Three Types of Subject Matter

In Acts 11 we see three types of subject matter that need to be communicated by God’s servants. 

11:20     preaching     euaggelízō     to announce good news, “evangelize”.  This is to unbelievers. They really just need to hear the gospel.  Until they grasp that nothing else really matters very much.

11:23     encouraging     parakaléō     to call alongside, exhort, admonish Related to parakletos, a title used of both Jesus and the Holy Spirit.   (See John 14:16, 15:26, 16:7 and 1 John 2:1)  This is especially to new believers. They need to go beyond the gospel itself and hear about commitment to Christ, growth and perseverance – so that they don’t see trials and fall away.  More mature believers also still need this from time to time because, let’s face it, we get discouraged and need motivation.

11:26     teaching     didáskō      (like “didactic”) to impart instruction, explain or expound a thing, instill doctrine. This is educating Christians about God and the Christian life, communicating all that God has revealed to us – from A to Z, Alpha to Omega, the whole Bible from Genesis to Revelation, the Contents to the Maps.  Teaching nourishes and matures a church.  It is sorely needed in the church today.  Many Christians are ignorant of the Scriptures and are therefore weak in their faith (Romans 10:17).  We their pastors need to feed it to them.

The Resurrection

This Sunday we’re going to look at John 20, which records the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  As I was going over the chapter, I was struck by the strength of this statement speaking of the disciples:

“For as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead.” – John 20:9 (NKJV)

The resurrection is an essential doctrine of the faith.  Without it there is no Christianity.  Here are just a few more verses that come to mind:

“…if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” – Romans 10:9 (NKJV)

“For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.” – 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 (NKJV)

“And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up…” – 1 Corinthians 15:14-15 (NKJV)

Not all “Christians” any longer believe the resurrection is such an essential doctrine.  Consider the following 18 second clip from one of the Jesus Seminar scholars.

John Dominic Crossan on the Resurrection

It appears that John 20:9 is still just as true as ever, perhaps especially among certain scholars.

“For as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead.” – John 20:9 (NKJV)

to Christ

Evangelism need not be complicated.  No less a follower of Jesus than Simon Peter was introduced to Christ by someone who was a rank amateur in sharing his faith – his brother Andrew – who had only recently met Jesus himself.  Let’s look at the text:

One … who … followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his own brother Simon, and said to him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ (which is translated, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus.” – John 1:40-42 (NKJV)

Andrew told Peter about Jesus the very day he met Him.  To be sure, Andrew still had a lot to learn about his Lord.  That education lasted a lifetime.  Nonetheless, without a shred of understanding of his apostolic gifts or authority, without ever reading or even seeing a gospel tract, and though he didn’t yet know Jesus very well, Andrew led Peter to Christ. 

This simple act is Part One of the to Christ – in Christ – for Christ vision we have for each believer at Horizon Central.

Leading others to Christ, as we see (again) in John 1:40-42:

One … who … followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his own brother Simon, and said to him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ (which is translated, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus.” – John 1:40-42 (NKJV)

It’s true that no one can come to the Father except through Jesus, but it’s also true that people can come to Jesus from anywhere at all.  People only need someone who knows Him already – someone just like us – to introduce them to Him.

Reaching Forward

One sure sign of stagnation in the Christian walk is a deepening desire for nostalgia – that sick sense of longing for the good old days.  Solomon reminds us that dwelling on an idealistic view of the past is pointless:

Do not say, ‘Why were the former days better than these?’
For you do not inquire wisely concerning this.”
                                             – Ecclesiastes 7:10 (NKJV)

As followers of Jesus, we need to keep looking forward if we ever expect to keep up.  We do not follow a Savior who stands still – much less one who walks backwards.  The future is the only time available for us to apply the lessons we’re learning right now.  The future offers the only opportunity there is to experience the result of our spiritual growth.

Paul realized that even he was a work in progress.  The Christian can always be sure that the best is yet to come.  Reaching forward is the only way to get to it.  The Lord has a future planned for you that you don’t want to miss.

Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 3:12-14 (NKJV)