Saturday, January 10, 2009

Christ-centered Evangelism. . . What?!

Acts chapter two is a partial record of Peter's brilliant sermon to the devout Jews that were in Jerusalem at the time when the disciples received the gift of the Holy Spirit (2:5). There's a lot that can and has been said about this sermon, and many lessons in evangelism that can be taken from it, but one that has continued to stand out to me is the Christ-centeredness of what Peter says. Peter's sermon is all about Christ. He shows his audience how the prophescies about the coming Messiah (2:16-21, 25-30) were fulfilled in the man of Jesus Christ (2:22-24, 31-33). He paints a picture of Jesus of Nazareth that is big, that is compelling, that is God-sized, namely because Jesus of Nazareth was in fact, God.

Now, here's the thing that I find so interesting as I've thought about the differences between Peter's sermon and how evangelism tends to be done in today's context. See, we tend to focus most of our time on convincing the person we're talking to that they are a sinner who needs saving. We tend to try and paint a picture of God who is perfect and man who is sinful and show them that this is a bad problem that must be resolved. And, while I don't think that this is at all a bad way to do evangelism, it does seem to me to be pretty man-centered. It's all about showing the person's problem, the person's need, and sometimes I wonder if this leaves much room to do what Peter did, paint a really big picture of who Christ is and what he did on earth.

At the end of his sermon, Luke writes that "when they heard this they were cut to the heart" (2:37). It's as if you can almost hear what they were thinking, "What have we done?! We have rejected the Messiah!" The truth about Christ, seeing who he really was, cut them to the heart as they realized their own fault, and it led them to repentance. Could it be that if we spent our time showing and talking about Christ in these kinds of ways to the lost around us, they too might realize that they have rejected the Messiah and ask, "What do we need to do?"


David Rudel said...

That is a good observation, but it goes beyond Acts 2!

Check out this discussion of the teachings in Acts.

Acts is the most under-valued book of the New Testament because it is our chief repository of what apostles thought made a Christian a is where we find actual evangelism [preaching to non-believers].

JNoah said...

David: Can't wait to check out the link. This is the second time I've gone through the book of Acts, and I'm blown away more than ever by how different it is than I thought it was.

By the way, it's always nice when folks you don't know read and comment on the blog. Thanks!

David Rudel said...

In that case, you might want to check out the articles I've posted on my tracts page.