Proclaiming the Gospel of Hope

Read : 1 Thessalonians 2:1-13

Text : 1 Th 2:4 (KJV) But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts.

Theme : Since God entrusts us with the gospel, and observes what we do with it, our goal should be to please Him by sharing it with others.


Introduction:

Can you make a difference in this world?
 
It's easy to be pessimistic as we read the news, which is increasingly depressing. However, for the believer, there is always hope, and always hope that can make a difference.
I can't physically do anything for the poor of our country or our world...

I can't help those who die around me of various illnesses...

I can't stop the violence and crime that saturates our cities...

I can't help the insanity that fills the minds of our leaders, and says it's O.K. to burn our flag, but not to display our Bible... it's O.K. to kill our babies, but not our wildlife...

... or can I?

God has given me the greatest news that has ever been proclaimed to mankind in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Rom 10:13 (KJV) For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

That includes the seemingly hopeless poor, the seemingly helpless sick, the seemingly unreachable criminal mind, and the seemingly insane philosophers of our day.

The hope of America is not her politicians or political parties, not the constitution, not the courts, not education (which is held up as a panacea for all of society's ills)...
The hope of America (and all the world) is the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Paul, in our scripture today, gives us an example of a life dedicated to proclaiming the gospel. The passage is arranged as a defense of Paul's ministry (for he was always under attack by those who would discredit him). In his defense, he spoke of his message, his motives, and his methods.
We will follow that line of thinking in our study.

I. Our Message

A. Definition.
QUESTION - What is our message?

ANSWER - The gospel of God. (vss. 2,4,8,9)

1 Cor 15:1-5 (KJV) Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you... By which also ye are saved... For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: And that he was seen....

QUOTE - "I brought you what I received - something very important - that Christ died for our sins as the Bible said He would. He was buried, and He rose on the third day, as the Bible said He would." (1 Cor. 15:3-4 - BECK)

B. Some things to remember about the message.
1. It takes courage to proclaim it. (vs. 2)

QUOTE - "Of the memorials in Westminster Abbey there is not one that gives a nobler thought that inscribed on the monument to Lord Lawrence - simply his name with the date of his death, and these words: 'He feared man so little because he feared God so much.'"

2. It is a stewardship. (vs. 4)

Col 1:25 (KJV) ...I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God;

QUESTION - Does viewing the gospel this way impact what we do with it? How?

3. It takes work. (vs. 9)

QUOTE Charles Whitfield, "Men, preaching is WORK!!!!!!"

4. It is the message of salvation. (vs. 12, "who hath called you.")

QUOTE "Man talks of the survival of the fittest, but the glory of the gospel is that it transforms the unfit."

5. It is the message of sanctification. (vs. 12 "that ye might walk worthy")

QUOTE George L. Smith, "When a Christian is winning souls, he isn't messing around with sin."

QUESTION - What do you think of this quote? What does it tell you about the need to proclaim the gospel?

II. Our Motives

ILLUS. "Bobby Dodd, Georgia Tech's athletic director, tells of the coach who, with his team leading 7 to 6 in the last minute of play, carefully instructed his quarterback not to pass under any condition. But when the ball was carried within the opponent's ten yard line, the quarterback was overcome by temptation. He passed, and the ball was intercepted by the rival's fleetest back, who broke into an open field and raced toward pay dirt. He was speeding past midfield when suddenly, out of nowhere, the quarterback who had passed overtook him and brought him down. After the game, the losing coach remarked to his barely victorious counterpart, 'I'll never understand how your boy overtook my fastest back.' 'Well, I'll tell you,' came the reply. 'Your back was running for touchdown - my boy was running for his life.'" (Wall Street Journal)
 
QUOTE Thomas A. Kempis, "Man sees your actions, but God sees your motives."
 
QUOTE Dr. Paul Vanaman, "Men, examine your motives."
 
QUESTION - What are some motivations that you observe in Christianity today? (LIST ON WHITE BOARD)
 
QUESTION - Which do you think are right and which do you think are wrong? Why?
 
QUESTION - Is there a single thought in our passage today that sums up what our motivation should be in proclaiming the gospel?
 
A. Our motive should not be pleasing men (vs. 4)
 
B. Our motive should not be pleasing self (vss. 5-6)
 
C. Our motive should always and only be pleasing God! (vs. 4)
QUESTION - How can we ensure that this is our only motivation?

III. Our Methods

QUESTION - What are some of the methods mentioned by Paul in our scripture?
 
A. Accuracy (vs. 3)
 
B. Honesty (transparency) (vs. 5)
 
C. Simplicity (vs. 6)
 
D. Compassion (vss. 7-8)
QUOTE - "Compassion is your pain in my heart."

QUESTION - How does this apply to proclaiming the gospel?

So often our position is right, but our disposition is wrong.

E. Discipleship (vs. 8)
 
F. Preaching (vs. 9)
QUOTE George W. Peters, "The world is far more ready to receive the gospel than Christians are to hand it out."

QUOTE "The best tact in soul-winning is contact."

G. Holy example (vs. 10)
 
H. Encouragement (vs. 11)
 

IV. Our Purpose (vss. 12-13)

It works!
 
It is the only hope!
 

Conclusion:

We asked the question in the introduction, "Can I make a difference in the world today?"

The answer is NO, if I try the worlds methods.

But the answer is YES, if I faithfully do that which God wants me to do: proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ.

May God help us to integrate the sharing of our faith, and the winning of souls, into our daily lives, so that we, like Paul, can make a difference to our world.


Please direct questions, comments, and submissions to William E. Johnson
Copyright 1997 William E. Johnson.