Hello everybody, and welcome in to episode 25 of the Bible 2021 podcast. We are reading Acts 3 today, and our focus is on the signs of a true minister of Jesus. Thank you for joining us for Bible 2021! We are a daily 10 minute podcast, where we will dig in to the truth of the Word of God by reading one Bible chapter a day and discussing it. Welcome to new listeners in New South Wales, Australia, Western Australia, Para, Brazil, Wales, UK, London, England, West Bengal, India, New York, New York, Chattanooga, Tn and Raleigh/Durham, NC. Thanks for listening! Our goal this year is to encourage DAILY Bible reading, so you can jump in at any time and join with us. We want to invite as many people as possible to join us in daily Bible reading, so help spread the word and share the podcast Don’t forget about our new web-page, Bible2021.com – contact page, show notes, transcript and more – Click here for our reading plan!
I am the pastor of a Southern Baptist church, and have been in ministry for over 25 years – most of these years serving in Baptist churches, but some of my time has also been at non-denominational churches with a charismatic flavor, as well as a Methodist church and a stint as a church planter with the Christian and Missionary Alliance. I haven’t see it all, but I have seen a few things. For seven years, I served as a youth and teaching pastor on staff at a fairly large charismatic church that had several big name ministers (big name, not hugely famous) that would come and do conferences from time to time. Some of these pastors and leaders I got to know a little bit, and some just kind of breezed through going from one church to another. Almost every meeting and conference ended with a time of ministry, that would include prayer for healing, and various other things. Some of those ministry times seemed very, very genuine, and we would see long lasting fruit and impact from them, and others seemed quite flashy and maybe a bit shallow. One guy that I pegged as a charlatan from the get-go – he seemed a little too slick and too popular for my tastes – actually turned out to be the real Mccoy from everything I could tell – a genuine man of God who loved Jesus and knew and lived by the Word of God. I was shocked the more I got to know this particular guy, and realized that my (sinful) judgment of him mainly had to do with how he looked, and how other people seemed so dedicated to him and hung on his every word. Those are external things – the man himself seemed genuine and faithful.
I will tell you that I believe that God still does miracles, I believe that God still heals, and I am not at all a cessationist. My theological beliefs are not based on experience and feelings, but rather on what I hope is a careful study of God’s Word, which seems to me to indicate that there is no biblical reason to believe that the Holy Spirit would cease working through certain means and certain gifts in modern times. That said, I have seen a lot of fakes, a lot of hype over substance, and plenty of things that would cause skepticism in one who believes in such things. There are a lot of fakers out there, and maybe a little bit less of the genuine than I would like. An observation, which brings us to the point and focus of today’s episode: How can you tell if a Christian leader/teacher/pastor/minister/evangelist is genuine, or not? While today’s Acts 3 passage does not directly address that question, it does give us some very important characteristics to look for, if we listen and read carefully. Let’s do so know, and see what kind of attitude and behavior we should expect to see in genuine people of God.
Great chapter! Let’s start with our key verse, Acts 3:12 When Peter saw this, he addressed the people: “Fellow Israelites, why are you amazed at this? Why do you stare at us, as though we had made him walk by our own power or godliness?
I think this represents what should be the first sign of a genuine minister of Jesus – they know Jesus and they know that they are not the source of salvation, or healing, or power, or anything good – but they will quickly and without hesitation point people to Jesus. A charlatan, or fraud, on the other hand, will seek more glory and honor for themselves.
We also see this dynamic quite clearly in vs 16, where the disciples explain in no uncertain terms that the healed man was not healed by them, and not healed by the use of a magic word, but healed by FAITH IN THE NAME OF JESUS:
16 By faith in his name, his name has made this man strong, whom you see and know. So the faith that comes through Jesus has given him this perfect health in front of all of you. Acts 3:16
I’ll let our special guest, brother Charles Spurgeon, comment on the next great mark of a genuine minister of Christ. Not only will they quickly deflect glory to Christ, they will also be quick to proclaim the good news of Jesus:
Turning to the assembled multitude, Peter began at once to preach to them the gospel without a single second’s hesitation. Oh! blessed readiness of a soul on fire with the Spirit, Lord, grant it to us evermore. Observe how earnestly Peter turns aside their attention from himself and his brother John to the Lord Jesus Christ. “Why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk?” The object of the Christian minister should always be to withdraw attention from himself to his subject, so that it should not be said, “How well he spake!” but, “Upon what weighty matters he proclaimed!” There are priests of Baal, who, with their gaudy dresses, and their pretensions to a mysterious power, would have you look to themselves as the channels of grace, as though by their priestcraft, if not by their holiness, they could work miracles; but there are also true messengers of God who continually say, “Look not on us as though we could do anything: the whole power to bless you lies in Jesus Christ, and in the gospel of his salvation.”
It is noteworthy that Peter, in addressing this crowd, came at once to the very essence and bowels of his message. He did not beat the bush; he did not shoot his arrow far afield, but he hit the very centre of the target. He preached not merely the gospel of good news, but Christ, the person of Christ; Christ crucified—crucified by them, Christ risen, Christ glorified of his Father. Depend upon it, this is the very strength of the Christian ministry, when it is saturated with the name and person and glory of the Lord Jesus Christ.
C. H. Spurgeon, “Apostolic Exhortation,” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, vol. 14 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1868), 193.
End of the Show: Bible memory verse for January: Mark 1:15 15 “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”
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