Monday, February 27, 2017

Day 41: Acts 13:4-12 & Prov 16:1-9 - What is Gospel Tell-and-Show?

Today's Reading: Acts 13:4-12 & Prov 16:1-9

He was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, a man of intelligence, who summoned Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God. . . Then the proconsul believed, when he saw what had occurred, for he was astonished at the teaching of the Lord. - Acts 13: 7 & 12, ESV

What is Gospel Tell-and-Show? 

Grima Wormtongue is one of the truly despicable characters in literature. A magically empowered false counselor, he corrupts the mind, body and soul of King Theoden of Rohan before he is confronted and overthrown by Gandalf. Perhaps Bar-Jesus, the Jewish magician and counselor to Sergius Paulus, was part of Tolkien's inspiration for Wormtongue. He is certainly a despicable character, a magician fiercely opposed to the Gospel.    

When Barnabas and Saul set out on their first missionary journey from Antioch, their first stop is the island of Cyprus. Cyprus sits right off the coast of Syria and Turkey and is a short sail from Antioch in Syria. As would be their regular pattern, they go first to the synagogues to preach Jesus to those who should have been most prepared to hear the message. Together, they then walk from Salamis to Paphos, literally from one end of the island to the other, preaching the Gospel.

It was in Paphos, after they had walked across Cyprus, that they encounter the procounsul, Sergius Paulus, who is the Roman governor of the island. Sergius Paulus is intelligent and receptive to the Gospel, but he is being deceived by Bar-Jesus. As Bar-Jesus seeks to turn him away from the faith, Paul rebukes him in the power of the Holy Spirit, "You son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, full of all deceit and villainy, will you not stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord?" And then Paul pronounces God's curse: "And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you will be blind and unable to see the sun for a time."

Here we see Barnabas and Paul doing three things:

1. Proclaiming the Gospel.
2. Powerfully opposing deception which leads people away from the Gospel.
3. Demonstrating the power of God.

While we may not be apostles empowered by the Holy Spirit to do signs and wonders, we are still called to do the same three things as kingdom ambassadors of the Lord Jesus. We must proclaim the Gospel. We must clearly and powerfully oppose deception which keeps people from the truth. Finally, we must demonstrate the power of the Gospel through actions that support the message of the Gospel. This is Gospel tell-and-show.

Some people like to quote Francis of Assisi, who said, "Preach the Gospel at all times. If necessary, use words." Well, words are very necessary for preaching the Gospel, always. It is the word of Christ that brings faith. (Rom. 10:17) But words of positive proclamation is where our Gospel ministry begins, not where it ends. We must also reason and refute error by the word of God. Then, we must demonstrate the reality of the Gospel's power in our lives in our actions toward others. Over the centuries, Christians have done this by starting hospitals and schools, feeding the poor, clothing the naked, visiting those in prison, having compassion of those who suffer and loving their neighbors and their enemies.

May the Lord empower us by His Holy Spirit to imitate the apostles and engage in Gospel tell-and-show. Then, may He bless our efforts and glorify His name through the advance of the Gospel!

Prayer Based on Proverbs 16:1-9:

The plans of the heart belong to man,
    but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.
All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes,
    but the Lord weighs the spirit.
Commit your work to the Lord,
    and your plans will be established.
The Lord has made everything for its purpose,
    even the wicked for the day of trouble.
Heavenly Father, we acknowledge that You are the sovereign One,
    and we rejoice in this truth and praise You for Your wise and Fatherly care of Your own.
You are the One who answers our prayers and establishes our works for Your glory.
    You are the One who weighs our hearts,
        and You are the One who makes all things for Your purpose.
Lead us, establish us, conform us to Your will and glorify Your name in us.

Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the Lord;
    be assured, he will not go unpunished.
By steadfast love and faithfulness iniquity is atoned for,
    and by the fear of the Lord one turns away from evil.
When a man's ways please the Lord,
    he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.
Better is a little with righteousness
    than great revenues with injustice.
The heart of man plans his way,
    but the Lord establishes his steps.
Lord, give us eyes to see Your kingdom realities,
    and keep us from arrogance or self-deception.
Thank You for Your steadfast love and faithfulness,
    which sent Your Son to the cross to fulfill Your covenant promises for us.
Let us walk in the fear of the Lord and turn away from evil,
    and may our ways please You in all that we do.
Give us contentment, peace on our hearts, thankfulness for Your provisions.
    We thank You for all good things, in Jesus' name, Amen.

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