On our missionary journeys with Paul (we’ve now reached Thessalonica and Berea as we look at Acts 17:1-15), we have seen how this great apostle preached the gospel wherever he went. Now we see that this gospel message involved ‘proclaiming Jesus.’ (Acts 17:3) We need that same focus on Jesus if we want to be effective evangelists. John Stott says we must ‘tell the story of Jesus of Nazareth: his birth, life and ministry, his death and resurrection, his exaltation and the gift of the Holy Spirit, his present reign and future return, his offer of salvation and warning of judgment.’ (P 271)
So here goes!
Jesus of Nazareth is ‘totally God, totally man’, conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. He’s God’s Son, come to earth to rescue humanity from our sin and rebellion against God which means we face His judgment and eternal separation from Him. Throughout the 33 years he lived on earth, Jesus demonstrated what it looked like to live in perfect obedience to God and went about doing good, healing people and seeing the kingdom of God come to earth. In order to reconcile us to God, however, he had to die, offering himself as a sacrifice for sin. The Jews and Romans thought they were getting rid of a rebel and a political problem when he was condemned to die by crucifixion, but this was actually all part of God’s great salvation plan, for Jesus was a willing sacrifice for sin. God vindicated him by raising Jesus from the dead on the third day. By defeating death and the grave, Jesus was able to bridge the gap between God and humanity and now rules and reigns from on high, giving the Holy Spirit to be with us until his return. If we want to become part of God’s family, we have to accept his offer of salvation and acknowledge that without him we face God’s judgment and separation from Him in hell. We are freely forgiven and welcomed into that family with open arms, saved through faith by God’s marvellous grace and facing a glorious future with Him!
As always, the response of the people in Thessalonica was split. Many people believed the message; others were jealous and tried to stir up trouble. We must always remember that the gospel message requires a response. What is yours?