Empowering Subjects of the King to Change the World-7

Workers (part 2, Good News).

We’ve been exploring what Jesus meant by “workers” in Matthew 9:35-38 and have considered one aspect of it, doing good deeds (see post).

A second aspect of being a worker is “proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God” (Matthew 4:23; 9:35). It is not surprising that pagans (Acts 17:32) and misguided religious people (Acts 4:2, 18) oppose our telling the good news about Jesus. Honestly, it is not even surprising to me that many Christians today don’t tell the good news, since there have been so many examples of people telling the wrong news or telling the news in wrong ways.  It is surprising to me, however, that some Christians today actually think it is wrong to tell the good news to others. Presumably this is due to their belief that evangelism is judgmental or fails to accept people as they are, which is a really big no-no in our society.

Regardless of what people think, however, Scripture is clear that God wants his good news told (see post). When people tried to prevent this in the New Testament, the apostles responded with a resolute, “We must obey God rather than human beings” (Acts 5:27-29). Significantly, the very next thing the apostles did was to tell the message God instructed them to tell and tell it to the ones ordering them not to tell it! (vv. 30-32). When people opposed their message they sometimes moved on to others (Acts 13:44-48, 50-51; 14:4-7, 19-20) and sometimes retreated to pray for courage to continue to speak (Acts 4:23-31), but always they kept on speaking. Being a worker includes telling the news.

What is the message we are to speak? I believe the best place to go to answer this question is the seven passages in Acts where the Spirit gave Luke summaries of the message the apostles spoke to non-Christians (2:14-41; 3:11-26; 4:8-12; 5:29-32; 10:24-48; 13:14-48; 17:16-34). There are many summaries of the gospel in the letters as well, and all these contribute to our overall grasp of the gospel. The summaries of the gospel in the letters, though, are written to Christians, and the slight differences of detail and emphasis between these and the accounts in Acts are due to the author’s purpose of meeting particular needs among the Christians to whom they were writing. For example, the strong emphasis and numerous references to the appearances of Christ in the gospel summary in 1 Corinthians 15:1-8 are due to Paul’s purpose of addressing the Corinthians’ confusion about resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:12-58). In a parallel way, the emphasis of the messages to non-Christians in Acts shows us what is most important about speaking the gospel to non-Christians.

My own experience with these summaries of the gospel in Acts is that careful examination is needed, because they don’t say quite what I assumed they said. Today my summation of what the apostles told non-Christians is the story of the death and resurrection of Jesus, that these events show him to be Lord and Christ, that the way God wants people to respond to his work in Christ is by repenting, believing, and being baptized in his name and that those who do so will receive forgiveness, salvation, the Holy Spirit, peace, and many other blessings. But again, I encourage you to examine the passages closely and prayerfully to see for yourself.

And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus.

Acts 5:42

It may not be obvious at first, but this message is not different from Jesus’ proclamation of the kingdom of God (Matthew 4:17, 23; Mark 1:14-15; Luke 4:43; 8:1). In fact, Acts five times even more briefly summarizes the message the early Christians spoke in terms of the kingdom or the kingdom plus Jesus (8:12; 19:8; 20:25; 28:23, 31). This may be surprising, because when you look at the longer summaries of the actual messages, you don’t see the word kingdom. You do, however, you regularly see the word “Christ.” This word, like its Hebrew counterpart Messiah, means “anointed one” and refers especially to the coronation of a king (see post). So, to preach that Jesus is the Christ is to preach that Jesus is King is to preach the kingdom of God (cf. Acts 17:2-3, 7; Luke 23:2; John 18:33-37). It is true that the early proclaimers told about some things that had not yet occurred while Jesus was preaching, namely his death and resurrection. But since these are the events that most clearly show that Jesus is Christ and King (Acts 2:36, based on vv. 22-35; Acts 3:18, based on vv. 13-17; Acts 5:29-31), they are contributing to the same message about the kingship (kingdom) of Christ.

Likely this message will not be the very first thing you say to a non-Christian. Other conversation and truths will likely be needed before we have the opportunity to tell this message. Telling our own story of how Christ has affected us personally may be an important part of our conversations with others, either before, during, or after we tell this good news. And additional teaching, explanations, and clarifications will be needed after we have told the good news about Christ. Still, we must be clear that neither our story nor any other theme in Scripture is the heart of the message we have been commissioned to tell. Rather, that message is the good news about Christ the King. We proclaim Jesus.

A man once told Jesus he would follow him after his father died (or at least that’s how I take Luke 9:59). But Jesus told him to go proclaim the kingdom of God (v. 60). We may feel Jesus’ words are abrupt, but his instruction is crystal clear. I believe Jesus is still telling his disciples to go proclaim the kingdom of God, including you and me. Do you know how to do that? Do you know what to say? It’s a vital part of being a worker.

Empowering Subjects devotes three lessons and weeks to the matter of “Relating the kingdom with our words.” This is more attention than is given to the two other aspects of being a worker because it seems to me that telling others this message is both difficult and neglected. The material helps us clarify the message we are called to speak, discusses how we work with God to find opportunities to tell it, and includes various other matters about how we tell it and the results we should expect. As always, the material includes some practical steps we can take to move us toward actually telling others this news without “forcing it” or asking us to act in unnatural or inappropriate ways.

One way or another, we must find ways to equip ourselves and others to tell the good news about Jesus and the kingdom. It is a vital part of being a worker.

For more on how Empowering Subjects is equipping believers to tell this good news, see here.

Published by Marvin Bryant

After serving as a minister for churches for forty years, Marvin founded the Empowering Subjects to equip subjects of the King to change the world like Jesus did.

One thought on “Empowering Subjects of the King to Change the World-7

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: