Acts Devotionals

Opening Up the Word

I was pushed a little to return to Church because according to my wife, our eldest son (then our only child) needed to attend Sunday School.

My wife came from a Roman Catholic background. What did she know about Sunday School? She never attended Sunday School and when I met her, she was “a non-practicing Roman Catholic” whilst I was not “a practicing member” of the Church I grew up in. (I withhold the name of this denomination because of what I shall say soon. Everything I say I am able to substantiate with documentation from their own doctrinal statements.)

Unbeknown to us, God was at work, using my wife to get me into this Church, by insisting our son goes to Sunday School. I really enjoyed the singing. Two young people, a man and a women, both teachers from a local school led the singing with their guitars. They made the old, doctrinal hymns come alive! Yet when it came to the preaching, I became angry. I could not understand the reason for this anger.

Again, without me knowing it, God laid on my heart the need for a contemporary translation of the Bible. Once bought, I started to read from the beginning of Genesis and weeks later I arrived at Colossians. I read this four chapter book over and over, making copious notes. This led to me being convicted of sin, confessing and repenting and believing in the work of Jesus at Calvary for me personally, and received Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior.

Soon thereafter I realized what the problem was in the Church where I was “a non-practicing member”. They were “Liberal”. They did not believe the Bible to be fully inerrant, inspired and authoritative. The people are loving and kind but their doctrine and theology are like scrambled eggs. They are all over the place. God led us there to find the Truth for ourselves in their error. Now read the last phrase with reference to the false prophet Elymas the sorcerer and Sergius Paulus, the proconsul of Cyprus:

Ac 13:12 he believed, for he was amazed at the teaching about the Lord.

His amazement was because of the “teaching about the Lord”. Where there is true Biblical exposition, there is the teaching about the Lord. If this is the way people are saved, for this is the way Sergius Paulus was saved, how do we get there? Is there a formula to follow? The reason for such provocative questions is … this is the way the Kingdom grows and this is the way the Church Membership base will grow … so, how do we get there?

1) The preacher must be saved. Anyone who is not regenerate is able to expound the Bible under the direction of the Holy Spirit because the Spirit does not use the unconverted in the pulpit. This is one of the greatest prayers we ought to be engaged in at our Church Prayer Meetings … that God will appoint converted men, full of the Holy Spirit, as Paul was, to minister in our pulpits. But it does not end there. We need to pray for Sunday School Teachers and Youth Leaders and anyone else who has a teaching role in the Church. They too need to be born again.

2) Paul’s qualifications. Not only had he sat under Gamaliel, learning about the Jewish Scriptures (Old Testament), the Holy Spirit took him to Arabia where he was taught by the Lord. To round it off, he was a “curate” to Barnabas for a season. Being trained full time might not be necessary in all cases, but for full time ministry the best is for a candidate to attend a reputable Theological, Reformed and Evangelical Seminary. The ministry is tough and proper Biblical education is vital for any man to last the distance. Then, throughout his ministry he needs to attend conferences and seminars for input because he is always giving out. But on the top of all this, he needs to be a scholar of the Word and a committed prayer warrior. Pray that your pastor and those teaching children and youth will be educated in the Word.

3) Salvation and Spiritual Education must be Bible based! Assent to important Scripture verses are vital … such as:

2 Tim 3:16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work

2 Pet 1:20 Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. 21 For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

Heb 4:12 For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

He who leads the Church, including the elders as well as those leading other teaching ministries need to accept the Bible as inerrant, inspired, infallible and authoritative. The reason for this is the Bible as God’s Word can only do its work when the one teaching it is totally convinced that the Bible and the Bible alone, when anointed by the Holy Spirit arrests hearts, minds and wills, convincing souls of their desperate need for salvation through Jesus’ salvific work at Calvary. May I suggest as an aside that you read Psalm 119? Take a stanza each day and meditate upon those verses. This will help you love God’s word more and enjoy the awesome power of it.

4) The responsibility of the preacher. Consider the proconsul’s response according to Luke

Ac 13:12 he believed, for he was amazed at the teaching about the Lord.

He believed because he was amazed at how Paul opened up the Word, teaching it accurately. This would have included the Gospel, Doctrine, Theology, Explanation, Application as well as a call to come to Jesus for forgiveness and salvation. Where appearance (being well groomed) and articulation (correctly pronounced, right words) could be important, the greatest asset any congregation can have is a man filled with the Spirit, loving the Bible and passionate about the Gospel.

Lord, please raise up such men for our pulpits and others for all support ministries. O God, saved many souls. Amen.

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