now at lystra there was a man sitting who could not use his feet. he was crippled from birth and had never walked. he listened to paul speaking. and paul, looking intently at him and seeing that he had faith to be made well, said in a loud voice, “stand upright on your feet.” and he sprang up and began walking. [acts 14:8-10]
setting the stage for the gospel.
the gospel of Jesus Christ is sweet, like honey on the lips of the speaker and like a beautiful melody in the ears of the hearer. the gospel is hope and life for those who have none. it quenches thirsty souls and pulls the desperate out of the pit of darkness. the gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes. [rom 1:16]
however, sometimes the Lord calls us to set the stage for the gospel. using wisdom and discernment, we can help prepare the hearer to listen. oftentimes, for the apostles, this was a healing of some sort to draw a crowd and to prove the validity of their words by showing the power of God. this was effective to gather a group of people so that they could preach the gospel to large numbers.
in acts 2, a multitude heard a loud sound when the Holy Spirit was given to the disciples and they all began speaking in tongues. this set the stage for the gospel to be preached to the multitude, each in his own language. three thousand came to know Jesus that day.
in acts 3, a lame beggar was healed and a great crowd gathered because of the commotion. such awe and amazement came over the crowd that they were compelled to listen the disciples’ preaching. five thousand men came to know Jesus that day.
in acts 5, it says many signs and wonders were done through the apostles among the people, and the result was that more than ever believers were being added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women.
in acts 8, philip went to samaria, and unclean spirits, crying out with a loud voice, came out of many who had them, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. and so the crowds with one accord paid attention to what was being said by Philip, when they heard him and saw the signs that he did. they were open to the gospel, and many men and women came to know Jesus that day and were baptized in his name.
in acts 9, a paralytic named aeneas was healed through peter, and look at the wording of this passage! and all the residents of lydda and sharon saw him, and they turned to the Lord. this entire area came to know Jesus that day! then peter continued down to joppa, where dorcas was raised from the dead. and it became known throughout all joppa, and many believed in the Lord.
the result of these signs and wonders was always the same. the gospel of Jesus Christ was proclaimed, and many turned to the Lord.
the Lord still often gives us opportunity to set the stage as well. it may not be in the form of miraculous healing, although God can certainly still act in that way. it may not always be for the purpose of preaching to thousands, although God can certainly still act in that way. but as believers we have daily opportunities to set the stage for the gospel. if we are living out the gospel, we will always be setting the stage.
in what ways are you daily setting the stage for the gospel? maybe you’re very intentional in your workplace to live with integrity and compassion toward people, even though it’s not the popular thing to do. maybe you bring meals to your neighbors when you know they’re sick or going through difficult times even though it’s inconvenient for you. maybe you show genuine care to the employee in the checkout line, even when they’re being rude or annoyed. maybe you forgive your father, mother, or other family members even though they don’t admit when you’re in the right.
we should be daily setting the stage, because the gospel should always be ready on our lips. do you live this way?
Father, we thank you that your message of Jesus Christ is the power for salvation. teach us to know it, teach us to love it, teach us to live it. may we always be looking for opportunity to speak it. Lord, give us opportunity! soften hearts, prepare ears to hear. may your kingdom come, and your will be done, here on earth, as it is in heaven! amen.
~ arwen eastman