Evangelism Vignette – February 2010
In our Sunday bible classes we have been studying the mission work in the early church. The recurring theme in the book of Acts is that the word of the Lord grew and multiplied. What an exciting time to be a Christian. Every section of Acts concludes with a triumphant phrase like Acts 6:7, “So the word of God spread.” How did they do it? The Holy Spirit did it – but let’s look at how he did it.
First of all, God set the stage. It began with the Babylonian captivity of the Old Testament. The tragedy of God’s people being carried away from the promised land caused Jews to be dispersed throughout the known world. Many Jews did not return to Israel, but settled throughout the Babylonian empire, establishing the synagogues that Paul and his coworkers visited. The rise of Alexander the Great caused the Greek language to spread throughout the known world. The apostles could communicate with people of many nations in one language. The rise of the Roman empire brought roads and safer travel on land and sea. Those carrying the message of a risen Savior could move about in relative safety. God used the kingdoms of men to set the stage for the spread of his eternal kingdom.
God also sent his Holy Spirit to empower the men that he used to carry his word. Not only that, the apostles had been taught by Jesus himself. Acts 4:13 says “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus.”
So how is it with us? What has God given us to work with? The world has gotten smaller, and we have ways to reach people that those early disciples could never have imagined. We can put a message on the internet that can be seen around the world in seconds. We can travel to the corners of the world in hours. We have a synod network of missions and preaching stations extending to other continents. But most importantly, we still have the word and the command. 1 Peter 1:19 says “And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts;” and Matthew 5:16 “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your father in heaven.”
We can be like Peter and John. We talk to people every day, on the street, in the store, at work, everywhere we go, who need the Savior that we have. God help us to use the tools that he has given us so that our lives, our actions and our conversation cause those around us to marvel, and realize that we too, have been with Jesus. SHINE!