Two Audiences ’Til April

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If all prophesy, and an unbeliever or outsider enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all, the secrets of his heart are disclosed, and so, falling on his face, he will worship God and declare that God is really among you. (1 Corinthians 14:24–25)

In February and March the Sunday morning messages will have two audiences in view: believers and unbelievers. Ordinarily I preach to the saints because I believe my primary calling is “to equip the saints for the work of ministry” (Ephesians 4:12). But I would like to try to do two things at once in February and March. I want to increase the intensity of your love to Jesus for all his beauty and benefits. But I also want to portray him in such a way that unbelievers who are seeking truth will be persuaded of his infinite value.

I think these two things can be done at once and can be done in a worship setting. In fact, the worship setting may make the impact of my arguments for Jesus’s value all the greater. If all my arguments are clothed with the flesh and blood of genuine delight in Christ, they will be much more powerful. So you can have a great ministry in these next weeks by simply letting the flower of your heart unfold in worship.

My premise is: We ought to seek to win people to Christ by giving valid reasons for the Bible’s claims about him. I also think our own faith will be greatly strengthened if we reestablish its roots in reason. Therefore, I will begin the series with two messages on why we believe the biblical portrait of Jesus is true. Then I will begin to unpack the choicest treasures of Scripture concerning the value of Jesus.

Those of you who were present last Sunday received a sample leaflet advertising these seven messages. The leaflet is designed to be given to people who do not ordinarily go to church. There is a stack of these on the table outside the church office. Please use them to invite that neighbor or colleague you have been praying for. I will be very sensitive in these weeks to the presence of “outsiders.” I will try to be as plain as possible and use as little church mumbo-jumbo as I can. I will not embarrass anyone or make them feel singled out. But each week, in one form or another, we will give an opportunity for people to make public their new or renewed commitment.

Most important of all, pray.  Plead with God for people to be saved in these seven weeks. Help me in my preparation by asking that I be given “a spirit of wisdom and of revelation” in the knowledge of God (Ephesians 1:17). Let’s unite in eight weeks of concerted yearning for the beauty and power of the living Christ to break out in our midst as never before. Then when Palm Sunday and Easter arrive, we will already be soaring.