There have been times in my life, usually during beautiful worship, when God has drawn close, and His presence was heavy in the room. Have you ever been to a meeting like that? Imagine what it would have been like to experience that type of encounter with Jesus present in the flesh:
They had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was with Jesus to heal the sick (Luke 5:17).
When we experience the presence of the Lord in a meeting, we often think to ourselves, “if only my friend had been there and experienced the presence of God, he would have given his life to Christ!” However, people need more than an experience of God’s presence; they need an understanding of how to connect with God through the Word of God, as we see when we examine the ministry of Jesus and His disciples. The Scriptures indicate that people became very open to the Lord when they saw the power of God at work. Let's observe what happened in one of Peter's ministry trips:
32As Peter traveled about the country, he went to visit the Lord’s people who lived in Lydda. 33There he found a man named Aeneas, who was paralyzed and had been bedridden for eight years. 34“Aeneas,” Peter said to him, “Jesus Christ heals you. Get up and roll up your mat.” Immediately Aeneas got up. 35All those who lived in Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord (Acts 9:32-35).
What was involved in the towns of Lydda and Sharon turning their hearts to the Lord? The miraculous healing of Aeneas convinced them of the nearness of God to His people; however, they still needed the understanding to connect to God for themselves. Paul the apostle wrote, “How shall they hear unless a preacher is sent to them” (Romans 10:14). The clearer the explanation of what Jesus accomplished, the higher the chance that an individual will experience a heart change and be born again of the Spirit. Paul explained the importance of the Word of God in conversion.
Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ (Romans 10:17).
Peter was the first of the apostles to preach the Gospel publicly. God gave him this great honor on the day of Pentecost. The Holy Spirit came with tongues of fire upon the disciples' heads, and they spoke with other tongues. People heard the Word of God proclaimed in their language, even though they knew that these men were "simple country folk," mainly from Galilee. A miraculous event drew them, a loud wind noise, but Peter still needed to make the Word of God clear to them. Upon hearing the Gospel clearly, they cried out: "What must we do?" They needed more than an experience; the experience got their attention to listen to the Word of God. They responded to the clear message of the Gospel as they were cut to the heart. That is what the Word of God does.
We may come across people hardened to the Gospel. Perhaps they have even grown up in church hearing the Word of God but, for some reason or another, have set themselves against it. A person can become vaccinated by religion with a shot of false truths keeping them from the truth of Christ. When someone has become apathetic, how can we engage them in conversation about spiritual things? Depending on how well you know someone, you may start talking about something of concern to them, which helps get you beyond the surface level of conversation. Tomorrow, we’ll go over some suggestions for starting conversations. Perhaps they will spark ideas for approaching spiritual topics with someone in need and point them to Christ. Keith Thomas