This week, we’re going to celebrate the Feast of the Ascension. And, if you read about the Ascension in the Gospel of Mark, you know it comes at the end of the Gospel.
So everything we know about the Lord has preceded this. He was born, we have about thirty years of silence where he grew up in Nazareth, three years of public ministry, he was crucified, rose from the dead, and now we have the Ascension. And at the end of the Gospel account, we find that it’s not enough for us just to believe all of this, but we actually have a role to play in the spreading of the Kingdom of God.
Let me read it to you, it’s Mark 16, starting in verse 15:
“He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation. He who believes and is baptized will be saved, but he who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: in My name, they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
And so, then the Lord Jesus after he had spoken to them was taken up into heaven, that’s the Ascension, and sat down at the right hand of God. And then the very last words of the Gospel of Mark are what the believers did, it says in verse 20, “And they went forth and they preached everywhere while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that attended it.”
But What Exactly Was That Message?
Now what I’d like to draw your attention to this week is that one phrase, “He confirmed the message. He confirmed the message.”
What was the message that the early Church brought to the world about Jesus Christ? What was the content of that message? If you look at the Book of Acts, you’ll see that six different times there are sermons, there are proclamations of the gospel that by and large have the same form and the same content.
And today I want to give those to you, and reveal to you their common elements.
There are seven points to the basic proclamation of the gospel. You will proclaim them to whomever you meet, could be at a coffee shop, it might be at work, it might be your next-door neighbor, it might be an extended relative that you haven’t seen for quite some time.
There are seven key points; I’ll give them to you real quickly. And I’m going to challenge you to make them your own, not to just sit with someone and go through these seven, but find a way to share the basic proclamation of the gospel from your own life, your own changed life.
Now some of you might say, “Well I don’t have a miracle in my life; I wasn’t in prison, I wasn’t an alcoholic, I didn’t die and come back.” No, maybe you’ve had just a wonderful life with the Lord, that’s what people are looking for.
The Seven Points of Proclaiming the Gospel
Here are the seven points:
- God loves you, and He has a plan for your life. Isn’t that a beautiful word? God loves you, and He has a wonderful plan for your life.
- Sin has interrupted that plan, and you know as well as I do that sin has destroyed our relationship with God, it has weakened our relationship or even destroyed our relationship with loved ones, those that we work with.
- But, the good news is that God sent his son who died for us. That’s the solution, Christ died for us.
- We are called now to repent and believe the gospel, to turn our ways. In Greek, metanoia, it’s to change from what is killing us to what will give us life. It’s not to go through a confession, it’s to turn in the confession to what will give us life.
- We are called to be baptized. Why be baptized? Because that wipes away original sin, brings us into the body of Christ, and gives us the three theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity.
- We’re called to unite ourselves with the body of Christ in an active way, because that’s where we really discover all the sources of grace in our life and we receive a family and a place of healing.
- We’re called now to make disciples ourselves, to go out and tell people about Jesus.
Now, those seven points, you don’t have to sit down and just rattle those off to someone, but I’m going to challenge you to listen to this again, write those down, and to find natural ways to share using your own story. And your own story might seem mundane to you, but it might be what other people are actually looking for in the midst of the addiction, in the midst of broken families.
It’s the message, my friend, that has the power, that’s what we see in the reading today; God confirmed the message with signs that attended it. I pray that you’ll go out and you’ll proclaim that message this week.