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.