I did not want to break this one up, so sorry for the length, A great study and an amazing blessing to write and share. Please enjoy and as always be transformed to His way today!
There is an amazing call to the believer; there is an amazing commission, an amazing plan and an amazing provision for those that catch the vision set in the book of Acts. This is a vision that goes beyond human reason, beyond borders, and beyond the veil of life itself. It is a vision for the lost, the forsaken, the broken, and all that have the redemption of Christ knocking at their door. It is a world vision from a transcendent, all-powerful, Loving God! The book of Acts has so many principles and treasures to be found regarding evangelism. For sake of brevity and focus I would like to look in on three. First there is the principle and clear demonstration of preaching and teaching the gospel, evangelism in its basic foundational form. Peter, Stephen, Phillip, Paul, Barnabas, Ananias, the list goes on for those that we see ministering the newly discovered message of Christ our Savior. I hope to cover the gravity of this message and why it is important that a believer today keeps to the doctrine of evangelizing. The second principle I will discuss is the principle of giving and the full scope of what that means for a believer to truly give. The third principle I will discuss is one regarding the resistance and tribulation seen in these church fathers lives and presently our lives. The promise of Christ that any who minister in His name will be rejected and persecuted holds true for these accounts and as we know for our lives also. The call is waiting, the provision is ready, but few are chasing it. This is a call none will chase except they be led, empowered, and endure by Christ and His Spirit. This is the account of Acts, this is its cry to all who seek after what Christ gave His life for. It starts with an open mouth!
Jesus instructs His disciples in Matthew 10:19-20 to not be worried what they will say before governors and kings as they will be filled with the Spirit’s words and speak as Father speaks in Heaven. Little did the future apostles know, these things would come to fruition in many occasions. After Pentecost (Acts 2), the once cowardly and weak disciples were now empowered bold apostles. This is our salvation, this is our walk with Christ that we as Peter in Acts 2:40 can testify and exhort others to come to Christ! I love the section of Acts 2:14-40 containing Peter’s first proclamation of the gospel. Straight away we see that if we want the Holy Spirit active in our life we must give it a mouth to speak through. Too many times have we seen the call before us to just speak and we stand in silence, we have the Holy Spirit and in Acts 4:33-34 we lack nothing for the gospels sake. We are given all authority as Christ was given authority in Matt 28:19-20 to teach all the nations and make disciples! We see Peter lead the charge right away as He preaches at Pentecost, preaches in the temple 3:12-26, preaches to the Sanhedrin in Acts 4:5-12, and then again with the apostles in Acts 5:29-32. With that said it is quite clear that preaching the gospel is key to a walk with Christ, I don’t know why this is overlooked seeing that majority of Christ ministry was teaching and preaching also. If you plan to be a pastor, a minister in the work force, a mother, or any other profession or occupation and be a Christian you must open your mouth. How are we to carry a true legacy if we do not speak a word of it (Philippians 1:6)? God will perfect and finish what He began, but there is absolutely no need to be in stasis as a believer with a silent ministry before others. With an open mouth we also see the need to have calloused feet. The apostles and early church moved, maneuvered, and spread all around the known world preaching, planting, replanting, teaching and an edifying the saints. They had active feet and engaged lives that gave (Acts 2:45, 4:35-37). From these two passages we see the second principle fit quite nicely into having an active evangelistic lifestyle, for a life engaged and moving towards God will give and sacrifice all to continue.
An evangelist that preaches teaches and moves for God will soon be tested and tried in the principle of giving. From the two mentions above we see that the early church sold all, left all, and reached all for Christ. The part we seem to forfeit or leave out is the “all” part. Looking to Acts 5 we see an example that we often can relate to unfortunately. Too often we like Ananias and Sapphira withhold our offering before the body of Christ, what a severe and daunting response from God to meditate on. In principle we are dead before God when we live but a fraction in our old nature and thinking of self-preservation. How many mentions in the word saying “I am with you” do we need to understand we can truly give our all for Christ and live? Hebrews 13:5-6, Psalms 37:25, The promise to Moses in Exodus 3, the promise to Abraham in Genesis 12, the promise to David in 2 Samuel 7:16, God is faithful and just to reward those that seek after righteousness (Isa 51). Not only are we to give, we are to be cheerful givers (2 Cor 9) Knowing that our treasure is not in a place where moth and rust can corrupt (Matt 6:19-21). Do we not realize that all we have is about as worthless as our body when we are 6 feet under? What continues and what cannot be destroyed is the living word of God and the testimony of Christ (Luke 21:33). So why not give it all for every last word of truth, why not be engrafted into the progressive and eternal testimony of our Savior? The material giving is hardly the issue, it is the life that we try to hold and manage. Just like Ananias and Sapphira a half-hearted offering brings about a full-blown defeat for a Christian. For giving the devil but a foothold will greatly hinder and oppose our evangelistic ministry to others. The early church and apostles gave it all, they gave their possessions of land, their goods, and even their lives as we will see the next principle become reality. Christ ministry spoke of this price and it is no surprise that an evangelist is one that gives. This is the call none will chase, this is the price few will pay, and this is the life of an evangelist. Giving is the example Christ set before us, giving is the method by which other methods are derived, and giving is the essence of our ministry to others. When we are not openly speaking or teaching we are constantly giving in evangelism. In Acts 8 we see Phillip full of faith given to minister to any that he is called and sent to. In Acts 11:19-30 we see the church of Antioch given unto ministry to the Jews(even among their scattering) in Cyprus. We also see Saul and Barnabas ministering with great fruitfulness to the church and relief gathered and sent to the struggling churches. According to their ability all gave relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judea (29). We have an amazing opportunity to give and an amazing ability to give in our body. Do not squander the opportunity as it is just as important as the feet that go to the far reaches of the world. Our complete and full scope of this principle is taught in the gospels found in Matthew 10:39, 16:24-25, and John 12:25. “If any man come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me for whosoever will save his life shall lose it and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it”. This is our model our method of evangelism to others, it is a laid down life after Christ losing for His name sake. It is a life of tribulation, a life promised to have persecution as the account of Acts clearly demonstrates.
Matthew 10:17,22 are promises from Christ himself, and with the accounts of Stephen, Peter, Paul and Silas and James we see that this is a call and purpose riddled with tribulation and persecution. From the stoning of Stephen onto the end of the account you will clearly and explicitly see lives laid down before God in countless tribulation and persecution. There is rarely account of all the hearers of Paul’s, John’s, Jame’s(Johns brother), and Peter’s sermons receiving it in complete agreement. There is a war among us and as you see with each account of sermons and ministry to the reaches of the Roman empire there is an angry contentious crowd that follows the work of God. I believe it is ignorant to think the believer’s life is a life of ideal situations and receptive hearers. It is truly a life of struggle, but it is a struggle that brings great joy (Col 1:24, 2 Cor 12:9-10). To some this seems sick and demented, but the truth cannot be among evil without being sharply and greatly opposed. The truth is that we are hated by men for Christ’s sake, we are prone to be stoned(maybe not in our age), imprisoned, set before judges and counsels, set before evil kings and even set to death. The truth we carry is so true evil can’t help but try to fight it. We are in bondage to this gospel, and are constrained by a great love, and therefore we persist for His grace is sufficient! Back to the account of Acts we see the call set before Saul to go to the gentiles in 9:15-16. Notice Christ himself (red letters!) says I will show him how great things he must suffer for MY NAMES SAKE. When we were called out from the world to Christ, I have no doubt that we too have this verse set before us and our ministry. Great things we must suffer for His name’s sake. You cannot escape this principle and you cannot divorce it from the other two we have mentioned. The call is truly a threefold bond that cannot be broken. It is an open mouth, a laid down life, and an experience of persecution. You see from 9 to the end of Acts Paul faces the reality of this call in shipwreck, in prison chains, in stoning, and in open dispute before many counsels. The call none will chase, we aspire and talk about it, but in reality it is a call few will taste.
Evangelism in Acts, I could literally quote the book to you to demonstrate it. It is an account that lays the foundational method of them all being a life wholly given to Christ. It is an account of the call to all believers, it is an account to challenge us and hold us accountable before a dying world. We have but a short time in life to redeem the time, we have but a few words to share that some may be saved. We are made all things that we might by all means save some (1 Cor 9:22). I believe with the principles I have set before you, you can step towards a life empowered and driven by God’s Spirit. Although I presented three as separate principles, there is one principle that unites them all in application. It is the principle of evangelism itself, it is the call given to us in Matt 28:19-20 sending us unto all the nations to make disciples and teaching all to observe all the things our Savior has commanded. We cannot just hold bits and pieces of the call, but we must embrace it wholly and give ourselves fully unto it. How can we be alive apart from the life of the spirit that bears witness to the entire world (John 16)? How can we accept a principle here and reject another, when we are told to observe all things? We cannot hope to serve two masters, and we cannot hope to hold onto the pettiness of our secular affections or self-preservation and hold onto to Christ in surrender. This is a call none will chase except they be led and empowered by God alone.
. . .
Pray without ceasing as the troubles will never cease
We are powerless without God’s hand and His peace.
Oh the call is there just reach out to it on your knees
For what the world has to gain is a lost soul and judgment only Your Son can appease
Pray without ceasing, pray as it is our power
For we need Your anointing oil and Your strength and righteousness on us to shower
Lord may these last lines be my prayer, a prayer for more to pursue a call none will chase
For apart from Your holy identity freely given, they are worthless accidents, condemned to death without grace
Is it done for them? Lord don’t let it be.
if they won’t chase the call, call out to me
Is it done for them? Lord don’t let it be.
if they won’t go for You Lord send me.