It is a joy to preach through the book of Acts! It is filled with examples and lessons that I need to learn and apply. 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 arrive in Acts 8 in our sermon series, we find persecution breaking out against the church in Jerusalem which causes the early Christians to scatter. As the went, they were diligent to preach the word, giving us some examples of an effective Act of TEACH! Let’s look at some lessons we can learn from the example of the early church.
- Terror: This may seem like a strange starting point for the Act of TEACH, but just ask someone to teach children, their neighbor, a co-worker, or anyone else about God — that look you get . . . that is typically a look of terror! While Christians in many parts of the world do face the possibility of real acts of terror against them for teaching about Jesus, our American sense of terror at the idea of teaching about Jesus is usually simply a matter of not being willing to leave our comfort zone. As these early disciples fled, the didn’t just flee from the persecution. They also left behind that which was familiar as well as those who had instructed them in the truth of God’s Word. While I think my first reaction would have been to hide and blend in wherever I went, these disciples didn’t do that — they preached the word of God wherever they went. When God calls you to grow in the Act of TEACH, recognize that the response of terror may be real but it doesn’t have to control your actions.
- Exchange: So, when fear wants to control how do you accomplish the Act of TEACH? You must exchange the terror for purpose! The early Christians exchanged persecution for opportunity. The people of Samaria exchanged evil and sickness for wholeness and healing. Simon attempted to exchange money for the power of God, but that wasn’t about to happen so he exchanged his greed for repentance and forgiveness. The Ethiopian eunuch exchanged his questions and searching for answers and salvation. Do you notice the pattern? The exchanges that God brought about were all taking things that no one would really want and replacing them with godly things of great value! Learning to exchange things of no, or negative, value for things of eternal value is a vital quality to help you grow in the Act of TEACH.
- Amazement: This is a result, or at least a by-product, of exchanging your terror for purpose. When you allow God to replace your fear with the power of His Spirit it produces an amazement not only in your life, but to those who observe. When the people of Samaria began to see and experience the exchange of evil and sickness for the wholeness and healing from God, the amazement spread to the entire region. This is the “Wow!” factor in your life. When people see the power of God at work in and through you in ways that amaze them, you have the opportunity to teach them about the relationship you have with Jesus! When we are growing in the Act of TEACH, we live with growing amazement that comes from exchanging our fears, weaknesses, and frailty for the power of the living God.
- Conviction: Up until now, the Act of Teach has been nice, helpful, even comfortable once we realized we could exchange our fear for God’s purpose. But the big question is still there, “What’s the point, or purpose, of the Act of Teach?”. The teaching of God’s Word brings conviction to those who take it in with an open heart. When the people of Samaria heard the teaching being shared by Philip, they were convicted of their need to surrender to God and be immersed into Jesus Christ. Even when pride takes over after Simon is immersed into Christ, the teaching of God brings conviction to his life. And a worshipper of God from Ethiopia is convicted by the truth of God’s Word when Philip has the opportunity to teach. When we spend time sharing the Act of TEACH with humility and transparency, we make room for God’s Spirit to bring conviction to us and our listeners.
- Hearing: An important key to the Act of TEACH is a willingness to hear. All throughout Acts 8 you see people willing to hear the direction that God is giving. This is a hearing that puts into action the message being shared. Until a genuine hearing takes place, the teaching done lies silent, waiting for growth. The crowds of Samaria actively hear the teaching of the Christ and respond by turning to Him. Philip hears the message of God and leaves Samaria to keep an appointment made by God on the desert road. The Ethiopian eunuch responded to his hearing the message of God with a decision to stop and be baptized immediately. For the Act of TEACH to be effective, this hearing must take place both by us and by those we have opportunity to share with about our relationship with Jesus.
So, how are you doing in living out and growing in the Act of TEACH? Do you spend time with God learning recognizing any Terror you must deal with, Exchanging things of no, or negative, value for things of eternal value, living in Amazement at the work and power of God, responding to the Conviction brought by Gods’ Spirit, and actively Hearing the word of God? I pray that the act of TEACH expressed through your life will boldly show the world that Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior!