Michael Perkins spoke last night at Bible study about the recently released American Family Studios movie, The God Who Speaks. He suggested, we “go where we seldom trod,” when studying the Bible, rather than reading the same familiar passages over and over again. I tend to camp in Psalms, Luke, John, and James as my default when I’m not specifically studying something else. They’re familiar, well-known passages with deep impact in my life.
The value of fresh eyes
Earlier this week, I moved into Acts and experienced the sweetness of seeing passages with “fresh” eyes. Mr. Perkins’ words reinforced that decision. Today, I recognized something amazing for the first time ever. I secretly agreed with the rulers, elders, and scribes’ opinion about Peter and John. They were nothing more than “uneducated and untrained men” who followed Jesus and were transformed by their Redeemer. This morning, I experienced a major shock of insight, and it spoke a deep truth to my heart.
They weren’t uneducated after all.
Peter’s first sermon is recorded in Acts 2. He did not have prepared sermon notes, an iPad or paper script, or a teleprompter to help him. Instead, he quoted passages from Joel 2:28-32 and Psalm 16:8-11. He also quoted verses from Psalm 69, 89, 109, 110, and 132. He referenced 1 Kings 2:10, Nehemiah 3:16, and 2 Samuel 7:12.
After he finished speaking, the people within hearing distance were “pierced to the heart” by Peter’s sermon. (Acts 2:37) His words moved them to action. “What should we do?” they asked.
Why was Peter’s sermon so powerful?
He abandoned himself to the Word of God and allowed that which is living, active, and sharper than any two-edged sword (Acts 4:12) to do its powerful work of piercing hearts. It did exactly that. The Words of God, not the words Peter generated, spoke to the people and changed them.
Three thousand people came to Christ that day.
As if to prove the first sermon wasn’t a fluke, Peter preached a second, shorter but still impromptu, sermon. In it, he quoted Genesis 22:18, and Deuteronomy 18:15, 18. He also referenced passages in Exodus 3 and Deuteronomy 18. The priests, captain of the guard, and Saducees came upon him speaking and were astonished and terrified by the power with which he spoke.
Peter and John were arrested and carried before the rulers, elders, and scribes. Once again, Peter used scripture, this time to defend himself.
The power of the two-edged sword demands to be used.
Peter experienced the power of the two-edged sword of God because he used it. He wielded those mighty words because they were already tucked safely in his heart. Peter did not graduate from the first-century equivalent of seminary. Instead, he did something much more important. He learned the word of God and hid it in his heart.
When Peter needed truth, he had it.
Even more important, Peter used the truth he had, and God wielded His own words, spoken by Peter, to move in hearts and change lives. He still does.
It is not enough to participate in Bible studies and know about the Word of God. We must know Scripture by planting it in our hearts through Scripture memory. This is the reason I’m working hard to memorize the first chapter of John. It’s why I memorized passages in James and other parts of the Bible. It’s the reason I quoted the Scripture I knew to myself, even when my cornea was so inflamed I could not see to read.
I want to have the Word of God no matter what comes my way. The only way to assure possession of truth is to secure it in a place from which no one can steal. When I was a child, we called Scripture memory “learning it by heart.” Plant it deep and keep it there. In time of need, we will quickly recall it.
We can memorize, and we should.
We’re never too old to do that which we must. Find a passage. Read and repeat it, write it over and over again, rehearse it until we know it. The Sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, is our only offense weapon. Let’s hold it close and stand ready to use it at the first sign of the enemy’s advance.
“The members of the council were amazed when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, for they could see that they were ordinary men with no special training in the Scriptures. They also recognized them as men who had been with Jesus.” Acts 4:13 nlt
Here's the link to the AFS documentary: The God Who Speaks
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