Tuesday, May 06, 2014

The gospel in words

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Acts 3:11-26

TO CHEW ON: "'Repent therefore and be converted that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.'" Acts 3:19

"Preach the gospel always, and if necessary use words"* is a saying sometimes used to defend living by gospel principles without explaining the who, what and why of the good news. Though our lives should be consistent with the gospel for sure, just living a certain way isn't enough to fulfill Jesus' final assignment to us (Acts 1:8) (and one senses that the above little saying may sometimes be an excuse for silence out of timidity or fear that one's words will offend).

A wordless gospel was certainly not Peter's philosophy. He grabbed the opportunity here, with the eyes of the whole crowd on him after healing the lame man, to not only explain the gospel but to challenge his hearers to close the deal: "Repent, therefore, and be converted."

It is interesting to notice how Peter, Paul, and other apostles frequently turned miracles and other life happenings into mini-pulpits:
  • After a night in custody, Peter and John were hauled in front of the high priest and his family where they again challenged their hearers with the gospel (Acts 4:5-12).
  • Stephen preached the gospel when he was brought before the Jewish counsel to defend against false accusations (Acts 7).
  • Philip explained the gospel to an Ethiopian eunuch who was reading Isaiah (Acts 8:30-35).
  • After healing a man, Paul and Barnabas restrained a pagan crowd from worshiping them as Hermes and Zeus, instead explaining the gospel (and getting into a lot of trouble for it ) (Acts 14).
  • Paul and Silas explained the gospel to their jailer after an earthquake sprung them from a Philippian prison (Acts 16:30-34).
  • Paul used the words of an inscription on a city monument as an opening for the gospel in Athens (Acts 17:22-32).
  • Paul turned an appearance before Roman rulers Festus, Agrippa, and Bernice into an opportunity to present the gospel (Acts 26).

I ask myself, am I as quick as these early Christians to recognize and take openings to explain the gospel in words? Peter's advice in this regard is more appropriate than ever:

"But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone tho asks you a reason for the hope that is in you with meekness and fear." - 1 Peter 3:15

PRAYER: Dear God, what an example of ready speakers were these early Christians. Help me to recognize openings for the gospel and to have Holy Spirit boldness to take them. Amen.

*This saying is often attributed to St. Francis of Assissi.

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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