How Do We Respond?

Saturday, June 15, 2013, 2:25 p.m. – This song has been playing in my head on and off since last night – “Come and See.” I had trouble sleeping last night, and I feel quite drained today. It has been a busy errand day. We have relatives coming in from out of town, and family will be here tonight for supper. I just feel like someone pulled the plug on my energy level today. Lord, give me strength.

I have been reading in the book of Acts for my quiet times with the Lord. In Acts we have stories of missionary journeys, the preaching of the gospel, the salvation of souls, and the beginnings of and the persecution of the church. So, the song “Come and See” is very appropriate for the book of Acts. I read Acts chapter 15 in the middle of the night, then chapter 16 early this morning, and now I’m reading chapter 17 (NIV):

They formed a mob

Paul and his companions went to a Jewish synagogue in Thessalonica. On three Sabbath days Paul reasoned with the Jews from the Scriptures that the Messiah had to suffer, die and rise from the dead. He told them that Jesus Christ, whom he had been proclaiming to them, was, in fact, their promised Messiah. Some people believed, but some did not. Among those who did not believe were some jealous Jews who formed a mob, started a riot, and then went in search of Paul and Silas in order to bring them out to the crowd. They didn’t find them, so they took out their frustration and anger on other followers of Christ.

As soon as it was night, the believers sent Paul and Silas away to Berea. On arriving there, they went to the Jewish synagogue. Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. As a result, many of them believed, as did also a number of prominent Greek women and many Greek men.

But when the Jews in Thessalonica learned that Paul was preaching the word of God at Berea, some of them went there too, agitating the crowds and stirring them up. The believers immediately sent Paul to the coast, but Silas and Timothy stayed at Berea. Those who escorted Paul brought him to Athens and then left with instructions for Silas and Timothy to join him as soon as possible.

There will always be varied responses to the true gospel of Jesus Christ. There will be those who will immediately believe and who will receive the message with great eagerness. And, there will be some who could care less one way or another, i.e. they will be apathetic. Yet, there will also be a number of people who will despise the message with great passion and will exhibit great determination in trying to destroy the message of the gospel and those who share it.

Among those who strongly oppose the true gospel of Jesus Christ and its messengers will be those who do so out of jealousy, some out of fear, and others because they want to suppress the truth so that they don’t feel guilty for their own sins. The true gospel exposes mankind’s sins, calls for repentance and obedience to Christ, demands death to self, and calls for a radical change (transformation) of heart and mind of the Spirit of God. It slays the sinner instead of entertains him, and that serves as a threat to many leaders in our churches who want to soft-pedal the gospel to make it more palatable to its listeners and more “friendly” to those who want a more casual relationship with Jesus.

And, some of the opposition will be so strong that they will either literally follow the witnesses for the true gospel from place to place in order to stir up people against them, or in this day and age there may be a gossip chain via emails or social media sites or even “prayer meetings” in which those who hold to the truth of the gospel are attacked and destroyed in order to lead people away from pure devotion to Jesus Christ and to a false gospel of man, based upon humanistic thinking, reasoning, marketing schemes, et al.

They examined the Scriptures

The Bible does tell us to test everything to make sure it is of God, yet many professing Christians reject the true message of the gospel without testing it at all, just because it doesn’t fit with their lifestyles, their culture, what they had always been taught, etc. While it is true that we shouldn’t just believe everything we hear, which many do, too, it is also true that we shouldn’t just reject everything we hear, too, unless it obviously contradicts with scripture, i.e. we shouldn’t entertain other religions or obviously false beliefs that make a mockery of what Jesus Christ did in dying for our sins. Yet, what we should do is what these people in Berea did. They listened respectfully and even enthusiastically (not required) to what the apostles shared, but then they examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. This should be our approach, too. If we just reject everything that we don’t like, then we risk quenching the Holy Spirit of God and denying our Lord.

How do we respond?

When we hear the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ, how do we respond? In other words, when we hear someone say that to believe in Jesus Christ we must forsake our former lives of living for self and sin, we must be radically transformed in heart and mind of the Spirit of God, and we must follow our Lord Jesus Christ in obedience, how do we respond? Do we immediately reject the message because we don’t like it? - Or, because it doesn’t fit within our culture and human traditions? - Or, because it makes us uncomfortable and it is not very “friendly” and “feel-good”? Or, do we find it a threat to our own sinful lifestyles? Or, are we threatened by it because we are teaching a watered-down gospel that is more appealing to the flesh of humans, and we’re trying to build businesses called churches, or social gatherings where we want people to feel more comfortable and less-threatened?

And, what is our reaction to those who share the true gospel? How do we treat them? Do we receive them warmly? Or, do we shun them and hope they will go away? I believe this Bible lesson teaches us that we should not reject the word of truth, if it is truth, for whatever the reasons may be, but we should examine what we hear against the Scriptures, and then if what is shared adds up with Scripture, we should embrace the truth coming from God’s holy word, and we should follow the Lord Jesus Christ in obedience and surrender to his will for our lives. And, we should also participate in sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ, ourselves, because many are dying and are going to hell, and many are without true faith and hope, and many need Jesus Christ as their true Lord and Savior.

Come and See / An Original Work / May 20, 2013

Based off John 1:35-51

John, the Baptist, called of God to
Make straight the way for the Lord,
Told his disciples about Jesus,
So two of them followed Him.

One of them who followed Jesus
Told his brother, Simon Peter,
Who then he brought to the Savior,
Who had told them, “Come and see.”

Jesus Christ, our Lord, Messiah,
On his way to Galilee found a man, Philip,
So he told him, “I want you to follow Me.”

Philip then found his friend,
And he told him, “We have found the one
The prophets spoke of – He is Jesus!”
Philip then said, “Come and see.”

Jesus saw the man, Nathanael,
While he sat beneath a fig tree,
Even before Philip called him,
So Nathanael did believe.

Nonetheless the Lord said,
“You believe because of what I told you.
You will see much greater things than these
If you will Come and see.”

Jesus’ calling to each one of us.
He tells us to believe in Him
As our Lord and Messiah,
And to follow where He leads.

He says we must turn from our sins,
Die to sin and self each day,
And put on our new lives in Jesus;
Bow before Him; humbly pray.