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Where Should We Start When We Share the Gospel?

We therefore are the bearers of the good news. We announce it humbly in something that might sound like this: “I believe Jesus is Lord of all things (cosmic). This is what has happened to me (personal). And I believe the same is true for you. He is working in all things, even your suffering and pain, to bring about His purposes (cosmic)! I proclaim He is Lord over this situation and working in it right now (cosmic). Can you see it? Can you enter in (personal)?”

This proclamation must be announced contextually. It must be declared humbly out of personal weakness. It must be proclaimed into a person’s life and circumstances. The person must know what the words “Jesus is Lord” might mean, and so the context of the whole story must be told along the way. As the space opens, we must proclaim humbly and vulnerably, “The kingdom of God has come near to you” (Luke 10:9). Can you enter in?

So this announcement is cosmic first, personal second. Yet the announcement of it is always vulnerable. It is testified to out of our weakness and our own story of pain and suffering. Yet it comes with power. “I came to you in weakness and in fear and much trembling. My speech and proclamation were not with plausible words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit and power” (1 Cor 2:3-4). This kind of proclamation opens the space for God to work. In the end, when someone accepts the invitation, this gospel is once again personal. But the way into the Kingdom starts with announcing the cosmic.

Make sense? See the same difference? What do you think?  

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David Fitch is a bi-vocational pastor at Life on the Vine and the B.R. Lindner Chair of Evangelical Theology at Northern Seminary.