What Do non-Christians Think?

“I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some” (1 Corinthians 9:22).  These words penned by inspiration of the Spirit express the Apostle Paul’s determination to evangelize individuals.  That is, he sees the ministry of the gospel not as the ministry of mass conversion, but rather as an individualized message applied to an individualized person.

The facts of salvation remain the same for us all.  It is a universal fact that we have all fallen short.  It is a fact that as heirs of Adam’s fall, we have all inherited personal guilt which is ours from the moment of conception.  It is a fact that none of us can attain the righteousness that pleases God by our works.
Yet it is also a universal fact that God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. (John 3:17).  As a gift, Jesus paid for all the world’s sin.  This sacrifice is complete to the same degree of certainty for all.  No sin was left forgotten on the cross.
However this is not a mechanical formula to be recited.  In preaching and evangelism, this becomes personal for us.  Day by day these sinful impulses show themselves in our lives in individual ways.  Day by day we are prone to set up individual barriers that will resist the free reign of Christ’s love.  And so the Apostle Paul “becomes all things to all men.”  His ministry reflects an evangelism that seeks to understand what is going on in other people’s heads and meet them in a personal way.
On the one hand, Paul thinks as a Jew when speaking to a crowded synagogue in Antioch in Acts 13.  He relates familiar Old Testament references showing that the chosen seed of David is the well known Jesus who was crucified to death by Pilate, raised to life by God.
On the other hand, Paul thinks as a Greek when speaking to a pluralistic assembly in Athens in Acts 17.  He uses their altar to “the Unknown God” as an opening to preach about the natural knowledge of the Creator God, even quoting one of their own Greek poets.  Here too, Paul is gets to the heart of God’s Word showing that Jesus was dead and is now alive and will be the basis for God’s final judgement.
In either case, Paul is sure to get to the gospel, preaching Jesus, repentance, and forgiveness – essential elements of evangelism.  This is the most personal message of all.  God personally gives to each individual the blood of His Son which cleanses each sin and the faith to believe Him.
This month’s handout leads us to consider what other people might be thinking as we approach them with an invitation to church or Bible Study or as we share a message about Jesus.  Let us “become all things to all men that we might by all means save some.”
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