Acts


Who is to preach the Gospel? Is it the one who gets paid to preach the Gospel? Is it the one that is ordained and holds an office that some call Minister of the Word and others call Teaching Elder?

Can un-ordained men preach? How about women? How about 5 year olds or teenagers?

The answer, of course, is no and yes.

Does that sound like a postmodern answer to you? Well, it is quite ancient:

Acts 8:4-5 Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word. Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached to them the Christ.

Verse 4 says that those who were scattered were preaching the word. Our English translation for preach is from the Greek word which means ‘spreading the good news’ or ‘gossiping the Gospel’. This is the duty of all whose hearts have been changed by the Lord Jesus Christ. A converted heart overflows with the love of God and there is a desire to ‘preach’ Christ to all who are around. This means that the un-ordained layman, the old church lady, the little kids, the teens…. all who have been redeemed have this obligation to preach, or gossip the good news of Jesus Christ and his death for sinners.

Verse 5 is a different story. This verse uses a different word for preach. The word is the same word as ‘herald’. In verse 5 we see Philip preaching the Gospel in a commissioned, ordained, set apart for public ministry way. This is heralding of the good news that Jesus Christ died for sinners! All who are ordained to the task of Minister of the Gospel, or Teaching Elder, has this responsibility. Preach Christ crucified!

Remember though. None of us are off the hook. We are all verse 4 preachers or verse 5 preachers! Now preach Christ to those who are lost.

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Many would like to say that the early Church was socialistic. They cite Acts 2 as a way to defend their own political ideals. Was the early church a Communistic community? Were they Socialists? Should you join the Presby-socialist party? Some of my emergent church friends are promoters of forced socialism based on this text. They claim that the state should be progressive because the early church was progressive.

If that is the case, give me your 80g I-pod. I don’t have one.

Acts 2:44-45 And all that believed were together, and had all things common; 45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.

Because their generosity extended to sharing of their goods, some have regarded this as a biblical endorsement for communism. It is not communism. In fact, the opposite is true. Communism is the sharing of goods, but it is a forced sharing of goods on the basis that no one had the right to own anything. Communism is compulsory; therefore it has nothing whatsoever to do with generosity. Peter himself endorses the right to private property (see Acts 5.3-4).

The sharing of possessions that went on in the early church was not socialism either. Socialism acknowledges the right of private property, but it compels individuals to give a percentage of, or everything above a certain figure, to others. Socialism does not deny a person a right to own things, but it denies him the right to have too many of these things as measured by someone else’s standard. Most people would be astounded to hear that American life is socialistic, but it is very socialistic. Whenever there is a system that taxes those who have more at a higher rater than those who have less in order that the state can take these resources and redistribute them to those who have less, that is socialism, because it is being done not willingly, but by force…

The early Christians shared their possessions, not because they were communists or socialists- not because they were forced to share their things- but for a far better reason. They shared their goods because they had learned generosity from God. God has been generous with them. So because God had been generous to them, they were determined to be generous to one another. -Dr. James M. Boice