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Monday, May 7, 2012

Preaching the Gospel

By Harrell Davidson
    One certain characteristic of the first century church was its evangelical nature. Today men deplore efforts to convert others. We hear charges of proselyting, infringement on personal rights and “bad taste” if we solicit the interest of others. Requests are made that we go to the “unchurched.” May we remind our readers of these examples of conversion in Acts. Most all of the recorded cases had a religion. The three thousand converted on Pentecost were “devout” Jews (cf. Acts 2:5). The eunuch may have been either a Jew or Jewish proselyte. Cornelius was a God-fearing, devout Gentile. Saul was a zealous Jew and “a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee” (cf. 23:6). Lydia was a practicing Jewess (cf. 16:13-15). God had a message for these religious folk and likewise He has a message to religious people today who have not obeyed the commands of Christ. To adopt the policy of never asking another person to become a Christian is completely out of harmony with New Testament Christianity.
    The church was mission-minded. As we restore apostolic Christianity, may we not fail to restore mission work. Every congregation must see to it that it has a part in missionary work. A congregation cannot afford to spend all its income so selfishly on itself. We fall short of the Lord’s will if we are indifferent to the spread of the Gospel.
    The church in Antioch of Syria is a worthy example of evangelism. It sent forth Paul and Barnabas to the harvest fields. Luke says they sent them away (cf. 13:2). After months of toil and hardship, they returned to Antioch with a delightful report of what “God had done with them.
    And thence sailed to Antioch, from whence they had been recommended to the grace of God for the work which they fulfilled. And when they were come, and had gathered the church together, they rehearsed all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles (14:26-27).
    Some must go and some must send. Paul and Barnabas went and the Antioch church sent and both received a reward for assuming the responsibility. Let it be observed also that the church was capable of sending and receiving missionaries without the aid of a missionary society.
    The church is its own missionary society. It is superfluous to utilize a human missionary society. Loose thinkers do not believe that the world can be evangelized without a centralized society, but it was done in the first century. God’s plan for each congregation to be independent is workable even though this may not coincide with human wisdom.
    Luke writes that “daily” the apostles preached Christ (5:42). People were “added to the church daily” (2:47). Discipleship calls for daily cross bearing (Luke 9:23). The brethren enjoyed daily fellowship (Acts 2:46). The devil, our adversary, never takes a vacation. “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Pet. 5:8). We therefore, should feel compelled to say something for the Lord each day.

- Harrell Davidson, Obion, TN; via the Belvedere Beacon, the weekly bulletin of the Belvedere church of Christ, Belvedere, SC.  Ken Chumbley preaches for this congregation, and he may be contacted at their website:
http://www.belvederechurchofchrist.org

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