Bruce Collins, Evangelist

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Whom Ye Have Crucified!

Meditation for the week of Jun 19, 2011

Acts 2:23  Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:
Acts 2:36-37  Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?

Peter is fairly direct in his preaching of the gospel.  He calls the Jews wicked.  Even though the Gentiles were also guilty of the crucifixion, he is preaching to Jews and he says specifically “whom ye have crucified.”  Peter is holding his audience accountable though his preaching.  In his case, his audience realized that what he was saying was true.  Their hearts were pricked. They repented and believed the Gospel.  When Stephen preached in the same way in Acts 7, they stoned him.  But there was still one young man who heard Stephen’s message and saw him die who was convicted or “pricked” in his heart.  In Acts 9, he met the Lord on the Damascus road.  His name was Paul.

Is there a difference between the way we present the Gospel today and the way they preached it in the early days of the church?  I think there is.  We want to “share” the Gospel.  They preached it.  One word that is often used for preaching is to herald the Gospel.  Another word has to do with announcing good news.  Both words assume that the audience has a need that only the Gospel can meet.  When we talk about sharing, there is always the idea of participation on the part of the recipient.  Sharing assumes that the what you are apportioning is something the recipient wants.  We can share a meal, we can share our time and our money, but can we really share the Gospel?  When a person is truly convicted and ready to believe in the Lord, perhaps at that point we can “share” the gospel with them.   But up until they have been pricked in their hearts, we need to preach the Gospel to them. 

When we “share” the Gospel, we are careful not to offend.  When those in the early church preached the Gospel, people were often offended.  Sometimes the preacher was stoned.  Sometimes he was jailed, but there were always some that realized the truth of the Gospel being preached.  When there is something wrong and people are lost because they have a religion without Christ, do we love them if we don’t preach the Gospel to them?  If I “share” the Gospel with them, I have to be careful not to give them the impression that I think they are unsaved and lost.  When I preach the Gospel, I can be honest about people that have signed on to Christianity because they think it is a good thing verses those who have truly repented and believed.  I can distinguish between the saved and the lost, between the believer and the unbeliever, between those that are going to heaven and those who are going to hell.  When I preach the Gospel, I can distinguish between religion and true trust in the Lord Jesus Christ.  Religion is a burden, while trusting in the Lord removes burdens and frees us to serve the Lord “in newness of life (Romans 6:4).”  A truly saved person’s walk is marked by devotion to the Lord and serving Him is seen as a privilege, not as a burden.  When we are truly trusting in the Lord, we are no longer consumed with guilt, but we are motivated by love.

Obviously, Paul “reasoned” with people to whom he preached (Acts 24:25).  He often reasoned with the Jews in the synagogues.  But I suspect that as he reasoned, he would have been considered to be a “Bible Banger.”  He didn’t try to make the Gospel something that it wasn’t in order to convince people to believe in it.  He was honest about salvation requiring conviction of sin, an understanding of their lostness, and a turning from idols to God in order to be saved.

I wonder how many of us are being as faithful as the early preachers were when we “share” the Gospel?  Do we confront the sin issues and the unbelief of our natural hearts in the same way the early preachers did?  Or as we “share” the Gospel do we change it so that it will be attractive to unbelievers?

The Jews crucified their Messiah.  Peter’s confronting that issue was not easy or pretty.  However, when those in his audience faced their sin, they were able to repent and believe.  Anything less, does not show real love for the lost.

Bruce Collins

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