We Cannot Stop….

“…we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”  Acts 4:20

Evangelism is the one overarching theme of the book of Acts.  In Chapter 4, Peter and John are arrested and taken before the Sanhedrin because they were publically proclaiming Jesus’s resurrection from the dead. The rulers, elders and scribes want to stop this “rumor” from spreading and so they warn them to refrain from speaking or teaching in the name of Jesus.  Their answer is the verse above.  What they have seen, what they now know, is so important, so vital, so life-changing that they literally cannot keep it to themselves.  It doesn’t matter what the authorities choose to do to them, they can’t and won’t keep this news to themselves. We see throughout the book of Acts what happens when people won’t keep quiet about Jesus ….”the word of God continued to increase, and the number of disciples multiplied greatly …”Acts 6:7

I’m not sure we Christians feel the same way today.  Maybe we take our faith for granted.  Maybe we assume that most Americans have heard the gospel.  Maybe we’re afraid that talking too much about Christianity is not “politically correct.” Maybe we just don’t want to be different.  I’m as guilty of this as anybody.

But think about this –when you read o book, or see a movie that you really love, do you tell somebody about it?  When you make a wonderful new friend, don’t you want to introduce them to others?  When you find a company or craftsman who does an excellent job, don’t you recommend their service to your neighbor?  If you knew of a cure for cancer, wouldn’t you shout it from the rooftops?

So why oh why don’t we tell everybody we meet about Jesus? What He has to offer is infinitely more important than any of those things we are willing to talk about.  I’m asking myself and I’m asking you (and someday God will ask us)–why do we keep quiet about what we have seen and heard?


Not an Option

My friend, Michele is giving a talk on an upcoming Via de Cristo weekend.  The title of her talk is “Apostolic Action” which is defined as anything we  do with the sole purpose of influencing others to develop a relationship with Christ;  in essence, witnessing.

When Michele gave her talk at a recent team meeting, the idea that stood out most for me is this:  witnessing to others is not an option.  Let me repeat that:  WITNESSING IS NOT AN OPTION.

If we examine the words of Jesus in Acts known as the Great Commission, we see how true this is.

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”  Acts 1:8

This is a command, not a request.  Jesus did not say, “some of you will be my witnesses,” or “you may choose to be my witnesses,”  He said, “you will be my witnesses.”  Like it or not, it’s a simple fact.

There’s a story I’ve heard that goes something like this:  when Jesus returned to Heaven, some angels asked Him how He intended to spread the gospel throughout the world.  He replied that He had trained and sent out 12 disciples.  The angels responded, “what if these disciples fail?  What will You do next?”  Jesus replied, “There is no other plan.”

The disciples were the first witnesses;  we are His witnesses today.  It’s not an option.  There is no other plan.


Have You Heard?

“But how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed?  And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard?  And how are they to hear without someone preaching?  And how are they to preach unless they are sent?  As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!’ But they have not all obeyed the gospel.  For Isaiah says, ‘Lord who has believed what he has heard from us?’  So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”  Romans 10:14-17

In Hebrew the word we translate as obey actually means to hear or listen carefully.  The verses above tell us that before anyone can obey the word of God, they must hear it.  The apostles heard the word directly from Jesus.  When he ascended into heaven he told them:

“…you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”  Acts 1:8

I have been hearing God’s word since I was a child.  I still need to hear it, because as one author puts it, “sinners want to sin.”  I am a  sinner and I need to hear about God’s love and be reminded of his commandments over and over.  Today is Sunday, so all of us have an opportunity to hear.  Take that opportunity;  listen attentively;  then go out and tell others so they can also hear and obey.

Church History

“And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people.  And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.”  Acts 2: 46-47

I recently finished writing and editing a Bible study on the book of Acts for our denomination’s national women’s group (click on WMF on our header to learn more about them).  If you want to learn more about the early history of the Church, Acts is the place to start.

Acts is an accurate historical record;  even hostile critics have been unable to disprove the detailed political, geographical and cultural information given by Luke as he describes the spread of the Christianity.

It’s exciting reading.  The book includes not only history but travelogues, inspiring sermons and speeches, miracles and even a shipwreck. It falls into a literary genre common to the time:  a record of the great deeds of certain people or cities.  In Acts you will learn about more than 100 people who along with many others in the early church “turned the world upside down.”(Acts 17:6).

I encourage you to read through Acts this month as we think about the church.  What can we learn from the early followers of Christ?  How did they respond to and resolve the problems they encountered?  The daily lives of Christians and basic principles of ministry are set out in Acts and are still relevant to us today.

Let us know what you learn from these original believers.  We want to hear from you.