Local church and the Gospel (Part 2)

Social media has transformed communication in our modern society. Words are being increasingly replaced by photos or short videos. Twitter had an initial restriction of 140 characters in a tweet which, although later increased to 280, did not change the average tweet from a measly 50 characters. The Instagram generation prefers to communicate with carefully filtered and staged images overlaid with a cool slogan. Snapchat and other similar social media platforms follow the same basic pattern. The idiom, ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’, has never been more true.

Edwin Andrade 162696 Unsplash

How do you tell this generation of non-church goers about the Lord Jesus when they have a strongly developed attraction to visual media and an aversion to substantive reading? Should evangelism continue to be word based?

The Bible is essential to the Gospel

One of the failures of the religious authorities condemned by the Lord Jesus was their misunderstanding of the word of God. Consequently, they did not know God’s power. The Lord Jesus taught that the word of God was the key to experiencing the power of God.

Jesus answered and said to them, ‘You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God’ (Matthew 22:29).

The Lord often spoke about the importance of the scriptures, not simply as documents to be revered but as God’s revelation of truth. Not an end in themselves, they were the God-given means to the ultimate end of knowing God and receiving eternal life. As such they were, and remain, vital to the gospel. God could have revealed His truth through a collection of images; instead, He gave words to be understood. God’s gospel is to be communicated in God’s way.

You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me (John 5:39).

And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself (Luke 24:27).

Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him (Acts 8:35).

"The Lord Jesus taught that the word of God was the key to experiencing the power of God."

Preaching and the Word of God

In the book of the Acts, there is a consistent identification between the apostolic preaching of the gospel and the phrase ‘the word of God.’ When the good news of salvation was preached, the word of God was central to that declaration. The apostles did not create a narrative based on their experience, which no doubt would have been interesting and perhaps even compelling. The gospel, however, was not primarily about them. The gospel was God’s revelation.

But the word of God grew and multiplied (Acts 12:24).

And when they arrived in Salamis, they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews. They also had John as their assistant  (Acts 13:5).

But when the Jews from Thessalonica learned that the word of God was preached by Paul at Berea, they came there also and stirred up the crowds (Acts 17:13) .

And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them (Acts 18:11).

The gospel which spread across the then-known-world could not be separated from the word of God. To communicate the gospel was to bring God’s word to people and people to God’s word. The Apostle Paul reminded Timothy ‘that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus’ (2 Timothy 3:15).

"The Bible remains our only God-given evangelistic resource."