Summary: Open Doors The Gospel Message and Motivation
The Gospel Message and Motivation
November 10, 2013
We started this series in Colossians, where Paul tells us to walk in wisdom toward those who do not know Christ by making the best use of our time. So Paul asked the Colossian church to pray that God would open a door to declare the gospel. We have seen that an open door is a New Testament metaphor describing how God opens an opportunity for the gospel to be shared. The goal of this series is that we ask God to open doors, we look for open doors, and we walk through open doors by sharing the gospel. Then we looked at Luke 13 and saw that the gospel is narrow, that Jesus is the only way to God. Last week we looked at an open door in John 4, what I called a divine appointment, God weaving two lives together for a divine purpose, in this case the gospel.
Adapt the Gospel Message
The technical term I avoided here is contextualization, which is the process of adapting our communication of the gospel to the culture or the individual without changing it's essential nature. The gospel is always contextualized, intentionally or unintentionally. The question is, are we doing it well? For instance, many of us who have been Christians for a while are familiar with the four spiritual laws which tells us that 'God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.' But in middle class America a wonderful life is being happy, healthy, and wealthy. The first clear gospel message to me was that God wanted me to be successful in business and if I believed, God would become my business partner and make me successful; the issue of sin was secondary. But those are not accurate representations of the gospel! Think about this in your own mind, is the gospel primarily about God or me? In this passage, Paul is communicating to devout Jews, who accepted the bible so he communicated the gospel in terms of the fulfillment of Israel's hope, 'Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah.' As you read the book of Acts, you see Paul addressing different crowds according to the demographic make up of the crowd. Paul looked for common ground with his hearers from which to establish rapport then move to the gospel.
Not everyone will embrace the gospel so we need to ask whether God is closing the door or not. He may be or it may mean that we need to keep sowing and watering. Paul here moved on only after the Jews became hostile toward him. Shaking out his garments meant, 'I am done with you! You are accountable to God.' Remember, it is God who saves people, not us. The Spirit draws people to God but that can take minutes, days, weeks, and even years. It was when the Jews became belligerent and hostile to the message that he considered the door closed and moved on. So Paul concluded the door was closed and he looked for an another open door, a receptivity to the gospel. He found a Gentile convert to Judaism, Titius Justus, next door to the synagogue. The result of this move and Paul sharing is that the synagogue ruler and his family as well as many Corinthians come to faith.
Motivation for the Gospel Message
The Lord comes to Paul in a vision and tells him not to be afraid. Paul had been in the city sharing and leading people to Christ but for some reason he was afraid. So the Lord encourages him with this vision, telling him not to fear and builds this command on three promises – God's presence, God's protection, and God's power. The first promise is 'I am with you.' This is the great promise to God's people in both the Old Covenant and New Covenant that God's presence will be with his people. God's presence is always with us objectively but sometimes God manifests his presence in demonstrative ways, subjectively. I think he is talking about the former, I am always with you, even when you don't feel it. The second promise is that no one will harm you. Paul's life was frequently threatened but God wanted to ensure him that here in Corinth, no further harm would come to him. The third promise is that 'I have many in this city who are my people.' The phrase, my people, is the Greek phrase used of God's people. The Lord of the harvest promises to exert his influence to draw his people, those who are his, to himself. We see this same idea in John 10, “I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice.
Take aways . . .
• Pray for open doors
• Look for open doors
• Walk through open doors