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Series Contents
Series Theme:  "Faith Sermons"




















































Title:   8. The Relevance of the Gospel




Reading:     Lk 19:1-10, Rom 1:16, Eph 5:15-17



A. Reviewing where we are in the world today


  •  As we go into this year we need to be aware:
    • aware of the state of the world,
    • aware of how we view it,
    • freshly aware of the truth.
  •  Francis Schaeffer in his books mapped social changes by art.
  •  Today we map by films, videos etc.
  •  Three distinct trends as we have moved away as societies, from belief in God.

1. The Trend of the Supernatural

  •  This is the belief in the mystical, supernatural or just wierd and wonderful
  •  e.g. Buffy Vampire Slayer, Harry Potter, 'Demons' – ITV, 'About being Human' - BBC 3
  •  Conclusion: The world is looking for more than the ordinary material world

2. The Trend of the Amoral

  •   Guantanamo Bay syndrome - provoked by terrorism to abandon morality
  •  Casual sex, temporary relationships, upheaval, soaps
  •  Casual killing - 'Dexter'
  •  Tom Clancy – 'The Teeth of the Tiger' (2003) trained assassins – end justifies means
  •  '24' – approved violence – good against evil
  •  'Larkrise to Candleford' – success ratings by a return to yesterday's values
  •  Conclusion: The world has lost them eans to achieve fixed values but longs for the day when we did have them.

3. The Trend of the Superhero

  •  Desire for someone to right wrongs
  •  James Bond – old style hero – Ian Flemming
  •  Jason Bourne – new style super hero - Robert Ludlum
  •  Super-heroes – revival of Marvel Comic heroes
  •  Batman, Superman, Spiderman, Catwoman, Daredevil, The Fantastic Four
  •  Conclusion: These all say, will someone do something! Good v Evil


The modern world:

•  feels towards a supernatural world - something more than materialism
•   has lost moorings for standards but recognises good & evil - wants an anchor
•   yet yearns for someone to step in and put it right - someone with power & authority.



B. Where the Church is in all of this


1. Isolated & Marginalised (how viewed by the world)

  •  often powerless and denying the supernatural
  •  rarely speaking about standards
  •  not being there with power and word answers

2. Inadequate and ignored (how felt by us)

  •  what can we do in this world?
  •  no one listens or wants to know


C. So what is the Truth

1. Nothing has changed

  •  The sinful world has always wanted alternatives
  •  The needs of the world are exactly the same
  •  The answers to the world is exactly the same

2. God is exactly the same

  •  He is still speaking to people, getting them to face the truth of who they are and their need
  •  He is still there reaching out in love to the unlovely.
  •  He is the ' supernatural ' that people are looking for.

3. The Gospel is still the same

  •  It is the power of God to save people
  •  It first of all reveals God's love to people.
  •  Jesus came and loved people, accepting them as they are.
  •  We need to go and love people first, accepting them as they are.
  •  His love opened people to what he had to say.
  •  Our love will open people's hearts.
  •  He spoke about God's love for them and then died for them
  •  Many responded and had their lives transformed.
  •  Christianity is about transforming lives and establishing new secure boundaries
  •  Nothing has changed!
  •  The Gospel of Jesus Christ is still the answer.
  •  It works! See below.

Appendix 1: Extracts from an article in the Times

The Effectiveness of the Gospel

“Now a confirmed atheist, I've become convinced of the enormous contribution that Christian evangelism makes in Africa: …. . In Africa Christianity changes people's hearts. It brings a spiritual transformation. The rebirth is real. The change is good.

The Christians were always different. Far from having cowed or confined its converts, their faith appeared to have liberated and relaxed them. There was a liveliness, a curiosity, an engagement with the world - a directness in their dealings with others - that seemed to be missing in traditional African life. They stood tall.

Whenever we entered a territory worked by missionaries, we had to acknowledge that something changed in the faces of the people we passed and spoke to: something in their eyes, the way they approached you direct, man-to-man, without looking down or away. They had not become more deferential towards strangers - in some ways less so - but more open.”

Matthew Parris – Dec 27th – The Times


Appendix 2: Quote from an historian

It works

“Part of the reason for Christianity's rapid spread, historians have remarked, was simply that the early Christians were such nice people . The very kindness of the Christians and their service to the poor and downtrodden attracted new adherents. “Christians astounded the ancients with their charity,” as one historian has put it.”