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Good News for Everyone

by Tim Isbell (posted 4/2011, revised 1/2014)

This original 3 message series is based on 3 of the Apostle Paul's sermons which are recorded in the book of Acts. This series is part of my collection of Ordinary Practice Evangelism sermons.

The sermons develop the context for each of Paul's sermons in Pisidia, Lystra, and Athens as well as unpacking the biblical texts of the sermons themselves. Paul's first sermon was given to religious people who were deeply involved in the folk religions of their context. The second sermon was delivered to rural, simple pagans.  And the third is to the intellectual pagans of Athens.  

There is also a single version of the basic content of this series.  

Good News for Everyone can fit anywhere in the calendar, but if you're looking for a lectionary fit I suggest Year A, 4-6Easter.

Here's are the key points that flow through this sermon series:

  1. We must realize that the Christian god is the only god, 
  2. Who reveals himself to everybody, at least so some extent.
  3. God looks for Christians willing to inconvenience themselves and go where non-Christians are,
  4. And learn to start spiritual conversations from what people already believe.
  5. For a person to follow Christ they must see the new life lived out in someone AND hear a clear explanation of salvation through Jesus Christ.

The Good News of salvation through Jesus only travels from the mouth of an apprentice of Jesus to another person. The Good News of the fellowship of the Holy Spirit only travels from the mouth of one apprentice of Jesus to another person. God could have designed it differently - but he didn't.

He revealed himself once 2000 yrs ago in Jesus and validated this in Jesus’ resurrection. Since then this Good News has passed along from person to person, with the often hidden power of scripture and the Holy Spirit.

If our unchurched FRAN (Friend, Relative, Associate, Neighbor) is to become a follower of Jesus it is likely that some apprentice to Jesus will demonstrate the Christian life in front of him/her. And some apprentice of Jesus will explain it to him/her. If you are one of only a few Christians in their life, especially if you are the primary one, this is surely your assignment.

That’s how God grew his family for 2000 years from a tiny seed to several billion people. Don't expect him to change his strategy anytime soon! It depends on you and me, living our lives in Christ, and sharing a verbal witness wherever we go.

It’s Plan A, and it’s working very well. There is no Plan B.

1. Good News for Religious People

Acts 13.13-50.  Paul's sermon in Antioch of Pisidia.  

Thesis: The Good News of Jesus Christ is good news even for people who are already very religious, though such people are not always receptive.

This sermon also has a congregational quiz.  I designed it for the children and teens in the service, but many adults also participated.

2. Good News for Simple Pagans

Acts 14. Paul's sermon in Lystra.

Thesis: To communicate the Good News to someone today we must find common ground and start there, accepting at least some inconvenience and maybe even some risk in the process.

3. Good News for Intellectuals (Year A, 6Easter)

Acts 17.22-31. Paul's sermon in Athens.

Thesis: While God left evidence of himself in every people-group, unchurched people need to see the life of Christ lived out by someone else AND hear a clear explanation of the source of this life.

Good News for People Around Here (a single sermon version, A 6Easter)

This is a repackaging of the whole series, and especially the material in the 3rd sermon, into a single sermon.  So, if you only have one week to preach on sharing the good news then give this one a try.

Acts 17.22-31. Paul's sermon in Athens.

Thesis: While God left evidence of himself in every people-group, unchurched people need to see the life of Christ lived out by someone else AND hear a clear explanation of the source of this life.

Background on this series

In addition to scripture, the theology of these sermons comes from Contextualization in the New Testament, a book by Dr. Dean Flemming.

While getting my BS in Electrical Engineering in Ohio I taught a junior high boys Sunday School class. Dean was one of the class members. He went on to graduate from seminary in the US. Then he did his Ph.D. in New Testament in Scotland. In Dean's first ministry assignment he served as a professor in the Nazarene Asia-Pacific Seminary in the Philippines, where his students were from all throughout the Asia-Pacific region. Then for several years, he served as a professor at the European Nazarene College in Germany, where his students were from throughout Euro-Asia. Currently, he is a New Testament professor at Mid-America Nazarene University in Olathe, Kansas.  Dean's focus has long been to help Christians living in pluralistic cultures by exposing them to the richness of the New Testament. 

Want to extend this series to 4 or 5 Sundays?

You can use the first sermon below in as a good lead-in to the Good News for Everyone series. And you can use the other sermon below as a follow-up to the Good News for Everyone series.

A Not So Ordinary Walk (Year A 3Easter)

Luke 24.13-35

Thesis: The element that makes an ordinary practice extraordinary is one simple thing: the presence of Jesus living his life through our life.

This one uses the "Emmaus walk" story (Luke 24) to unpack the concepts of a personal evangelism lifestyle based on Ordinary Practices, the kind that God's Spirit loves to use to grow his Kingdom. This sermon ties to the lectionary for Year A, 3 Easter.  To find this sermon detail, go to the Sermon Chart and look in the second column for Year A, 3 Easter and find the sermon titled: A Not So Ordinary Walk).

Living Through Discouragement (Year A 7Easter)

Acts 1.8

Thesis: We survive through discouraging times by remembering God’s work, his faithfulness, his promises, and by experiencing the presence of the Spirit of Jesus as we trust him with our present.

If you want to add another sermon at the end of the series, consider this one.  It is on what we can learn from how Paul handled the many difficulties of his missionary journeys.  To find the detail, go to the Sermon Chart and look in the second column for Year A 7Easter and find the sermon "Living Through Discouragement."

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