Scripture Reading: Acts 14:1-7
“Now at Iconium they entered together into the Jewish synagogue and spoke in such a way that a great number of both Jews and Greeks believed.” (Acts 14:1)
What does it mean that Paul and Barnabas “spoke in such a way that a great number of both Jews and Greeks believed?” Did it mean that they were so persuasive or eloquent of speech that they convinced these people to believe? I don’t think so. In fact, Paul bore this testimony about his preaching: “And my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power that your faith should not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God” (I Corinthians 2:4,5). It was not that Paul was some great speaker or was so persuasive with his words; rather he attributed the success of his preaching to the work of the Holy Spirit.
When Paul and Barnabas experienced opposition, they did not run from it. They trusted God by “speaking boldly for the Lord, who bore witness to the word of His grace” (v. 3). It was the Spirit who gave these missionaries boldness and it was the Spirit who used their words to impact people’s lives. “The Spirit bore witness to the word of His grace.” Paul’s peaching was Spirit-dependent. It was not Paul’s intellect or his ability as on orator; it was the work of God’s Spirit in and through him.
Centuries earlier God spoke these words to Zechariah the prophet: “Not by might nor by power but by My Spirit” (Zechariah 4:6). In our teaching, preaching, and witnessing, we must depend upon the Spirit to act. We are called to be bold and prepared. Peter wrote: “But in your hearts regard Christ as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you” (I Peter 3:15). While we are called to be bold and prepared, the ultimate power rests with the Spirit and not on us.
Holy Spirit, give me boldness, even if I face opposition, to preach and teach Your Word faithfully. Let me be dependent on You to give me the words and to do the work in people’s lives who hear it.
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