Relevant Text: Acts 4:19-20 (underlined)
Full Text: Ezra 4, Acts 4
Effective Speaking | Some people are expected to be effective speakers – they’re well-educated (Clinton) or well-trained (Reagan). But how does an uneducated and unskilled person become a good orator? After Jesus’ ascension, the disciples regularly preached the gospel. Once, after healing a lame beggar, Peter and John were arrested for publicly preaching to over 5,000 people. The next day, the Jewish leaders asked them, “By what power or by what name did you do this?” . Peter answered that they preached in the name of Jesus – “for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” . Then, Luke notes, “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus” . What was the secret to their testimony?
The Non-Secret | Although education has value, it will not turn anyone into a courageous and clear spokesperson for the truth. We don’t need to be formally educated to boldly communicate the gospel. Even Jesus himself surprised the Jewish leaders for his boldness apart from education: “How is it that this man [Jesus] has learning, when he has never studied?” . Should we attempt boldness any differently? As he said, ”A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher” .
The Secret | The secret to their testimony was their knowing Jesus. Our courage comes from spending time with him. As Peter said to his inquisitors, “We cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard” . They saw and heard what Jesus said and did because they spent time with him. Thus, they were confident in the truth and able to proclaim it boldly. Let us also, therefore, speak with clarity and courage because of the time we have spent with him.
Prayer | Lord, Like the disciples, as we spend time with you, we cannot help but testify boldly with our lips and with our lives about what we have seen and heard. Your Word is truth because it brings us into the light of the Living Truth, Jesus Christ. May we not pursue effective testimony apart from spending time with you and, for those of us who feel uneducated or unskilled, let us boast in our weaknesses that your power may dwell in us all the more . Amen.
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alex sumJanuary 4, 2012
Great articulation of this, Bethany! A great reminder that is it more about us spending time with Jesus and following Him and His teachings then it is about learning the Bible purely from an academic standpoint which was the case with the Jewish leaders. They didn’t “get it” because they didn’t get Him (triune God). I always call the Disciples “goofballs” because Jesus discipled them even though they were so hard headed while, at the same time, Jesus transformed them to be more like Himself. And to top it all off, Jesus sends His Spirit to guide us and live in us. Talk about supernatural power…thanks for the encouragement.
BethanyJanuary 4, 2012
Thanks for the comment! Yes, I agree. Although I value education in general and my education in specific very much, there were definitely days sitting in my Columbia Law School classes thinking about how little clever reasoning mattered to see and know the truth of our purpose and meaning and joy in life – even as some of the greatest legal minds were teaching me and sitting in my classes.
Reformed Mind (@reformdmind)January 4, 2012
Great post! I agree that one does not “formal” education in order to speak the Truth to the world. Even after years of graduate school, I still ask myself if I’m being effective in sharing the my story of God’s redeeming love. I think we must always ask ourselves that question, as well as seeking wisdom and guidance from our “seasoned” brothers and sisters.