Two More Cities

Wednesday: Preaching Christ

Acts 17:1-15 In this week’s studies we see how to establish an effective and faithful ministry.
Preaching Christ

We have seen what Paul did in Thessalonica. Now think about it negatively. What did Paul not do? 

One thing he did not do was try to coerce them. He did not hit them over the head with the Bible. Sometimes we think that in order to witness effectively all we have to do is shout louder. Sometimes we even try to compel people by threats. Paul did not do any of those things. He reasoned with them, winsomely I presume. He tried to win them to his side. 

He did not entertain them. We need to hear that today especially since we live in an entertainment age and evangelical Christianity is caught up in the entertainment business. 

Have you noticed the way people are talking about so-called Christian “ministries” today? The Bible teaches that we all have a ministry. But we do not use the word “ministry” that way very much today. When we speak of a ministry, what we usually mean is a business wrapped around an individual. I have noticed in the media recently that there has been much talk about the various television “ministries” and whether some of the people who are no longer in a television “ministry” are going to establish another “ministry.” What they mean is a business, and what those businesses often largely consist of is entertainment. 

Paul did not go to Thessalonica to entertain the people or to start a business. He went to teach the Word of God. Therefore, he took the Scriptures and, reasoning from them, explained that Jesus is the Christ and that it was necessary for Him to suffer and rise from the dead. 

If you decide to entertain, whether you do it on a large scale, with millions and millions of dollars, or on a small scale, you will get results because people like to be entertained. But the results will not be what we find from Paul’s work in Thessalonica—a communion of Christian people called into being by God and blessed by Him. Rather, you will have a business. You will have a ministry wrapped around you which, when you are gone, will fade away. Why is it that Bible-teaching churches thrive from generation to generation while ministries, in our sense of the word, do not? It is because the “ministries” center on an individual and are largely entertainment. 

3. Preach Christ. The third point of Paul’s strategy is that he preached Christ. There are other important things Paul could have talked about, and I am sure that as he explained who Christ was, what He came to do and the implications of it, he touched on many of these other doctrines also. But it is important to see that when Luke writes in the condensed form of this story he does not mention these other matters, important as they may have been, but only Jesus. Paul came to preach Christ, that He had to suffer and die and rise again from the dead, and he proclaimed Jesus of Nazareth as that Christ. 

In this passage we have a restatement of the kerygma. Kerygma is a Greek word meaning “proclamation.” In a Christian context it means the proclamation of the “good news” about Jesus. What is the good news? It is that Jesus is the Son of God, that He died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He rose again on the third day according to the Scriptures, that He was seen alive by chosen witnesses and is now proclaimed throughout the world as our only Savior from sin and the Messiah. Any teaching that leaves out this core leaves out the very thing God blesses, the only thing that issues in the salvation of sinful men and women like ourselves. 

The result of Paul’s method is what I have been speaking of all along, namely, that a church was established in these cities. In Thessalonica we are told that “some of the Jews…joined Paul and Silas, as did a large number of God-fearing Greeks and not a few prominent women” (v. 4). The next paragraph tells us that the name of one of them was Jason. 

Study Questions
  1. What is wrong with establishing a ministry based upon a single individual?
  2. Having established contact and then presented the Scripture, what was the third part of Paul’s mission strategy in Thessalonica? What did it include? What was the result?

Application: Examine your church’s evangelistic efforts. What is the emphasis? Is it based on Paul’s ministry approach or does it at times rely on some form of entertainment? How might you improve the ministry by applying the principles you have learned in this week’s study?

For Further Study: Download for free and listen to James Boice’s message, “The Purpose of the Scriptures.” (Discount will be applied at checkout.)

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