The pulpit, whether it be in a prison house or a church house, is not a platform for entertaining people, telling jokes, promoting opinion, or performing mass psychology – the pulpit is a platform for preaching truth, solemnly testifying about the kingdom of God and persuading men concerning Jesus Christ from the Scriptures. Any platform or opportunity that God provides for the preaching and teaching of His truth is to be considered a pulpit and is to be treated with our utmost respect and reverence for His Majesty.
Nowhere in the Bible do we see the men of God belittling their God-given opportunities to preach and teach. They were not lackadaisical or irreverent in discharging their duties. Instead you always find that in their ministry of persuasion, God’s men were always serious and solemn. Why? Because they were given the ministry of persuasion – convincing and convicting others of God’s truth. God has committed to us the word of reconciliation. “Therefore we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:19-20).
God never gives us a platform for our own personal advancement or popularity but always and only for the preaching of His kingdom and His Christ. In this ministry of persuasion we are royal ambassadors because we are representing the King of kings and Lord of lords and proclaiming His truth – not walking in craftiness or adulterating the word of God, but by the manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God (2 Corinthians 4:2) - and not in cleverness of speech, so that the cross of Christ will not be made void (1 Corinthians 1:17) – and not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God (1 Corinthians 2:4-5).
We have been given the ministry of reconciliation which necessitates the ministry of persuasion and it is not to be trivialized or minimized but we are to be serious and solemn in discharging our duties as ambassadors for Christ. Acts 28:23-27 shows us some necessities in the ministry of persuasion.
Paul believed in clear explanation of God’s Word in his ministry of persuasion! (23)
The duty of the preacher is to give the meaning and correct interpretation of God’s Word. We are not to be interested in the preacher’s opinion, his clever speech or his persuasive words of wisdom – we are to be interested in what has God really said! We read in verse 23, “and he was explaining to them.” This means that Paul was giving the meaning of God’s Word to his hearers. Just like Ezra the scribe in the book of Nehemiah who read from the book of the Law from early morning until midday and they read from the book, from the law of God, translating (explaining) to give the sense so that they (the people) understood the reading (Nehemiah 8:8). Ezra was a good example for preachers – “For Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the Lord and to practice it, and to teach His statutes and ordinances in Israel” (Ezra 7:10).
We also have the example of the Lord Jesus Christ who after his resurrection appeared to the two men on the road to Emmaus and, “Then beginning with Moses and with the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures” (Luke 24:27). Explaining and expounding the Scriptures is the only way to persuade men concerning the truth of God’s kingdom and His King.
Paul believed in the serious handling God’s Word in his ministry of persuasion! (23)
We read, “And he was explaining to them by solemnly testifying…” (23). This ministry of persuasion through preaching is no laughing, joking, or irreverent matter. We had better never forget whose ambassadors we are and in whose presence we speak! “I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction” (2 Timothy 4:1-2). Preaching is a serious matter! God isn’t concerned with whether or not we are well liked, popular, funny, clever, or entertaining – He is concerned with our proper handling of the Word of truth which alone is the power of God unto salvation for all who believe – “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).
Paul believed in the divine intent of God’s Word in his ministry of persuasion! (23)
We read, “And he was explaining to them by solemnly testifying about the kingdom of God and trying to persuade them concerning Jesus” (23) and, “Preaching the kingdom of God and teaching concerning the Lord Jesus Christ…” (31). First, Paul was solemnly testifying about the kingdom of God. When John the Baptist came on the scene and came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, he said, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 3:2). When the Lord Jesus Christ began His ministry after His baptism in the Jordan by John the Baptist, He said, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17). And then in His Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7 the Lord Jesus gave the characteristics of the citizens of the Kingdom of God. In Matthew 5 He spoke of kingdom citizens being marked by true righteousness, in Matthew 6 He spoke of kingdom citizens being marked by true worship, and in Matthew 7 He spoke of kingdom citizens being marked by true judgment. The kingdom of God is about the King and His subjects. The kingdom of God also entails those who rebel against the King and who hate His people.
The truth of the kingdom of God serves as a grave warning and call to repentance for those who would foolishly take their stand against the rule and authority of God through His Messiah, His appointed King. See Psalm 2.
This is where teaching concerning the Lord Jesus Christ or trying to persuade concerning Jesus comes in. He is the promised Messiah, the One who fulfills Scripture, the One whom God has made both Lord and Christ, and the only One through whom God will ever grant salvation. The book of Acts is very thorough in establishing the truth of the Kingship of Christ. We only have to get to chapter two of Acts before this wonderful and profound truth is made clear – “Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ – this Jesus whom you crucified” (Acts 2:36). Jesus is the King of the kingdom of God and God does not ask us to make him King or Lord of our lives – God commands that we repent and bow in worship receiving Christ as our King based on the truth that Jesus Christ the King laid down His life for us! Kingdom citizens are drawn into the kingdom by being drawn to the King! It is for this reason that we sing, “Amazing love, how can it be, that you my King would die for me?”
Jesus Christ is the King and we can neither make Him King nor dethrone Him as King. He was impaled once on an old rugged cross but He will never be impeached. He died once but He will never die again! He is the King to whom all men must give an account and He is the King whom all men will one day, whether they like it or not, confess that He is Lord! “Although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped. But emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:6-11).
Paul believed in the absolute veracity of God’s Word in his ministry of persuasion! (23)
We read, “And he was explaining to them by solemnly testifying about the kingdom of God and trying to persuade them concerning Jesus, from both the Law of Moses and from the prophets…” (23). Paul believed in the absolute truthfulness or veracity of God’s Word. When we read that he was trying to persuade them from both the Law of Moses and from the prophets we are to understand that Paul was using the totality of the Old Testament as the sole basis for establishing the truth of the kingdom of God and Jesus Christ as its King. This is what the Bible teaches. In our persuasion we are to use God’s Word because His Word is truth and it is His Word that produces faith – “So faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17). It is not our cleverness or our persuasive words of wisdom that have power unto salvation but God’s Word alone. Paul told Timothy, “From childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:15). Paul would have began in Genesis and worked his way to Malachi showing over and over again the truth of Jesus Christ the suffering Messiah and exalted King!
Paul believed in the convicting power of the Word of God in his ministry of persuasion! (24)
We read, “Some were being persuaded by the things spoken, but others would not believe” (24). We should never forget that the convicting power of the Holy Spirit through the Word of God not only results in some being persuaded/believing but also in some who will not believe. Those who will not believe have hardened their hearts and will not receive and believe the clear, serious, and absolute truth of God’s Word concerning His kingdom and His King. This rejection is willful and in the face of the convicting and convincing power of the truth of the Word of God. Those who will not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved will receive a deluding influence so that they will believe a lie and be judged. As is clear from the following three verses, God will harden the hearts of those who harden their hearts and will not believe.
The Holy Spirit uses the accurate preaching of the Word of God to convict concerning sin (the rejection of the Lordship of Christ in our lives as evidenced by our deeds); to convict concerning righteousness (the kingdom of God and His sinless always obedient King); and to convict concerning judgment (the defeat of all the enemies of God).
Conviction doesn’t come from our cleverness, or ability to talk people into things (persuasive words of wisdom) or our craftiness – conviction comes from the Holy Spirit using the convicting power of the Word of God.
Paul believed in the divine inspiration of the Word of God in his ministry of persuasion! (25-27)
We read, “The Holy Spirit rightly spoke through Isaiah the prophet to your fathers…” (25). Paul had been using the totality of the Old Testament while testifying and persuading concerning the kingdom of God and Jesus. Everything that the Bible says is true not only concerning the kingdom, its citizens, and Jesus its King, but also concerning those who take their stand against the kingdom and the King. The reason that everything the Bible says is true and that we can believe in the absolute veracity of the Word of God is because it is inspired by the Holy Spirit of God who is not only the Spirit of holiness, He is also the Spirit of truth. What He says is right and true!
We can trust the Bible because we can trust its Author – “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
Since the Bible is divinely inspired it is true and what it says about God, His Kingdom, His King, His subjects, and His enemies is right. This is one of the reasons we read so much in the Bible about not only what marks the children of God but also what marks the children of the devil. And what is absolutely clear about the differences between the children of God and the children of the devil is that the children of the devil will not receive and believe the truth while the children of God do. Look at verses 26 and 27 – these men had just spent the majority of a day listening to solemn testimony and persuasion from the Word of God and many of them would not believe – a truth the Holy Spirit inspired to be written into the Bible through Isaiah the prophet.
God only uses truth to draw men and women to His Son and it is that same truth which draws some and yet repels others. Knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men with the truth of God’s Word!