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Gospel Strategy

Acts 17:1-4
When Paul and his companions had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue. As was his custom, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that the Messiah had to suffer and rise from the dead. 'This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Messiah,' he said. Some of the Jews were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a large number of God-fearing Greeks and quite a few prominent women.

The Holy Spirit clearly called Paul and his team to cross over from, what is now, Turkey to Greece. Despite significant difficulties, Paul planted a church in Philippi and now set out for the next strategic city. His team travelled west on the military road, the Via Ignatia, to Thessalonica - the capital of Macedonia. It was about 100 miles, with the lesser towns of Amphipolis and Apollonia at 30 miles and 60 miles respectively on the route to provide rest and refreshment.

The synagogue was always Paul's preferred starting point for ministry. Thessalonica had a Jewish population and so Paul explained, from the Old Testament Scriptures, how the death and resurrection of Jesus proved that He is the promised Messiah. Paul's method was to compare the prophetic promises with the actual events in Jesus' life and death; calling them to repentance and faith.

Waiting is never easy and the Jews had been waiting for their Messiah for many centuries. Their hope of His coming had been deferred so long that the possibility of it becoming reality seemed unlikely. So Paul taught them extensively over three Sabbath days, and answered their questions as a visiting Rabbi would. Some believed - a mixed group of Jews and God-seeking Gentiles including influential women. A new church was formed.

Paul's approach was strategic in location and content. He was guided to cities and not villages, places where many people passed through for trade or government business: places where good news can quickly travel in the community and be carried out to many distant locations by those who have been converted. The content was not about how Jesus can meet their felt needs for health or finance or relationships; but it was focussed on Jesus Christ, His life death and resurrection. It was not a plea to join the church so that they could prosper, but a plea to submit to the only One who can forgive sins and welcome us into His kingdom. How does your personal and church gospel strategy compare with that?

Lord God. Thank You for revealing Jesus to the world through Your Word and Your people proclaiming the gospel. I am sorry for the times when I have wanted Jesus for what I might get out of Him, and not to submit to Him as my Lord and King. Please help me to reassess my responsibility to share the gospel, understanding more of Your strategy and how You want me to fit into Your plan for people around me to come to know Jesus. In His Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams