"What? Trying to spread the gospel message without quoting from the New Testament? Impossible!" That may be your first reaction, but just think about it. Scholars tell us that the first New Testament book, either Galatians or First Thessalonians, was written in about 50 CE, nearly 20 years after that glorious Pentecost when Christ crucified was first proclaimed as the only possible remedy for sinners. The last New Testament books, probably the letters of John or Revelation, were likely written in the 90s, close to three generations after the Resurrection.
The New Testament as a unit was probably unavailable until the mid-second century. And yet Christianity experienced some of its most dynamic growth during this period when its Bible consisted only of the Old Testament.
How did those earliest Christians do it? The Book of Acts is clear: The apostles said, "We cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard" (4:20). It wasn't long before they were told, "you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching" (5:28). The early Christians "preached the word wherever they went" (8:4). They "turned the world upside down" (Acts 17:6 ASV). They were convinced that "faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ" (Rom. 10:17).
What is this "word of Christ"? At the time Paul wrote Romans it could not have been the written Word, because such did not exist. It had to be the spoken Word, translated to each human heart through the life-experience of a living, breathing Christian.
It is this oral Word of God that we must restore to modern Christianity. Not that we should throw away our New Testaments--far from it! Let's read more and feed more. But let's also seed more and lead more. Speaking for Jesus in our world, to our FRAN (Friends, Relatives, Acquaintances, and Neighbors) is the key to a revival of dynamic evangelism. Let's commit ourselves to sow continually; that God may bless abundantly; and then let's reap unceasingly.
Steve Singleton has written and edited several books and numerous articles. He has been an editor, reporter, and public relations consultant. He has taught college-level Greek, Bible, and religious studies courses and has taught seminars in 11 states and the Caribbean
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