Same Gospel – Changing World – In this sermon series well will journey through the book of Acts. Our world and culture have changed much since many of us grew up. Christianity is no longer at the center of the culture. In fact, the culture is, in many ways, hostile to the faith. Surveys regarding religious preference indicate that the fastest growing group is those without any preference. What then does it mean for us to be followers of Jesus today? How can we impact our world and the culture around us with the Good News of God’s grace and love in Jesus? We will seek to answer those questions as we explore the book of Acts and the first century world in which Christianity was born. There are many interesting parallels with our world and culture today, and there is much for us to learn from those first century believers.
January 27 – After the stoning of Stephen, the first Christian martyr, great persectuion broke out agains the Church in Jerusalem. As a result the believers were scattered through the regions of Judea and Samaria and beyond, and the believers preached the Good News about Jesus wherever they went. It is important to note that this does not include the Apostles. They remained in Jerusalem. To bring the Gospel to people in our changing world will require believers who are ready to share the Good News of Jesus where they are. In the past we built churches and waited for people to come to us. That’s not happening anymore. We have to go to them.
February 3 – With the story of Phillip (not the apostle) and the Ethiopian Eunuch walls and and barriers that had been up for centuries began to come down. The Gospel was now going to the Gentiles. We will talk about the walls that came down and the barriers that were crossed as Phillip explained the words of Isiah to the man from Ethiopia. We will then consider what walls need to come down and what barriers need to be crossed in order for us to reach those outside the kingdom with the saving Gospel of Jesus and to easily incorporate them into the body of Christ.
February 10 – The idea of crossing barriers and bringing the Gospel to a different culture contines with the story of Peter and Cornelius. Peter actually enters a Gentile home and shares the Gospel. When he sees the Spirit poured out on Cornelius and his household, Peter concludes: “I see very clearly that God shows no favoritism. In every nation he accepts those who fear Him and do what is right.” We have numerous barriers to cross as we seek to share the Gospel in a non-Christian culture. How do we do that? What does it take to speak to those who may have never been in a church? It includes establishing friendships/relationships speaking as Spirit of God leads us.
February 17 – With the spread of the Gospel to the Gentiles, the Church was faced with the question of whether or not the Gentile believers would be required to be circumcised and follow other Jewish laws. The decision was they did not need to do so. All excess baggage was removed in order that the pure Gospel of God’s grace in Jesus could stand. As we consider how we share the Gosple of Jesus in a changing world we ask if there is any excess baggage that we have attached to the Gospel. What does this say about worship styles, the hoops we ask people to jump through to be included in the fellowship of the church?
February 24 – As Paul shared the Good News of Jesus with the intellectual crowd of Athens, he started where they were. He referred to an altar built “To an Unknown God” and said he was going to tell them about that God. Many would cringe at such a thought today. But Paul used this to establish common ground. He even quoted their own poets. While we should not avoid sharing the Good News until we feel adequately prepared, we should use what we have learned and seek to know more in order to be an effective witness so that we can respond to peopl’e questions and arguments. This points to knowing how the non-Christian culture around us thinks and being knowing how to establish common ground.