DISCUSS the Sharing Jesus resource.
By Phil Wiseman
Module 8 is all about hospitality. For a Christian, this means welcoming people into the family of God. At the heart of this is sharing the good news of Jesus Christ—or, “the gospel.”
PART 1: WHAT IS THE GOSPEL?
There is a word that Christians often say but rarely define: the word “gospel.” What exactly do we mean by it? In the Bible, the word used for “gospel” simply means “good news.” This Greek word, euangelion, is not unique to the Bible, but is used in many places to proclaim all sorts of news that was considered “good.” For example, we have ancient writings celebrating the “good news” (or “gospel”) of Caesar Augustus after he had just won a great battle. Often, this word was used to announce the fact that a ruler had just won a battle, and their kingdom was therefore advancing.
This context helps us make sense of what’s happening when we see Jesus preaching the good news, or gospel:
Later on, after John was arrested, Jesus went into Galilee, where he preached God's Good News. "The time promised by God has come at last!" he announced. "The Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News!" (Mk. 1:14–15 NLT)
In other words, Jesus is proclaiming the fact that God’s kingdom is advancing, so we’d all better get in line with it! The battle is being won, with the decisive victory being the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
With this in mind, perhaps we can attempt a simple definition of the gospel:
The gospel is the good news that God’s kingdom has come through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, who now rules over all. Therefore, we can be forgiven for our rebellion and enjoy a life with God in His kingdom.
Now that’s good news!
Go to the next slide for Part 2.
In this meeting, have an open discussion about the fears, doubts, and questions that we sometimes have when it comes to sharing our faith. Here are some activities and questions that may help guide your discussion:
1. Does framing “evangelism” in terms of “hospitality” help make it seem less intimidating? How so?
2. Spend time reading together through the four steps in the “Sharing Jesus” document that you read for this meeting. Be certain you understand the point of each step.
3. Have you ever had anyone evangelize you? How did it make you feel? What can you learn from it?
4. Have you ever led anyone to Jesus? If so, share the story.
5. What do you need to do in order to be more comfortable sharing your faith?
ASSIGNMENT: Read the essay, “Finding a Person of Peace” below.
Finding a Person of Peace
By Phil Wiseman
In Luke 10, Jesus sends seventy of his followers out to proclaim the kingdom of God. He warns them that some people will not receive their message, while others will receive it. Jesus refers to those who accept the message as “sons of peace.” If they find such a “person of peace,” Jesus instructs them to stay and do ministry among them. However, if someone doesn’t receive them, Jesus is clear that they should move on. After all, receiving the gospel is a work of the Holy Spirit, and it’s not our job to force people to believe.
Finding your “person of peace,” therefore, is crucial. A person of peace is simply someone who is open to what you have to say about God. Mike Breen writes that “A Person of Peace is one who is prepared to hear the message of the kingdom and the King.” They are happy to talk to you about things that may lean toward the spiritual. They are someone who may not know God, yet doesn’t have a wall up either. It seems that Jesus teaches his followers to simply go with those people instead of spinning our wheels trying to reach those who don’t want to hear it.
This understanding of evangelism can be quite helpful. It makes it clear that our job is not to convert people—that’s God’s job. Rather, our job is to be aware of those who are already sensitive to God’s stirring. In evangelism, God does the work for us! We just have to have eyes and ears that are open to what God is doing.
So how do we find a “person of peace?” We have a great example of this in the story of Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8:25–40:
After testifying and preaching the word of the Lord in Samaria, Peter and John returned to Jerusalem. And they stopped in many Samaritan villages along the way to preach the Good News. As for Philip, an angel of the Lord said to him, "Go south down the desert road that runs from Jerusalem to Gaza." So he started out, and he met the treasurer of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under the Kandake, the queen of Ethiopia. The eunuch had gone to Jerusalem to worship, and he was now returning. Seated in his carriage, he was reading aloud from the book of the prophet Isaiah. The Holy Spirit said to Philip, "Go over and walk along beside the carriage." Philip ran over and heard the man reading from the prophet Isaiah. Philip asked, "Do you understand what you are reading?" The man replied, "How can I, unless someone instructs me?" And he urged Philip to come up into the carriage and sit with him. The passage of Scripture he had been reading was this: "He was led like a sheep to the slaughter. And as a lamb is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth. He was humiliated and received no justice. Who can speak of his descendants? For his life was taken from the earth." The eunuch asked Philip, "Tell me, was the prophet talking about himself or someone else?" So beginning with this same Scripture, Philip told him the Good News about Jesus. As they rode along, they came to some water, and the eunuch said, "Look! There's some water! Why can't I be baptized?" He ordered the carriage to stop, and they went down into the water, and Philip baptized him. When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away. The eunuch never saw him again but went on his way rejoicing. Meanwhile, Philip found himself farther north at the town of Azotus. He preached the Good News there and in every town along the way until he came to Caesarea.
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