Over twenty years ago I decided that I was going to dedicate the remainder of my life to doing the work of an evangelist. I knew that most in the world would be hard to reach (Matthew 7:13-14, Luke 13:23-24, Luke 18:8, John 3:19, II Timothy 3:13, and I John 5:19). However, I thought that I could make a large impact on apostate churches of Christ. From my perspective, I thought that the problem with most congregations was that the “preachers” were not teaching what needed to be taught. While that is true, it is not the real problem. What I have learned over the years is that “preachers” aren’t preaching what needs to be preached because members of those congregations don’t want to hear the truth. That is not a new problem (Isaiah 30:9-11, Jeremiah 5:31, II Timothy 4:1-5, and II Peter 2:1-3).
In my earlier years, I kept thinking that if I preached on this or that just one more time, they will hear it. I was naive in that thinking. Those whom I attempted to teach the truth certainly heard it. However, hearing it really doesn’t mean very much (Ezekiel 33:30-33). While faith cometh by hearing (Romans 10:14-17), that doesn’t mean hearing always produces faith. The heart and intentions of the hearer is just as important as the teaching of God’s word is (Matthew 12:35, Matthew 13:1-23, Luke 8:4-15, Acts 28:17-31, Romans 6:17, Hebrews 3:12, and Hebrews 10:22). In addition to that, even being the best teacher the world has ever seen doesn’t mean people will adhere to what is being taught (Matthew 13:53-58, Luke 4:16-30, Luke 18:18-23, and John 6:1-71).
For those of us who have sought out and willingly obeyed the truth of our Lord, it can sometimes be hard to understand why people don’t hear and do what God wants of them. Stop trying to figure out why. It is unreasonable to reject the message of salvation and die in sin (Ezekiel 18:31, Ezekiel 33:11, and Romans 6:23). Knowing that the word of God equips us to live a good life (II Timothy 3:16-17 and II Peter 1:3-4), it shouldn’t make sense to us why people aren’t interested in learning and applying that information.
For our study in this article we are going to look at part of a lesson delivered by the Apostle Paul at a synagogue in Antioch in Pisidia (Acts 13:13-14). This was an assembly of people who were meeting to hear the Law of Moses read and a word of exhortation spoken from those words (Acts 13:15). Paul took advantage of the invitation to speak up and began to declare to those in attendance the word of God (Acts 13:16). He preached about their history as Jews and brought up the message of Christ from that (Acts 13:17-25). We’ll start there.
The Word Of This Salvation Sent
“Men and brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, and whosoever among you feareth God, to you is the word of this salvation sent. For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath day, they have fulfilled them in condemning him. And though they found no cause of death in him, yet desired they Pilate that he should be slain. And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulchre. But God raised him from the dead: And he was seen many days of them which came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are his witnesses unto the people. And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers, God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee. And as concerning that he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, he said on this wise, I will give you the sure mercies of David. Wherefore he saith also in another psalm, Thou shalt not suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption: But he, whom God raised again, saw no corruption. Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses. Beware therefore, lest that come upon you, which is spoken of in the prophets; Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish: for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you” (Acts 13:26-41).
At first, many followed Paul and Barnabas (Acts 13:43). Then… “And the next sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God. But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming. Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles” (Acts 13:44-46).
These things have not and will not change (Ecclesiastes 1:9). A person or persons willingness to hear does not mean they obey the truth (Luke 6:43-49).
What about you? Will you be both a hearer AND a doer, or just a hearer only (James 1:21-2:26)? Jesus said: “But he said, Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it” (Luke 11:28). Brethren, please listen AND practice the truths we study and learn about when we are together.
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