"...But do this with gentleness and respect." I Peter 3:15 So if you and I actually DO LOVE of others in the name of Jesus, apparently (according to impulsive apostle Peter) that ONE MORE PERSON we have loved well might actually ask: 'dude, in light of all the suffering, poverty, evil in the world; in light of how bad stuff gets in my own life, how do YOU live with such HOPE?" Here is the outline I gave in my sermon today, to help us be 'prepared' to account for that hope (and a pic of this page in my notes as I'm prepping to preach this morning in my office).
How to tell the Gospel by telling your story as part of God’s Story, in four chapters—Creation, Fall, Redemption, Restoration (based on p. 3.5 Tangible Kingdom book by Halter & Smay)
This is a way to be prepared to give an answer for the hope that is in you, Christian. Every Christian has these four chapters in their story – have you ever noticed that? Remember, your story is a part of the ultimate story—God’s story. When you are telling your story, it should end up more focused on God and how Jesus rescued and saved you. You should not end up looking like the hero in this story—Jesus is always the hero!
Let’s walk through these four ‘chapters’ and think how you could tell your story in light of the Gospel story. Some of you, for your homework it would be great to write out each chapter of your story if you’ve never done so before.
CREATION. How did your life begin? Where were you born? Tell briefly about your family, parents, how many brothers and/or sisters you have and what really began to shape who YOU were becoming as a person before you began to follow Jesus.
The Key Question is: Who or what most shaped who you thought you were, and where you got your real value and “identity” in life from?
FALL. What was happening in your life that was “broken”—NOT the way God created it and you to be? Relationships? Health? Respect for parents, teachers, yourself? What types of specific sins were you falling into and what were the consequences of this? What types of things (other than trusting God) did you try to use to “fix” your life…but they didn’t work?
The Key Question is: Why was your relationship with God and others (and anything else in your life), NOT the way it was supposed to be? (like God created it…)
REDEMPTION. Explain how the brokenness and/or sins you mentioned above, and the effects of these sins in your life, were rescued and redeemed by Jesus. Connect specific sins to the Gospel and how Jesus’ life, death and resurrection have redeemed and restored those parts of your life back to the way God created them to be.
The Key Question is: How has Jesus paid the penalty for your sins (when He died on the Cross) and how did you come to put your faith and trust in him to save you and restore you?
RESTORATION. What is happing in your life now? God has redeemed you from the penalty and guilt and shame of your sins, and is now actively restoring you from the affect of past sin and failure. How is God changing you, using you, speaking to you now? How does your life have purpose because you have joined God on his mission of love to restore people, creation, relationships, etc.
The Key Question is: What has changed and is changing in your life now? And who and what is the focus of your life today? Be sure to include at least two examples of how the Gospel (Jesus at work in your life) is showing up in your everyday life and relationships as good news!
(all repeat: Creation, Fall, Redemption, Restoration) You could even practice DOING LOVE this way by going to your community group – whether mixed or men’s or women’s or teenager, and take turns telling your own Gospel stories through the lenses of Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Restoration. Keep it short. Don’t get preachy or churchy. Keep your pointy finger in your pocket. Keep God and Jesus the main characters.
Where are YOU in God’s Gospel Story?