Recently I have been extraordinarily encouraged by God’s Word. Trusting what He says is the medication our souls need because once the soul is fed, the rest of our being finds most of its issues catered for. Read this extract from Psalm 19 as an example of how God’s Word tends to the soul and goes even further:
Ps 19:8 The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes. 9 The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever. The ordinances of the LORD are sure and altogether righteous. 10 They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb. 11 By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.
It is overwhelming how God’s Word works as the Holy Spirit applies it. For good and for bad … but ultimately … for the Glory of God. Please read:
Ac 17:12 Many of the Jews believed, as did also a number of prominent Greek women and many Greek men. 13 When the Jews in Thessalonica learned that Paul was preaching the word of God at Berea, they went there too, agitating the crowds and stirring them up. 14 The brothers immediately sent Paul to the coast, but Silas and Timothy stayed at Berea. 15 The men who escorted Paul brought him to Athens and then left with instructions for Silas and Timothy to join him as soon as possible.
1) The Word changes hearts. Our passage says:
Ac 17:12 Many of the Jews believed, as did also a number of prominent Greek women and many Greek men.
One might be tempted to skim over this verse [and verse 13] because we have been confronted with something similar already. But let us consider …
(1) Through preaching the Gospel many Jews believed. The word “many”, in some cases means an uncountable number, a multitude or a congregation. In this case it implies a good number of Jews from the synagogue believed.
(2) Through the same Gospel message some prominent women believed. The words “a number” would imply a few … not as many as the “many” Jews. These women were also business people or married to influential men in government.
(3) This message also hit home in the hearts of “many” Greek man. One could understand this as a lot of Jewish men and Greek men plus a good few, well to do Greek women. Two things come to mind.
(i) Paul believed that through preaching the Gospel souls would be saved. Jesus commissioned him to preach to both Jews and Gentiles and he in turn believed that souls are saved as the Word is placed before them. He actually expected this to happen. In honor of his preaching and his expecting, God saved souls. One of the big difficulties in the Church today is …
(a) The lack of Gospel preaching. By this I mean an accurate reflection of the lost-ness of man in sin; his realization of being ruined before a holy God; his inability to do anything about his condition and his need to fling himself upon the mercy of God only through belief in Jesus’ Blood sacrifice followed by confession and repentance. Many preach and believe they preach the Gospel … but as asked many times, are they preaching the right gospel? Does what they preach match up to the Gospel of the Bible?
(b) The lack of urgency in preaching. Far too often the Gospel is watered down, flowered and sweetened to be more appetizing to the hearers. Not only is this a false Gospel, it carries no urgency. Jesus is coming again! This is the great hope of the Church and it is the glorious prophetic promise to the Church. Because few preachers have urgency, most souls are lethargic believing they have all the time in the world to make a decision for Christ! They don’t understand that:
Joel 3:14 Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision.
How can they understand this when Jesus’ second coming is not an agenda item on the preacher’s preaching roster? The true Gospel saves … there needs to be urgency …
(c) The lack of expectancy. Paul believed God saves souls through the Gospel message. Do we? Do our preachers? Why preach if we don’t expect? Are our preachers like women who cannot carry their pregnancy full term? Do we believe in spiritual abortions? Consider the facts beloved … God has a Gospel that saved you. He uses this message to save souls. Many … no … most are lost and need saving. How can we lack urgency as that Day draws closer? And more … if we don’t expect God to save souls, surely we are telling God His Gospel message is lacking! Surely this is absurd! Pray for your preacher. Pray for his sermon preparation. Pray for his presentation. Pray for the lost to be in Church. Pray for the Holy Spirit to be there … to open spiritual ears to hear and hearts to soften and souls to be saved. Then, prayerfully expect God to saved souls! Why else would He want to Gospel to be preached to the ends of the earth?
(ii) Paul preached to everyone, Jews and Gentiles alike … but more, he called the rich and poor, the well positioned and the ordinary … he even called slaves to come to Jesus for salvation. There was no discrimination. In the Roman world of the day, people from all around the Empire were to be found everywhere. This included Africans, Europeans, Asians, people from the Middle East, etc. … these were all part of the Empire and relocated everywhere. Everywhere, Paul preached there was a healthy mixture of “peoples from many nations”.
As sinful as what it is to establish a Church in an affluent area only for wealthy people; a Church in a middle class area only for middle class people … it is to establish a Church … anywhere, for poor people only. The same will be true of one’s color … and in South Africa for one language group that excludes other language groups. The Gospel is for all nations, ethnicities and tribes … if it was not so we would not read the heavenly chorus in Revelation 5:9 … from every tribe and language and people and nation.
Too many preachers want to build their small empire of carefully selected people at the exclusion of so many others. This is contrary to the Gospel’s intention. Status, culture and ethnicity was never a problem for Paul and his team. For them, the issue was souls and this needs to be our issue today. Of course we want Jews and Gentiles and prominent women. We want and we need people from all walks of life and every status of society and all spectrums of the economic scale. We want them all because saved souls from wherever they come are able to go to souls close to them to share Jesus there.
2) The Word draws opposition. The jealous Jews from Thessalonica heard of Paul’s preaching and its results and decided to create havoc there too. We see the clever strategy of the Berean believers … send Paul to the coast (to Athens), to prevent a repeat beating, prison or expulsion.
3) The Word expands. Silas and Timothy were left behind at Berea to further disciple the converts with instructions to follow Paul as soon as this task was completed. Whilst there, the Church would have grown more.
Our Father, how great is the Gospel because it is all of You! Today we pray for congregations and preachers. Enable Churches with a desire to pray and pastors with a desire to preach and through these save many souls as we ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.