Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Ordinary People Used by an Extraordinary God

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.  (Ac 1:8)

To complete his teaching on the book of Acts, our pastor mentioned something he heard from J. D. Greear: the gospel was spread primarily through ordinary people.  In a blog post Greear writes:
Luke goes out his way to show that the biggest advances of the gospel happen through ordinary people.
I know enough about the New Testament to affirm that conclusion.  Consider how unnamed or seldom named men and women from different regions took home the Gospel with them:
  • •  Various regions in the Roman empire  (Ac 2:9-11)
  • •  Samaria  (Ac 8:4-8)
  • •  Ethiopia  (Ac 8:35-39)
  • •  Ephesus  (Ac 18:18-21, 19:1)
  • •  Central Italy and Rome  (Ac 28:14-15)
Most people look to the work of men like Paul, Silas, Barnabas, etc. as the catalyst for the spread of redemption in Christ; however, as can be seen by the short list, the message went out, not because of the untiring work of the apostles, but rather through common believers engaged in the mundanity of life.  This is remarkable for at least two reasons.

First, fine rhetoric and oratory are unnecessary.  One may or may not be gifted or trained in the finer points of effective communication, but that skill is not required.  The effective witness simply tells of Christ and Him crucified for sin (1 Co 2:1-2, 15:3-4).  Second, the power of the words do not lie within the individual, but within the Word of God (Ro 1:16; He 4:12).  By staying with what Scripture tells of our Lord’s redeeming work in the way it is revealed, the message does its own work, because it is divinely empowered.  It cannot be improved on through "lofty speech wisdom" (1 Co 2:1) in order to win an argument, so much as clearly give a reason for the hope within you (1 Pe 3:14-16).

The spread of the Gospel was effected by ordinary people going about their ordinary lives.  We each do not need to be a trained clergyman or teaching professional to share Christ; nor do we share expecting something wonderful to happen for God in sharing.  We should neither think of the work as out of reach to do, nor dependent on me alone: both attitudes are incorrect.  The work of the Gospel belongs to God alone.  We have the privilege, as His children, to be part of the work and tell forth the saving message of Jesus.  He sends us into our workaday world (i.e., our stations of life or vocations) to make Jesus known from God’s Word in the strength He supplies (1 Pe 4:11-12).

No comments: