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Category Archives: Evangelism

The Gospel for the City in Genesis 13

Genesis 13 shows the sincere trust that Abram had in the promise of God. He is set in contrast to Lot who walks by sight not by faith. Abraham builds altars and worships the true and living God wherever he goes. Lot fixes his eyes on what appears to prosper him in this world. Lot makes his own way in choosing through the eyes of human wisdom while Abram walks in simple faith. Lot in his choice moves dangerously close to the ensnarement of sin; Abram in his choice comes to a sacred altar where he worships.

In response to Abram’s faith, God reaffirms the promise of land (i.e. a kingdom) to Abram and his descendants. The temporal land of Canaan becomes a foretaste of the eternal inheritance that awaits the people of God. Abram pitched his tent there, but not permanently. He looked for the eternal city and rejoiced to see the day when the promised Redeemer would come.

The descendants of Abram, though initially appearing to be ethnically defined, are eventually identified both in the Old Covenant and the New Covenant as those who have the same faith of Abram in the Creator becomes their Redeemer.

Abram worshipped God because he believed His promise of the gospel. The promise of the gospel is now fulfilled in Jesus Christ’s incarnation, death and resurrection, his enthronement, and perhaps soon, His coming.

It is not hard to empathize with Lot. The cities of this world are alluring. Though they give ample evidence of the fall and the darker side of humanity, they also remind us that though the image of God in man is effaced, it is not erased. Human beings, despite the fall, continue to demonstrate their ability to be creative in their development of business, arts, architecture, sports, media, etc. The best of human culture often found in cities makes them attractive. The diversity and density of people add to the flavor and allurement of the city.

We can choose the city, like Lot did, for all the wrong reasons. Cities are full of younger and older people who followed the attraction only to look more deeply into the emptiness of their soul. The sights and sounds, the bustle and hustle, the density and diversity eventually only amplify the lonely cry of the soul.

The amplified, lonely cry of the soul is what makes cities such an inviting place for the gospel. People have access to the best and worst of human culture, yet their soul searches for more. As Augustine said, “Thou has made us for thyself; and our souls will never be at rest until they rest in Thee.”

At Grace Church of Philly, we hear the cry of empty and lonely souls, searching for the rest that only the gospel can bring.

 

The Gospel for the City in Genesis 10-11

Genesis 10-11 show again the effects of the fall in the revolt of humankind against their Creator God. Here fallen mankind seeks to find security and peace through their united efforts in city building. Instead of scattering throughout the earth to fulfill the creation mandate, they build a tower to symbolize their united effort to develop human society their own way. Their common language, which is a gift of God designed to make possible God-centered community, is instead used in an attempt to secure their lives apart from God.

God confuses their language and scatters them in judgment. Yet, in the midst of that judgment there is grace. Hopefully, as humankind begins to experience the fragility of their idolatrous, self-made security, they may begin to seek the True Prince of Peace.

Acts 17:26-27   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, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him.

Humankind scattered in judgment and in grace awaits God’s redeeming intervention. That intervention is anticipated in the genealogy that leads to Abraham who will model the way of justification by faith.

The geographical and linguistic divisions of the human race are largely being erased today in a world where travel, commerce, and technology transfer people, products, and information across all boundaries. Also, institutions like the United Nations attempt to bring together this divided world, pursuing a Babel-like security. Cities often become, not the melting pots, but the stews, where these diverse people live in the same city but yet remain separate. Despite all the programs on multiculturalism and diversity, all human attempts to unify the nations that ignore the need to be first reconciled to the Creator God ultimately fail.

The way to re-unify the nations of the world is modeled in Abraham who exemplifies the way of justification by faith and whose descendant, Jesus, will eventually be the One who reconciles people to God and to each other.        

Urban church planting has the unique opportunity and joy of experiencing the unity of the nations that only the gospel can bring. People who were formerly divided by economic, racial, and educational barriers now gather together in the gospel to worship Jesus Christ as Lord and King of all the nations. We are beginning to taste this at Grace Church of Philly (www.gracechurchphilly.org) and we long for more.

 

The Gospel for the City in Genesis 5

Genesis Five confirms God’s earlier threat to Adam that death, both spiritual and physical, would be the consequence of rebellion against the Creator. Though it would appear that some might escape the threat of death, living for as much as 969 years, inevitably death comes to all – except for one. God takes Enoch from the death-cursed world demonstrating that He alone rules over death and can rescue anyone from death. He also shows His power over an evil world by raising up Noah, a type of the Messiah, who witnessed a world devastated by rebellion and evil and through whom God brings about a new world.

The new world of Noah would again be ravaged by sin, necessitating One, the promised seed of the woman, who would finally deliver the world and its inhabitants from the curse. The Deliverer has come; He has borne the curse for us; He has inaugurated a new creation in which we now participate.  We are tasting the new creation in Christ and longing for its consummation at His coming.

 Though we still read obituaries in the city newspapers, being reminded of the reality of death, we do so understanding that the One who conquers sin and death has come. Though urban centers, perhaps more than any other place, bear witness to the devastating ravages of sin, we have the joy in church planting of raising up new communities, bringing the presence of Christ’s kingdom into an alien and fallen kingdom. This New Covenant Kingdom radically differs from the kingdom of this world: www.firstimportance.org quotes from Neil Williams on the radical newness of the Kingdom of Christ.

“The kingdom of God is the new and final age that began with the coming of Jesus. His kingdom is not part of the present age — an age where the flesh reigns; where people are divided, relationships are broken, and suspicion and competition dominate; where money, sex, and power are abused; where leaders are first and servants are last; where behavior is controlled by laws, and identity is defined by race, gender, or social standing; and where gifts and resources are used for the advancement of oneself. Rather, the kingdom of God is the new age. It is the age of the Spirit (Matt 12:28). It is the age of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit (Rom 14:17). The kingdom of God is about the renewal, restoration, and reconciliation of all things, and God has made us a part of this great story of salvation.” – Neil H. Williams, Gospel Transformation (Jenkintown, Pa.; World Harvest Mission, 2006), iii.

 

The Gospel for the City in Genesis 3

As we saw in Genesis 2, God established a relationship with Adam — the King to his sub-regent and the Sovereign Lord to a priest. In Adam’s relationship as sub-regent and priest he was to rule under God’s command and worship God through his obedient priestly service in the Garden-Temple. Instead, Adam revolted and chose to act independently of God, believing the seductions of the anti-god, the Serpent. Adam relinquishes faith in God’s plan for his life and instead seeks to achieve life his own way. In so doing, he experiences death, initially seen in his alienation from God. He no longer worships and anticipates the presence of God but rather shrinks back in fear, for he knows that his sin calls for judgment.

Romans 5 reminds us that all of us were in Adam. His revolt it our revolt. His sin is our sin. His alienation from God and banishment from the garden is our plight.

Genesis 3 explains to us the feeling of banishment with which we live. We sense that something is lost. We cannot always define that lost-ness but nevertheless it is common to all humans. We search futilely to fill the void and regain what is lost.

The urban centers of the world increase our sense of lost-ness and loneliness. Yes, you may feel lost and alone in the wilderness or on a secluded mountain top, but you can hear the noises of the city, be pressed upon by the crowds, be surrounded by tall lighted occupied high-rises, and yet be alone. This deep loneliness and lost-ness when suffered in the midst of all the sights and sounds of life is painful. The often fragile and trivial communities of work, neighborhood, and play cannot assuage the loneliness of the soul that is estranged from God. Cities then become a harvest field for the gospel because they prove that neither the best or worst of human culture and society can fill that deep emptiness of the soul.

The cry of Jesus from the cross “my God, my God, why have you abandoned me” is our cry. He suffers banishment from His Father so that we may be restored to the Father. The Paradise that is lost because of human rebellion is regained through the obedient sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

 

Discussion Questions on Introducing Your friends to Jesus

Introducing our Friends to Jesus

Luke 5:27-39 27 After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth. And he said to him, “Follow me.” 28 And leaving everything, he rose and followed him. 29 And Levi made him a great feast in his house, and there was a large company of tax collectors and others reclining at table with them. 30 And the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” 31 And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” 33 And they said to him, “The disciples of John fast often and offer prayers, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours eat and drink.” 34 And Jesus said to them, “Can you make wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? 35 The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days.” 36 He also told them a parable: “No one tears a piece from a new garment and puts it on an old garment. If he does, he will tear the new, and the piece from the new will not match the old. 37 And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed. 38 But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. 39 And no one after drinking old wine desires new, for he says, ‘The old is good.'”

Introducing our friends to Jesus means that we remain as friends of sinners
For Levi, he has just answered the call. He hasn’t burned the bridges of relationships. He still has friends who aren’t followers of Jesus and he sees the need to introduce Jesus to them.
1. How many people are there in your life who don’t follow Jesus as Savior and Lord? Do you pray for them to come to Christ? What are some of their names so we can pray for them with you?

Introducing our friends to Jesus means that we create opportunities for our friends to meet Jesus Christ.
I love the words of C. T. Studd, that brilliant young Englishman who gave away a fortune that he might go out to the jungles of Africa. He put his philosophy this way:
Some like to dwell
Within the sound
Of church and chapel bell.
But I want to run a rescue shop
Within a yard of Hell.
2. Evaluate that statement. Is it either/or? Why are both important?
3. Levi creates for Jesus a great feast to introduce his friends to Jesus. What are some things that we can do to create venues for introducing our friends to Jesus?
4. Why do we need to have an ‘intentionality’ of introducing our friends to Jesus?
5. What are some of the dangers/pitfalls in creating venues for our friends?
Introducing our friends to Jesus means that we live with the risk of criticism and misunderstanding
6. Why do you think the religious leaders criticized Jesus and His disciples?
7. How should we handle the criticism of those who question how we seek to reach our friends for Christ?

Introducing our friends to Jesus means that we live with the tension between celebrating and fasting.
8. In what way is the bridegroom both present and absent for us?
9. Why should we know how to celebrate the presence of Jesus?
10. Why should we know how to deny ourselves for the advancement of the kingdom?

Introducing our friends to Jesus means that we understand the incompatibility of the New Covenant with the Old Covenant.
11. What metaphors/images does Jesus use to describe the incompatibility of the New Covenant with the Old?
12. What is it about the New Covenant that makes it so radically different from the Old?

Introducing our friends to Jesus means that we understand the difficulty and reluctance to give up the old.
13. What is it about the ‘old wine’ that makes sinners reluctant in coming to Christ?
14. How do we show that the new wine (Jesus) is so much better?
15. What are some of the ‘comfort zones’ we need to prayerfully let go of in order to more effectively introduce our friends to Jesus?

 

Posted by on June 15, 2015 in Evangelism, Gospel, Uncategorized

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