Several years ago during National Bible Week, the then host of the Tonight Show, Jay Leno, did one of his on-the-street interviews.
Leno asked, “Can you name one of the Ten Commandments?”
“God helps those who help themselves,” offered one person.
“Freedom of speech,” guessed another.
“Name one of the apostles,” Leno challenged.
Not one person could do it.
More recent surveys indicate that Bible illiteracy is rampant in America. In a poll, only 42% quizzed could identify who preached the Sermon on the Mount.
And incredibly, 12% even thought Noah was married to Joan of Arc.
The problem is not that the Bible impossible to understand, it is people’s attitude toward it.
Currently, we’re reading the book of Acts which reveals a sharp contrast in attitudes regarding the apostles preaching.
(1) Some people resisted.
Not everyone accepted the apostles’ message as divine Truth. Many of the Jews rejected Jesus as the Son of God. Not all of the hearers on Pentecost obeyed the gospel. Often on Paul’s missionary journeys, he turned from the Jewish audience to a Gentile one because they resisted his preaching.
Sadly many today remain in ignorance because they refuse to listen and learn. As preachers of the gospel, we want everyone to hear the gospel and obey it. We may think something is wrong with us. With our sermon. With our presentation. With our approach.
But the sad fact is that because of prejudice many reject the Bible as the Word of God. They reject Jesus as the son of God. And they refuse to consider anything a gospel preacher says.
(2) Others ridiculed.
For some folks resistance is not enough, they must ridicule the message and the messenger. When Paul preached about the resurrection in Athens, some of the philosophers mocked Paul. They snickered and sneered at the notion of the resurrection. For them it was inconceivable. But rather than consider it, they poked at the idea.
Through the years I’ve received some jabs and jests at something I peached. Today with social media, it has become more common for those unbelievers to ridicule Christians, preachers, the church and the gospel message with their pejorative posts on facebook.
Too often preachers feel the need to respond to every retort and ridiculing remark. Usually, it’s better to let it go. And to heed the counsel of the wise man: “Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself” (Prov. 26:4).
(3) Still, others retaliated.
For some rejecting and ridiculing wasn’t enough. They had to retaliate. The Jewish religious leaders imprisoned Peter and John. Stoned Stephen to death. And continually harassed Saul of Tarsus after his conversion to Christ everywhere he went.
Today the moral standard of Christianity is not popular or politically correct. In Islamic ruled countries Bible believers are beheaded. In other parts of the world, Christians must meet in secret. In America, corrupt politicians, immoral pop stars, and a biased new media would like to silence Bible believers. Through slander, innuendo, and blackballing some Believers, the world seeks vengeance on the object of their scorn.
We are called to be faithful regardless of the consequences. To preach and teach the Truth without fear or favor. And to respond, not with revenge, but love for the souls of the lost.
(4) Some people received the Word of God.
When Paul went to Berea, the Bible says, they “received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so” (Ax 17:11). This was the posture of many on Pentecost. And throughout Jerusalem and Judea. In Antioch and Samaria, they received the Word with “great joy.”
Today, there are still many good and honest hearts who are receptive to the Gospel. They will give the message a fair hearing. And the Word produces good fruit. Almost daily, I hear or read of someone in the world who has obeyed the gospel.
As preachers, pastors and Bible teachers, we must not become weary in well doing. Or allow those who resist, ridicule or retaliate to restrain our message and ministry.
Paul’s ancient advice should still serve as our motto and mission, “Preach the Word.”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman