The Cross and Evangelism

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Is the Cross, and Christ’s atonement for sins, to be front-and-centre when we share the gospel with non-Christians? Many “Gospel Presentations” focus on our sin and guilt first, and then present Jesus’ death on the Cross as God’s solution to our problem. But is this how the apostles presented the gospel?

The Book of Acts by Luke records a wealth of important information about the spread of the Christian Faith in the days after the resurrection of Christ. What does Luke tell us about the early preaching to Jews and Gentiles?

The word “cross” “does not appear in the Book of Acts, not even once. The word “crucify” is found only in Acts 2:36 and 4:10, and in both cases, it refers to the manner of Jesus’ death at the hands of the Jews. Nowhere isĀ  Christ’s death on the Cross directly linked to the doctrine of the atonement, or to the forgiveness of sins. Only in one passage is the link implied – when Philip speaks with the Ethiopian official (8:26-40) and begins with the passage the official was reading – Isa.53:7-8 – which refers to the death of God’s Servant.

If the apostles didn’t normally start with the Cross and our great need of forgiveness, what was their starting-point in preaching the gospel-message? Read through Acts and the answer is as plain as a pike-staff! They everywhere proclaimed that Jesus Christ is Lord through his resurrection from the dead.

Telling this truth led Jews and Gentiles to cry out, “What shall we do, then?” To which the apostles’ answer was, “Repent – change direction – and turn to him with trust, and he will save you.” The great motivation to turn to him was the fact of who he is, and the dire consequences of rejecting him.

But, you reasonably ask, what about 1Cor.1 and the ‘message of the cross’? What about 1Cor.15, and Paul’s reminder about the ‘gospel’ that he preached in Corinth?

We’ll come back to these important questions later, but meantime, why not read through Acts again, and see if what I have said is true. Please post your findings in the “Comments” below?