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The Gospel for the Gentiles

(Acts 13:14,15,42-52)

Lesson 10 -- second quarter 2001
May 6, 2001

by Mark Roth
© Copyright 2001, Christian Light Publications

Do you have any word for the people?

"Me? A word for the people? You've got to be kidding! I'm no Apostle; I'm not even a preacher. I'm barely out of my childhood, if you know what I mean." Yes, I know. Even though I grew up as a so-called MK (missionaries' kid), in my teen years I rarely thought of myself as one to have any word for the people. That's the kind of "stuff" adults do, or at least certain adults like teachers, preachers and missionaries. Or so the reasonings and imaginations go.

But God has other designs for His people. He wants to shine through the life of every Christian. He wants to put His Word in the heart of each of His people, so that His Word may then come from each believer's mouth. In other words, God wants each of us to have a word for the people.

Let's focus on some general areas in which we, the people of God, ought to have a word for the people.

Affirmation. I have prayed and prayed for my oldest daughter, asking God to convict her and grant her repentance. But I also ask Him to give her hope and assurance of His ability and desire to work in her despite the mess she's made of her life. She also needs to hear that word from me and other Christians. The truth is, countless people around us, both Christians and pagans, need this confirmation: "God will take you just as you are, no matter what. God will work with you right where you are. He will begin there and take you forward. Take heart; He loves you!" That is what I mean by affirmation. And affirmation has another dimension I'd like you to consider: Your personal testimony. Yes! People are blessed and challenged when His children affirm the efficacy of the faith with their spoken and living testimonies. Be aware of what God has done and is now doing in your life...and make that part of your word for the people.

Doctrine. Far and wide, churches today have discarded doctrine in favor of opinion and experience. It seems that, in an effort to include more and more people just as they are, many denominations (Mennonites included) have opted to exclude more and more doctrine. That is one end of the spectrum. At the other end we find individuals and congregations who hold fervently to the Biblical doctrine they have while at the same time knowing there exist other godly doctrines of which they have not learned. So, my friend, know the doctrine, learn the doctrine! God wants to use that as another part of your word for the people.

Practice. The Christian life encompasses so much more than doctrine, as vital as that is to each of us. The Christian life involves way more than what happens within our hearts and within our meeting houses. As elementary as this sounds, the Christian life includes how the Christian lives. How do you live? What have you learned about putting the Christian faith into practice? People around us need both to hear and see how one goes about loving his neighbor...and his enemy...as himself. They need practical, imitable examples of holiness, joyfulness and peace. They need models of separation, nonconformity and contentment. In other words, they need to hear your word for the people.

Reproof. What a harsh-sounding word! What an unpalatable concept! As a rule, we want nothing with reproof. We don't want to receive it; we really don't want to give it either. We would rather "live and let live," as some people would say. But we easily forget that living and promoting real living includes negative things like reproof. I doubt that means God wants us to make a life of finding and speaking against all that is wrong. I do believe God means for His people to confront sin, especially in the church. That, too, is part of our word for the people.

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