Our Theological Vision – Aspirational Values: Evangelism, Outreach, & Mission

“Our Theological Vision:

Aspirational Values: Evangelism, Outreach & Missions

Various Texts

May 8, 2022

Faith Presbyterian Church – Morning Service

Pastor Nicoletti

The Reading of the Word

We come now to the final Sunday in our series on our theological vision as a church.

We began this series by speaking of our core purpose, and we said that Faith Presbyterian Church exists to be God’s instrument in making, maintaining, and maturing disciples for Jesus Christ.

We identified four of our core values as:

  • the deep exposition of Holy Scripture,
  • thoughtful and robust liturgical worship,
  • a culture of Reformed catholicity, and
  • the nurture and equipping of Covenant children.

And then finally, we have spent the last three Sundays considering our aspirational values: things that we value, that are already at work in some ways in our congregation, but which are also areas we know we need to grow in.

Our first aspirational value was relationships and community, our second was shepherding and discipleship, and this morning we focus on our third and final aspirational value of evangelism, outreach, and missions.

This morning I’ll be focusing on evangelism and outreach, and this evening Pastor Gutierrez will be preaching on missions.

And so, our focus this morning is on our calling, as a church and as individual Christians, to bear witness to, and proclaim, the gospel of Jesus Christ to those who have not yet come to place their trust in him.

Much of what I will say this morning is drawn from the work of Jerram Barrs, an author and long-time professor at Covenant Theological Seminary.

And following his lead, I’ll be drawing from several passages. We’ll read three, and I’ll just be referring to a fourth.

The first is from Matthew 22, which will provide an overall framework for us.

The other three passages are from the book of Acts. And what’s noteworthy about these three texts are the ways that they are both very different, and very similar.

In each one, the Apostle Paul is challenged to present the gospel to a different group of people. In each one, he goes about it in a very different way. Our calling, which we will take up this morning, is to consider what those similarities and differences have to teach us. [Barrs, 181-185]

With all that said, please do listen carefully, for this is God’s word for us this morning.

First, from Matthew 22:

35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked [Jesus] a question to test him. 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

The second text, from Acts 13, is printed in your bulletin for your reference, but I won’t be reading it.

In this passage, Paul is in the synagogue, sharing the gospel with Jews, and God-fearing gentiles. Throughout the passage, Paul’s focus is on the Hebrew Scriptures. He summarizes the redemptive history of Israel, identifies Jesus as the promised Messiah, points to the testimony of John the Baptist, describes the failure of the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem to believe, tells of the death and resurrection of Jesus, roots the identity of Jesus in the Hebrew Scriptures, proclaims the forgiveness of sins available to all who trust in him, and urges his listeners to believe in Jesus.

Our third passage is from Acts 14. Here Paul is interacting with a very different group than he spoke with in the synagogue. Here he is among uncultured pagans in Lystra, presenting the gospel to them.

We read:

Now at Lystra there was a man sitting who could not use his feet. He was crippled from birth and had never walked. He listened to Paul speaking. And Paul, looking intently at him and seeing that he had faith to be made well, 10 said in a loud voice, “Stand upright on your feet.” And he sprang up and began walking. 11 And when the crowds saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in Lycaonian, “The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!” 12 Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker. 13 And the priest of Zeus, whose temple was at the entrance to the city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates and wanted to offer sacrifice with the crowds. 14 But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they tore their garments and rushed out into the crowd, crying out, 15 “Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men, of like nature with you, and we bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them. 16 In past generations he allowed all the nations to walk in their own ways. 17 Yet he did not leave himself without witness, for he did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.” 18 Even with these words they scarcely restrained the people from offering sacrifice to them.

And finally, from Acts 17. Here we see Paul interacting with cultured pagans and philosophers in Athens, and presenting the gospel to them.

We read:

16 Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols. 17 So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there. 18 Some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers also conversed with him. And some said, “What does this babbler wish to say?” Others said, “He seems to be a preacher of foreign divinities”—because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection. 19 And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus,

[skipping down to verse 22 …]

22 So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription: ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. 24 The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, 25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. 26 And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, 27 that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, 28 for

“‘In him we live and move and have our being’;

as even some of your own poets have said,

“‘For we are indeed his offspring.’

29 Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. 30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”

This is the word of the Lord.  (Thanks be to God.)

“All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord endures forever.” [1 Peter 1:24-25]

Let’s pray …

Prayer of Illumination

Lord, our souls long for your salvation,

and so we hope in your word.

We long for your promise,

and we long for your comfort.

Whatever trials and hardships we face,

we do not forget you, but we look for your deliverance.

As we come now to your word,

We ask that in your steadfast love you would give us life,

Strengthen and guide us

so that we can keep the testimonies that have come to us from your lips.

Grant this we ask, for Jesus’s sake. Amen.

[Psalm 119:81-84, 88]

Introduction

We are considering this morning our call to evangelism and outreach – our calling, as a church and as individual Christians, to bear witness to, and proclaim, the gospel of Jesus Christ to those who have not yet come to place their trust in him.

And this morning I want to consider two root motives we should have for sharing our faith with others, and then six aspects of what it should look like when we share our faith with others.

First, the two motives. And we see those in Matthew 22.

Evangelism & Love of God

The first motive we should have – the first reason for sharing our faith with others – is love for God.

Now, this is true in a number of ways, but this morning I’ll just focus on just one: God cares about saving those who do not yet know him. And if we love God, then we should care about what he cares about.

Our God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, cares deeply about saving sinners.

We read in John 3:16 that God the Father “so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

We read in First Timothy [1:15] and the Gospel of Mark [10:45] that Jesus Christ, God the Son, came into the world to save sinners, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

We read in Isaiah [63:10] and Ephesians [4:30] that God the Holy Spirit is grieved when people resist his saving work.

God cares deeply about the proclamation of the gospel, and the salvation of lost sinners.

And if we love God, then we should care about what he cares about. That is one root of motivation for sharing the gospel.

Evangelism & Love of Neighbor

The second motivational root for sharing the gospel that we find in Matthew 22 is love for our neighbor.

The Bible tells us that those who do not know the Lord – those who do not put their faith in Christ – live in darkness. And if they persist in their resistance to Christ, then when this life ends for them, they will enter into eternal darkness. God is the greatest good in the universe – in fact we have no good apart from him. But they resist him now, and run the risk of separation from him for all eternity.

We are called on to love our neighbors. And surely that calling must include telling our unbelieving neighbors of the remedy to their separation from God, and urging them to lay hold of that remedy in the gospel.

And so, if we are to love our neighbors, then we, as a church, must bear witness to, and proclaim, the good news of Jesus Christ to them.

Love of God and love of our neighbors are to be our chief motives as we seek to proclaim the gospel to non-Christians around us.

But what should that look like? How are we to go about this?

There is so much we could say here, but this morning I want to highlight just six aspects of what it looks like to lovingly share the gospel, which we see come up consistently in the ministry of the Apostle Paul. To see that consistency, we will note them in three very different settings.

Loving our Neighbor #1: Understanding Them

The first aspect of loving our neighbors through evangelism and outreach is that we are to work to understand them.

We are to do the work of actually understanding our non-Christian neighbors, and how they think and view the world.

We see this in each of our passages from Acts. In each case, with a different group of people, Paul was incredibly intentional at being sure he knew and understood those he spoke to.

The most natural group for him was those in the synagogue – the Jews and the God-fearing gentiles. Paul knew in what high regard they held the Hebrew Scriptures, and redemptive history, and so that was his starting point – that is where he began when presenting the gospel to them.

But Acts 14 was a very different situation. There Paul is interacting with uncultured pagan polytheists. They don’t know the Hebrew Scriptures. And if they did, there’s no reason to think they would give much credence to them. And so Paul doesn’t start there. He knows them well enough to know that wouldn’t communicate to them. Instead, he points them to the things they associated with the work of the gods: the creation of our world, the ruling over nations, the provision of rain and fruitful seasons. That is what we see him focus on in verses fifteen through seventeen. Paul knew these people well enough to know that that was the best place to begin speaking to them, rather than quoting the Hebrew prophets or recounting the political details of events in Jerusalem, as he did with those in the synagogue a chapter earlier.

And then, in Acts 17 we see something different once again. Here we see the results of the work Paul has done in getting to know the practices and the worldview of the cultured philosophical pagans in Athens. In verse sixteen we learn that he has traveled around the city and observed their temples. In verse seventeen and eighteen we learn that he has spent time reasoning and conversing every day with the pagan philosophers there – especially the Epircuean and Stoic philosophers. And then we see even more evidence of how much he has done to get to know them in is words, as he addresses the Areopagus. There, Paul doesn’t begin by speaking of the Hebrew Scriptures, but by reflecting first on their temple to an unknown god, and considering its implications. In what follows, in verse twenty-eight, we see that to help them consider the true nature of God, Paul quotes, somewhat shockingly, from pagan writers, who were speaking about Zeus, and he applies their words to Yahweh – the God of the Bible. The line, “In him we live and move and have our being” comes from the pagan Epimenides, and occurs in an invocation of the god Zeus.

The next line, “for we are indeed his offspring” seems to come from a hymn to Zeus written by Aratus, a Cilician poet. [Barrs, 214]

In verse twenty-four it appears that Paul may be making an allusion to Plato’s words in the Timaeus, and that he may be echoing Plato’s thoughts even further in verse twenty-seven. And, especially noteworthy: verse twenty-five seems to intentionally highlight beliefs of both the Epicureans and the Stoics about the self-sufficiency of God, and his role as the source of all that exists – which is striking, since we know from verse eighteen that Paul had been conversing with the Stoics and the Epicureans. This tells us that Paul was not only preaching in the marketplace – he was also listening and seeking to understand.

Paul loved those he spoke to enough to do the hard work of really listening to them, and really understanding them, so that he could speak God’s truth in a way that was relevant to them. [Barrs, 216]

One of the first ways we see Paul working to love his non-Christian neighbors in each of these different settings is that he works to understand them. And we are called to love our neighbors in the same way.

And you need to recognize how counter-cultural this is for us today. We don’t really seek to understand other people – particularly our cultural opponents. Because it’s easier to leave them as caricatures. It’s easier to treat their views as two-dimensional. It’s easier to talk about what we believe in terms we are comfortable, rather than doing the work to find the words and phrases that they might be more comfortable with. It’s easier to assume we understand someone, rather than to actually listen to them.

But the Paul shows us that we are called to more than that. We are called to understand. Which means that we are called to listen. And listening takes time.

Francis Schaeffer exemplified this approach. Jerram Barrs notes that Francis Schaeffer “would devote himself to listening for hours to the struggles and questions of those who came to his home. He would say: ‘If I have only an hour with someone, I will spend the first fifty-five minutes asking questions and finding out what is troubling their heart and mind, and then in the last five minutes I will share something of the truth.’” Barrs goes on and writes: “I am often asked: ‘What about Schaeffer made the greatest impression on you?’ I think all of us who had the privilege of working with Schaeffer would respond to such a question: ‘His compassion for people.’” [Barrs, “Francis Schaeffer: His Apologetics,” 34] And that compassion was expressed so often in his willingness, and desire, to truly understand them.

The first way we can love our non-Christian neighbors is to seek to really understand their hearts and minds.

We need to do that as a church. It’s really easy to gather together here and to caricature the non-believing world. But instead, we need to seek to be a church that strives to love the non-Christian world around us first by working to genuinely understand it.

And we need to do this as individual Christians as well. Think about the non-Christians the Lord has placed around you in your life. Have you worked to understand them? Have you engaged them and listened to better understand what they believe? Have you really paid attention to them and tried to to better understand their lives and their hearts? Have our sought to love them by understanding them?

This can take time. If possible, it shouldn’t be rushed. Remember Schaeffer’s timeline. We often have much more than an hour with the people the Lord has placed in our lives. And so how much more time should we spend seeking to get to know them before we speak?

The first aspect of loving our neighbors through evangelism and outreach is that we are to work to really understand them.

Loving our Neighbor #2: Serving Them

The second aspect of loving our neighbors through evangelism and outreach is that we are to work to serve them.

And we again see this in different ways in each of these passages.

In Acts 13, this comes out again in the most straight-forward way for an Apostle, as Paul serves the people by coming to preach to them. That is an act of love and service.

In Acts 14 the act of service is a concrete act of mercy, as Paul heals a crippled man.

In Acts 17 we should note, from verse sixteen, that Paul was waiting for Silas and Timothy in Athens, but he decided to take that time of waiting, and use it for ministry – going out to the synagogue and to the marketplace, so that he was ministering to the people around him every day.

In each case, in a different way, Paul served the non-Christians around him.

And once again, we are called to do the same. That can take so many forms. It might take the form of financial assistance, or physical care, or emotional support, or something else. It might be spiritual-looking, or it might be concrete and practical. But whatever it may look like, we are called to love and serve our neighbors. And to know that that might open doors to sharing the gospel.

And while we are to be wise in avoiding situations where we are enabling people in their sin, at the very same time we are called on to love and serve even very sinful people – even our enemies and persecutors – because, Jesus reminds us, that is what God our Father does: “he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”

The second aspect of loving our neighbors through evangelism and outreach is that we are to work to serve them.

Loving our Neighbor #3: Dignifying Them

A third aspect of loving our neighbors through evangelism and outreach is that we are to dignify them.

We see Paul speak with respect to each of these hearers, thus acknowledging their dignity as people made in God’s image and blessed by God in various ways.

In Acts 13, as he addresses the people, he is careful in verses sixteen and twenty-six to include the God-fearing gentiles in his address, though many Jews might have excluded them. Both there and in verse thirty-eight, he also speaks of the Jews as his “brothers,” despite the persecution he’d already experienced from other Jews. [Barrs, 188]

In Acts 14, when dealing with uncultured pagan polytheists, even when they try to make idolatrous sacrifices to him, Paul does not disparage the people, but he identifies himself with them. He does not say “How could you be so stupid to think I’m a god – Thank the Lord that I’m not like you!” But he instead emphasizes his common humanity with them – he says: “We are also men, of like nature with you.” As Barrs puts it: “Even when faced with such rampant paganism, [Paul] never lost sight of the true humanity of these people, nor of his own shared identity with them.” [Barrs, 188-189]

And then, in Acts 17, Paul does not begin his words with disparagement, but by dignifying the people’s spiritual seeking. “Men of Athens,” he says, “I perceive that in every way you are very religious.” Though we read in verse sixteen that he was troubled by their idolatry, and though we read in verse eighteen that the pagan philosophers he spoke with were not necessarily respectful towards him, still, Paul spoke respectfully to these pagan philosophers, acknowledging their dignity. [Barrs, 189]

We see another way this can be expressed by how Jesus interacts with the woman at the well in John 4. There, when interacting with a woman who had been stripped of so much dignity by the people around her, Jesus begins his interaction with her by asking if she would give something to him. It’s a simple thing, but profound. He acknowledges a small need, and he asks her for help. [Barrs, 199-200]

As we love our neighbors and desire to share the gospel with them, we must acknowledge their dignity in bearing God’s image, in possessing certain gifts by God’s grace, and as having something to offer to us.

Once again, this is a counter-cultural approach towards those who disagree with us. In our culture, the common posture is that we know it all, we have it all together, and the other side is evil or stupid or both, and they have nothing of value to offer us … and even if they did, we wouldn’t want it.

But that is not a Christian perspective. It doesn’t fit with our theology. We believe that all people are made in God’s image – that image is marred by sin, to be sure, it is twisted to various extents, but it is still there. And by that very fact, all people have dignity.

We believe also that God has given all people gifts and abilities, which can be used to do good and bless others, including us. It is pride, not piety, that would resist or refuse to receive the good things God offers to us through the non-Christians he has blessed with such gifts. Such gifts are part of the dignity God has given those who bear his image.

A third aspect of loving our neighbors through evangelism and outreach is that we are to acknowledge their dignity.

Loving our Neighbor #4: Agreeing with Them

A fourth aspect of loving our neighbors through evangelism and outreach is that we are to agree with them.

Now, this is a really important aspect, and one prone to misunderstanding.

I’m not talking about stroking people’s egos, or about affirming things that are false – not at all.

But an important step in relating the gospel to non-Christians is affirming the things that they already value that are true, or good, or beautiful.

As we read in Acts 14:17, there is no human being in this life whom God has left without a witness – without something in their life that they know and value which points to the truth of God.

Put another way, in every non-Christian you meet, God has already been at work testifying to himself in their lives, long before you showed up on the scene. And they cannot help but accept some of what he has revealed to them.

And so, when we share the gospel with others, it’s never as if God’s work in their lives begins with us. Rather, our task is to try to discern where God has already been bearing witness in their lives, in ways that have already resonated with their hearts, and then we are to build on that. And that process starts by agreeing with them on those points where, by God’s grace, they already value and hold to things that are true, good, or beautiful.

And we see Paul do that here.

Again, the most straightforward example is in Acts 13, in the synagogue. Those gathered there already believe the Hebrew Scriptures, and so Paul starts there, because God has already opened their hearts to those truths.

In Acts 14, with the polytheistic pagans, Paul focuses on the truth they already accept: that good things like rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, do in fact come from the hand of a spiritual being who is over us … and that creation and the fate of the nations, do in fact come from a divine will. Paul agrees with these things that these uncultured pagans believe, even as he reorients them towards the living God.

And then, in Acts 17, Paul explicitly agrees with the religious insights of the Athenian philosophers again and again. He agrees with them in verse twenty-two that it is good to be religious. He agrees with them in verse twenty-three on their recognition that there remained to them an unknown god. He agrees with the Epicurean philosophers on the self-sufficiency of God in verse twenty-five. He agrees with the Stoic philosophers on God being the source of all that exists. He agrees with the insights of Plato in verse twenty-seven. He agrees with their pagan poet Epimenides in the first half of verse twenty-eight. And he even agrees with the pagan’s hymn to Zeus in the second half of verse twenty-eight.

In each of those agreements, Paul was recognizing that God was already at work, testifying to truth in the pagan lives, and hearts, and cultures of those he spoke to. And Paul starts by agreeing with the testimonies from God that the non-Christians before him had already accepted.

We need not be afraid to say that our secular or pagan neighbors are right about a lot of things. Instead, like the Apostle Paul, we should be anxious to affirm and agree with everything they do and believe that is true or good or beautiful, and to recognize it as a place where God is already at work in their hearts and lives and culture.

God does not leave himself without a witness. Our job is to join in the work he is already doing.

So ask yourself: When a non-Christian in your life says something that is right, do you tend to feel an anxious need to nitpick with it, and point out nuanced differences between it and your own view? Or do you follow the pattern of Paul, and affirm those impulses to goodness and beauty and truth in their lives, and then go from there?

A fourth aspect of loving our neighbors through evangelism and outreach is that we are to agree with them when they value things that are true, or good, or beautiful.

Loving our Neighbor #5: Challenging Them

A fifth aspect of loving our neighbors through evangelism and outreach is that we are to challenge them.

Because here’s the reality: Every non-Christian values things that are good, and true, and beautiful. But at the end of the day, those values are usually inconsistent with the worldview and religious beliefs they profess.

For example: There are many secular materialists who care deeply about justice and care for the poor. And that is a good thing that they care about. But their secular materialism has no place for their convictions about justice or care for others. If life is nothing but an accident – a collections of chemical reactions that happens to reproduce itself – then why would an accidental collection of chemical reactions have any more value than a rock? How can we speak of a collection of chemical reactions having rights? Why would one set of chemical reactions have any obligations towards another?

Or, for another example, there are many secular people who care a great deal about art and human expression. But if we live in a universe where human life is an accident, and human art and expression and even human consciousness is just an accidental byproduct of that accident, and if all of human culture will one day be dissolved and forgotten forever when the sun goes out … then how can you hold that human art or culture or expression have any real meaning or value?

In other words, there is often a direct contradiction between the good things that a non-Christian values, and what they believe about the world. And part of what we are called to do, is to lovingly – not arrogantly, but lovingly – point that out to them and challenge them to see it as well.

We see Paul follow that pattern in our texts. In Acts 13 he makes the case that the promises and the trajectory of the Hebrew Scriptures don’t really fit with the unbelief of the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem, challenging them to rethink the false beliefs of those leaders. In Acts 14 Paul challenges them to recognize that the good things they acknowledge they have enjoyed point to a God of a very different character than their pagan myths would claim. And in Acts 17, Paul challenges the philosophers to see that their own understanding of the divine does not fit with their idolatry, or their reliance on their own imaginings.

In each of these cases we see that a fifth aspect of loving our neighbors through evangelism and outreach is that we are to challenge them.

Loving our Neighbor #6: Pointing Them

A sixth aspect (and the last we will consider this morning) of loving our neighbors through evangelism and outreach is that we are to point them.

We are to point them to Jesus Christ: to him, and to his gospel, and to his word.

And what we can show them is that while their belief structure and way of viewing the world may not have a place for some of those things that they value that are true and good and beautiful, the gospel of Jesus Christ, and his word, does.

In other words, the good news of the gospel makes sense of those things that they know, deep down, are true, even as their non-Christian worldview cannot account for it.

And so, in Acts 13, Paul not only explains that the perspective of the Jewish leaders is at odds with the promises of the Hebrew Scriptures, but he points them to Jesus as the true fulfillment of the Hebrew Scriptures.

In Acts 14 Paul not only points out that the witness of their worldly blessings does not fit with the picture of their pagan gods, but he points them to the God of the Bible, who makes sense of the good gifts they have received in their creation, their preservation, and all the blessings of this life.

And in Acts 17, Paul points them to the God who has revealed himself in Jesus Christ, who they have, in fact, been ignorant of, but who has now made himself known to them – who is their true Father, who gives them their being, who does not live in temples made by man, but who calls all people to himself, and who will one day judge them. For that God makes sense of their religious intuitions, their philosophical knowledge, and their ethical convictions in ways that their pagan philosophies never could.

In each case, Paul pointed the people to the word and the work and the person of Jesus Christ, by showing them that he alone could make sense of those things that they knew were true in their guts.

And then Paul urged them, to turn to Christ, in all that he is, and in all that he has said and done.

And so, we can tell non-Christians that the value they have for human life and dignity makes sense, because human beings are not accidents – they are made in God’s image.

We can tell non-Christian that the passion the feel for justice has significance, because the God who made this world is just, and he loves justice.

We can tell non-Christians that the value they place on human art and culture is right, because God called humanity to fill and subdue this world, through their labor and creativity.

We can tell non-Christians that the guilt and alienation that they feel is true, because sin has separated us from our Maker, but Christ offers us the forgiveness of God, which is the only thing that can give us peace.

And we can tell non-Christians that the desire they have in their hearts for all things to be made new is right because that is what Jesus has promised to do, and to give, for all eternity, to all who trust in him.

And building on those bridges of things they already know are true, we are to point them to all that Christ is, and all he has said and done for their lives.

The essential final element is that we are to point non-Christians to the living God, their Lord and Maker, in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Conclusion

There is obviously so much more that could be said here, and I would commend Jerram Barr’s book The Heart of Evangelism to you if you’re willing to dig deeper.

But key is seeing that evangelism and outreach is not just some task we add-on to our Christian life. It is a way of life – a way of relating to the non-Christian world. And it is rooted in the two greatest commandments: to love God and our neighbor.

Jesus Christ came to save sinners. He called us, his Church, to continue that ministry.

And that is why evangelism and outreach are among our aspirational values.

Amen.

This sermon draws on material from:

Barrs, Jerram. The Heart of Evangelism. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2001.

Barrs, Jerram. “Francis Schaeffer: His Apologetics” in Francis Schaeffer: A Mind and Heart for God. Edited by Bruce A. Little. New Jersey, Phillipsburg, 2010. (p.27-50)

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