romans 8:30).
- God chose you before He made you, and He arranges circumstances to accomplish His purposes. Jesus said, "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him" (John 6:44).
It's a Delegated Work (v. 40 "he testified")
- There is human cooperation with God's control. God brings the news of salvation through His people—through testimony and the preaching of the gospel. This pattern can be seen throughout Acts (4:33; 5:42; 8:6, 12, 25, 30-35, 40). God is the mover; humans are His mouthpiece. God is always looking for volunteers to be His spokespeople (see Isaiah 6).
- Biblically, there are three types of evangelism:
- Mass evangelism: Jesus drew crowds, as Peter did at Pentecost (Acts 2), and Paul at Lystra (Acts 14).
- Personal evangelism: Jesus spoke to the woman at the well (John 4). Philip evangelized the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8).
- Local church evangelism: This flows naturally from a church's life; every church should be both a worshipping and witnessing community.
- Should we invite people to Christ? As J.I. Packer said, "It is a matter not merely of informing, but also inviting."
It's a Double Work ("to the church...those...being saved")
- The Lord didn't add them to the church without saving them, and He didn't save them without adding them to the church. Fellowship and worship are imperative.
- Salvation and church fellowship coincide (see Acts 5:14). When someone is saved, they are added to God as His child, and God adds His children to a church.
- Many approaches to evangelism are off-kilter because worship services are tailored to the unsaved. Church should be more about feeding the sheep than entertaining goats.
- Every church should be a family of saved souls who want to see more souls saved.
It's a Daily Work ("added...daily")
- Evangelism is a daily work; it is not sporadic or scheduled—it should be part of the church's life.
- There was a progression of growth in the early church—it was a daily part of life. The twelve whom Jesus chose as apostles grew to 120 in the upper room, then to 3,000, then another 5,000 were added, and eventually, multitudes. Every saved life was important.
- There are never enough saved people—evangelism is essential to the mission of the church. Jesus commanded His disciples to "go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled" (Luke 14:23). J.C. Ryle said, "The highest form of selfishness is that of the man who is content to go to heaven alone."
- To partner with God in sharing the good news, we need to connect to each other, to the apostles' doctrine, to God through communion and prayer, and to the outside world through evangelism. This is connecting with one another through worship, by the Word, to the world.
Skip's Tips on Evangelism
- Here are some tips to help overcome fear and reluctance:
- Pray for opportunities and open doors.
- Allow others to start the conversation for you.
- Listen. Sharing your faith is a dialogue, not a monologue. Be compassionate and loving; if you're ever going to win some, you need to be winsome.
- Share your personal testimony of coming to Christ.
- Be creative. Buy a book for a friend, take them to coffee, send them YouTube videos that help answer their questions.
- This is our God-given and God-empowered mission, should we choose to accept it. Will you be like Isaiah the prophet, and say, "Here I am, send me"?
Connect Up: Throughout the Bible, God has used men and women to communicate His truth. Although ultimately God knows the reason, why do we think God partners with humanity to evangelize? How does this cooperation illuminate both God's sovereignty and human free will?
Connect In: Discuss the last time you shared your faith with another person. How did the person respond? What were some of the difficulties you faced? Use this time as an opportunity for others to provide answers and insight into some of the bumps that you faced. How can apologetics (the defense of the Christian faith) help equip you to be a better witness? To help sharpen your witness, discuss good apologetic books that should be on the shelf of every Christian. Here are some examples:
- Unshakable Foundations and Big Book of Apologetics, Norman Geisler
- Harvest House Handbook of Apologetics, edited by Joseph Holden
- On Guard, William Lane Craig
Connect Out: Take time to pray for specific people with whom you want to share the gospel. Allow your group to partner with you in prayer, giving insight into the hurdles you may face.
- The Christian's mission is the Great Commission (see Mark 16:15)
- There are two ways in which we can share the gospel: verbally, and through our daily lives
- It's not easy to share our faith, but the more often we share, the easier it becomes
- Although it's difficult to share, it is one of the most satisfying experiences in life
- Acts 2 provides a comprehensive view of the early church: it was a learning church, a caring church, a Christ-centered church, a praying church, a generous church, and, as seen in verse 47, a growing church
- Without verse 47, we would not have an accurate impression of the early church
- They had a relationship with God and with one another, but they also had a relationship with the outside world—they led not just an interior life, but an exterior life, which they shared with unbelievers
- It’s a Divine Work ("the Lord added")
- Ultimately, evangelism is God's doing
- Psalm 74:12
- Evangelism is the sovereign work of the Holy Spirit, as Jesus said when He promised the coming of the Holy Spirit to His disciples (see John 16:8)
- God, who created the idea and the plan for salvation, is the God who alone has the power to save people (see Romans 8:30); He does the work, from beginning to end
- The theological term for this is election—God chose you before He made you, then He arranged the circumstances by which you are saved
- John 6:44
- Paul spoke to Lydia, but "the Lord opened her heart" (Acts 16:14)
- It's a Delegated Work (v. 40 "he testified")
- We have a part in the process of salvation
- The new believers were added by the Lord, but through the Lord's people (see v. 41)
- Peter "raised his voice" (see Acts 2:14)
- This is the pattern throughout the rest of the book of Acts: God does the work through His people (see 4:33; 5:42; 8:4)
- Evangelism is a human cooperation with the divine call—God is the mover and we are the mouthpiece
- God is always looking for volunteers
- Isaiah 6:8
- There are three forms of evangelism in the New Testament:
- Mass evangelism
- Jesus spoke to crowds of people, as did Peter at Pentecost and Paul in Lystra (see Acts 14) and in Athens (see Acts 17)
- Examples of mass evangelism in the modern era include John Wesley, George Whitefield, Jonathan Edwards, Charles Finney, D.L. Moody, Billy Graham
- Personal evangelism
- Jesus and the woman at the well (see John 4)
- Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch (see Acts 8)
- "It has been estimated that 95 percent of American church members have never led anyone to Christ" —Evangelism Explosion
- Local church evangelism
- This is the normal, natural outgrowth of the church—evangelism should flow from the church
- Every congregation should be a witnessing, as well as a worshiping, community
- "I know some churches which haven't had a convert for ten years or more. And if they got one, they wouldn't know what to do with him, her or it, so extraordinary would this phenomenon appear to them!" —John Stott
- Altar calls can be controversial; certain schools of thought within Christianity (a hyper form of Calvinism, for example) say that we should never interfere with God's work in drawing people to Himself
- God does the work, but He also ordains how the work is done
- John 1:12
- "It is a matter, not of merely informing people, but of also inviting people" —J.I. Packer
- 2 Corinthians 5:11
- It's a Double Work ("to the church…those…being saved")
- God didn't add them to the church without saving them, and He didn't save them without adding them to the church
- In our society, it's fashionable to say, "I'm spiritual, but I don't believe in the church"
- But Jesus came to "build [His] church" (Matthew 16:18), so if you don't believe in church, you don't believe in what Jesus came to build
- Salvation and church involvement go together
- Believers were "added to the Lord" (Acts 5:14), and the Lord added them to the church
- The true church is made up of saved people—a fact that should be celebrated, not hidden
- The seeker-friendly movement is an attempt to make the church a familiar, comfortable space for unbelievers—but they won't understand their need to convert if there's no difference
- We should be more concerned with feeding the sheep than entertaining the goats
- Evangelism helps goats become sheep, and as you continue to feed the sheep, those fed sheep, in turn, evangelize goats
- The early church was full of saved souls wanting to see more souls saved
- It's a Daily Work ("added…daily")
- Evangelism wasn't a sporadic event—it was a part of their daily life
- In some churches today, the tendency is to seek growth only up to a certain amount, then stop reaching out
- The church is never big enough—we want every unbeliever to be saved
- The growth in the early church was progressive: twelve disciples grew to 120, then to 3,000 at Pentecost, then to 5,000 (see Acts 4), then eventually to multitudes (see Acts 5:14)
- Every saved life was important to the early church; because of the numbers found in Acts, we know someone counted those who were converted
- In the parable of the wedding feast, Jesus told His disciples to "go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled" (Luke 14:23)
- There are never too many coming into the church—there are never too many people going to heaven—and it is our daily opportunity to tell people how to get into that house
- "The highest form of selfishness is a man content to go to heaven alone" —J.C. Ryle
- Pray—in advance, for opportunity and open doors
- Allow others to start the conversation for you—use conversation fillers to give a spiritually focused answer, which could lead to something further
- It isn't a monologue; it's a dialogue
- Be kind; if you want to win some, be winsome
- Tell your story—share your personal testimony (as Paul did); it's indisputable
- Be creative
- Buy someone a book that can help answer their questions
- Send them a link to a YouTube video that covers the topic
- Don't let the best news become your best-kept secret
- Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is the Great Commission
Figures referenced: Jonathan Edwards, Charles Finney, Billy Graham, D.L. Moody, J.C. Ryle, John Stott, John Wesley, George Whitefield
Cross references: Psalm 74:12; Isaiah 6:8; Matthew 16:18; Mark 16:15; Luke 14:23; John 1:12; 4; 6:44; 16:8; Acts 2:14, 40-41; 4; 5:14, 42; 8; 14; 16:14; 17; Romans 8:30; 2 Corinthians 5:11
Keywords: believers, church, community, evangelism, faith, growing, salvation, share, work