At various points in our series through John’s gospel, we will come to items that we want to devote more time and attention to. Last week, we saw the message that we proclaim about Jesus. So this week we chose to pause John and head to Acts 17 to dive deeper into the topic of gospel proclamation. It’s here that we see: Followers of Jesus look for opportunities to proclaim the gospel to whoever would hear it.
1. Gospel Proclamation has a Concern for the Lost: v.16
Here we see that Paul is provoked when he sees these idols. This is the catalyst that launches him into sharing the gospel with others in the city. The same has to be true for us. If we’re ever going to be good at being missional and intentional about sharing the gospel, we have to be compelled by a concern for God’s glory and other’s eternal position. How do we grow in this? Pray. Pray that God would give you a concern. See people for what they are: image-bearers who are alienated from their Savior. Be present with others. You have to be around non-believers in order to share with them.
2. Gospel Proclamation Shares with Whoever: v.17-18
What’s notable here is the scope and range of who Paul is interacting with. He is with the “religious” types, the general populace and the intellectuals. He’s willing to share with whoever God places around him. We can’t control who God brings into our lives. Not our neighbors, co-workers, teammates, fellow students and so on. But gospel proclamation doesn’t care, because we’re willing to share with whoever.
3. Gospel Proclamation Takes Advantage of Opportunities: v.19-21
We see that we are to take advantage of the opportunities that are made available to us. We do this by being prepared for opportunities, by paying attention for opportunities and by leveraging existing opportunities. Simply being ready and expectant will go a long way for us in taking advantage of gospel opportunities. Whether it’s reading our Bible or doing 1 to 1 Bible reading in public, or mixing our social circles or taking advantage of items on the calendar that allows us to interact and engage with our neighbors, we want to leverage what already exists. Let me encourage you to quit trying to create something new and lean into what is already in place.
4. Gospel Proclamation Captures the Elements of the Gospel: v.22-31
While we could talk about Paul’s contextualization or the ways that he listened and sought to understand his audience, it was the elements of the gospel that we want to focus on. Specifically Paul focused his gospel presentation around three simple elements:
The person of God: v.24-26
Our relationship to God: v.27-28
Our need to repent: v.30-31
These are the simple and yet crucial elements of the gospel that we want to make sure we understand and are able to articulate to others as we share the gospel. Yes there’s more to them, but these are the basic tenants of what we believe and need to understand.
One item of note here: I mentioned in the service that in the Finding Your Place workshop that takes place in the Youth Room during first service, they will be working through these very things in the coming weeks. They don’t meet this Sunday because it’s Missions Sunday. But if you’re not confident about the elements of the gospel, you should be at the workshop on October 27 at 9 am to get help in understanding this.
5. Gospel Proclamation Produces a Response: v.32-34
In these final verses, we see three responses. Some mock, some are undecided and some believe. Part of what is really helpful about this is that even in faithful proclamation it guarantees nothing in terms of a favorable response. But as we speak, articulate or verbalize the gospel, it leads others to a place that they must respond to the person and work of Jesus.
We closed with some questions for consideration. I’ll include those below.
- Do I have a concern for the lost?
- Do I have non-believing friends?
- What opportunities are available for me to share the gospel with those around me?
- Am I capable of articulating the gospel?
- Do I have a biblical perspective around the various responses to the gospel?