Kingdom Sign and Outpost: Acts 6 and 7 (2)
Pray Psalm 147.1-3.
Praise the LORD!
For it is good to sing praises to our God;
For it is pleasant, and praise is beautiful.
The LORD builds up Jerusalem;
He gathers together the outcasts of Israel.
He heals the brokenhearted
And binds up their wounds.
Sing Psalm 147.1-3.
(St. Anne: Our God, Our Help in Ages Past)
Praise God, for it is good to sing loud praises to the Lord!
With joy our songs of praise we bring to God and to His Word.
The Lord builds up His Church and He His people gathers in.
The broken hearts He tenderly repairs and heals their sin.
Read Acts 6.1-7; meditate on verses 5-7.
1. Who were chosen for this work? How were they commissioned to it?
2. What happened after this?
Here is evidence of increasing maturity within the body of Christ as a whole, the result of faithful and diligent equipping by the apostles (Eph. 4.11-16). The apostles approved the selection the people had made, and “ordained” the men to the task. And so the job was done, the system repaired, and peace restored. We note the results: The Word of God continued to increase.
But the truly amazing result of this situation is in the last part of verse 7: “a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith.” Oh, the convincing power of the love of Christ! The world had seen the unity of these disciples and their love for one another, and even the most hard-core opponents of the faith were convinced (Jn. 13.35; 17.21), just as Jesus had predicted. Remember, these were the same priests who killed Jesus and persecuted the apostles. They’d heard the message and not only denied it, but moved to stifle and silence it. And now here they are, believing the Gospel, forfeiting their privileged status in Jerusalem to unite themselves with the body of Christ and begin a new start in life. No wonder Jesus emphasized “you will be My witnesses,” and not merely, “you will go witnessing.” The being is as important as the doing. Here we see why.
Jesus was right about the power of visible unity to convince even the enemies of the Gospel of its truth. The loving, efficient, participative way this problem was solved, and a crisis averted, made it plain to all who were looking on from without that something truly new and wondrous was at work here. This is the ongoing work of Christ – to sign the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom to the world, and to serve as an outpost for its advance.
Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
The people were pleased about how the disciples had decided to resolve the problem of the Hellenist widows. They were also pleased that the disciples would give themselves “continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word” (Acts 6.4).
Remember when a substitute teacher showed up at your classroom? The overall joy was that the norm would not be followed and something new would take its place. A trivial conversation perhaps? Or a movie shown?
Anything but the usual hard work was an exciting prospect.
The early church however did not succumb to that laziness of mind or that search for something new, distracting, or fun. No. They were actually pleased that the disciples would give themselves to the serious prayer and study needed to help them be proper overseers of the quickly growing Body of Christ.
They took seriously the importance of the word:
“Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.”
“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Ps. 119.11, 105).
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Col. 3.16).
“For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Heb. 4.12).
And they took seriously the absolute necessity of prayer:
“Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality” (Rom. 12.10-13).
“Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (Jms. 5.16).
Through giving themselves to prayer and the ministry of the word the result would be faithful workman.
Obedience to the Word grows the fellowship of believers. Faithful workmen produce faithful followers of Christ. “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2. 15 KJV).
“Then the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly…” (Acts 6.7).
“Living Proof!” Obedience to God’s word. Always. And in everything.
1. Are you satisfied with the state of the Word and prayer in your own walk with the Lord? Explain.
2. Why do you suppose people are not flocking to churches in our day? Are we missing something which the church in Acts had?
3. What will you do today to show “living proof” that the Kingdom of God has come?
What Jesus Christ had done in the lives of these people was spreading throughout the region. Men and women became disciples who lived in submission to Christ’s lordship. They were not ashamed of their faith, but with great boldness they went out to bear witness to the truth of the gospel that had changed their lives. This is what Jesus promised would happen. Earl Radmacher (1931-2014), NKJV Study Bible Note on Acts 6.7
Pray Psalm 147.12-20.
Praise God for the power of His Word and of the Gospel. Pray that He will make that power known in and through you today as you work your Personal Mission Field.
Sing Psalm 147.12-20.
(St. Anne: Our God, Our Help in Ages Past)
O praise your God, Jerusalem, O Zion, praise the Lord!
He strengthens those who trust in Him with blessings from His Word.
Around us He has spread His peace; our borders are secure.
His bounty daily shall increase; His grace to us is sure!
His Word to earth runs to and fro to carry out His will;
He brings the rain, He sends the snow, and none can keep Him still.
His Word He to His Church bestows – His promises and Law.
No other nation God thus knows: Praise Him with songs of awe!
T. M. and Susie Moore
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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available by clicking here.