Bearing The Gospel…

Acts 4:10 (NIV)

Then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed.

As enter the season of preparation to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Gospel message we bear within ourselves should be a light for all to see. So, I would like to look at our Verse of the Day in its surrounding context in order to understand how we “image” the transformation of the Gospel in our lives:

Acts 4:1-14 (NIV)

The priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to Peter and John while they were speaking to the people. They were greatly disturbed because the Apostles were teaching the people, proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. They seized Peter and John and, because it was evening, they put them in jail until the next day. But many who heard the message believed; and the number of people who believed grew to about five thousand. The next day the rulers, the elders and the teachers of the law met in Jerusalem. Annas the high priest was there, and so were Caiaphas, John, Alexander and others of the high priest’s family. They had Peter and John brought before them and began to question them: “By what power or what name did you do this?” Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a man who was lame and are being asked how he was healed, then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. Jesus is “‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.’ (Citing Psalm 118:22) Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” When they saw the boldness of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. But since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say.

To me, this passage affirms that the role of the Holy Spirit in the declaration and demonstration of the Gospel is essential. The Holy Spirit healed the man who was lame. The Holy Spirit gave Peter both the words to say and the courage to say them without reservation before the religious authorities. There was no hesitation or concern about the possible outcome (punishment) that might ensue. The religious authorities had been provoked; their religious paradigms had been challenged. And yet, “there was nothing they could say.” Sometimes I wonder why the Church today no longer seems as effective in the declaration and demonstration of the Gospel. Are we afraid to operate in the divine power we have been given? Does the Church, at large, simply ignore the Holy Spirit and His reality?

Maybe we should go back to the Day of Pentecost and review the powerful, prophetic word delivered by Peter. The events that took place are captured for us in Acts 2:1-21, and I encourage you to click on the link and read it have context for the following commentary. I believe you will see there is a definite connection between salvation and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. His indwelling presence produces in us the power of testifying and proclaiming the “wonders of God” and the “works of faith.”

Romans 15:18-19 (NIV)

I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done— by the power of signs and wonders, through the power of the Spirit of God. So, from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum, I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ.

Hebrews 2:1-4 (NIV)

We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. For since the message spoken through angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard Him. God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to His will.

Proclaiming the Word of God and the Good News of Jesus was confirmed by signs and wonders through the power of the Holy Spirit. Indeed, as the writer of Hebrews explained, it is God who testifies and affirms the truth of His plan of salvation through Jesus Christ with signs, wonders, various miracles, AND by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to His will. HIS testimony is not conjured up by the will or power of people. Further, the Holy Spirit was sent to indwell every believer in these latter days as Joel prophesized and as Jesus promised and as Peter affirmed has been fulfilled. The gifts of the Spirit were not solely for the Apostles as some bible scholars purport. It is evident that the Holy Spirit indwelt disciples who served under the Apostles; and there are many other instances of people being filled with the Spirit recorded in the Book of Acts.

Acts 6:3-8 (NIV)

Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.” This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also, Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism. They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.  So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith. Now Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed great wonders and signs among the people.

Acts 11:15-18 (NIV)

“As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came on them as He had come on us at the beginning. Then I remembered what the Lord had said: ‘John baptized in water, but you will be baptized in the Holy Spirit.’ So, if God gave them the same gift He gave us who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could stand in God’s way?” When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, “So then, even to Gentiles God has granted repentance that leads to life.”

Through the transformation of faith and spiritual rebirth, God created us in Christ Jesus to do good works – which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Cf. Ephesians 2:10) And Jesus declared, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (Cf. John 15:5) So it follows that believers are filled with the Holy Spirit in order to abide in Jesus and to bear the fruit of the Spirit through good works. This is the heart of the Gospel. Yes, this is the message we should declare with the boldness and power of the Spirit God gave us. (Cf. 2 Timothy 1:7) We should be obedient to operate in the gifts of the Holy Spirit we have received … as distributed according to His will … as a testimony of the salvation we have received by grace through faith.

My friends, I believe that in order to BE the Gospel, in order to have credibility before an unbeliever, the presence and power of the Holy Spirit must be manifested in us – demonstrated through a sanctified life and through signs, wonders, various miracles, and the gifts we have received. And since these are “distributed” to us by the Holy Spirit, we have His credibility. I ask us to consider: “Do we display our credentials?” “Do we exercise our giftings? Do we operate in the power of the Spirit? Or do we quench Him? In order for the Body of Christ to be effective in proclaiming the message of salvation through Jesus, we must collectively exercise our individual Spirit-filled gifts. Indeed, it should be “natural” for us to operate in the supernatural….

So Now You Know…

Have a Blessed Day!

But as for me, I am filled with power, with the Spirit of the Lord, and with justice and might, to declare to Jacob his transgression, to Israel his sin. ~ Micah 3:8

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