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Partnering with God

• Greg Boyd, Kris Beckert

How do we share the gospel in a culture that does not recognize or value the Bible or Christian traditions? The Apostle Paul dealt with this in his day, and his approach serves as a model for us today.

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When we seek to understand how to reach people in our culture with the gospel, it is helpful to understand how Paul sought to reach those in his culture. As a monotheistic Jew, Paul was deeply disturbed by all the idols. Yet, he doesn’t display a sense of moral superiority by stepping up to the street corner and preaching about other people’s sins. He doesn’t go into a tirade against idolatry. On the contrary, he compliments them by saying, “I see that you are very religious.” Instead of railing against the negative, Paul builds on the positive.

Paul announces to those of his day that from the start and throughout all of history, God has been working with the rising and falling of kingdom after kingdom to get each and every person to search for God, even to grope after God and perhaps even to find him. However this searching for God looks different from culture to culture, and Paul even uses pagan philosophers to illustrate his point.

Because God is at work in all places and in all times, our job is to pay attention to what God is doing and get involved at those points. The Bible highlights the story of God’s working through one people, Israel, but God has been at work in all peoples to bring them to himself. We can see this in Amos 9:7, where we read that God loves the Ethiopians as much as the Israelites and just as he delivered Israel from Egypt, he delivered the Philistines from Caphtor and the Arameans from Kir. When people are being oppressed, whether they’re Jew or Ethiopian or Philistine or Aramean, God is at work to liberate them. He is on the side that offers salvation, love and justice, and that has happened throughout history.

Paul says that we are God’s co-workers. “As God’s co-workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain” (1 Cor 6:1). We bring our work alongside God’s work to accomplish his will on Earth as in heaven. This is what gives our life significance and meaning: God has created us with our own power, say-so, domain of responsibility, and free will. Our job is to bring our says-so into alignment with what God is already doing. We must follow the Spirit to see what God is up to.

Greg concludes the sermon by introducing Kris Beckert who leads Fresh Expressions in central Pennsylvania as a modern illustration of Paul’s approach to sharing the gospel in our culture.

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Topics: Evangelism, Presence of God

Sermon Series: Seekers, Saints and Sinners

Downloads & Resources

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The MuseCast: August 31

Focus Scripture:

  • Acts 17:6, 22-28

    While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was deeply distressed to see that the city was full of idols…. Then Paul stood in front of the Areopagus and said, “Athenians, I see how extremely religious you are in every way. For as I went through the city and looked carefully at the objects of your worship, I found among them an altar with the inscription, ‘To an unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, he who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by human hands, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mortals life and breath and all things. From one ancestor he made all nations to inhabit the whole earth, and he allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live, so that they would search for God and perhaps grope for him and find him—though indeed he is not far from each one of us. For ‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we too are his offspring’

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"Thank you all the way from Oregon. I deeply appreciate being shepherded by Pastor Greg and everyone else on the panels. You are a rare find in the church nowadays. Tackling tough questions with humility and a kingdom perspective. It has been life changing for me in such tumultuous times."

– Heather, from Oregon