Our reading for Wednesday, June 26, 2019 is Acts 4. 13–22.
13 When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. 14 But since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say. 15 So they ordered them to withdraw from the Sanhedrin and then conferred together. 16 “What are we going to do with these men?” they asked. “Everybody living in Jerusalem knows they have done an outstanding miracle, and we cannot deny it. 17 But to stop this thing from spreading any further among the people, we must warn these men to speak no longer to anyone in this name.” 18 Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John replied, “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God. 20 For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” 21 After further threats they let them go. They could not decide how to punish them, because all the people were praising God for what had happened. 22 For the man who was miraculously healed was over forty years old. -NIV
Do you think you have what it takes to speak knowledgeably in support of your faith? Many believers I have spoken to have used ignorance as their excuse and have stated evangelism is the work of the pastor or preacher. Certainly a pastor should be engaged in witness and evangelism, but this is born from their personal discipleship. We are all to be disciples and each to be actively witnessing to their faith.
Ignorance is no excuse because anyone and each one of us can better acquaint ourselves with the scriptures and can give testimony concerning their personal experience of Christ and God’s grace. Two men I admire are Abraham Lincoln and theologian A.W. Tozer. Both men were “unschooled” as Luke describes Peter and John. Abraham Lincoln had little formal education and legend describes him as self-taught before the light of a fireplace, yet he became a gifted and acknowledged orator and president of the United States.
A.W. Tozer had no formal theological education but had the practical education from personal study, prayer and reflection we should each be engaged in, was well read and possessed a vital experience of relationship with Christ and ministry. He became the prominent pastor and theologian for the Missionary Alliance Church, prolific writer and speaker who earned two doctorates from prestigious institutions without ever attending a class.
Come to think about it, you and I know a man who never received a formal education yet who is acknowledged as the most knowledgeable and inspirational human being of history. That person was Jesus Christ, God’s only Son and our Savior and Lord. So do not claim ignorance as your excuse; own your reluctance to laziness, fear, and lack of courage. Knowledge and wisdom can be learned; what is necessary is the passionate devotion for Christ and the will to be used by God to touch others’ lives with Christ’s grace and mercy.
The religious authorities noted the lack of formal education possessed by Peter and John but they also noted the power of their conviction. They were ordinary everyday people who became extraordinary due to their faith in Christ. We can be as extraordinary and useful if we would only surrender our lives fully to Jesus. You can read The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren however what he wrote is nothing new. What is needed is a fully surrendered life to God’s purposes. We discover our significance and deeper meaning when we get off our butts and get into the game with God.
The religious authorities did not know what to do with these unschooled disciples of Christ, so they roughed them up and instructed them to keep silence. With conviction Peter declared he would never recognize their authority and refused to ever obey their warning. John Wesley refused to accept the limitations imposed upon the Methodist movement by the religious establishment, and instead, trained and sent forth lay (non-ordained) men and women to be preachers and eventually conveyed upon them the authority of officially presiding over the sacraments.
God does not recognize any human authority that is not earned by commitment and submission to his Son. I have formal education and degrees myself and I know many who have prestigious educational pedigrees and credentials but who will not gain my respect or following. Homage is earned by evidence of faithfulness, righteousness, and the greater wisdom that comes from living close to Christ. They are my heroes and the fruit from their service the credentials for inspiring my very own service to Jesus and the people for whom he died. How about you? Can you be such a servant to win souls with Christ for the transformation of the world?
Blessings! Brian Homan