This morning I want to share some thoughts with us about the resurrection of Jesus Christ and evangelism. In our culture, evangelism has become a troubling word for a variety of reasons. We live is a secular society that has faith in science, faith in New Age thinking, broad-mindedness towards other people’s beliefs but very little tolerance towards Christian faith. In the Gospel of John, Jesus is recorded saying “I AM” seven times:
· The Bread of life (6:35, 41, 48, 51);
· The Light of the world (8:12; 9:5);
· The Door (10:7-9);
· The Good Shepherd (10:11-14);
· The Resurrection and the Life (11:25);
· The Way, the Truth, and the Life (14:6);
· The Vine (15:1, 5).
The statement - “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me (John 14:6) challenges both believers and unbelievers to its basic message. Jesus alone is the Saviour and Messiah that brings redemption to mankind; no one comes to the Father except through Jesus.
In the days of the Roman Empire, “evangelists” were sent out on behalf of the Emperors to proclaim the good news and the victories of the Roman Legions. The authors of the New Testament borrow this common word and make it alive with new meaning. Evangelism in its simplest form is the preaching and proclaiming of the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Last week was Easter Sunday, therefore, it is important to consider how important the Resurrection of Jesus was in relation to the disciples. I mentioned that without the Resurrection of Jesus, there is no faith, no good news to share, sin and death still rule over us, and praise and worship are uninteresting and lifeless. In other words, evangelism rises or falls based upon the reality of the resurrection. He is Risen. He is Risen indeed.
A father took his five-year-old son to several baseball games where the American National Anthem was played, The Star-Spangled Banner, before the start of each game. Several months later, the father and son were attending church which happened to be on July 4th, American Independence Day. The congregation loudly sang the Star-Spangled Banner, after which everyone sat down. At this point the five-year-old boy jumped to his feet and yelled, “PLAY BALL”!!! I laughed when I read this little story the other day. I can just see it happening – “PLAY BALL” … As I laughed I felt the Lord speaking to me. The challenge the Lord was bringing to me related to the idea of the ‘playing ball’ but the context was wrong. Play Ball is good news in the context of a baseball game but doesn’t make much sense in church.
The message that we need to hear in church and proclaimed by the church is this – “Jesus is Alive.” This was the message of the early church in Acts. There are 15 recorded sermons in the Book of Acts and only four do not refer to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. In fact, both the Apostles, Peter and Paul, make the resurrection of Jesus paramount.
Jesus is Alive!!!
· But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him (Ac 2:24).
· You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this (Ac 3:15).
· They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. 3 They seized Peter and John, and because it was evening, they put them in jail until the next day. 4 But many who heard the message believed, and the number of men grew to about five thousand. 5 The next day the rulers, elders and teachers of the law met in Jerusalem. 6 Annas the high priest was there, and so were Caiaphas, John, Alexander and the other men of the high priest’s family. 7 They had Peter and John brought before them and began to question them: “By what power or what name did you do this?” 8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! 9 If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are asked how he was healed, 10 then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed (Ac 4:2–10).
· Then Paul, knowing that some of them were Sadducees and the others Pharisees, called out in the Sanhedrin, “My brothers, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee. I stand on trial because of my hope in the resurrection of the dead” (Ac 23:6).
Here is what that means specifically for your evangelism. The Love of God can be demonstrated but the Resurrection of Jesus must be proclaimed. In other words, love preached and not demonstrated is religious. In similar thought, the resurrection must be preached in order for faith to enter the heart of people. Paul highlights this in Romans 10:8-15 - The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: 9 That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. 11 As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” 12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15 And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
Here are five points to consider when sharing our faith:
1. Proclaiming the Gospel must include Jesus is Alive today.
People need to hear that God can change us.
People need to hear that miracles happen today.
People need to hear that new life is a genuine reality.
People need to hear that hope and a fruitful life is possible.
2. Proclaimers of the Kingdom of God.
We are not some salesman to the latest spiritual fad.
We are not some salesman thumping people with the Bible.
We are not some salesman to the latest get-rich-quick scheme.
We represent the King who is Alive with conviction and compassion.
3. Proclaimers of the forgiveness of sins.
We carry the message of freedom from sin
We carry the message of freedom from the effects of sin.
We carry the message of freedom from guilt, shame and blame.
4. Proclaimers of eternal life.
The resurrection means that we live forever.
The resurrection means that there is life after death.
The resurrection means that there is hope for the future.
5. Proclaimers of Kingdom living.
Holiness and righteousness are possible.
Momentary light afflictions are achieving for us eternal glory.
God can do immeasurably more than all we can ask or imagine.
The Good News is so wonderful when we considering Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. We have all the confidence in the world that the words we speak bring abundant and everlasting life. We have an answer that makes sense of all the questions about life.
The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is the “PLAY BALL” statement of the little five-year-old boy. Only the context is that of sharing the Good News with others.
We can rejoice in our eternal hope because of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. The sharing of the Good News is meant to be one of joy and fulfillment. If it is not a joyful experience, then we may have lost sight of the reality that Jesus is Alive today. It is important to consider the resurrection of Jesus and how that impacts our lives today.
Therefore, considering Paul’s discourse on the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, let’s consider 1 Corinthians 15:58— “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labour is not in vain.” In other words, as you share the Good News:
· Pray for the lost in faith (Eph 6:18-20)
· Be ready in season and out of season to preach God’s word (2 Tim 4:2)
· Build relationships of love with those who don’t know Jesus.
Therefore, abound in the work of evangelism. Let the reality of the resurrection renew our love for God and compassion for people and encourage our evangelistic zeal.
Let’s take some time to pray for those we know who don’t yet know Jesus.