Journal Acts 24 (all references are from the ESV; changes in punctuation are mine)
Scripture: (Paul speaking to Felix, Governor of Caesarea) “Knowing that for many years you have been a judge over this nation, I cheerfully make my defense.
You can verify that it is not more than twelve days since I went up to worship in Jerusalem and they did not find me disputing with anyone or stirring up a crowd, either in the temple or in the synagogues or in the city. Neither can they prove to you what they now bring up against me.
But this I confess to you, that according to the Way, which they call a sect, I worship the God of our fathers, believing everything laid down by the Law and written in the Prophets, having a hope in God (which these men accept), that there will be a resurrection of both the just and the unjust…
But Felix, having a rather accurate knowledge of the Way (put off all the complaints for later) …
After some days Felix came with his wife Drusilla (who was Jewish), sent for Paul and heard him speak about faith in Christ Jesus. And as (Paul) reasoned about righteousness and self-control and the coming judgement, Felix was alarmed….” Excerpts from Acts 24:10-25
Observation: A cheerful defense, a hope in God and resurrection of the just AND unjust, and reasoning about faith in Christ Jesus with an emphasis on: Righteousness; Self-Control, and; the Coming Judgement.
If I were given these topics to present the Gospel with, could I?
Analysis: I have been told that theology makes things too complicated. Goodness, my wife has told me that before. And then, as I started to weave the tapestry of the Gospel in and out, through the Bible, brought attention to books of systematic theology and historical Christianity for reasoning and explanation, the “complicated parts” of the Gospel became clearer and simpler.
After all, to make the Gospel simpler, what would I cut out?
Taking example from Paul, here is the Gospel, but in significant parts:
- Worship the God of our fathers;
- Resurrection of the Just and Unjust (presumably for Judgement);
- Faith in Christ Jesus;
- Self-control, and;
- The coming Judgement.
Six points—I admit subjectively harvesting from two sequential episodes in the record of Paul’s life, that these are not that obvious belonging to the Gospel as I have heard the Gospel presented before. But they are unquestionably interwoven in the fabric of the Gospel.
Could I do what Paul did? Perhaps: after a couple of weeks of study and preparation, logically constructing a paper or speech to give on a specific day for 30-40 minutes tops.
But, for Paul, there wasn’t a prep time and appointment—there was an appointed time in the Holy Spirit’s scheduling book where Paul was called by Felix to “talk about the Way.”
How can I do today what Paul did? I can’t; unless I submerse myself in the study of the Gospel, the complete Tapestry, all the facets of the Jewel (just like Paul did with just six).
What keeps me from doing that? I can say what keeps me: Number one: Laziness; 2) finding any distraction that I can to NOT talk about the Gospel in my relationships, family, small group; 3) Any thinking that make speaking about the Gospel only for non-Christians; outsiders, sinners, and strangers.
And that is just three.
If I want to grow in the Gospel, I need to practice thinking first, reasoning second, and speaking in safe places third. Then, when I am providentially given an opportunity to strangers the Gospel won’t be strange at all.
Prayer: Father, thank you for the opportunity to talk about the Gospel in the Journal. I appreciate being able to “look in the mirror” often and presented (lovingly so by the Holy Spirit) with my faults and failures. I am not discouraged, but indeed, take courage from that exercise because I am reminded, once again, you discipline whom you love…AMEN