EVANGELISM UNTO REGENERATION
-Have you ever watched Mr. Roger's Neighborhood? What did you think about it? What are some of the main messages that Mr. Roger's wanted to communicate to people through his TV show?
-We are in the middle of a brief summer sermon series that is focused on the Christian's calling to make disciples. This is done in how we love those whom God has placed around us via proximity and relationally. Jesus calls these people our neighbors, and we are to tell them about Jesus and the love that we can truly know in Him. All Christians are called to be missionaries right where they are already at, and this series is meant to help us think through what this could look like in our lives. What are some ideas that Christians have about mission and missionaries?
Read the text:
"But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life."
I. Converting to Christ
a. Regeneration is a fancy word for conversion, or being "born again". What does our text tell us about this concept of regeneration? Why is this so important in our lives as Christians?
b. What do we see about the activity of God in the process of salvation? What about our role in this whole thing? What might this teach us about how to relate with God?
c. Becoming a Christian is less about making a decision than it is about making a discovery: a discovery of Christ's glory, His necessity, His love. What do you think about this idea of conversion being a discovery rather than a decision? How does this help clarify my relationship with Christ?
d. Mr. Rogers says this about the need that we have for love: "Everyone longs to be loved. And the greatest thing we can do is to let people know that they are loved and capable of loving... You don't ever have to do anything sensational for people to love you". What do you think about this? How does this reflect the nature of the gospel?
e. Becoming a Christian and being a Christian is about a new life with God, experiencing His love and His Spirit's work within us. It's not about doing good or being good, those are simply by products of the Spirit's work in us. What do you think about that?
II. Communicating Christ
a. Who are we to tell about Jesus and how are we to do it? Duane gave three categories of people to share Jesus with:
3. Neighbors (proximal and relational)
b. Of these three categories, which ones do you feel you are experiencing fruit in and which ones do you think God might be inviting you into greater trust with?
c. How we communicate Christ:
2. Use words
3. Look for open doors
4. Be wise
d. Mr. Rogers says this about being present with people: "The most important thing is that we are able to be one-to-one, you and I with each other at the moment. If we can be present to the moment with the person that we happen to be with, that's what's important...the greatest gift you ever give is your honest self" What do you think about that? How might this help us to communicate Christ with those around us?
III. Pray for one another!
This is my favorite book on Evangelism. Here are three of my favorite tips in it from my friend Harvey.
- Pastor Duane
Here is a sampling of some things Harvey Turner says in "Friends of Sinners: An Approach To Evangelism" on how to bring things up with people. They are:
1.) Pray and offer prayer.
“Evangelistic prayer is talking to God about the people in your life you are evangelizing. Prayer is the force and the fuel of evangelism.”
2) Be interested in people.
“If we engage others with this canned approach, they’re going to see right through it. They’ll be able to tell that they’re just a project to you, not a person to be in relationship with. Be interested, and let the Holy Spirit fill you and open the doors to talk about the gospel. Make the conversation about them. Get to know them, their aspirations, dreams, disappointments, and questions. I do this by asking lots of questions about who they are and what’s going on in their life.”
3) Invite people to church.
“Maybe the easiest way to introduce friends to God is to introduce them to God’s people. In other words, invite them to church. When we’re at church, we experience God’s presence as his people worship through the preaching of the word, through baptism and communion. Seeing how God reveals himself through broken and imperfect people seems to help put things into context and make ideas and concepts stick.”
I am super passionate about evangelism and this is hands down my favorite book on how it functions theologically. Knowing God's design and purpose for evangelism fuels our passion to share Jesus with others. Take a minute and read this brief excerpt from J.I. Packer who explains it better than I ever could!
- Pastor Duane
The belief that God is sovereign in grace does not affect the urgency of evangelism. Whatever we may believe about election, the fact remains that men without Christ are lost, and going to hell (pardon the use of this tarnished phrase: I use it because I mean it). 'Except ye repent,' said our Lord to the crowd, 'ye shall all...perish.' And we who are Christ's are sent to tell them of the One- the only One- who can save them from perishing. Is not their need urgent? If it is, does that not make evangelism a matter of urgency for us? If you knew that a man was asleep in a blazing building, you would think it a matter of urgency to try and get to him, and wake him up, and bring him out. The world is full of people who are unaware that they stand under the wrath of God: is it not similarly a matter of urgency that we should go to them, and try to arouse them, and show them the way of escape?
We should not be held back by the thought that if they are not elect, they will not believe us, and our efforts to convert them will fail. That is true; but it is our business, and should make no difference to our action. In the first place, it is always wrong to abstain from doing good for fear that it might not be appreciated. In the second place, the non-elect in this world are faceless men as far as we are concerned. WE know that they exist, but we do not and cannot know who they are, and it is as futile as it is impious for us to try and guess. The identity of the reprobate is one of God's 'secret things' into which his people may not pry. In the third place, our calling as Christians is not to love God's elect, and them only, but to love our neighbor, irrespective of whether he is elect or not. Now, the nature of neighbor is uncovered, we are to show love to him as best we can by seeking to share with him the good news without which he must needs perish. So we find Paul warning and teaching 'every man': not merely because he was an apostle, but because every man was his neighbor. And the measure of the urgency of our evangelistic task is the greatness of our neighbor's need and the immediacy of his danger.
The belief that God is sovereign in grace does not affect the genuineness of the gospel invitation, or the truth of the gospel promises. Whatever we may believe about election, and, for the matter, about the extent of the atonement, the fact remains that God in the gospel really does offer Christ and promise justification and life to 'whosoever will.' 'Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.' As God commands all men everywhere to repent, so God invites all men everywhere to come to Christ and find mercy. The invitation is for sinners only, but for sinners universally; it is not for sinners of a certain type only, reformed sinners, or sinners whose hearts have been prepared by a fixed minimum of sorrow for sin; but for sinners as such, just as they are. As the hymn puts it:
"Let not conscience make you linger,
Nor of fitness fondly dream;
All the fitness He requireth
Is to feel your need of Him."
The fact that the gospel invitation is free and unlimited- 'sinners Jesus will receive'- 'come and welcome to Jesus Christ'- is the glory of the gospel as a revelation of divine grace.
(Packer, J.I. Evangelism & The Sovereignty of God [pgs. 98-100])
EVANGELISM ROOTED IN ELECTION
This week we begin our new series "Won't You Be My Neighbor" focusing on engaging those around us with the story of Jesus. The series gets it's titular inspiration from the Children's Show Mr. Rogers Neighborhood where Fred Rogers taught children to love others.
What Children's show do you remember having a large impact on your life growing up?
The sermon came from a two verses in 2nd Timothy, verses 9-10. Let's read the passage:
"...for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound! 10 Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. "
Before we talk about the sermon, was there anything from the passage that stood out to you? Challenged you? Intrigued you?
Duane is spending the upcoming weeks focusing on Evangelism, which he described as a fancy way of saying "sharing the good news of Jesus with another person". Evangelism is something Jesus calls us all to, not just Pastors and theologians.
What has been your experience with evangelism in you life?
Duane acknowledged that it can be really scary to talk to someone about God. We feel like the stakes are eternal, and if we get details incorrect we could really turn these people off of Jesus. Which is why it's good to rest in the knowledge that we do not power the work evangelism, we are just called to enjoy the privilege of participating in the work.
What is the difference between powering evangelism and participating in evangelism? How would this make sharing the gospel less scary?
GOD'S MASTER PLAN
Christians telling other people about Jesus is it. It's the plan Jesus left us with continue His work. You can see in these verses
"Go make disciples of all nations.” - Matthew 28:19
“Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.” - Mark 16:15
“Repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed to all nations.” - Luke 24:47
“As the Father has sent me, even so, I am sending you.” - John 20:21
“You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” - Acts 1:8
Why do you think God wants us involved in the main plan to spread the story of Jesus? How does knowing that Evangelism is not just a suggestion but a commandment for Christians change how you view it?
When we think of Evangelism, we should be rooted in the idea of election. That is God knows who the people are who will believe, he decided who the elect would be, and decided before the foundation of the world. We see evidence of this idea in many passages including Ephesians 1:3-4-
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world.”
How does this change how you think about evangelism? Does it make it more scary or less scary?
We're called to tell others and go about the world uncovering His elect. Duane also shared this great quote from J.I. Packer:
“The non-elect in this world are faceless people as far as we are concerned. We know that they exist, but we do not and cannot know who they are, and it is as futile as it is impious for us to try and guess. The identity of the reprobate is one of God’s ‘secret things’ into which His people may not pry. Our calling as Christians is not to love God’s elect, and them only, but to love our neighbor, irrespective of whether or not he or she is elect or not.”
What does he mean "guess the elect?"
Why would we love all people and not just "the elect"?
Knowing that God's people are out there, just waiting to be tapped on the shoulder by us, told his gospel, so that they can be revealed as His people is a great truth. Yet we still may be scared.
What are some thing we can do together as a CG to help overcome this fear?
God has given us this work to participate in. As a church we're nearing an age where there becomes this inward pull, to be a church the is a "come and see" church versus a "go and be" church
How would you describe the difference between "come and see" vs "go and be?"
Duane encourage us to get out the and learn the names of our neighbors, get involved with their lives.
What are some things you know about your neighbors? How can you get more involved in their lives?
We as a church as participating together in a "Be My Neighbor Challenge." Where we choose something we can do to be better neighbors, so that we can share the gospel more often with those we live right next to. There are a few options:
Prayer: Pick one person you know who isn’t a Christian and pray for them every day this month.
Invite Cards: Pick up a stack of “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” invite cards at the Connect Booth and make it your goal to give out at least one a week.
Party: Throw a party for your neighbors at your house just to get to know them and enjoy them.
Dinner: Invite someone over or out for dinner who you’ve never eaten with.
Gifts: Show up at your neighbor’s house with a gift for them just to let them know you care about them.
Clubs: Join a club (supper club, book club, drink club, game club) or sports league to make some new friends.
X-Factor: God may put something else on your heart, be open and obedient to His calling!
Which of these options can you commit to doing in the upcoming weeks? How can we as a CG support you as you become a gospel sharing neighbor?
Pray together for your neighbors that relationships would grow and the elect among them would be soon revealed.
Won’t You Be My Neighbor
A doctrinal and practical series on mission
Join us for our special summer series!
5444 Napa St. San Diego, CA, 92110 at 10am
August 5th - Election // Evangelism Rooted In Election // 2 Timothy 9-10
August 12th - Regeneration // Evangelism Unto Regeneration // Titus 3:4-7
August 19th - Sanctification // Evangelism For Our Sanctification // Philemon 4-6
August 26th - Glorification // Evangelism Looking To Glorification // Jude 21-23
Be My Neighbor Challenge
This month we are doing a short summer series on mission called “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” and we want to invite you to participate in our Be My Neighbor Challenge. We’re taking four weeks to walk through some biblical and practical training on mission and we really want to challenge you to “be doers of the word and not hearers only (James 1:22).”
So here are a number of ways you can participate in the Be My Neighbor Challenge. Pick at least one to do this month!
Pick one person you know who isn’t a Christian and pray for them every day this month.
Pick up a stack of “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” invite cards at the Connect Booth and make it your goal to give out at least one a week.
Throw a party for your neighbors at your house just to get to know them and enjoy them.
Invite someone over or out for dinner who you’ve never eaten with.
Show up at your neighbor’s house with a gift for them just to let them know you care about them.
Join a club (supper club, book club, drink club, game club) or sports league to make some new friends.
God may put something else on your heart, be open and obedient to His calling!
- Pastor Duane
THE LIFE OF LOVE
1 JOHN 3:11-24
After finishing the book of Luke last week with Pastor Duane, this week we pick up our series in 1st John with Pastor Buss. As we head into the back half of half of the book the Apostle John begins to focus more on the life we should live and specifically how it should be a life of love.
The first hurdle we often have to overcome with regard to love is accepting love. How do you most enjoy receiving love, through: words of affirmation, gifts, quality time, physical touch, or acts of service?
Let's read the passage:
1 John 3:11-24
11 For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. 12 We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous. 13 Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. 15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.
16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. 17 But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? 18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.
19 By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; 20 for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything. 21 Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; 22 and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. 23 And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. 24 Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.
Before we move to the sermon, was there anything you really liked about the passage? Disliked? Were challenged by?
Pastor Ryan chopped his points up into 3 main ideas:
Love for God's people
Love for others above oursleves
Love that leads to obedience
The Apostle John tells us in this passage that if we love God we'll love people. He transforms us to make it happen!
Why would we love people more as we being to love God?
Using the example of Cain and Abel John marks the stark contrast between love and hate (and more specifically self love versus love for God and others) taking out all the gray area in the middle.
Thinking back to the story of Cain and Abel, what does the actions of Cain's "love of self" produce for his life?
Pastor Buss pointed out that the early church lived in some dark and tough times. They needed this letter to help encourage them that there is a definitive way to know who is with you and who you could count on. By their love for each other, which reflects their love for God. He pointed to Heb 10:24-25 which urges us to continue meeting together and encouraging each other.
How is your attendance at church and Community Group is actually an act of love towards others?
John then goes on to describe exactly what we should mean when we talk about Love. He tells us it is Jesus dying on the cross for us.
How do you think most of San Diego would define Love?
How would you describe love to a unbelieving co worker or child?
Pastor Buss made the point that "how you love those right in front of you is an indicator of your love for God". ANd for different spheres of our life it'll look different. For your family, spouses and children, the church, and the world each the look will be a bit different.
Why do you think love will look different with each sphere?
Which sphere has been the hardest for you to love this week?
The passage then goes on to give encouragement to all of us who are not crushing this "loving others" situation. He mentions that our hearts will often still condemn us.
Why do our hearts still condemn us and our lack of love for God and others?
Even though we're full of doubt because of our imperfect love, Pastor Buss tells us there is hope. Our conscience can waver between condemning us or assuring us, but that never affects our standing with God. And that faith can lead towards obedience which will then lead towards love.
How have you seen this cycle of faith -> obedience -> love in your life?
Obedience gets easier when we are satisfied with God's love, and we have a strong connection with him. Pastor Ryan told us we can foster that connection through presence, prayer and promises. That is pausing and remembering the He is with us, talking with God, and knowing that God listens and answers.
Of Prayer, Presence and Promises, what can you focus on this week to foster a greater connection to God?
Pray with your group that we would be growing in the faith that leads towards obedience and a great love for others and for God.
THE STORY WE TELL
When was the last time that you told a story to someone? How did it go?
What makes a story so compelling for us?
What is the story that we have seen throughout Luke?
If you were to tell someone the story of Jesus how would it go?
In this last sermon of our series through the gospel of Luke, we have seen that there are three main parts of the story of God shown to us in Christ: God is above us, God is for us, God is with us.
What do you think about that?
I. God Above Us
Jesus revealed that it was necessary for Him to die in order to save His people. This tells us that Jesus, the Father, and the Spirit had planned for this story of creation/fall/redemption/restoration to play out exactly the way it did before He ever created anything at all! This shows us the sovereignty of God over all things including sin. This also shows us that God’s story is the story of all stories, and that all of our own stories have their connection to this story.
What do we see about Jesus in His description of the Scriptures to the disciples in vs. 44-47?
What might this teach us about God’s character?
How might the sovereignty of God give us comfort in our lives?
What is challenging about remembering and meditating on God’s sovereignty?
II. God for Us
How do we see God being “for us” in this passage?
Why is it important for us to know that God is for us?
How would we live differently when we really remembered that God is for us in Christ?
What would change about how you related to God and to others?
How can you communicate this truth about God to others?
III. God with Us
How do we see Jesus being “with us” in this passage?
What is the role of the Spirit in this passage?
The word “witness” means someone who has seen something and verbally tells about it. How are we witnesses of Christ and how does God’s Word play into us being witnesses of Jesus?
What prevents us from speaking about that which we have witnessed?
What encourages us to speak about what we have witnessed?
IV. Pray for one another!
This is one of my favorite books I've read this year. Tish Warren has some great things to say about Word and Sacrament. Take a minute to check it out!
On the Word:
Unkind and condemning thoughts tell me that God's love is distant, cold or irrelevant, that I must prove myself to God and other people, that I am orphaned and unlovable, that God is tapping his toe, impatient with me, ready to walk out on me. These thoughts are loud enough that I need a human voice telling me, week in and week out, that they're lies. I need to hear from someone who knows me that there is grace enough for me, that Christ's work is on my behalf, even as I'm on my knees confessing that I've blown it again this week. We may confess quietly, even silently. But we are reminded of our forgiveness out loud, with standing and shouting. We need to be sure to hear it.
Forgiveness is from God, and yet I still need to be told I need to hear in a loud voice that I am forgiven and loved, a voice that is truer, louder, and more tangible than the accusing voices within and without telling me I'm not.
On the Sacrament:
Of all the things he couldn't chosen to be done "in remembrance" of him, Jesus chose a meal. He could have asked his followers to do something impressive or mystical- climb a mountain, fast for forty days, or have a trip sweat lodge ceremony- but instead he picks the most ordinary of acts, eating, through which to be present to his people. He says that the bread is his body and the wine is his blood. He chooses the unremarkable a plain, average and abundant, bread and wine.
Both Word and Sacrament are gifts given by Jesus who calls himself the bread of life. The Word of God and the meal of God's people are intended to point to and make manifest the presence of Christ, who is worth the Word and the bread. In John 6, Jesus reminds his listeners that they received manna, their daily bread, as a gift from the Father, but that it was not enough to nourish them spiritually. They still died. But Jesus promises that those who eat "bread from heaven will be eternally nourished and will not die."
- Warren, Tish. Liturgy of the Ordinary.
THE STORY OF ALL STORIES
This Sunday Jesus revealed himself to some travelers on the road, and explained to them the common thread running throughout all of history to tell the story of his death on the cross for us. Duane called it the Story of all Stories, and explained that almost all stories that we love still echo huge elements of The Story.
God loves telling His Story and sharing it.
What was the last Story that you wrote or created to share? (In school? For your kids? For fun? On Social Media or a Blog?)
Let's read the passage in Luke 24:13-35:
13 That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, 14 and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15 While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. 16 But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17 And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. 18 Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” 19 And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. 21 But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. 22 Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, 23 and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. 24 Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.” 25 And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.
28 So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, 29 but they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them. 30 When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. 31 And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. 32 They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” 33 And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, 34 saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” 35 Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.
Before we get into the sermon, was there anythin in the passage that stood out to you? Confused you? Intrigued you?
Duane had 3 points he wanted to touch on from this passage:
Hearing the Story
Reading the Story
Experiencing the Story
HEARING THE STORY
Duane explained that hearing the Story of Jesus is something that all believers have in common. It's the start to their acceptance of Him as savior.
Who did you hear the Story from?
Like most stories, the Jesus story can often get half told, or misheard so that misconceptions grow out of it.
What do you think are some of the popular misconceptions San Diegans have about the Jesus Story?
Story is so powerful in communicating information and creating relationships. It's clearly one of the biggest means God has to showing Himself to us, in the Jesus story and our personal story. Duane explained that as believers our personal story is often being written with story arcs leading to us turning to and learning more about God.
What is happening in your story arc that is pushing to you connect with God?
READING THE STORY
Today we most often experience the Jesus story by reading it in the Bible. Duane explained that we should therefore have a good handle on how we should read to best experience the story.
There's 3 wrong ways to read the story:
As a myth of overblown anecdotes that probably did not actually happen or have been exaggerated.
As a moral code giving examples of what is right and wrong
As a mystical story that gives different feelings and impressions as you read that can guide you.
Which way do you think is most popular in our culture today? Which way is how you often find yourself reading the Bible?
Duane explained that the best way to read the Bible is Historically (understanding who it's talking about, where they are and what's going on), Grammatically (understanding the proper meaning of the words and phrases), and christologically (seeing the entire story as pointing to Jesus).
Historical and grammatical reading are pretty common, but Christological reading may be a new idea.
How do you think you would go about reading a passage Christologically?
EXPERIENCING THE STORY
The men who heard Jesus explain the story were deeply effected. It said that their eyes were opened (v 31) and hearts were burning (v 32).
What do you think it means that their "hearts were burning"?
Why do you think these two guys had such a strong feeling about the story?
The men experienced Jesus and His story deeply because they asked Him and urged him to share.
How can we urge Jesus to share his story with us? How do you urge Jesus to share His story?
Pray with the group that we would be helping the people of San Diego to hear the greatest story ever, that God would give us wisdom as we read His Story, and that we would be urging Jesus that we would experience His Story.