The Gospel

From the Archives: Christmas from a Shepherd's Perspective

Adoration of the Shepherds. Gerard van Honthorst, 1622

A little more than 2,000 years ago, “When the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law” (Gal. 4:4, NKJV). It was exactly the right time, as predicted by Daniel (cf. 9:25) and confirmed by Jesus (cf. Luke 19:41-44).

It was also the right place—Bethlehem, six miles south of Jerusalem. Seven hundred years earlier, Micah wrote:

But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
Though you are little among the thousands of Judah,
Yet out of you shall come forth to Me
The One to be Ruler in Israel,
Whose goings forth are from of old,
From everlasting. (Mic. 5:2)

The time was right, the place was right, and the circumstances were right. It was not to the high and mighty in Israel that the first coming—the incarnation—of Messiah/Christ was celebrated by “a multitude of the heavenly host” (Luke 2:13) in heaven and on earth. It was to a group of lowly “shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night” (Luke 2:8).

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An Evangelistic Approach: Addressing the Sinner’s Hope

In a previous blog post, we evaluated a few common approaches Christians use when communicating the gospel. There were two main concerns that I expressed about some of these approaches. First, the gospel can unintentionally be presented as a means to a self-centered end. Secondly, these approaches assume that the listener has a Biblical framework to process gospel truth. We can’t presume, however, that people understand what we mean when we talk about God, sin, Jesus, repentance, or faith.

In today’s post, I want to discuss an evangelistic approach that is both God-exalting and culturally engaging. Before diving in, however, there’s two considerations worth noting:

Two Preliminary Considerations

A Renewed Mindset

We won’t effectively reach people until we first embrace a missionary mindset. Let’s face it. We are not the “moral majority” in society right now. We’re outsiders. Minorities. Marginalized. Like missionaries in a foreign land, we must learn a new culture so that we can engage people with the truths of Christ. We must learn to patiently listen, dialogue, and build meaningful relationships with unbelievers. Without compromising our convictions, we must become “all things to all people, that by all means [we] might save some” (1 Corinthians 9:19-23).

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Clarifying the Message of Evangelism

By Micah Colbert. Reposted from Rooted Thinking.

Introduction

In our previous article, we sought to clarify the nature and goal of biblical evangelism. We noted that evangelism is proclaiming the good news of Jesus with the goal of persuading people to repent and believe in Christ. In today’s article, we want to clarify the message of evangelism so that we can faithfully proclaim the gospel.

Defining the Gospel

Definition: The gospel is the good news that sinners can be saved from sin and reconciled to God through repentant faith in Jesus Christ.

In order to understand this news, essential truths about God, man, sin, Christ, repentance, and faith need be clearly explained.

God the Holy Creator

Summary: God, the holy creator, made us in His image so that we would know Him and live by faith under His righteous rule.

Scripture:

  • “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created” ~ Rev. 4:11

Explanation: The gospel is fundamentally about God. Christ came, suffered, and died in order to “bring us to God” (I Peter 3:18). God is both the giver and the gift of the gospel. For people to understand the gospel, they must first have a basic understanding of who God is.

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Albert Wolters’s Creation Regained, and the Vast Redemptive Scope of the Gospel

"...the Bible shows that in His unfolding drama of redemption, God is at work to reclaim not just our souls, but also our bodies, and not just our bodies, but also the earth from which that first human body was made, and over which God purposed us to reign." - Randy Alcorn

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The Darker Side of Christmas: Joy Comes in the Mourning

When we think of the story of Jesus’s birth in the little town of Bethlehem, we envision a beautiful and peaceful scene with shepherds and wise men gathered around a manger, worshipping the young Christ. But that’s not the whole picture! Matthew reminds us that the birth of Christ was not only associated with happiness and hope but also with feelings of profound sorrow and deep despair. In the second chapter of his Gospel, he recounts a tragic event that followed the birth of Christ, which Christian tradition refers to as the Massacre of the Innocents.” In an attempt to kill the Christ-child, King Herod ordered the slaughter of all male children in Bethlehem under two-years of age.

Why does Matthew include this tragic story in his account? How does the sorrow of bereaved mothers in Bethlehem contribute to Matthew’s Gospel presentation? I address those questions in the message below. In short, we see that the tears of Bethlehem’s mothers belong to a trail of tears that reaches all the way back in redemptive history to the fall of mankind in the Garden of Eden. What’s more, we learn that God himself is afflicted in the afflictions of his people. Best of all, we come to realize that the tears in Bethlehem mark a climax in the sorrow of God’s people that serves as a harbinger of the Messianic hope and deliverance that would come through the very Christ-child Herod sought to destroy.

If you’d like to see how this message is developed in Matthew’s Gospel and his interpretation of Jeremiah 31, watch the video or listen to the audio below.

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