Passage: 1 Cor 15:1-11
“…the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to [Jesus]. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”” (Luke 4:17–21, ESV)
“Now I would remind you, brothers [and sisters], of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,” (1 Corinthians 15:1–4, ESV)
“… many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many.” (Romans 5:15, ESV)
“But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,” (John 1:12, ESV)
“…in [Jesus] him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.” (Colossians 1:17–20, ESV)
“… I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”” (Revelation 21:1–4, ESV)
Brothers and sisters, this cosmic story, this thread of God’s gracious activity to redeem his people and manifest his Kingdom from Genesis to Revelation, is Good News we need to hear and we need to know.
In his letter to the Church at Rome, St. Paul wrote,
“…I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”” (Romans 1:16–17, ESV)
We need to know it because it turns our world upside down. It changes everything we might otherwise think about how the world works. It gives us hope, it ignites faith, and it orients us toward truths about God and his saving work that change how we live.
We need to keep hearing it because we are forgetful people, and yet we just read from Paul that it’s by the Gospel that we are being saved.
It’s not just how we were saved, but how we are being saved, present tense.
The Gospel is crucial to our life together here, in our homes, and in the world, and this is why we need to make proclaiming the Gospel a core practice—an essential discipline—personally and corporately.
The first step to making the proclamation of the Gospel a discipline in each of our lives is to make sure we understand and can articulate who Jesus is and what he has done and what he continues to do.
We must get Jesus right, because at the most fundamental level Jesus is the Good News, and at the most fundamental level his story is the entire Bible. So we have responsibility to be learning and internalizing the Bible and cultivating our own communion with Christ.
That said, we are always working off summaries of the biblical story when we share the Gospel or when we meditate on the Gospel, and that’s okay. We can take our cues from the biblical authors themselves. We just read a key summary from 1 Corinthians.
“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,” (1 Corinthians 15:3–4, ESV)
There are three essential elements of an accurate Gospel proclaimation.
First, there should be an announcement or proclamation of something that has actually happened.
The word gospel was in wide use at the time of Jesus. Whenever a new emperor or king came to the throne, a messenger would be sent throughout the land proclaiming the gospel of a new reign, a new sovereign. So you can see the biblical language is politically charged…a proper proclamation of the Gospel necessarily emphasis the Lordship of Christ over and against any rivals, either in our hearts in our capital cities.
Second, at the heart of that event are the life, death, and Resurrection of Jesus.
We see each of these in the 1 Corinthians 15 passage.
Third, there should be invitation or opportunity or exhortation to respond by joining in God’s Kingdom.
We see this is the verses following Paul’s summary of the Gospel. After speaking of many implications of the Gospel he ends chapter 15 with an invitation:
“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:58, ESV)
Notice this invitation is to respond both tangibly (abounding in the work of the Lord) and intangibly (knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain). There is a faith and trust in the Lord that spurs actions in light of the pronouncement of God’s Kingdom. The Gospel then, always has both internal, personal implications and external, social implications, and we need to invite people into the whole reality of the Kingdom.
Now you might be thinking to yourself, but Fr. Nathan, I’m not an evangelist…it’s just not my spiritual gift!
I get it. We are not all given the gift of preaching, or persuasion, or teaching. Sometimes those things are considered separately or together as the gift of evangelism.
So, in the sense of having those particular gifts or talents, you may not be a “preacher,” or “teacher.” You may not be what is often called “evangelist.” In other words, no one expects you to be Billy Graham, and that’s okay.
Yet, you are called to evangelism. Why?
You are created in the image of God, so other people can see him in and through you. You are created to love God and enjoy him forever. Because of Jesus, you are becoming more and more what you are meant to be.
…those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. (Romans 8:29 ESV)
If Jesus shows us the Father, and we are conformed to his image, it follows that we too are meant to witness to and live in light of the mighty acts of God.
Let’s talk about proclaiming the Gospel in the three circles.
We’re talking about a discipline of proclaiming the Gospel as a practice of faithful presence.
In the close circle, that is, in the fellowship of the faithful, we might sometimes be tempted to think that we have moved beyond the simple Gospel truths. In reality, we never move beyond them, only “further up, and deeper in” as C. S. Lewis wrote.As we discern the presence of Christ, as we proclaim the Good News of his faithful presence with us both in history and in the present and in the future, we learn what it means to live in light of his Lordship in every area of our lives together.
Now, I have a special responsibility to proclaim the Gospel every Sunday and connect every part of the Scriptures to the Good News, and teach what that means for our lives today. That’s a crucial part of my vocation as your pastor and priest, but each of you has a responsibility to faithfully proclaim the Gospel as well. We all need to be proclaiming the Gospel to one another.
When some of us are suffering, we need to hear together that God came to be with us. When some of us are guilty and full of shame, we need remind one another that we’re forgiven. When some of us begin to feel despair as society spirals out of control, we need to help each other see we’re part of a different Kingdom and we have a different King than the nations of this world. As each of us draws closer to physical death, we must continue to celebrate Jesus’ victory over death.
As we proclaim the Gospel to one another each Sunday,
we are placing ourselves and our situations under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
In the dotted circle, that is, in our homes as we gather with Christians and non-Christians alike in an intentional way, there will always be opportunities to declare Jesus as Lord.
J.I. Packer said,
“Hospitality is the evangelism of the 21st century.”
As we open our lives to others by being faithfully present with our friends and neighbors, every situation, every conversation, will present opportunities to humbly witness to the Lordship of Jesus. There will come a moment, as we are faithfully present, where we will be called to say, “I have some Good News for you.”
In the half circle, that is, out in the world, we go as guests. Just like the disciples in Luke 10, we go in humility and weakness to be present first. Then we have a proclamation to make…and all we have to offer in that proclamation is Jesus. We are so tempted to bring own solutions to problems, our own ideas, our own skills to the table…but in the half circle, we are called set those things aside so we can witness to the Lordship of Christ above all.
St. Peter wrote,
…in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect…
(1 Peter 3:15, ESV)
It starts by setting Jesus apart as holy—above all—in your heart. You are to treasure him above everything and anything else. You must believe—at the deepest level—that he truly is the Resurrected Son of God, he has saved the world, and this Good News demands urgently to be shared.
Without hopefulness, no one will ask you for the reason your life is different.
Without gentleness, you risk hurting those who need healing desperately.
Without respect, you may push away those that desire something more than what the world offers, but simply don’t know where to turn.
Living this out in the half-circle (just like the other circles) demands intentionality and relationship over time.
One last J.I Packer quote:
“The truth is that real personal evangelism is very costly, just because it demands of us a really personal relationship with the other man”
Brothers and sisters, in order to be faithful as we are present with one another, with our neighbors, and with the world, we must faithfully proclaim the Gospel.
We have Good News to share of God’s Great Love for the world in the Lordship of Jesus Christ So let’s share it—with one another, with our neighbors, and with the whole world. Amen.
 Lewis. The Last Battle.
 Packer. Evangelism & The Sovereignty of God, p. 82