Summary: Four steps to effectively sharing our confidence in Christ with other people.
Note: This sermon was introduced with a video clip from the video "Living Proof"
Why is it so hard for us to share our confidence in Christ with other people? It’s relatively easy for us to talk about Jesus here at church, where it’s safe. But when we’re working out at the gym or getting a cup of coffee at Starbucks, or when we’re carpooling or attending PTA meeting we suddenly find ourselves tongue-tied.
Yet sharing our confidence in Christ with other people, the fact remains that sharing Christ is one of the fundamental tasks God has called his church. Jesus’ final marching orders to his church was to share the message of Christ with all people everywhere. Our purpose statement as a church is to reach unchurched people of the Inland valley and beyond with Christ’s love and to help them grow into fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ who wholeheartedly love God and others.
So the real question is HOW can we effectively share our confidence in Christ with other people? For the follower of Jesus Christ who takes the teachings of Jesus seriously, we know God wants us to share our confidence in Christ, but how can we do it effectively.
Last Sunday we started a new series called LIVING CONFIDENTLY IN UNCERTAIN TIMES through the New Testament books of 1 and 2 Thessalonians. As we have less than 100 days left before the year 2000, we’re looking to these two New Testament letters from the apostle Paul for guidance as we walk into a future with lots of unknowns. God’s truth about confident living will bolster our ability to live lives pleasing to God as we approach this major milestone in our lives. And part of living confidently is sharing our confidence with others. Today we’re going to learn four steps we can take to effectively share our confidence in Christ with others.
I. Knowing Our Message (2:1-2).
Paul starts chapter 2 by looking back on his visit with the Thessalonian Christians. Just by way of review, just prior to arriving in the city of Thessalonica, Paul and his ministry team had been in the city of Philippi. Both of these cities are in Greece, and both were along the Roman road the via Egnatia. While in the city of Philippi Paul and Silas led a young slave woman to faith in Christ, and in the process she was delivered from demonic possession. The owners of this slave girl were upset, so they reported Paul and Silas to the Philippian police. The Roman authorities in Philippi ended up having Paul and Silas flogged, and then locked them up in a prison overnight. Eventually Paul and Silas were released, asked to leave town, and then they traveled along the via Egnatia until they got to the city of Thessalonica.
Their backs were probably still bleeding from the flogging when they arrived in the city of Thessalonica. During their time in Thessalonica another riot broke out, this time instigated by some of the religious leaders in the city. Since the mob couldn’t find Paul and Silas, they seized one of the Thessalonian Christians named Jason, and brought him before the civil authorities. Jason was forced to pay a sum of money to the authorities, guaranteeing that Paul and Silas would leave the town and stay away.1 So Paul and Silas had to slip out of town under the cloak of darkness and continue their journey along the via Egnatia, which led them to Athens and ultimately to Corinth.
Because of this humiliating entrance and shameful departure, some might think that their time in Thessalonica was a failure. The word failure here means "empty of results."2 So Paul wants to remind them that there were results, that even though there backs were still sore from the lashes they’d received in Philippi, that God gave them boldness to share Christ in Thessalonica. God gave them boldness despite their anxiety, despite the opposition they received in Thessalonica.
Paul describes his message here as God’s "gospel." The word "gospel" means "good news," and in the Bible the word gospel always refers to the message of God’s love and salvation as it’s revealed in God’s son Jesus Christ. This is God’s announcement to humanity, his love letter to every man, woman and child. Despite their anxiety, despite opposition from the religious leaders and the civil authorities, Paul and Silas had the confidence to declare God’s good news.
Here we find our first action. WE CAN EFFECTIVELY SHARE OUR CONFIDENCE IN CHRIST WITH OTHERS BY MAKING SURE WE KNOW OUR MESSAGE.
For Christians there’s no firmer basis of confidence than the message of Jesus Christ. Romans 1:16 says, "I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes." The message itself is God’s power in action, having the capability of transforming people’s lives.