Wednesday, March 23, 2016
In 1515, Raphael painted Paul preaching to the Athenians. I think that’s a beautiful sermon, found in Acts 17:15-34. He spoke with men who loved studies and discourses:
And they took him, and brought him unto Areopagus, saying, May we know what this new doctrine, whereof thou speakest, is? For thou bringest certain strange things to our ears: we would know therefore what these things mean. (For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.) (Acts 17:19-21 KJV)
You know I would never pass up an opportunity if someone asks, “May I know this doctrine you speak?” That’s an open invitation if ever I’ve heard one – and I’ve been known to start up religious discussions on a lot less. However, what we tell now is no longer new, except to people who have not heard it – or not paid attention to the good news.
That gospel is not for Christians on Sunday mornings, it is for everyone who will listen and ask questions about it. I would make an assumption that everyone reading this has heard of Jesus, knows at least the names of the first four books of the New Testament – but I wonder if they would have been sufficiently curious to ask questions. I wonder if they wish to verify what they have heard.
Preaching is a very important part of the gospel. Jesus preached: Matthew 11:5, Matthew 24:14, Matthew 26:13, Mark 1:39, Mark 2:2, Mark 14:9, and that's just the first two books.
Paul knew what preaching was meant to do:
For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. (1 Corinthians 1:17-18 KJV)
He also knew that he had to tell all, not just what was pleasing to people:
Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. (Acts 20:26-27 KJV)
“All the counsel of God” was hard to understand, as Peter mentioned:
And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. (2 Peter 3:15-16 KJV)
Both Peter and Paul knew they had been sent by God to preach. Paul put it in writing:
And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! (Romans 10:15 KJV)
While Peter warned of errant preachers:
But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption; (2 Peter 2:12 KJV)
Paul knew what would happen if he didn’t preach:
For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel! (1 Corinthians 9:16 KJV)
Listen to preachers of the good news from God’s word.