THEY WILL LISTEN
May 18, 2013
Today’s reading: Acts 28:16-31
Just as the synoptic gospels end with Jesus commissioning his disciples to evangelize, so too does the book of Acts end, with Paul living out the Great Commission.
There are basically two aspects to the mandate to evangelize–proclamation and witnessing. We verbally proclaim the good news of salvation in Jesus, so that those who hear can believe and be saved. But our proclamation should be accompanied by a silent witness, of how God has transformed us. People need to see the change in us so as to be attracted to a life in Christ. To proclaim without witnessing, or worse, living a life not in accord with God’s design, is to do empty talk, devoid of power. To silently witness without proclaiming why we live as such and who we live for is to keep people ignorant of Jesus, thus not helping bring them to salvation in him.
Paul “proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Acts 28:31b). Not only that, “he expounded his position to them, bearing witness to the kingdom of God” (Acts 28:23c).
This too is what we need to do. This is the most important work of the Kingdom. We must give our energy, priority, resources, commitment and passion to this work. We must be tireless and be preoccupied with this work, just as Paul talked “from early morning until evening” (Acts 28:23b). We must be bold and self-assured in the message we bring and aggressively brush aside all hindrances to this work, just as Paul acted “with complete assurance and without hindrance” (Acts 28:31a). We must go to as many people as we can, just as Paul, hampered by his incarceration, “received all who came to him” (Acts 28:30b). We must give our all in “trying to convince them about Jesus” (Acts 28:23d).
Now not everyone will accept the gospel. “Some were convinced by what he had said, while others did not believe.” (Acts 28:24). The unfortunate reality is that the world is in darkness, even antagonistic to the gospel. “Gross is the heart of this people; they will not hear with their ears; they have closed their eyes” (Acts 28:27a). We must not be discouraged or give up when we seemingly fail to convince people. The fruit is up to God. Our part is simply to proclaim and witness.
Know that a rich harvest has already been prepared. What is needed are the workers to bring in that harvest. We do our part, and God does the rest. “Let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen.” (Acts 28:28).
God bless you all.
“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Phil 1:21)