VIEWS FROM THE PEWS,
My Brothers and Sisters,
I share with you this week from a book – “Evangelism” an excerpt from the Chapter entitled “The Story Luke Tells” by Oswald C.J. Hoffmann.
The story Luke tells in the Acts of the Apostles is exciting and fascinating. It is about real people in real life, some hemmed in by the fences people make for themselves, and others liberated from the despair of the world and even from their own disabilities by the power of God’s Spirit. It is the story of Christ all over again, of death and resurrection. It is a dramatization of what Paul was talking about in Galatians, “I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live – yet not I, but Christ lives in me; and the life that I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.” It is the story of genuine repentance. It is the Spirit of God doing His thing in the midst of a world intent on doing its thing. It is the Acts of the Holy Spirit in the Acts of the Apostles.
The Acts of the Apostles is not only the story of evangelism, it is the book of evangelism. Its purpose is evangelistic, to reach people where they are with the Good News of Jesus Christ. It must be the purpose of all proclamation of Jesus Christ to reach people where they are, by whatever method, through whatever means the Spirit of God provides for a living witness to Jesus Christ by Spirit-filled people who do not think of themselves more highly than they ought to think. God’s people are carried along by the Spirit of God to the world in which they live even as the apostles were carried along by the Spirit of God from Jerusalem to Antioch to Europe and finally to Rome. It is what Jesus Christ did for people when He died for people. “He died for all,” said Paul, “that those who live by faith in Him should not henceforth live for themselves alone but to Him who for their sakes died and rose again.”
As Luke tells the story, Paul came to this understanding the hard way, and so did Peter. It did not come easily to Peter, anymore than it came to Paul. But it came! It had to come, because Jesus Christ died for all.
Apostolic evangelism is carried out in the power of the Holy Spirit. It does not proclaim the virtues of the Holy Spirit, but the glory of Christ. By the power of the Holy Spirit, Christ is glorified in the words of the apostles and in the life of the Church. Where the Holy Spirit is, Christ is proclaimed. Where Christ is proclaimed, there the Spirit is.
The apostles did not proclaim themselves, even as the bearers of the Spirit. They proclaimed Christ.
Luke ends his account in the Acts of the Apostles by telling us how the Church grew through the power of the Spirit.
Think on these things!