Vol.VI No.II Pg.4
April 1969

Don't Knock Preaching

Robert F. Turner

Jesus sent Paul unto the Gentiles: "To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me" (ACT.26:17-18). Re-read it, carefully! My underscoring, is but to point up the thought divisions we will discuss.

Paul was imprisoned because of his preaching to the Gentiles. This was the real core of his troubles, and he recounts the Damascus Road experience to explain his work. "I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision:" he said, but showed Jews and Gentiles that they should "repent and turn to God" -- "witnessing... that Christ should suffer... rise from the dead... etc". Whatever Paul was to do for the Gentiles, it was done through his preaching concerning Christ.

By preaching the truth, he "opened their eyes", i.e., caused them to understand (EPH.1:18). God appeals to man through the intellect, proving we are capable (while yet sinners) of grasping spiritual truth.

It is by preaching, understood, that man chooses light instead of darkness. God motivates, but man must believe and turn "from darkness to light". The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation (ROM.1:16) and in preaching the gospel, Paul put this power at the disposal of the people. As the history clearly shows, they could accept or reject it.

The power of Satan to arbitrarily inflict (if, indeed, he had this power; see LUKE 10:17-20; MAT.12:28-29) was broken by Christ. Man does not have to bow to Satan; through Christ, his power is limited, he is bound. In the preaching of the gospel, Paul told people how to escape Satan's kingdom, and become subject to God in Christ. We can be "delivered from the power of darkness, and translated into the kingdom of His dear Son" (COL.1:13). But the process is that of hearing, learning, and coming (obeying) the truth (JOH.6:45; 2TH.1:7-10).

Forgiveness of sins takes place in the mind of God. It is not a "feeling" on the part of the subject, but an assurance, on the part of God — offered through the gospel of Christ. ACT.2:38 reads, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost". Peter preached it and Paul preached it (ROM.6:1-f).

Inheritance, like remission of sins, is a promise — contingent upon response to gospel preaching. Note, "that they may receive — ". It was not for the Jews, by virtue of physical ties with Abraham. It is not for arbitrarily "elected" individuals, for "there is no respect of persons with God" (ROM.2:6-11).

We are "set apart" (sanctified) by faith in Christ. A hundred people may hear the word, and ten of them may believe (faith cometh by hearing, ROM.10:17). Their faith sets them apart from the ninety. Trust in the Lord is the basis for their becoming a distinct, obedient people (1PE.2:6-f). Paul preached — the choice is yours!!