Thursday, May 31, 2012

Speak out for Christ!

 (Acts 21:27-22:21)

You need the courage to speak out for Jesus. The Lord, by His Spirit gave Paul a strong heart as shown by his desire to go to Jerusalem despite all the warnings from the brethren. By the Holy Spirit, he was able to withstand the temptation to escape the sufferings that awaited him. He remembered the mandate of his commission by the Lord on the road to Damascus. He accepted the message of the Holy Spirit to Him and to others and did not in any way consider it contradictory. But he was also not just going to retain it to himself – he was going to tell others what had made a Copernican revolution in his life – Jesus Christ had transformed his life and he had to tell them because the things. The truth of the matter is, "… we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard." (Act 4:20)
The work of grace done by Christ in your life is great and just like Paul could not keep restrain himself even when false charges were laid on him, even when he was under arrest, even when the crowd was braying for his blood to kill him. Yes even when it is not conducive you cannot and you must not remain silent. You have to speak for the Lord who died on the accursed tree to free you from the law of sin and of destruction.

1.     You have to connect with your audience

Paul was seized and dragged out of the temple and the Jews beat him seeking to kill him. Then the Roman soldiers came and took him and bound him in chains. But imagine Paul was all the more eager to tell them of the gospel! You would think that he was mad. But he had a number of aces to play – he knew Greek and this stopped the solders, clearing their misunderstanding that he was an Egyptian, and providing a chance to request them for permission to speak to the unruly mob. Given the permission he took up the steps and he addressed them in Hebrew! He called them brothers and fathers and begged them to listen to his defense.
A lesson for us here is that we have to connect with people if we hope to impact them. You have to speak the language they speak, you have to do things in a manner that does not cause unnecessary offense, you might have to dress in the manner that will make it possible to reach them with the gospel. Many times I have had to speak in my vernacular to some people if only to gain their attention so that I can bring the gospel to them. If speaking in your vernacular is going to give you an advantage of speaking about your Saviour, then do it by all means. If you think wearing some clothes will give you an advantage to win some of your clothes then do it. If it is visiting them or the manner of your speaking that would make a difference then do it – for their sake because they are in need of the Saviour – whom you know or rather has known you.
But even more importantly, is because of your love for Christ that you are to become all things for all people. The love of Christ constrains us as Paul will tell you. For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised (2Cor. 5:13-15). As much as possible become all things to all people to gain them for Christ, as long as it does not offend Christ.

2.      You may need to give your testimony

On the other hand you have to tell these people that you are different from them in that a great transformation has taken place – you have been bought at a price. Paul told them about himself – his background, his manner of life before transformation, of his sinfulness  - how persecuted the church, how he killed those who followed Christ, how he delivered many to prison. He told them of the great experience of his conversion on the road to Damascus. How he heard the Lord Jesus Christ Himself speak to him and commissioned him to the work that he was now doing. He told them of the miracle both of blindness and of restoration. Of the servant of Christ called Ananias and who delivered his appointment from God to become a witness for him to everyone of what you have seen and heard. (Act 22:15). And so he was baptized marking the washing away of His sins having called on the Name of Christ.
People connect with results and evidences visible. And what is the proof that Jesus saves as I proclaim to you? That He saved me and cleansed me of all my sins. On the argument of your own conversion are you to bring the message of salvation to others. As long as you are a believer in Christ and you have received the pardon of your sins because you repented and believed in Christ, because He has given you the Holy Spirit and adopted you into His family, you are well equipped to tell others of your experience of the salvation that you have received freely. Almost every time Paul spoke, he mentioned how the Lord saved him. Do the same if it true.

3.      You have to be Christ-centered

Paul in all His speaking did not say that he was a sinner and he did anything to save himself – he talked of the Saviour of sinners – Jesus Christ. He presented Jesus as the only one able to pardon sins and cleanse you from sins. The message today is the same – Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Jesus is the only one to be presented as able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to Him by faith.
However, note that preaching Christ-centered message does not guarantee that you will have sinners begging to be saved there and then. In this case we find no one saved as a result of Paul’s message. However, this does not stop us from being more zealous. We know that we are not the ones to save – it is Christ.
By all means become all things for all people, suffer for Christ, be gracious, speak about Christ as the Saviour by connecting with people, by giving your testimony, by preaching the most Christ-centered message and the Lord will bless this labour. He will bless it either in your presence or after you have done your part, he may bless it at that time or many years to come but it is for you to avail yourself to be used of the Lord to be the means of salvation for so many others.
If you will be successful in becoming all things for all people that they may know Christ, then you have to tell them of Christ as the only Savior. If you want to be saved – cry to the Lord for mercy. And don’t leave here if you have not known Him as your Saviour today.

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