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Volume 33 - Page 166 of 253 Index | Zoom | |
furnished", which gives a fuller idea than may at first have been formed of what this goal
of Christian training involves.
Before a Christian worker can make progress in his training he must have some sense
of vocation; he must feel that, in his degree, the words of the great Apostle are also true
of himself, "Necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is me, if I preach not the gospel!"
(I Cor. 9: 16). This sense of vocation however will not be confined to the mind of the
teacher alone; there will be evidences of his call sufficient to cause the concurrence of
Christian brethren. These two elements can be seen together in the record of Paul's great
commission, as found in Acts 13: Paul turns Timothy's attention back to this great
moment in his life, when he directed him to his "doctrine, manner of life", and to those
experiences through which he passed "at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra" (II Tim. 3: 10,
11; Acts 13:, 14:).
Paul was "separated" by the Holy Ghost in a way that is not to be expected in the
present dispensation. "The Holy Ghost said, Separate Me Barnabas and Saul for the
work whereunto I have called them" (Acts 13: 2). This command was obeyed by the
brethren gathered at the church at Antioch, for they "laid their hands on them" and sent
them on their way. There will therefore not only be the preacher's own personal
conviction, but it will be accompanied by some evidences of fitness for the great
undertaking. Ordinarily, if he feels a call to be a teacher, he will be "apt to teach".
This "separation" by the Holy Ghost in Acts 13: is the climax rather than the
beginning, of the Divine choice. All unknown to Paul, yet most certainly guiding each
step in his career, the hand of the Lord had been outstretched: the city of his birth, his
racial prejudices, his Roman citizenship, his schooling at the feet of Gamaliel, were all
subsequent to the fact that Paul had been "separated" as a preacher from before his very
birth (Gal. 1: 15, 16). Another reference to his call and separation is made in Rom. 1: 1
where he wrote, "Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto
the gospel of God". Unless there is some parallel with this consciousness of a Divine
call, the discipline and rigour of Christian training will generally prove too severe, but,
where the call is real, no pains will be too great to enable the believer to stand approved
unto God, a workman who needs not to be ashamed of the execution of his task.
If we pass from the "separation" of Paul in Acts 13: to the actual ministry that
follows, it will be observed that, when speaking to the people of Israel, he bases all his
doctrine and exhortation upon the Scriptures. The exodus from Egypt, the period under
the Judges, the reigns of Saul and of David are traversed in the opening of his address.
Here was a mind stored with the facts of God's word, ready to be marshaled and applied
as the Lord gave opportunity. But we should miss the essential point if we concluded
that we must always and in all circumstances introduce large portions of Scripture into
our public address, for we have only to turn to Acts 17: to discover that, to a people
who knew nothing of the exodus, of Judges, of Saul, or of David, Paul omitted all
reference to the Scriptures, met them on their own ground and led them step by step to
the same goal that was before him in Acts 13: That goal was Christ.