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     Sermons | Passionate worship

    This sermon was preached by the Rev. Keith Cardwell at Swift Presbyterian Church.

    Sept. 22, 2019 | 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time • Evangelism Sunday

    You Are the Only Bible
    Some People Will Read

    1 Timothy 2:1–7

    God our Savior desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of truth.
    Jesus Christ, himself human, gave himself as a ransom
    for all.

    † † †

     I  DON’T FULLY UNDERSTAND what that means. Jesus gave himself as a ransom. Jesus pays the ransom price — his own life — and humanity is freed. Jesus is willing, through his death on the cross, to make the payment demanded by Satan — the life of the perfect, obedient Son of God. In this way, humanity is freed.

    Throughout Christian history, people have tried to explain the idea of ransom. The kidnapping of humanity by the devil is a problem God must solve with cunning and deceit.

    Satan is not willing to give up humanity and so God offers Jesus to Satan as the bait on a fishhook. Satan sees Jesus and, because his divinity is concealed, Satan assumes Jesus is just another tasty human morsel. Like a fish, Satan goes for the bait. But the hook is Jesus’s divinity; this is what sticks in Satan’s gullet.

     † † † 

    GREGORY OF NYSSA, a fourth-century theologian from Asia Minor, explains:

    “God … veiled himself in our nature. In that way, as it is with greedy fish, Satan might swallow the Godhead like a fishhook along with the flesh, which is the bait.”

    Because Satan himself becomes trapped on the hook, he must release humanity. Jesus’ life is the ransom price paid for humanity’s freedom from Satan.

    There’s a lot of questions about this understanding of atonement. You don’t have to know all about ransom theology or stories of Jesus as bait on a fishhook. The bottom line is this. God desires that everyone be saved. To be redeemed. Jesus is the way through which salvation is offered. For everyone.

    But not everyone knows salvation is for them. Not everyone who knows...believes. Those who believe are called to make that good news known to folks who don’t know. Or folks who misunderstand. Or folks who have been lied to about Jesus. Those who know, those who believe, you and I, we are to tell others, so they might know, so they might believe, so they might have the fullness of life offered by Jesus.

     † † † 

    THE CHURCH HAS GIVEN this call a name — evangelism. It comes from the Greek word evangelion, which means “good news.” Evangelism is simply sharing the good news.

    Sharing good news comes naturally. We don’t have to be trained to share the good news of a new job. We don’t have to be trained to share the good news of a baby being born. We don’t have to be trained to share the good news of a puppy being rescued. We simply share what is beautiful and dear to us.

    Sharing the good news of Jesus is more than acts of kindness or good moral ethics. You don’t have to go through a class or get a diploma before sharing the good news. You don’t have to get permission from session. You don’t need my approval. You share with people what Jesus means to you.

     † † † 

    HOW DO YOU SHARE something beautiful and dear when you have no comparisons? I can marvel at the beauty of a hibiscus or crepe myrtle in my yard because I see the beauty its blooms compared to its winter death.

    We marvel at the incredible landscapes of the Southwest or New England’s fall foliage because we’re visiting and never seen anything like it. People visit our area and are taken at the white sands and lush woodlands. But for us it’s like “Yes, it’s pretty but we see it all the time.”

    How do you see the beauty of God’s grace through Jesus when it becomes ordinary? How do you get excited about God’s love when you’ve witnessed it over and again?  As Christians we have good news to share in our lives; it is a part of our identity. Sharing the good news might come up in a conversation where you talk about how prayer sustained you in a difficult time. How God’s forgiveness to you allowed you to forgive another. Of why you are protesting for justice because God calls us to seek justice.

    It might come up in a conversation about lifestyle. Simply your story of how the good news of Jesus makes a difference in the way you live your life. Not beat over the head. Bible thumping. Judgmental. But your story. This is how I deal with stress. This is how I coped with loss. This is why I volunteer. This is how Jesus affects my life. This is why I pray.

     † † † 

    YOUR LIFE. YOUR WORDS. Your actions. Your treatment of others. Your forgiveness. They may decide they want to know more about Jesus, or decide they don’t want to know more about Jesus based on what they see or hear of your life. See if Jesus dying means anything in your living.

    We need to start acting more like missionaries in our communities. Evangelism is simply sharing the good news.

    — Keith Cardwell  

    «Evangelism is simply sharing the good news.»

    SCRIPTURE FOR THE DAY

    1 Timothy 2:1–7
    Holy Bible, New International Version


    ►This is the Word of God for the people of God:

    Instructions on worship
    2 I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people — 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time. 7 And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle — I am telling the truth, I am not lying — and a true and faithful teacher of the Gentiles.

    — This is the Word of the Lord.
    — Thanks be to God.


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    23208 Swift Church Road
    Foley, AL 36535
    Phone: (251) 943-8367
    email: swiftpc@gulftel.com