Vibrant faith is necessary for daily living. It’s also a necessity for ministry. And faith is a subject we often overthink! Two critical examples are found in Acts 2. So please go with me to see simple steps to faithful living and effective ministry.
The first element of faith is for the believer. There were 120 believers who waited in Jerusalem for the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit was poured out on them in a pattern that is instructive. Notice what is recorded in Acts 2:2 ~
And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.
These believers heard the Spirit. You and I must do the same thing. As believers, we already have the Spirit living within us. But we must listen. When we hear Him, we must act on what He tells us. That action is the confirmation of our faith. And without faith it is impossible to please God.
After they heard the Spirit, they saw what looked like flaming tongues of fire hovering over each of them. For this discussion, we will only deal with the order in which these events happened. Why? Because that order is how we must live. And it’s not more complicated than hearing then acting (the action is the visible part).
Now, just because the process is not complicated doesn’t mean it’s free of difficulty! The very nature of faith requires unknown elements. When God speaks we either act in obedience or we fail to act (no faith; disobedience). This hear-and-see pattern is a little vague here in Acts 2. If it weren’t for the balance of the chapter, and seeing this pattern many other places in Scripture, we couldn’t address it from Acts 2.
How does Scripture define faith? The most quoted definition comes from Hebrews. And I am sure you will recognize it:
Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen.
Believers are to walk by faith. That means we are to ‘see’ what we believe. When we hear the voice of God through His Word or by His Spirit, we take that word as reality. We act on it. Paul said it this way in Ephesians 1:18 ~
I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,
To know hope is to see the unknown as reality! Faith always contains unknowns. Even so, our calling is to believe Him anyway and trust Him for the unknowns. That’s how we live our lives. But is that the way we do ministry?
Faith: See & Hear
It’s different for the unbelieving world. When the 120 disciples departed that upper room the crowd of unbelievers could see something different about them. There was power in their words. The Spirit enabled every person to hear them in his own language. And it was this unbelieving crowd that Peter addressed in his sermon (see Acts 2). But notice the pattern of events!
The crowd saw the Spirit at work in the 120 disciples before Peter preached. In other words, for the crowd it was a case of see-an-hear. That is also instructive for us. What is our task? We are to make disciples of all nations. For that to happen the Gospel must be proclaimed everywhere to everyone.
What makes people want to listen to what we have to say? The Gospel is presented through demonstration and declaration. Our greatest effectiveness is when the two go together. People are much more likely to retain what they see and hear.
And let’s not forget to look at this from the viewpoint of the crowd outside your church. Why should they want a ‘power’ that doesn’t enable you love someone very different than yourself? Why should they seek a Savior whose followers are prejudiced against ________ , ________ , and _________ . (You fill in the blanks)
That matters a great deal. Why? Because we have to ask them to move from believing what they can see to seeing what they believe. That’s hard enough as it is. It’s even harder without a good example to follow!