Summary: Paul's strategy of outreach from Corinth after leaving Athens
Text: Acts 18:1-19:10, Title: Branching Out, Date/Place: 9.17.17, The Road, AM
A. Opening illustration: IMB changing strategies to where the missionary facilitates people group adoption
B. Background to passage: Paul had just left Athens after his address on Mars Hill regarding the Unknown God, possibly with some Athenians with his team now. We see throughout this chapter continued passionate zeal for the name of Christ to become known and worshipped more and more. His mission was the great commission, and he did all to accomplish it. I can’t tell if it is because this is such a large text to handle, or if Luke is truly demonstrating his urgency in moving from place to place. This text does cover at least four years, but only goes into details in particular cities once or twice. I think Paul may have realized, maybe in hindsight, the multiplying effect of his split with Barnabas, or maybe he was simply provided the right people in this season to demonstrate his methodology for disciple-making and regional evangelism.
C. Main thought: I want to draw out three aspects of Paul’s strategy
A. Personal Evangelism (v. 4, 19, 26, 8)
1. As his pattern most commonly was, Paul began in the synagogue after entering Corinth. There were times of proclamation, but what we see increasingly, and consistently in this text is “reasoning.” The difference here is more like discussion. This word reflects an exchanging of opinions. Sounds a little like life. Whether it was with a synagogue, or a school, or on Mars Hill, or with a family, he was just discussing Jesus with others, convincing them that he was God in the flesh having come to save the world. There was not a “canned” memorized gospel presentation. He was not going door to door. He wasn’t confrontational in his presentation, although at times he was firm and unyielding.
3. Illustration: Judy Calsing, Jewish Evangelism class in seminary, Geisler’s first few weeks as a believer, “Two ways to inspire: extrinsic, or "do this because you should, because of the consequences if you don't, etc." That's biblical. Like the Decalogue. Another is intrinsic, "do this because it's beautiful, you were born for this, it's a movement." That's also biblical. Like the Great Commission. I prefer the latter but sometimes need the former. Be open to either.” -Alvin Reid
4. Most of us here about personal evangelism, and we start to wiggle in our seats. We all feel like we don’t do enough of it. We feel uneasy about engaging in what we think it to be. We have pictures, maybe misconceptions about what it looks like. Or we look at accounts like these, and think, Paul was one of the greatest missionaries and evangelists ever, so God would be unrealistic to require this of “regular” Christians. We see a picture here of a man with a good grasp of scripture and what it teaches telling others about it. Sounds simple, right? Can you talk to others about Jesus? Do you know enough scripture to share with people the way to Christ? Don’t sell yourself short. You do have the capacity. You are not too young, too old, too long a Christian, not long enough a Christian. School has our 13-year-olds doing algebra and languages, most of our jobs include training and continuing education, ability is not the issue. If confidence is the issue, remember that you have the Holy Spirit indwelling you, who is promised to give you the words to say when you need them. If it is fear, know that spirit is not been given from God, and greater is He that his in you. The gospel destroys fear through love in that through love of God’s glory and his image-bearers, Christ endured the cross, despising the shame. Know that there are many more sheep out there that the Captain and Author of salvation laid down his life for, and commissioned us to go tell. “You were born for this. God hardwired you—yes, you—for this. I'm talking about sharing Jesus with others. What if I told you evangelism is less about delivering a polished presentation and more about having a real conversation? What if I told you that God has created you to bring glory to himself by sharing Jesus with others, and that you don’t need years of training to obey what he already made you to do? God created you for his glory to advance his gospel with the gifts, talents, and opportunities he gave you. You live at this time in history for a purpose bigger than yourself. In these pages you will read how to connect the gospel story with your story, and how to talk about that story in normal conversations with people you know. No gimmicks. Nothing clever. No need to freak out. Just you, Jesus, and others—in conversations that matter.” -Sharing Jesus Without Freaking Out. We can also begin with Creation to Christ. The point is, we can, we must, we should want to because it’s beautiful, the greatest thing in the world, and the only hope for the starving soul bound for an eternity without God.