Love in the Book of Acts

heart.gifHow many times do you think the word love is mentioned in the Book of Acts?  I often use this as a warm up question when teaching about evangelism.  The answers usually range from somewhere in the teens to over 100.

Before you answer, here are a few Acts facts to consider:

  • Acts has 28 chapters (the average book in the Bible has 18 )
  • Acts chronicles the spread of the early church over nearly 30 years, from Jesus’ final words and his ascension into Heaven all the way through the Apostle Paul’s imprisonment near the end of his life.
  • Acts includes 13 presentations of the Gospel to a variety of people – crowds, individuals, Jews, Gentiles, ordinary citizens, high-ranking government officials, etc.

So how many times it the word love is mentioned in Acts?

Here’s the answer: 0.  Zero.  Z-E-R-O.  Seriously.  Do a word search in your Bible software.  It’s OK, I didn’t believe it the first time I heard it.

So what’s the point?  Does that mean love isn’t important?  Of course not.  God displays perfect love throughout his Word and his love for us is displayed in the sacrifice of Jesus the Son on the cross.  And it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t mention God’s love when sharing the Gospel.

But it does tell us some important things about evangelism.  The history of the early church should certainly provide a model for how we should go about sharing the truth of the Gospel.  The primary model used in Acts was to lay out the facts of Jesus’ life, death, resurrection and miracles and to highlight our need for him and his forgiveness.  There are calls for repentance.  But God’s love is never directly mentioned and there is no hint at universalism (the notion that everyone goes to Heaven). 

Preaching God’s unconditional love without the need for repentance and faith in Christ is not a Biblical model.  It can give people a false sense of security, as in, “God loves me without conditions?  Great!  No need to change anything.”

People need to understand the bad news (they are sinners against a perfect and Holy God and rightly destined for an eternity in Hell) before they realize their need for the Good News (Jesus took the punishment for our sins and we can be completely and eternally forgiven and reconciled to God if we put our faith in Jesus).

Also note that the Gospel presentations in Acts rebut the myth that Christianity involves faith without reason.  Each time the message is given it is based on facts, logic and appeals to reason.  At no point is the message to have blind faith.

Acts 17:29–31 Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.

Read Acts for yourself and see what I mean, or read about Preaching God’s love in Acts.

Hat tip: Greg Koukl – Stand to Reason

Remember, it is called the Good News for a reason

It is bad enough that Christians aren’t more intentional about sharing the Gospel. But in a twist that Screwtape would be proud of, countless people who profess to follow Christ are actually proud about not sharing the Good News.  Michael Moore gave a good example of this when he said:

I have always believed that one’s religious leanings are deeply personal and should be kept private.

I’m not sure where he came up with that belief, but it isn’t in the Bible.  Since Moore was claiming to speak for Jesus, perhaps he should tell us how the Bible teaches that we should be private about our religious beliefs.  That would make it hard to fulfill the Great Commission: Matthew 28:19-20 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

A commenter named Joanne noted that:

Progressive denominations have stopped trying to proselytize with their missionaries YEARS ago. Look at Global Ministries (UCC/Disciples of Christ). They make no efforts to convert people.

She’s right, and it is pathetic that those organizations who willfully withhold the Gospel call themselves churches or “disciples of Christ.”

A regular commenter (“Sunday School Teacher”) noted this:

Our church is currently having a sermon series on Wesley’s “Three Simple Rules”.

The 1st rule is “Do No Harm”. Some people are trying to use this rule to argue that we should not try to change the religious view of others, as this could lead to conflict and thus harm.

I’m glad that SST is trying to lead his church in the right direction, but it is amazing that people learning about John Wesley would ever imagine that he’d discourage people from sharing the Gospel.  They couldn’t be more wrong.

As Paul said in Romans 1:16:

I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.

From the Newsboys song, I’m Not Ashamed:

What are we sneaking around for?  Who are we trying to please?

Shrugging off sin, apologizing like we’re spreading some kind of disease.  I’m saying no way.  No way.

I’m not ashamed to let you know I want this light in me to show. I’m not ashamed to speak the name of Jesus Christ.

This one says, “It’s a lost cause.  Save your testimonies for church time. ” Other ones say, “You’d better wait until you do a little market research.”

I’m saying no way.  No way.

The Gospel can and will offend people.  We don’t want to add to the offense with our own style, but that is no excuse not to share it.  The bad news is that we are all sinners in need of a Savior.  The Good News — and it is still good news worth sharing — is that there is a Savior.  He is Jesus, and He is the only way to salvation.

Hear the Good News, believe the Good News and share the Good News!  But please don’t identify as a Christian if you think it is bad news and refuse to share it with others.

You can’t count on Cunnane

Update at the bottom.

This is just a quick post to share my disappointments with our house builder, the Cunnane Group.

If you make the mistake of going with Cunnane, be sure to get everything fixed before they finish your neighborhood. The responsiveness drops off completely after that. Just one example: They couldn’t get our master shower grout right after four tries and then had the nerve to refer us to 3rd parties that we’d have to pay.  Grout is not a cosmetic issue, and gaps can lead to serious water damage.  And they refused to discuss it or explain why. It is always disappointing to see businesses sacrifice their integrity and reputations to save a couple bucks.

I had initially left positive messages about them on various review sites, so now I’ll need to go back and fix those.

I’ll also be contacting the BBB, but there can’t be any real resolution at this point.  If you can’t get something simple like grout right after four tries, then house building may not be your forte’.  I’m weary of the clown show that is their warranty department.  So I’ll just find a competent repair person while I warn my neighbors about Cunnane.

It takes a special kind of foolishness to be 99.9% complete with a business relationship and then torch your reputation over an immaterial amount of money.

Update

They had completely ignored me until I let them know I’d be leaving bad reviews and writing this post, but then they finally responded defensively.

An excerpt:

We did the best we could under the circumstances. We regrouted your shower 3x.

Part of my response:

You did not do the best you could under the circumstances.  That would have involved getting shower grout right the first time. Or the 2nd.  Or the 3rd. Or the 4th.  And then not just telling me to pay for it myself.   And then not refusing to call me.  You calling that your “best” proves all my points.  A good company would say, “Wow, I’m so sorry for all the trouble! I commit to getting it done right once and for all.”  You have demonstrated what kind of company you are.

Re. “We regrouted your shower 3x.”  Yes, that’s true, because you did it wrong the first time AND on all three retries!  Glad we agree.  Classic.  Again, feel free to tell the BBB and others how unreasonable I am for expecting you to get shower grout done properly.

And they wrote this:

You threaten me with bad reviews of my company.

My response:

You misunderstood.  That wasn’t a threat, just a statement of fact.  If I had said, “Fix my grout or else I’ll leave bad reviews,” that would have been a threat.  My message was: You had your chances and communicated (and then deliberately failed to communicate at all) in bad faith, so even if you offered to come out now I’d refuse.  Therefore I’m reversing the good reviews I had given and changing them to bad ones.  And adding new bad ones.

It is interesting how many points people will concede when they are in defense-mode!