In Thabiti Anyabwile’s new book What is A Healthy Church Member? he advocates for a cultivation of “Expositional Listening,” defined as “listening for the meaning of a passage of Scripture and accepting that meaning as the main idea to be grasped for our personal and corporate lives as Christians.” I have appreciated his work in this book and hope to give many copies away.
One way that we seek to grow in this is by sending out a weekly e-mail called a “Sermon Preview.” This e-mail gives a brief overview of the upcoming text with some questions for our members to chew on as they await Sunday’s sermon. Our Associate Pastor, Billy Newhouse has been doing a fantastic job of late and I especially thought this week’s was worthy of note. Enjoy:
Travel back in time with me to the mid-1600’s. To do that we have to imagine an era without the internet, cell phones, cars, or alarm clocks. To organize a function or gather a group the primary means of communication would be word of mouth. Now see a crowd of 1,200 people gathered at 7:00am listening to a man preach after one day’s notice! Those that gathered had come to listen to a man whose trade was metalworking or that of a “tinker.” This man had only received an education of the poor to read and write. He had received no formal higher education, but he poured over the Scriptures after his conversion. This man was John Bunyan and his influence as a lay preacher extended well beyond his time on earth. Now what can cause an uneducated, ordinary man to preach and pray in a way that makes others stand and wonder? John Bunyan was used mightily by God because he radically followed Christ – empowered by the Spirit of God and committed to the Word.
As we come to Acts 4 this Sunday we see the priests, Sadducess, scribes, and rulers astonished by the boldness of “uneducated, common men.” There was nothing special about Peter and John to the religious elite of the day, yet God had filled them with the Holy Spirit and they were performing amazing signs and speaking boldly about the risen Christ. Thousands of people were trusting in the Messiah and the religious elite had to squelch this movement. So how do the uneducated, common men respond to the ruler’s threat to stop speaking or teaching in the name of Jesus? Do they back down and get out of harm’s way? Do they conform to the wisdom of the world’s elite? Absolutely not! Peter and John say they “cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” These average, uneducated men have received true Wisdom and are emboldened to proclaim the life-giving news of Jesus Christ. God’s Church cannot be stopped!
Join us this week as we think on these things as Travis preaches on “Disturbing the Peace” from Acts 4:1-22. Do you feel unqualified or ill-equipped because you don’t have a seminary education or know all the answers to questions people might ask? Does it seem far fetched for God to use your ordinary life? Or do you feel qualified because you have a Bible degree or seminary education? Friends, education and studies apart from the Spirit’s power are futile. God uses many who are weak and ordinary to do great things. Just as God used (and is still using!) John Bunyan and Peter and John, let me encourage you commit to His Word and to allow the Spirit of God to work in your life and have His way.