I’ve been preaching through the book of Acts on Sunday mornings at the church I pastor. My hope is that God would use this study in our lives to give us a more outward focus. We have lots of good programs designed for people to come and be ministered to. But we haven’t recently done a very good job of going to our neighbors. Our outreach and missions efforts locally, nationally, and internationally have been lacking.
We finished Acts 5 on Sunday, and I have been harping on boldness in the gospel. Peter was a coward when he denied Jesus three times on the night that He was arrested. But Acts 2 presents a very different picture of Peter on the Day of Pentecost. Acts 3 tells of Peter standing in Solomon’s Portico boldly preaching the gospel. Then after being taken into custody at the beginning of Acts 4, Peter and John boldly proclaimed the gospel to the religious leaders who put them on trial. They were then released, and immediately gathered with the other believers to pray for boldness.
What an example Peter and the other apostles are to us in this regard! I’ve been having a great time studying Acts and allowing it to challenge and change me. It’s good to see the work that God is doing in the lives of our people through His Word.
Then last Monday I had an opportunity to practice what I had been preaching. I hopped into a cab at the DFW airport and quickly discovered that my cab driver was a Muslim. I had just gotten off the airplane and had several emails to respond to. My wife and I are in the process of buying a house, and we were in the midst of home inspection negotiations. It was tempting to check out and focus on the things I had going on back at home before arriving at Southwestern for the colloquium. But there in the driver’s seat of my cab was a man who needed to hear the gospel.
I spent a brief moment in my mind reasoning that this man was Muslim and didn’t want to hear what I had to say about Jesus. But I knew that this was an opportunity the Lord had given me to practice what I had been preaching. So, we spent the rest of the ride to SWBTS talking about Jesus. While this man did not pray to receive Christ right then, he heard the gospel that day and seemed genuinely interested in learning more. I told him that I’m a pastor and gave him my email address before getting out of the cab. I have not heard from him yet, but I am still hopeful that he will follow up on our conversation.
What a great opportunity the Lord provided. The cab fare was outrageous (Dave Miller may need another sponsor for the Pastor’s Conference just to cover it), but I am thankful that this man had an opportunity to hear the gospel as a result.
But each new day provides new opportunities for us to witness for Jesus. Yesterday’s faithfulness is no guarantee that we will be faithful today. One of the things I emphasized in my sermon this past Sunday was the persistence of the apostles in their bold witness for Christ. They were continually faced with challenges and difficulties. The persecution continued. And as if that were not enough, after the Ananias and Sapphira incident in Acts 5, the other believers refused to join the apostles as they preached in Solomon’s Portico. But despite the challenges they faced, the apostles remained persistent in their proclamation of the gospel.
What about us? We’ve lamented the falling baptism numbers within our convention. We’ve wondered why it seems our people are not as evangelistic as they used to be. We’ve started new initiatives and new trainings to get people to share the gospel more faithfully and effectively.
But if we are to truly see things change, you and I must be persistent in our witness for Jesus. We must wake up each day with a renewed commitment to be bold in our witness for Christ. It’s not enough for us to muster up the courage to be bold on one occasion when speaking with a Muslim cab driver. We must be looking each day for opportunities to open our mouths and speak the truth of the gospel. We must be convinced that the only hope for the lost people we interact with each day is Jesus.
So, let’s commit afresh to be Christ’s witnesses in our communities and even to the ends of the earth.