A Burden, Not Just Just a Privilege

“We will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” And what they said pleased the whole gathering. Acts 6:4-5

While the Spirit-filled events of Pentecost and the resulting ministry were extraordinary, the apostles and their followers did not begin saying afterward, Well, now the Spirit of God teaches me; therefore, I don’t need to listen to anybody else. Instead, when filled with the Holy Spirit, they were all ears for the authoritative preaching and teaching of God’s word. This teaches us an important lesson: the Spirit of God always leads the people of God to devote themselves to the word of God.

This is why the book of Acts is full of the centrality of preaching. The apostles recognized that God’s supreme instrument for renewing His people in the image of His Son was and is through His word, as His Spirit works through it. Here in Acts 6 we see an example of the priority and protection the apostles gave to those called and equipped to teach. The apostles recognized the sobering importance of being entrusted as servants to bring before the people the very words of God Himself.

The Old Testament books refer to the “oracles” of the prophets; this word can also be translated as “burden” (see, for instance, Isaiah 13:1, KJV). It describes a weight upon the heart and mind that comes about because of the awesome responsibility of speaking God’s truth to people. Back in the nineteenth century C.H. Spurgeon acknowledged this burden by declaring his pulpit to be more influential than the throne of the king of England, for he brought a message from the throne of God to that pulpit and delivered the truth of Christian doctrine.

We must pray for and protect those called to teach the truths of Scripture, whether to a congregation, or to little children, or in any other context. It is no small thing to stand regularly between a holy God and His people, declaring His word. It is a heavy burden as well as a wonderful privilege.

In addition to praying for our teachers and preachers, we must also be humble and eager to sit and learn under the authoritative teaching of God’s word. Such an example of devotion was set by the early church in their dedication to the apostles’ teaching (Acts 2:42). Contemporary devotion ought to look the same; we must be committed to teaching that is based on the New Testament truths revealed to the apostles and built upon the foundations of Old Testament doctrine. We must not be spending all our time snacking on the fast food of box sets that soak up our time, TV networks that confirm what we already think, and books or video games that offer escape from the real world. Instead, we need to feast on the word of God. Let that be your spiritual food and you will find each day that the Spirit of God leads you deeper into the truths and the joys within it.

Alistair Begg

Published by Intentional Faith

Devoted to a Faith that Thinks

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