“Christians Share Christ”
Hello, and welcome to “Key to the Kingdom.” My name is Bret McCasland. Do you remember the first time someone shared with you the story of Jesus Christ? Perhaps it was in a church service, over a cup of coffee, or maybe even on a special occasion. You thought carefully about what was being shared, and you did some important study on your own. You then responded to that Good News message by becoming a Christian. Oh, I hope you never forget that wonderful experience. And now, in response, you want to share that same story with other people. Oh, it is a good story and a life changing one as well. In our lesson today, on “Key to the Kingdom,” we will learn more about that story and how others were impacted by it. There is one common theme that is emphasized: Every time the story is retold, it focuses on Jesus Christ, the Son of God. It emphasizes His death, burial and resurrection. The story is centered on the salvation He offers to all people everywhere. Those same things are to be emphasized when we share that same message. There is no greater story than that of God's love for all of us, which He demonstrated through the sacrifice of His Son. I hope you will stay tuned to this station for the next few minutes, as we open up our Bibles and study together.
Recently, I was watching a television series about an American who became an ambassador to the nation of China. And that made me think about the role of an ambassador. So I looked up the definition, and this is what I found. An accredited diplomat sent by a country as its official representative to a foreign country. Well, that makes sense to us. We probably know the definition of an ambassador. I also learned there are some 200 ambassadors representing the United States of America, and those 200 ambassadors communicate for and represent the United States. He or she speaks on behalf of this country. And that person leaves an impression, whether it be for good or bad, on the other nations around the world. And that is a very important role. It is a big deal to be an ambassador. And in that television series, there was also a statement that person offered on several different occasions. He said, and I quote, “I serve at the pleasure of the United..” excuse me, “I serve at the pleasure of the President of the United States of America.” I don't think I could be an ambassador. I don't know for sure how effective I would be or what I would say on certain occasions. And then I don't know for sure if I could be loyal to the one who assigned me to that position. But when I think about all of that, I am reminded of a passage of Scripture which I find in my Bible, in 2nd Corinthians chapter 5, verse 20: <“We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God.”> The Apostle Paul wrote those words to a group of Christians who were living in the city of Corinth. And he reminded them of what God had called them to be, His representatives. And he stated, “You have a very important role. You are an ambassador for the purpose of reconciling people back to God through Jesus Christ.” I will never be an ambassador of the United States, representing it to another country, but as a Christian, I am an ambassador of Jesus Christ, wherever I go. I represent Him. My role is to tell other people about Him; and that is a very big deal. You and I serve at the pleasure of the One who has called us into His family and who has saved us by His grace. Naturally, the question then comes: What does the world need to hear from us? Well, no doubt, Jesus Christ is to be the focus of our teaching. He is the message the apostles shared wherever they went. In fact, on almost every page of the Book of Acts, somebody is telling somebody else about Jesus. Let's look at some of those examples. In chapter 2 of Acts we find the story about people gathering in the city of Jerusalem. Now, many people were there. Thousands of people had come from various places. Many of them were Jews and they were celebrating the feast of the Passover. And that was an important feast; it was some seven weeks after the resurrection of Jesus Christ. But there were many other people there, also, representing the nations surrounding Jerusalem. Well, the apostles were there, as well, and they began to speak in the various languages of the people who were represented. Well, that caused some people to question what was going on, and they were accused of being drunk. Well, one apostle named Peter, along with the others, stood up and began to share a message with the people who had come to Jerusalem. And Peter began the message by saying, “We are not filled with wine, but rather we are filled with the Holy Spirit of God”. It's only 9:00 in the morning. Certainly we are not drunk. And then Peter began to share the message of Jesus Christ with those individuals, beginning with verse 14. But I want to pick up with a reading of Acts chapter 2, verse 22, and following. Peter said, <“Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through Him, as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put Him to death by nailing Him to the cross. But God raised Him from the dead, freeing Him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on Him."> Well, Peter continued to share many other words with those people there in the city of Jerusalem. And the people recognized that, indeed, they were guilty of crucifying the Son of God. They were responsible for what happened. And so at the end, they asked the question, what do we do about that? How do we need to respond? And Peter told them to repent of that sin and to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. And that is what the people did. Some 3000 of them, in fact, did that on that very day. Another story we find is in chapter 3 of Acts. Again, the man's name is Peter, and he along with John are going into the temple at the hour of prayer to do just that, to pray. And as they are entering, there is a man there who is begging for money. He also cannot walk. And Peter and John stop outside of that gate and they said, “We don't have any money to give to you, but what we do have, we do give; and that is, in the name of Jesus Christ, get up and walk.” Well, the man got up and he walked and he ran and he jumped. He was excited to be able to walk. And he went inside of the temple with Peter and John. Well, obviously, that raised a great deal of questions among the religious leaders and various others. They wondered by what authority Peter and John had healed this man. Who gave you that authority, who gave you that power, they would ask. And Peter began to share with them a story about Jesus Christ. And we find part of that story recorded for us here in the 3rd chapter, beginning with verse 13. <“The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified His servant Jesus. You handed Him over to be killed, and you disowned Him before Pilate, though he had decided to let Him go. You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. You killed the author of life, but God raised Him from the dead."> Well, that sounds very much like what Peter shared in Acts chapter 2. He focused on the death of Jesus Christ, His burial in a tomb, and then resurrection from the dead. It was the Good News message about Christ. Well, upon sharing that, many of the religious leaders and others questioned their authority. They still wanted to know more. However, it was late in the day, and so they put Peter and John into prison. But early the next morning they brought them out in order to allow them the opportunity to share their side of the story. And that's what they did, with another similar message; and we notice it in the 4th chapter, beginning with verse 10, we find these words. <"It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. Jesus is ‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.’ Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”> By this time, many people were putting their belief in Jesus Christ. They were turning to Him. They were also being baptized and being saved. And the Jewish leaders, the religious leaders were very concerned about that. They wonder what was going to happen. Well, these religious leaders did not want people giving their time or attention to Jesus, or to people like Peter and John who were sharing that Good News message. But yet again, we find that Peter told that story, the Good News story of Jesus Christ. Well, that wasn't all. We find another story in Acts chapter 8, which again is similar. This time it involves a man by the name of Philip. God told His apostle Philip to go to a place coming out of Jerusalem, going south down the road toward Gaza. And so he did that. And once he did, he found a man, an Ethiopian man, a eunuch who was in charge of the treasury for Queen Kandake. And the Spirit led Philip to go up and to meet this man, who was coming out of Jerusalem having spent time worshiping God. And as he went up to the man's chariot, he found him reading a passage of Scripture, but the man did not understand. And so this is what happens in the 8th chapter of Acts, beginning with verse 32. <This is the passage of Scripture the eunuch was reading: “He was led like a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before its shearer is silent, so He did not open His mouth. In His humiliation He was deprived of justice. Who can speak of His descendants? For His life was taken from the earth.” The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?” Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the Good News about Jesus Christ.> The passage the eunuch was reading was from Isaiah chapter 52 and chapter 53. And Philip said, no, this man is talking about Jesus Christ. And he began right there and he shared with him the story of Jesus. Well, it was on that occasion, as they were traveling along, that the eunuch asked the question, “Well, what prevents me from being baptized?” And the chariot stopped and Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him. Again, the message all focused on Jesus Christ. There's one more short story I want us to mention, and that is found in Acts chapter 10. It again revolves around a man by the name of Peter, who lives in Joppa. He receives a vision, one day, from God, and that vision contained a sheet that was let down in front of him. On it were a number of different kinds of animals. And Peter said, “I'm not going to eat those animals because they are unclean.” And God responded by saying, “Do not call unclean that which I call clean.” That happened three times, and Peter got the message. Well, about that time there was a knock on the door, and there were three men there who had come from the house of Cornelius, who lived in Caesarea, not far from Joppa. They invited Peter to come back home with them, and Peter did just that. And he arrived and went into the house of Cornelius, and he realized that things were a little bit different. Peter was a Jew, but Cornelius and his family were Gentiles. And then it began to make sense to Peter. What he had called unclean in the past was now clean, and they were equal to him. Well, Cornelius was excited to hear what Peter had to share. And in part we find this message, which Peter told him, beginning with verse 39 of that 10th chapter. <“We are witnesses of everything He did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed Him by hanging Him on a cross, but God raised Him from the dead on the third day and caused Him to be seen. He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen -by us who ate and drank with Him after He rose from the dead. He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that He is the One whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about Him that everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins through His name.”> Upon hearing these words, Cornelius and his entire family believed upon Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit came into their lives and they were baptized into Jesus. We see in all of these stories the message that was proclaimed by Peter, by John, by Philip, by the Apostles, all revolved around Jesus Christ. It focused on His death, His burial and His resurrection; and that was the Good News message. As people received and responded to it, they received the salvation of the Lord. Well, that does not even say a word about the apostle Paul. And we know his ministry starts in the 13th chapter and goes to the end of Acts. And in that, we find four times Paul went into the synagogue to talk about Jesus as the Messiah. Five of his messages focused on the person and the work of Jesus Christ. In fact, three-fourths of Paul's recorded sermons in Acts had something to say about the salvation and the ministry of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. At the end of Acts we find Paul is in the city of Rome. He is being held in prison, even though he has some flexibility to move about. And the Book of Acts ends with these words, in chapter 28, verse 31: <Boldly and without hindrance, Paul preached the kingdom of God and taught people about the Lord Jesus Christ.> Well, those messages from Paul and about Jesus ministry do not even include what he wrote in the 12 letters which bear his name. Paul's messages basically revolved around this one thing, in 1st Corinthians chapter 2, verses 1 and 2, where he wrote, <“And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom, as I proclaim to you the testimony about God for I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”> These apostles were ambassadors for Jesus Christ. They spoke about the Son of God. They represented the One who had saved them. You know, today, some people tend to point out that American churches are more what they call sociological than they are Christological. And that means they tend to focus on how they look in society instead of focusing on Jesus Christ, or that Christianity appears to be hollow or shallow and really there is no substance to it. In fact, some even think there is nothing at the church that one cannot get at the local civic club or through activities at the community YMCA. Well, that may be true in some places. That might be true in some churches. And if that is true, then that's tragic. Some ambassadors are not doing the job God has called upon them to do, and that's not the way it is supposed to be. We have heard the phrase, “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” And the messages here in the Book of Acts remind us the main thing is Jesus Christ. Nothing and no one else is more important. Oftentimes it is easy for us to focus on worship styles or attendance numbers or financial matters or a host of other things. In doing so, we might even forget to mention the name of Jesus Christ. The message of the Bible is about how Jesus changes people so we can be ambassadors for Him, that we are to know Jesus and the power of His resurrection so that we can share with others what Jesus has not only done for us, but also for them, as well. And that is to be our message. The same message as Peter and Paul and Philip and so many others proclaimed. It is the only message that saves, and people need to hear it. And that one message we summarize, again, in these words from the Apostle Paul in 1st Corinthians, chapter 15. <"Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the Gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this Gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins in accordance to the Scriptures, that He was buried and that He was raised on the third day, according to the Scriptures.."> Well, that is the Good News of Jesus Christ. That is what we call the Gospel message. That is what Paul wrote, that is what Peter preached, and that is what ambassadors of Jesus Christ are to share. As we think about all of this, we recognize there is one thing we can never forget: We serve at the pleasure of our Savior. We serve at the pleasure of the One who died for us, who gave His life for us, and who offered us the way of salvation. And the question we ask ourselves today is: Am I doing that? Am I serving the One who sent me? Am I serving the One who saved me? Oh, if we have received His free gift of salvation, then indeed we are His ambassadors and we are His representatives as He puts people before us. Oh, I trust that we are thinking, today, about how we can share that Good News story of Jesus Christ with others, and understanding that we don't have to look very far to find such people. I hope and pray today that you are sharing that story of God's love and Jesus’ salvation with other people.
People meet in church buildings like this one for a variety of reasons. Many people come together to sing praises to God and to worship Him. Others come to study the Bible and to be strengthened in their walk with Jesus Christ. Others come to enjoy fellowship and to be inspired in their faith. One of the important things people do in the church building is to retell and remind themselves of God's love for us and be reminded of Jesus' death and burial and resurrection. We are also reminded of how that has changed our life. And as we go through that, it inspires us to go and share that message with others who have never heard it before. And that is what Christians do. We share our faith. We realize that we are what God can use to be a blessing to other people who have never heard the Good News story about Jesus Christ. As we think about what Jesus means to us, I would encourage us to think about how we are growing in our faith and walking close with Him. But let us also think about the people God puts before us and how we can share that story with them. Let us realize that the story of Jesus and His love for us is never meant to be terminal with us, but we are the conduit through which God's blessings flow to people who need that Good News message of Jesus Christ. I would encourage you, today, to be reminded of who Jesus is to you and then look for opportunities to share your faith with others.
Sharing the Good News story of Jesus Christ is important. Someone probably shared it with us and that blessing is not to end with us. I hope you are always looking for opportunities to tell other people what Jesus has done for you and about His free gift of salvation. This lesson has recently been uploaded onto our website. It, along with many others, can be found under the resources tab; and that website is keytothekingdom.com. All of the lessons are ready for you to download in video, audio or written format. I invite you to find those which are of interest; and remember, they are all free from any charge or obligation. On the website you will also find one-minute devotional thoughts and two-minute videos. They offer insight into God's Word that will hopefully help you in your daily walk with the Lord. They are called “Key Minutes” and “Key Moments”. They can also be found on YouTube® and through our page on Facebook®. New messages are being uploaded every week. If you watch television through Roku® TV, I invite you to find our dedicated channel where you can view these messages at your pleasure. Another means through which you can access this ministry is through a free phone app designed for smart-phones. However you want to stay connected, please find the media tool which is most convenient. And don't forget, another Bible lesson will air at this same time next week. Thank you again for tuning in today. Join us next time as we continue to study the Bible on “Key to the Kingdom.”