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"The Persuasive Power of the Word"

(13)

Sermon shared by Clark Tanner

June 2005
Summary: There has never been a time when it was more important than now for Christians to internalize the scriptures and be prepared to live them and speak them.
Denomination: Baptist
Audience: Believer adults
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own text books, by his own declaration with no empty boasting he excelled them all in his learning and understanding of the Jewish religion, so they had the best of teachers, there was no rush, no shortage of time; he was there for three months, free to speak, no threats from the Romans or any other outside influence.

But in the end some became hardened and disobedient, speaking evil of the Way publicly.

Christians as a sect were referred to as the Way at this point. You may remember that the term ‘Christian’ started in Antioch but of course it would take some time to become the common reference to believers in Christ.

So here we have this certain group, who for three months have listened and deliberated with Paul, and with every passing day, every passing hour, they’ve hardened their hearts against his message and his Messiah, until they could stand no more of it.

What a strong reaction when they finally burst. They begin publicly speaking evil against the good news that Paul preached and against believers in that good news.
It just makes me wonder; what took them so long to get mad?

Let’s not miss this word, ‘disobedient’. It speaks of deliberateness. A choice.
Listen to me. They were hearing truth, they were understanding what they were hearing, their every argument and objection was being answered successfully, and they were consciously suppressing the truth in unrighteousness, as Paul says in Romans 1, and hardening their hearts against what they knew to be the oracles of God, and therefore their subsequent rejection was viewed as disobedience.

There is urgent warning here for the one who attends church or otherwise puts himself or herself in the company of Christians, who hears the gospel over and over yet never chooses to respond in faith. They are in a dangerous place, because every time they hear and go away having suppressed the truth, they are hardening themselves against it; and the harder they get the less likely it will become that the Spirit will ever break through and find fertile soil.

There is also a solemn and urgent warning for us, believers. The Spirit speaks to us when we hear the Word preached or read it in our study. Every time we are confronted with God’s truth in reference to our lives and our walk and our witness and give it the Scarlet O’Hara ‘I’ll think about it tomorrow’ response, we harden ourselves against Him, and that is disobedience.

Listen to Andrew Murray:
“There is nothing so hardening as delay. When God speaks to us, He asks for a tender heart, open to the whispers of His voice of love. The believer who answers the ‘today’ of the Holy Ghost with the ‘tomorrow’ of some more convenient season, knows not how he is hardening his heart; the delay, instead of making the surrender and obedience and faith easy, makes it more difficult. It closes the heart for ‘today’ against the Comforter, and cuts off all hope and power of growth.” “The Holiest of All” –
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