by Steven Chan
The Bible tells us that the apostles and early Christians went about preaching the Word:-
a. Acts 8:4: “Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word”
b. Acts 15:35: “Paul and Barnabas also remained in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also.”
What did the early Christian preach about when they preached the Word?
a. It is preaching Christ: Acts 8:5: “Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them.
b. It is preaching the “things concerning the kingdom of God” that would result in “men and women being baptized”.
Acts 8:12: “But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized.”
c. It is preaching the “word of God”:
Acts 8:14: “Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them”.
This should be contrasted with the “word of men”:
1 Thess 2:13: “For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.”
d. It is preaching Christ as the fulfillment of the prophecies of the old testament scriptures and resulting in baptism in water:-
Acts 8:35-36: “ Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him. 36 Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?”
We will do well to note in this account that the preaching by Philip involved merely explaining/expounding from the Scriptures concerning Jesus Christ; he did no miracles to convince the Ethiopian eunuch of his need to be baptized in order to receive the forgiveness of sins made possible by the blood shed by Jesus on the cross of Calvary. The word of God as taught by Philip convicted the heart of the eunuch about his need for salvation, and he then asked to be baptized (Matt 26:28; Eph 1:7; Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:38).
When Peter preached Christ as the fulfillment of the prophecies of the Old Testament scriptures, the effect on those who heard him was recorded down for us:
“Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” 38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” (Acts 2:37-39)
Today, it is sad and tragic to hear some Bible believers preaching that the Old Testament Scriptures did not really prophesy directly/specifically about Jesus, and that Jesus did not exactly or directly fulfill Old Testament prophecies as quoted by Matthew 1&2; they appeal to bible students to be “honest with bible prophecy” (implying some elements of dishonesty on the part of those of us who teach that Jesus fulfilled the specific prophecies of the Old Testament) and they assert their own version of understanding of how Jesus fulfilled prophecies – i.e. in general only (not specifically):
“He was the ultimate fulfillment of the Old Testament in general. Matthew is pointing out that Jesus is an amazing figure whose story mirrors that of God’s people for their whole existence.”
By alleging that Jesus merely fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies in the “general” sense, they have boldly rejected the testimonies of the inspired writers of direct/specific fulfillment of direct/specific prophecies: “So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.” (Matt 1:22-23).
When the apostle Peter referred to Jesus fulfilling Old Testament prophecies, he said thus: “ “Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day.30 Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne, 31 he, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption” (Acts 2:29-31)
With such kind of thinking and disrespect for clear unambiguous statements of the Scriptures, how long will it be before someone will say that the plan of salvation by Jesus Christ was also a “general” one and “not an exclusive” or specific plan!! Indeed their much learning has made some of these bible students, ‘mad’ (Acts 26:24). They are preaching the “word of men”.
They will do well to remember the warning of the apostle Peter: “in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.” (2 Pet 3:16)
Why are we to preach the Word of God?
a. Because the inspired Word of God is able to make “one wise unto salvation” and it is meant to equip the man of God for every good work (2 Tim 3:15-17). It is the truth that will set men free from sin (John 8:31-32)
b. Because the Word of God is “living and powerful”: “For the word of God isliving 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. 13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things arenaked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” (Heb 4:12-13)
Unlike the “word of men”, God’s Word is “living and powerful”. If we want to be used by God we must be prepared to be equipped and empowered by His Word.
c. Because it is the Sword of the Spirit: “And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Eph 6:17) In other words, the Spirit uses the Word of God to convince and to convict men (John 16:8-13)
d. Because faith comes by hearing the Word of God (Rom 10:17). By feeding on the milk of the Word, we will be able to grow unto salvation (1 Pet 2:2) and we will also be able to discern good and evil (Heb 5:12-14)
e. We are born again through the word of God: “having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever” (1 Pet 1:23): “ that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word”(Eph 5:26; John 3:3-5)
f. Because we will all be judged by the Word of God (John 12:48). That being the case, it makes good sense for us to know His Word and to preach it as it is.
So, we must always preach the Word of God and not the “word of men”:
“I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at[a] His appearing and His kingdom:2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.” (2 Tim 4:1-4)