Preparing for Worship // December 31, 2017

Preparing for Worship // December 31, 2017

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Prior to his death in 2011 (and in some sense even up to the present day), Christopher Hitchens was one of the world’s most notorious atheists. Alongside such names as Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, and Sam Harris (the “New Atheists”), Hitchens has become (in)famous for a version of atheism that is not simply opposed to belief in a God but is spitefully and bombastically anti-Christian.

Now I want you to imagine sitting in a car with Christopher Hitchens for eleven hours faced with the task of sharing the gospel with him. Can you imagine a more intimidating situation for sharing the gospel?! Yet this is exactly the situation where one evangelical Christian found himself. For, despite his passionately anti-religious stance, Hitchens began to develop friendships with many evangelical Christians later in life. One of these friendships was with a man named Larry Taunton.

After Hitchens’ death, Taunton wrote a biography on Hitchens called The Faith of Christopher Hitchens, in which the author chronicles his own friendship with this most infamous of atheists, including a road trip that the two men took from Washington D.C. to Birmingham, AL for a debate. At the time of this road trip, Hitchens had already been diagnosed with cancer, and Taunton knew that his friend most likely had only a few months left to live. So he took advantage of this long road trip in order to share the gospel with his hell-bound friend. Here is one of the four most passionately atheistic men in the world, and he’s trying to share the gospel with him! How would you go about trying to convert a man like this? Our tendency in sharing the gospel is to think that we need some special strategy, and surely this would be even more true of sharing the gospel with someone as smart and passionately anti-Christian as Christopher Hitchens. Most likely, we would either rack our brains for every apologetic tidbit we can possibly remember, immediately call Mike Kruger, or curl up in a ball and hope God sends down an angel to do it for us. 

But Taunton doesn’t resort to any fancy apologetic strategies or gospel gimmicks. He simply asks Hitchens if he would be open to reading the gospel of John, and this is exactly what they do. Hitchens reads a verse, and Taunton asks him what he thinks about it, over and over again. There is nothing about Taunton’s evangelistic strategy that is out of reach for any believer with any non-believing friend. If a Christian whom you have probably never heard of can share the gospel with Christopher Hitchens in this way, then you can use this same method to share the gospel with your unbelieving family member, neighbor, or co-worker.

I don’t mean to downplay the intimidation factor of evangelism. I would be the biggest of hypocrites if I did. My point is simply this: the power in evangelism comes, not from the one doing the evangelizing, but from the God who commands us to evangelize and from His word. Be honest about your failings, and tell others how you have experienced God’s saving grace. Then, let God work as He chooses. 

THE WORD

Scripture: Acts 26:1-32
Sermon: Boldly Sharing the Gospel

SONGS

Good Christian Men Rejoice (Traditional)
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Let Your Kingdom Come (Bob Kauflin)
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I Love to Tell The Story (Traditional)
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Hark the Voice of Jesus Calling (tune: Come Thou Long Expected Jesus)
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Song of Preparation: While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks (Andrew Peterson)
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Song of Response: Jesus I My Cross Have Taken (Indelible Grace)
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