July 16, 2023

Sharing Our Faith

As we begin another appointive year together today, I want us to focus on growing our church. One thing is sure; our church cannot grow by accident or chance; we will need to harness all that God has given us and channel them towards pursuing our vision and fulfilling our mission. As a reminder, the mission of the United Methodist Church is making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. And as a congregation, we have discerned that the vision with which we can fulfill this mission is: growing together through faith and fellowship. So, this morning I am introducing a sermon series, Sharing Our Faith in Simple Terms. I pray that through preaching His word, the Lord will equip us to take our place in the task of growing our church.

Our text today is 2 Cor. 2:14, which says, “Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.” There are two lessons hidden in this text for our learning and edification. First, this text affirms our victory in Christ, our victory over sin and judgment, the enemy, and all the powers of the enemy. This victory is our salvation in Christ. One hymn that captures our victory well is Victory in Jesus, written by Eugene M. Bartlett. In this hymn, we sing of our Savior’s power to save and heal and we declare He’s our Savior forever. Let there be no one in this house today who is unsure of this secured victory in Christ. Praise God!

The second lesson in our text is that with our victory in Christ comes a sacred responsibility—God, through us, desires to diffuse the knowledge of Christ everywhere we go. After experiencing salvation, one of the most significant discoveries a Christian can have is knowing that other people can have the victory you have in Christ and that they can receive that victory through you. Here is how The Passion Translation renders 2 Cor. 2:14, “God always makes his grace visible in Christ, who includes us as partners of his endless triumph. Through our yielded lives, he spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of God everywhere we go.” If this text is clear to us, it means God expects us to be yielded partners that share the knowledge of Christ’s victory everywhere we go.

One deception in the body of Christ today is thinking and believing that doing good works can replace the verbal sharing of the Gospel. Many have assumed that what Adam lost in the garden is the food bank and his collections of gold and silver. This morning, I am here to tell you that such misconception contributes to the decline of the church. What Adam lost was a privileged position of relationship and advantage with God. And it’s our great privilege to help people find that connection with God again through Christ’s great sacrifice. As great as doing good works is, it can never replace the verbal communication of the Gospel. Do not get me wrong; I have not said we must not do good work. I am saying God does not expect our good works to replace the verbal communication of the Gospel. When we do good works, we must know it is not the end in itself and intentionally use it as a means to the end to share the knowledge of Christ’s victory over sin and Satan among the people.

In Romans 1:16, Paul declares, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for Jews first and also for the Greek.” Friends, are you uncomfortable having Gospel conversations with your non-religious and unchurched friends? Does having such conversations make you feel ashamed? If our answer to these questions is yes, we have some growing to do as believers in Christ. Christ wants us to trade our uncomfortableness about sharing the Gospel for His strength and shame for His power. God can use you, God wants to use you, and God will use you if you let Him. God can use me, God wants to use me, and God will use me if I let Him. 

May we rise and take our place in Christ’s triumphal procession in Jesus’ name, AMEN!