The Gospel to the Cities
Acts 16-19



The cities must challenge us in their priorities. The Christian message must challenge at every level--at the highest intellectual level; at all strata of society, at formally educated and less educated; successful; commercial interests, religiously, educationally....

The cities must challenge the hearts of Christians with their lostness. Are we genuinely committed to the spread of the gospel. Illus: Tegucigalpa. How will we every work through this city? Mexico City, the great urban areas of our nations and world.

The cities must touch our hearts with the immorality and aimlessness of the people. We must sense the distress as Jesus did in Matthew 9: people helpless, hopeless, homeless, hapless. Sheep without a shepherd, following the siren songs of our day.

In our day we have to begin with the religious, but we must move beyond that sphere. In the churches, we can read Scripture, offer prayer, reach God-fearers, attract the uncommitted. But we must proclaim the gospel further. We must limit evangelism to the religious. We are neglecting the non-religious. We must reach religious people in religious buildings, and secular people in secular settings: homes, lecture halls, educational institutions, public arenas and forums, in neutral and public settings. (Campbell and his national debates)

While there may be common ground between Scripture and other knowledge, the ultimate call is the repentance, and none can claim the Christ while rejecting the call. Ultimately, gospel preaching must call for repentance, from all, despite the fact that some will reject the call.

The contemporary culture is inadequate, a call to repentance issues from that cultural inadequacy of the world around us.

This is a reasoned, argued, persuasive claim (18:4,13; 19:8,9).

IV. CONVINCING--Proclamation
The proclamation is apparent. To convince, to make plain, to persuade. It matters to us how people respond because we are people of love. This is not a take it or leave it matter. Arguments are no substitute for God's work through God's spirit. And trust in the HS is no substitute for reasoned argumentation. They are not opposing alternatives. The HS is of truth, and he brings people to faith not in spite of the evidence but because of the evidence. We want a viable voice, making clear the evidence and allowing God to work in his spiritual realm.

The process which occurs changes us. It is conversion--that means to change. Certain we change our minds, our commitments, our priorities. But that we would call the commitment to Christ conversion is most clearly seen in the expectation of changed lives. Rom. 12:1-2.

I fear a contrast between our evangelistic efforts and fervor and Paul's shows the shallowness of our day. We are lackadaisical, apathetic, lethargic in the matter of the multitudes of our world. Our evangelism is too church-centered (competing churches, inviting people to church), and we must discover again the gospel in our homes and in our marketplaces. Much evangelism in our world suffers either from too much HS or too little HS. While following Jesus is an emotional experience, this is a reasoned, persuasive decision we make. We must escape superficiality and find seriousness.

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Last updated March 20, 2005.