The Gospel that Binds

For my monthly contribution to the Publican blog I’d like to share a blog that my wife, Rachel Noble, wrote a few years ago that is still very relevant today. Enjoy!

“It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”

The early church just fascinates me.   Here in Acts 6 the apostles are working relentlessly for the furthering of the gospel.  However, there arose a complaint about the widows being neglected.  If this complaint happened in today’s church I can see a lot of pastors feeling guilty, stopping whatever they are doing, and addressing this personally.  This, of course, would come from a heart of compassion and a desire to make the widows feel loved and valued (which is honorable).  However, this was NOT the response the apostles had.  They were not about to put the preaching and teaching of God’s Word and prayer on the back-burner in order to “serve tables”.  This may seem strange and perhaps arrogant, but if we look at this text, that’s simply what we see.

The apostles do take care of this issue, but in a way that did not neglect their primary duty which was the teaching of the Word.  The apostles call for men of wisdom and good reputation to carry out this task of serving.  The serving ministry is what we call the office of deacon as seen in 1 Timothy 3.

I once knew a pastor who was “faulted” with being “too theological” and perhaps not relevant enough.  This saddens me immensely because it’s literally impossible for a pastor to be “too” concerned with studying God and His Word!

Today our culture (even within the church) finds theology boring, preaching irrelevant, and Biblical knowledge for those of some “higher level” of Christianity.  Funny jokes, games, sports, and having coffee together have become more important than the true study of God’s Word.  This should horrify us!

I recently spoke with a woman who told me that she had trouble finding a youth group for her children to attend.  Her kids hated and were bored with every youth service they attended.  At first, we would think it was the child’s fault, but the reason they hated it was because there was no actual Bible study going on.  It was all fun and games, watching movies, and hanging out.  There was about 5 minutes of Bible study taught by a “youth leader” who had no Biblical knowledge whatsoever.  This should sadden us.

The study of God’s Word must be at the forefront of what we do as a local church.  Our pastors (and any person who has a teaching or leading position) should devote themselves to the study of God’s Word and to prayer just as the apostles did in the early church.

I’m not saying that pastors shouldn’t serve or that various ministries of the church shouldn’t have fun and games, but it shouldn’t be done at the expense of the teaching and preaching ministry. Deacons were established in the early church with the primary responsibility of serving.   Fun, games, and Christian fellowship are certainly important and should come as an outflow of a community of people who are centered around God’s Word and the gospel.  The gospel holds us together. Enjoying the same games, watching the same movies, or having the same friends is not what binds us as Christians.  The gospel binds us.

Let’s be the people of God who focus on the Word of God for the glory of God!

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