A number of my colleagues recommended I read What is the “Good News” of Jesus Christ?*, delivered by David Suryk at the 2016 Midwest Faculty Conference (Cedar Campus, 6/19/2016). When I had opportunity to connect with David at this summer’s Midwest Faculty Conference, I asked him not only for a copy of What is the “Good News” of Jesus Christ?, but also the permission to share the sermon with the Emerging Scholars Network via a series on the blog (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5). “Thank-you!” to David for the series and Hannah for editing. As this post wraps up the series, take time to read the whole series. To God be the glory! ~ Tom Grosh IV, Associate Director, Emerging Scholars Network
CONCLUSION—OUR BEST IS NEEDED
There we have it—the Good News of Jesus Christ that is the power of salvation for all who believe, to the Jew first and to the Gentiles—not some “gospel of sin management,” but the royal and indeed cosmic announcement that Jesus Christ is Lord with the summons to believe and to begin reordering our lives accordingly. And, as Paul said in Romans 10:9, “if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (If you really want a plan of salvation, then there it is!) And saving belief always leads to the obedience of faith, to the good works or good deeds that Paul mentioned many times in his letter to Titus.
Christians at the University—and not least Christian faculty members and graduate students—need a much more robust understanding of Jesus and the Gospel. A PhD biophysics student in a Graduate Christian Fellowship recently told me that he had just finished reading N.T. Wright’s 741-page book titled, Jesus and the Victory of God (Fortress, 1997). I said, “And what did you think?” He paused and said, “Jesus is so much more impressive that I ever thought.” I said, “That’s the right answer.”
It just won’t do to have some simplistic gospel of sin management masquerading as the biblical Gospel if we seriously seek to help non-believing men and women at the University and in the Academy become followers of the Lord Jesus for a lifetime of discipleship.
I end by sharing what I think is a very useful definition of Evangelism. Evangelism is that set of activities that aims to help non-followers of the Lord Jesus Christ become his followers for the first time and for lifelong discipleship. Therefore, one very important reason why we do evangelism among faculty members is so that they can begin to integrate their faith, learning and practice, for that is one key part of what it means to follow Christ in their academic disciplines. Christ calls his Church to make disciples of all nations—including those at the University and in the Academy. And that is what we are committed to in InterVarsity Christian Fellowship’s Graduate and Faculty Ministries. Amen.
Texts for your prayerful consideration as you engage this series: Matthew 10:1-15; Matthew 28:16-20; Romans 15:7-13; and Philippians 2:5-11.
*Material in [ ] were omitted during preaching. Note: The picture was taken during a time of reflection about next steps in ministry at the 2017 Midwest Faculty Ministry Conference / Cedar Campus.
About the author:
David Suryk has served InterVarsity with Graduate and Faculty Ministries (GFM) since 1991 at the University of Illinois at Urbana where he also did his graduate work in philosophy. He says he’s a recovering analytic philosopher. He seeks to help GFM be faithful to our calling to the University among graduate students and faculty and especially in the area of the Gospel, Jesus and evangelism. He enjoys woodworking and home remodeling as well as using graduate students to help with these projects.