JESUS IS THE ANSWER TO PREACHING
Just a little while before Jesus “was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight…into heaven” (Acts 1:9-11), He told His apostles, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15). Immediately prior to His ascension, Jesus gave “commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen” (Acts 1:2), to begin this preaching, telling them to start “in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8), or as He had ordered in Matthew 28:19, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations….” The “gospel…was” faithfully “preached to every creature which is under heaven” (Colossians 1:23), by around A. D. 62.
Shortly after Jesus’ instructions to preach the gospel to every creature in every nation, beginning in Jerusalem, the apostles were in Jerusalem (Acts 1:12), when “the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.” (Acts 2:1). “Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice” and preached the gospel, beginning with the Old Testa-ment and continuing until the present (Acts 2:14ff), A. D. 33. Using the words of Joel and David, the assembled “Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven”, “the multitude” (Acts 2:5-11), estimated to be one and one-half million in number, were told of Jesus, “Him being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain.” (Acts 2:23). The resurrection Of Jesus was proclaimed, and God made Him “Lord and Christ.” (Acts 2:24-36).
Upon hearing the gospel preached, and being convicted of their sin, these guilty people who “had sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), whose “wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23), “were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37). “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins,…” (Verse 38). The inspired apostle then told them, “Save yourselves from this untoward generation.” (Verse 40). Salvation is by grace through faith when one “walks in the works, which God has before ordained” (Ephesians 2:8-10), or as Paul stated in Philippians 2:12, “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”
Those on the day of Pentecost “that greatly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.” (Acts 2:41). “And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine” (Verse 42), “continuing daily with one accord.” (Verse 46). “And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” (Verse 47b). The gospel continued to be preached, and souls kept on believing and obeying God, resulting in daily conversions and additions to the body of Christ, the church. (Ephesians 1:22, 23).
Many other things could be studied from the second chapter of Acts. However our emphasis is being given to the idea of preaching in the church of the first century. Briefly, remember that “the gospel” is what Jesus told His apostles to preach. (Mark 16:15). That is what is being preached in Acts 2. Today, one hears many things contrary to that taught in the word. Take time to read the verses following to properly understand what the preaching of the gospel entails. Paul said, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ; for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth: to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” (Romans 1:16). We see, therefore, that salvation involves faith. However, it is not by faith only. (James 2:14-26). James makes it clear that salvation is by faith, but without works, is dead. (Verse 21). One hears differently, but one should remember that James wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. (2 Peter 1:20, 21). Modern preachers do not! “The gospel” is to be “preached.” 1 Corinthians 15:1). “How shall they hear without a preacher?” (Romans 10:14). It is to be “received” (1 Corinthians 15:1). James wrote, “receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.” (James 1:21). Recipients are to “stand” in the gospel they heard and received, because it “saved” them. (1 Corinthians 15:2). The gospel properly preached to hearers, will inform them “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:…. (Verses 3, 4). Jesus was “declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.” (Romans 1:4). His Deity is declared in the process of conversion just prior to baptism. (Acts 8:37).
Preaching the gospel of Christ will result in a declaration of the kingdom of God. (Matthew 4:23; 16:13-19, especially, verses 18, 19). One will also preach faith and repentance. (Mark 1:15). Both are necessary to escape dying in sin, perishing. (John 8:24; Luke 13:3, 5). To preach the gospel is to preach the word. (Acts 15:7). This corresponds with Paul’s call to “Preach the word.” (2 Timothy 4:2). One must not forget that the preaching the word demands preaching the grace of God. (Acts 20:24). Grace is unmerited favor. Matthew wrote, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 7:21). However, Luke said, “So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded of you, say, we are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.” One cannot demand salvation, present or future, by doing good works, but neither can one receive salvation, present or future, without doing good works. “The gospel of peace” is mentioned in Romans 10:15. We are begotten…through the gospel. (1 Corinthians 4:15). Proclaimers of the gospel are not to preach “another gospel: Which is not another….” (2 Corinthians 11:4; Galatians 1:6-9). Sadly, many do the same things that were being done in these churches. Paul spoke of “the truth of the gospel.” (Galatians 2:5, 14). Jesus said the truth is from God and sanctifies. (John 17:17). Preaching the gospel involves hope. (Colossians 1:23). One who preaches “the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” will declare the disobedient to be lost eternally in fire and destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power. (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9). This paragraph joyously ends with Paul saying, “Our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” (2 Timothy 1:10). Gospel preaching reveals the good and bad, that, “There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: …” (James 4:12). “He became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.” (Hebrews 5:8, 9). As, the song says, “Come to Jesus; He will save you.” Cf. Matthew 11:28-32; Isaiah 1:18).
Like Paul, we should be found “with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;” (Philippians 1:27), and “set for the defense of the gospel.” (Verse 17). There is but one gospel, one faith (Ephesians 4:5). Paul exhorted, “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves….” (2 Corinthians 13:5). We are also warned, “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they be of God: ….” (1 John 4:1). Does he who preaches where you attend preach the word, or a different gospel to the written word? Does he preach the word, or about the word? “Search the scriptures.” (John 5:39). Be like the Bereans, who “received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” (Acts 17:10, 11). Notice the results, “Therefore many of them believed ; also of honorable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few.” (Verse 11).
Good reader, “the apostles’ doctrine”, preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ, the doctrine of Christ, the word of God, the truth, the word of God, was a part of the worship of the church of Acts 2. Cf. Acts 2:42; Romans 1:16; 2 John 9-11; John 17:17; 2 Timothy 4:2; etc. They had no manuals, creeds, disciplines, catechisms, or such like. They declared the word of the Lord. They were all one (John 17:20-23; Acts 2:42, 44, 46), speaking the same thing. (1 Corinthians 1:10). When this was not the case, the faithful corrected them. (Acts 18:24-28; Galatians 1:6-9; Titus 1:5-16). Friend, the doctrines and commandments of men will result in vain worship. (Matthew 15:7-9). It takes the gospel of Christ to save. (Romans 1:16; James 1:21- 25). “Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?” (Galatian 4:16). “Come now, and let us reason together,….” (Isaiah 1:18). Hopefully, both will see what is right, and go forward as “one” in Christ.