In this sermon Tim continues our Ephesians series by encouraging us to have some good news to share, be ready to tell the world about the Gospel!
Sermon preached by Tim Giovanelli on Sunday July 25, 2021.
Change to plans – Today we were meant to be having Uncle Nath come and do his clean Christian comedy.
- No doubt it would have been a packed church with lots of guests here…
- Leading to an amazing Alpha Course launch this Wednesday night…
- Well instead here we are watching online and continuing our series in Ephesians. And it is our second last week!
- So today, on being a people with good news to share
- And next week on encouragement as Paul signs off his letter to the Ephesians!
So, let’s have a look at Ephesians 6:19-20
19 Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel,20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.
When I became a Christian towards the end of High School, I became quite the fervent little evangelist.
- I am not sure if I personally explained the Good News about Jesus to people very well, but I certainly invited a lot of people to church and camps and bible studies.
- Maybe I was a bit more like Andrew in John 1 who finds his brother and brings him to Jesus.
- I even spoke at my school chapel service in year 12
- Again I am not sure if my message won the school year to Jesus.
- But the thing that drove me, was the desire to share the good news about Jesus, as I felt I should! And it really is good news.
That is what Ephesians has been all about. Paul reminding them of the story of Jesus that is good news, that then reshapes every part of our story.
- Which is why as Paul comes into land in his letter, he ask them to pray for him, that he may fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel
- He asks them to pray that he would declare it fearlessly, as I should.
What is he making known? What is he declaring?
- Well remember Paul’s story?
- The great persecutor of the church, encounters the risen Jesus, begins sharing the faith, becomes an Apostle to the Gentiles…
- The fruit of that was a church established over two years of ministry in Ephesus
- And a letter to the church, written from jail, that reminds them of the good news and how to live as a result.
So from Ephesians alone, you can understand the gospel he proclaimed.
- Ephesians 1:2 “Grace and peace to you, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (good news)
- 1:7 “In Jesus we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins.” (good news)
- 2:4 “Because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy made us alive with Christ.” (good news)
- 2:8 “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and this is not from yourself, it is the gift of God.” (great news)
- 2:17 “He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near.”
- So what a message… grace and peace, forgiveness, coming alive in Christ!
And of course we know from all of this that the good news is Jesus!
- And in times like these there are lots of things that can help a person…
- Community is amazing, we need friends.
- Having a job or getting support from the government is such a blessing.
- Indeed living in a place like this during lockdown helps…
- But there is nothing like Jesus, the one who came to seek and save the lost, he is the one who reconciles us to God and folds us into the Kingdom of light.
I was reminded at Calum’s baptism 3 weeks ago that at the heart of the Gospel is Jesus telling the story of the prodigal son.
- Jesus says, do you want to know what God is like, do you want to know why I have come and what I reveal about God… let me tell you a story.
- A son…
And Paul makes it clear to the Ephesians that this was his task! Proclaiming again and again, this good news!
- Ephesians 3:8-9 “Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ.”
- There is another great place in Romans where Paul talks about his task again. This time he says…
- Romans 15:18-19 “I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done— 19 by the power of signs and wonders, through the power of the Spirit of God. So from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum, I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ. 20 It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known.”
So with Jesus command to go and make disciples of all nations to his followers…
- And Paul as inspiration as one who took this commission seriously…
- How do we in a culture that’s increasingly cynical, lost and post Christian… one in which the institution of the church has got so much wrong!
- How in a place like Australia where the church is entering it’s seventh decade of decline…
- How do we bring the good news of Jesus afresh to the people in our lives?
I remember reading an interesting bit of research on Christianity a few years ago.
- The gist was that ordinary Australian were asked about their feelings towards the church and then their feelings towards any Christians they know.
- And basically the research showed that ordinary Aussies have a pretty bad perceptiom of the church.
- But then asked “do you know any Christians” they would consistently say, oh yeah, I know a bunch of Christians and I really like them.
- You know “they are great parents” or “they are really friendly.’
- And to me that speaks to the need for all of us to be fearless in sharing the Gospel.
So 3 Tips.
- Find people of peace
Sometimes we find the hardest heart towards the gospel… and maybe because they post anti-religious sentiment…
- We think, ok, I’ll start with them. Haha!
- And then lo and behold we get discouraged, or we end up in endless debates that go nowhere.
- Or we feel attacked.
- Instead, can I encourage you to find people of peace.
- And I would define people of peace, as those you know who you are friendly with, who are open to spiritual conversations and invitations, and who you sense are searching.
Charlie Mackasey tells a story of an Alpha Group…
- Going round in circles… debating theology and getting a bit heated.
- Woman was asked what do you think about Jesus?
- She said “I’ve heard this Jesus hung around people like me, and if it helps, then that will be enough for me.”
- You see the harvest of those ready for the good news of a God who loves them, is plentiful
- But it’s ok to be discerning and shared the good news with those ready to hear!
And we see this with Paul in the Book of Acts.
- When he goes to Ephesus he starts at the Synagogue… but it says they became obstinate (Acts 19:9), they refused to believe and publicly maligned the Way!
- So what does Paul do? Does he give up, does he keep arguing with them, does he leave town?
- Well, we read that he then moves to the lecture hall of Tyrannus and ends up having the fruitful ministry there that leads to the church growing in Ephesus.
- So he finds the people of peace.
- Have some good news to share
You know I think sometimes we think we need to have done a 4 year degree in theology, in order to be qualified to share the good news.
- But you know we all have a story to share.
- Even Paul when he is writing to the churches he established or in his sermons in the Book of Acts tells of how he became a Christian.
- And we have our story of how we came to faith and what a difference it has made. And my experience is people love hearing these.
- And you cant argue against your own experience of finding hope in Jesus.
And then we all have little stories of life in the faith that we can share
- You can talk about going to church, or your friends from church… and sometimes people will pick up on this and start asking questions.
- And we all need to know something of the good news that we can share with someone
- Maybe it is the story of the prodigal son. Maybe it is a story from the gospel of Jesus meeting someone. Maybe it is just a clear way to share about the cross and the forgiveness of sins.
- Uncle Nath (say something, something will happen, say nothing, nothing will happen)
Someone I Iove in this church is Joey because he always has a story about what God is doing
- He always has a neighbour he has been chatting to
- Or he always has a testimony of what God is doing in his life. So be like Joey!
- No great surprise that when he had his kids dedicated, there were a bunch of Bec and his neighbours who came along.
- Always have a good news story to share…
- Be fearless
Just like Paul asks the Ephesians to pray for him, that he may be fearless
- We need to have the same courage and attitude towards sharing the good news of the gospel.
- That was Paul says in Romans 1:16 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes.”
- He says, I am not ashamed because the gospel is powerful. The gospel saves!
- And it really is good news.
You know there have been heaps of opportunities where I could have shared the Gospel or something of my faith and I haven’t
- And I always regret it.
- But I’ll tell you this, when I do take the opportunity, I never regret it.
- Because there is nothing more important and there is nothing more exciting than sharing the good news of Jesus.
- I was talking on the phone just 2 days ago with a new Christian here at Manly Life. He was just saying what an incredible difference it has made!
- Go for it Manly Life, lets be part of many more stories like that!