Jesus gave the instructions before his ascension that we are to go into all the world and preach the gospel. This wasn’t directed at “preachers” but at all who would be disciples of Jesus. As I continue to look at the “Acts of Acts” in this sermon series, it seems like each chapter has the apostles, or early Christians, involved in an act that we have a tendency to try to avoid. Yet it was these very acts of God in their lives that transformed a fledgling group disciples in disarray into a mighty force that turned the known world upside down with the gospel of Jesus Christ. We live in a time where we need such a transformation in the church and in the lives of the individuals who follow Jesus.
As we reach Acts 7 in our sermon series, we find through the example of Stephen several important characteristics of an effective Act of TELL! Let’s look at some lessons we can learn from the example of the early church.
- Truth: Acts 7 opens with a fairly simple question of Stephen regarding accusations that he had blasphemed both Moses and God — “Are these charges true?”. The foundation of Stephen’s act of tell was truth. Sometimes we struggle with the act of tell because our foundation of truth is not solid. When asked about truth, we trip over our words and struggle to come up with anything meaningful because we don’t have a firm grip on real truth. Jesus made it clear that he is the way, the truth and the life. We learn from God that his word is truth. How much time we spend pursuing God and the truth of his word will be reflected in our grasp of truth. When God calls you to grow in the Act of TELL, spend time with God because He is truth.
- Explaining: When we have a firm grasp on real truth, it makes the act of explaining so much easier! Stephen relies on the authority of God’s word to explain just how false the charges against him were. He explains God’s hand in the life of Israel and how Moses was used to fulfill God’s promise to establish a nation from Abraham. What has God done in your life? How much do you pay attention to the working of God? When God gives you the opportunity to explain the hope that lies within you, are you confident enough to tell people about what Jesus has done in your life? Learning to rely on the authority of God’s word when we explain is a vital quality to help you grow in the Act of TELL.
- Law: As New Testament Christians it is often easy to forget that the act of law is still in effect. Yes, the blood of Jesus does cleanse us from all unrighteousness if we accept the payment the he made on the cross to satisfy the law against sin and are immersed into him to wash away our sin! But the law still exists — the wages of sin is death. Without the cleansing power of a relationship with Jesus, the penalty of the law is still applied. The act of the law should compel us to the act of tell every opportunity we have! When we are growing in the Act of TELL, we live with an understanding that the law applies to all who have not accepted the payment made by Jesus to satisfy it.
- Love: Who do you love? How do you know? How do they know? God calls us to love our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us. The act of love is exemplified through the death of Jesus, and then through the death of Stephen. Both of them desired forgiveness for their executioners. Our lack of love often keeps us from taking seriously God’s command to tell! While we won’t typically state it out loud, we really don’t want our enemies to be forgiven so we don’t tell. It seems that we constantly need reminded that God expressed his love and forgiveness to us while we were still enemies of his. When we spend time asking God to help us love people with the love he has, and we put that love into practice, we are well on our way to growing in the Act of TELL.
So, how are you doing in living out and growing in the Act of TELL? Do you spend time with God learning real Truth, Explaining to others the work God is doing in your life, living in awareness of the consequences of living under the Law, and growing in Love for all? I pray that the act of TELL expressed through your life will boldly show the world that Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior!