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Sign up at harvest.org. Today, Pastor Greg Laurie points out sometimes believers try to share the gospel with language the other person doesn't speak. Well, say, Hey, you, he, then let me say something to you. You're a sinner going to hell. You need to repent. You need to be washed in the blood. Then you need to become a part of the body and be justified and sanctified.
Am I making myself clear? They don't know what you're saying. You're speaking a different language. We need to reach the culture that we're in.
As believers, sometimes it seems we're living in some kind of weird upside down culture where right is wrong, up is down, and sin is to be celebrated. We feel disoriented like aliens on a strange planet. Well, today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie points out sometimes people may feel a bit disoriented when they talk to us.
He'll show us ways to find common ground, use common language, and capture their interests with our message of hope. Years ago, we would go to a little restaurant for breakfast. My wife, Kathy, myself, and Jonathan, he was a very small little toddler, probably around two years old, still in a high chair. We'd order our breakfast. There was this one waitress that really thought Jonathan was just adorable. She would come over, Jonathan, how are you today?
Hello, Jonathan. She'd pat him on the head and hug him. He looked slightly irritated, but he didn't say anything. He just had this look. He was muttering something under his breath. What is he saying?
Finally, she left. I said, Jonathan, what are you saying when that waitress is hugging you and telling you how wonderful she thinks you are? He says, I'm saying, go bye-bye. Go bye-bye. I think sometimes when we start talking, people are thinking go bye-bye.
We don't want to be that person. Let's take a master class from a master communicator, the apostle Paul. Let's take a page out of his playbook on how to reach our culture with the gospel. By the way, these are principles that I've been personally using for 50 years plus of preaching, though given in the first century.
They're completely relevant to us today in the 21st century because the answers to the problems of humanity are still the same. Acts 17, starting in verse 16, we read, and I'm reading from the New Living Translation. When Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was deeply troubled by all the idols he saw everywhere in the city. He went to the synagogue to debate with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles and spoke daily in the public square to all who happened to be there. He had a debate with some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers. Then he told them about Jesus and his resurrection, and they said, this babbler has picked up some strange ideas. Others said, he's pushing some foreign religion. Then they took him to the Council of Philosophers, also known as the Areopagus, and said, come and tell us more about this new religion. You're seeing some rather startling things, and we want to know what it's all about.
It should be explained that the Athenian as well as the foreigners in Athens seem to spend all of their time discussing the latest ideas. I'd underline that. It's interesting.
Underline that. So Paul, standing before the council, addressed them as follows. Men of Athens, I notice you're very religious. If you were to give this statement today, you would say, people of America, I see that you're into spirituality.
That's effectively what he was saying. And I was walking among your many altars, and one of them had this inscription on it to an unknown God. You've been worshiping him without knowing who he is, and now I wish to tell you about him. So how can we be better communicators in the time in which we live? How can we not be the person that comes down the street and have people say, go bye-bye? So if you're taking notes here, six principles on how to bring the gospel to our culture. Point number one, effective communication begins with a burden.
Effective communication begins with a burden. Look at verse 16. While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed that the city was full of idols. He was just grieved to see the absence of the living God, and in his place, every conceivable substitute. And I wonder if you ever feel that way.
I know I do. When I look at a news site, it's so frustrating to me to see the evil in the world. But we need to reach the culture that we're in. Paul went into their world. The Areopagus, Mars Hill, was sort of the town square. He just went right there in the epicenter of everything.
He said, hey, I was walking around your city. I was checking things out, and I saw that you have all these gods you worship, but there was one altar erected to the unknown God. I think the idea was, hey, in case we miss one God, let's just erect this to the God we missed, right?
I want to talk to you about the God you don't know about, bringing me to my second point. Paul was culturally relevant. He was culturally relevant. It's called reading the room. Paul quotes one of their secular philosophers to build a bridge to his audience.
And that's so important so people know we live in the same world they live in. This is a powerful way to start. Jesus himself did this. Remember the woman at the well? She was ostracized from her community, had no friends to speak of. She'd been married and divorced, five times, and was living with some guy. And she comes to the well to draw water in the heat of the day, and there sits Jesus, a Jew, in Samaria.
That was pretty unusual. And then he asked her a question. Hey, could you get me a drink of water? She says, why would you, a Jew, ask for a drink of water from me, a Samaritan woman?
Don't you know Jews have no dealings with Samaritans? He said, if you knew who you were talking to, you would ask him, and he would give you living water. And the conversation began. What was Jesus doing?
He was building a bridge. He could have started by saying, hey you, a moral woman, Harlot, come here. Was she an immoral woman?
Yes. But what did Jesus do? He appealed to her inner thirst. Lady, I know why you're married and divorced five times and living with some guy. I know that you're trying to fill a void in your life with men when really what you need is a relationship with God. He says to her, if you drink of this water, you'll thirst again.
Great way to start. So Paul does the same thing. Look at verse 28. He quotes one of their, we'll put it in quotes, secular poets. Hey, you have a poet that says, in him we live and move and have our being. And as one of your own poets says, we are his offspring. See, here's our problem. As we try to talk to a non-believer in a cryptic, Christianese language that only we understand.
Well say, hey you, he, then let me say something to you. Uncircumcised Philistine, let me tell you something. You're a sinner going to hell. You need to repent. You need to be washed in the blood. Then you need to become a part of the body and be justified and sanctified.
Am I making myself clear? They don't know what you're saying. You're speaking a different language. You just told them to be washed in blood and be a part of a body. They don't know what that means.
That sounded kind of creepy. Oh Greg, are you suggesting we don't use biblical terminology? No, I'm suggesting that you not assume that your listener understands the language you're speaking in. So break it down.
Speak in a way they'll understand. That's what Paul is doing. Paul is a brilliant intellect, the greatest of theologians. He knew Roman philosophy, Greek philosophy.
He knew it all. But he breaks it down in such a simple way. He says I want to talk to you about the unknown God. So Paul now continues on with this message to these people. Telling them how to come into this relationship with God.
Bringing me to point number four. We must preach a biblical message. Okay yeah build a bridge to your audience.
Connect to them. But ultimately the power is not in a quote from a secular philosopher. The power is in the word of God. That's where the power is. So we got to get to this.
If we don't get to this we've missed the point. God himself says of scripture Isaiah 55 11 so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth. It will not return unto me void. It will accomplish what I please and prosper in the thing for which I send it. This book that is given to us from God is sufficient to meet our spiritual needs.
2 Timothy 3 15 says all scripture is inspired by God and it's profitable to teach us what is true. Make us realize what's wrong in our lives. It straightens us out. It teaches us to do what's right.
It's God's way of preparing us in every way equipped for every good thing that God wants us to do. And guess what people want to hear biblical preaching today. They actually want to hear it. Christianity Today ran an article with the headline the hottest thing at church is not your pastor or worship leader. The article goes on to say what people are looking for when they come to church is preaching centered on the bible. The conclusion was sermons that teach about scripture are the number one reason Americans go to church.
The bible we want to hear it don't we. People were pulled recently in another article and they were asked if they wanted longer or shorter sermons. Their answer longer sermons okay. Not boring sermons but they want to hear more of the word of God. Listen my job is not to make the bible relevant. The bible is relevant. I just need to let the lion out of the cage and let the word of God do what it does best change lives.
So Paul's message was biblical. Pastor Greg Laurie will have the second half of his message in just a moment. Hey everybody what are you doing this weekend? I'd like to hang out with you at Harvest at Home. What is Harvest at Home? It is a time of worship and bible study exclusively designed for people that are viewing in from all over the place so you can be a part of our extended congregation at Harvest at Home.
Join us this weekend Saturday and Sunday for Harvest at Home at Harvest.org. Well today Pastor Greg is offering some important guidelines on sharing the message of the gospel effectively. He continues now. When you're talking to someone one-on-one and understand the word preach I know we're going to all the world and preach the gospel doesn't mean you have to yell. I've seen people yelling when they're talking to someone and Jesus said stop that just calm down lower your volume and say it conversationally the word of God is still powerful even without an elevated volume just because there's power in this word and you you build a bridge you connect to the person listen if you want to win some be winsome you know be a nice person be a friendly person be a loving person and then tell them what the word of God says and that's what Paul did.
Point number five. Our message must focus on Christ crucified and risen. Look at how Paul closes the deal. Verse 31. He's appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness by the man he has ordained. He's given assurance of this to all of us by raising him from the dead. That's the message.
Okay guys I built the bridge. I'm giving you the word of God. Here's the bottom line. Jesus is the answer. That was true in the first century.
That's true in the 21st century. That's my message. It's Jesus. It's Jesus. Jesus Christ crucified. Jesus Christ risen from the dead. Jesus Christ ascended and coming back again. You need Jesus. That's what we're telling people and that's what Paul did so powerfully.
One last point. After preaching Paul trusted God for the results. After preaching he trusted God for the results. Look at verse 32 of chapter 17. When they heard of the resurrection of the dead some mocked while others said we'll hear you again on this matter.
So Paul departed from them. However some men joined him and believed among him Dionysius the Areopagite, a woman named Damaris, and others with him. Now this is really interesting to me. This is the apostle Paul.
And what happens? He preaches to these people and a handful respond. Wait you're Paul. I mean don't you always have a lot of people believing? No.
Peter had three thousand on the day of Pentecost. But look the response of people is up to God. It's not up to me. I don't believe in trying to manipulate people into believing or arguing them into believing because if they can be argued in they can be argued out.
If they can be manipulated in they can be manipulated out. Jesus says no one comes to me unless the father draws him. So what I do is I share the gospel. I'll ask a person perhaps if I'm feeling prompted by the Lord would you like to accept Jesus Christ into your life right now? And if they say no I don't grab them by the throat.
I don't pressure them. You got to just do pray this prayer with me. I leave it in the hands of God. And sometimes people believe and sometimes they don't. Sometimes God wants me to sow a seed and that's it. Sometimes God wants me to water a seed that someone else sowed. And other times God gives me the privilege of reaping where others have watered and sown. As Paul said one sows another waters.
God gives the increase. It's up to God. Not up to me.
Not up to you. But look at how they reacted. Some mocked. It was a joke to them. The word used here for mocked means they sneered and burst out laughing.
Wow. That was an indication they were perishing. The Bible says the preaching of the gospel is to them who are perishing fully foolishness. Some will mock. I used to mock Christians. I laughed at them.
I thought they were stupid and foolish. I was in the south years ago and I drove by a little town. I saw the sign. The town was called Mocksville.
I thought I should have been born there. Because I've always been a mocker. I make fun of things. And so I made fun of the Christians. But then I sat down and listened and I stopped mocking and started believing. So some mocked.
Some delayed. They said we'll talk to you about this another time. You don't meet people like this. Well I'm interested but not now. I don't want to do it now. I don't want to go to church with you now. I don't want to pray with you now. Okay. They can have that response.
But sometimes you need to kind of press on a little bit more. And you need the Lord to lead you. This was basically my mother's response. Every time I brought the gospel up to her she would say I don't want to talk about it. I don't want to talk about it.
I don't want to talk about it. One day I woke up. I felt so led of the Lord to go talk to my mother about her soul.
And so I got in my car and drove over. She was kind of surprised. Well what are you doing here? Mom I want to talk to you about your soul.
Your relationship with God. She said I don't want to talk about it. I said today we're going to talk about it. And I'm glad I was persistent. Because that was the day she recommitted her life to the Lord.
And a month later she was in heaven. So sometimes people say I don't want to talk about it. But they do want to talk about it. So you need to be sensitive to the leading of the Lord. And sometimes they say I don't want to talk about it. And they don't want to talk about it.
And by continuing to push it you can actually hurt what you're trying to do. Okay so some delayed. Some mocked. And finally some believed. One of them was named Dionysius the Areopagite. He was one of the judges of Athens. An intellectual. A ruler of his day. He became a believer. Another woman named Damaris. She was disillusioned with the emptiness of the worship of false gods. And she too believed. So it wasn't what we would call a great response.
But hey it's what it was. And we read of the words of Jesus when he says pray that the Lord would send out laborers into his harvest. It's not Greg's harvest. It's not your harvest. It's his harvest. So we say Lord you just reach those people.
The Bible says as many as were ordained to eternal life believed. So we just say Lord it's in your hands. I'm going to proclaim your gospel. I'm going to do it lovingly. I'm going to do it carefully. I'm going to do it in a way that's understood by the person I'm speaking to. And I'll leave the results in your hands. Let me close with this acronym.
SHARE. S-H-A-R-E. Every one of those letters stands for something and it sort of sums up what we've just read. S stands for sensitive. Be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit.
Paul's message began with the burden that God gave him to reach the people of Athens. So be sensitive. H. Honor and respect others. Don't come off as holier than thou. As I said earlier the objective is to build a bridge not burn the bridge.
So honor and respect others. A. Arouse the interest of your listener. Say something that they might have an interest in.
Talk to them. R. Reveal sin. You know you come to a point where you've said all these things.
You've built all your bridges. You've told them God loves them. But you've got to tell them they're a sinner. And you have to define what a sinner is.
And I always include myself when I call someone a sinner. I'll say you're a sinner. I'm a sinner. We're all sinners. Because sin means to miss the mark. You've got to be a sinner. You've got to be a sinner. Because sin means to miss the mark.
You fall short of God's standards. So you have to tell them that as well. Reveal sin.
And E. Explain the way of salvation. Tell them how to do it. Tell them how to believe in Jesus.
Tell them how to come into a relationship with him. Share. S. Be sensitive. H. Honor and respect others.
A. Arouse the interest of your listener. R. Reveal explain the way of salvation. Oh listen. God can use you. Oh God will use you. But will you say Lord here I am use me.
Let me come back to a point I raised earlier. How do you become a Christian? You admit to God you're a sinner. And you ask Jesus Christ to come and live in your heart and life as your Savior and Lord. And he can do that right now because he stands at the door of your life and he knocks.
And he says if you hear his voice and open the door he will come in. If you've never asked Jesus to come into your life you can do it right here right now. Let's pray. Father speak to every heart. And if there's anyone here if they don't know Jesus yet let this be the moment they believe. If you want Jesus Christ to come into your life and forgive you of your sin I want you to just pray this simple prayer after me.
Just pray these words. Lord Jesus I know that I'm a sinner but I know that you're the Savior who died on the cross for my sin and rose again from the dead. I turn from my sin now and I choose to follow you from this moment forward as my Savior and Lord, as my God and my friend. In Jesus' name I pray.
Amen. Today we'll mark the moment when many first became believers in Jesus Christ. Pastor Greg Laurie praying a prayer with those who are asking Jesus to be their Savior today. And if you've just prayed that prayer and you've meant those words sincerely we want to help you begin to live this new life of faith. Pastor Greg wants to send you his new believers growth packet. It's free of charge and it'll help answer some questions you might have and get you started off right as you walk with the Lord.
So ask for it when you call 1-800-821-3300. We can take your call anytime that's 1-800-821-3300 or go online to harvest.org and click on Know God. Well Pastor Greg we're making available your book called Revelation a Book of Promises.
What are a couple of things that would surprise people in a study of Revelation? One thing that occurred to me is you know we think of eternity as being timeless but part of God's plan is a timed event. The millennium is a thousand years so I guess we'll track time in some form.
Am I wrong? No I think that's accurate because the word millennium actually means a thousand. It's the one thousand year reign of Christ but we are aware of the passing of time when we enter into eternity. In the book of Revelation we read about those who were put to death for their faith and they know that was an unjust thing and they say to God how long oh Lord holy and true until you judge and avenge our blood and those that dwell on the earth. So they're aware of the passing of time, they're aware of the injustice of what happened to them on planet earth and they're praying and asking God to intervene. They're aware of what has happened and will happen on planet earth as well. Yeah there's a lot of surprises in the book of Revelation that shatter stereotypical ideas that have been passed on from generation to generation that quite honestly are simply not biblical. But I think the more we learn about heaven the better we will be enabled to live here on earth.
You know with C.S. Lewis who said, loose paraphrase, those who think the most of the next world do the most in this one. And so Revelation is where the apostle John is found banished on the island of Patmos. He had faithfully preached the gospel. He was the last of the apostles and people probably never thought they would hear from John again. But as he's sitting on this island Jesus Christ comes to him and takes him into what we might describe as a spiritual time machine if you will.
I don't think it was a DeLorean. But John is suddenly hurtled into the future and he's seen what is going to come. He's given an overview of the history of the church. He's taken into the presence of God in heaven. He's taken over to the great white throne judgment.
He's taken back to earth during the millennial reign of Christ. He gives us a front row seat at the battle of Armageddon the second coming of Christ and much much more. The word revelation means unveiling and so this is an unveiling a revealing of things that are to come.
God wants us to understand these things because it will affect you and the way that you live. So we have a beautiful hardcover book commentary on the book of Revelation and it's simply called Revelation a Book of Promises. This will be a resource that you will use in the years to come that you can go to again and again as you study this great book and let it have its impact on your life. By the way there's a special promise in Revelation for the person who reads and hears and keeps the words found in this book. So get a copy of this book Revelation a Book of Promises that will help you understand this very important book of the Bible the book of Revelation and we will send this book to you for your gift of any size. Now some can only give a little we'll send you a copy some can give a little bit more of course we'll send you a copy whatever you can do don't hesitate. I really want you to have this book because I think it's going to be a blessing to you the book of Revelation a Book of Promises available from Harvest Ministries right now.
Yeah that's right and we should point out we're including a custom bookmark that shows the timeline of last day's events so you can see what comes first what comes next and so on it's laid out very clearly the bookmark is included when we send you this significant book a hardcover of more than 400 pages called Revelation a Book of Promises. You can call us at 1-800-821-3300. We can take your call anytime at 1-800-821-3300 or go online to harvest.org. Well next time we'll see how important it is to run this race of life with our eye on the prize. Join us next time here on The New Beginning with pastor and Bible teacher Greg Laurie. Hey everybody thanks for listening to A New Beginning. This is a podcast made possible by Harvest Partners. So for more content that can help you know God and equip you to make Him known to others or to learn more about how you can become a Harvest Partner just go to harvest.org.
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