“Every one should feel that he is responsible to God for all the talent He has given him, and that he should use these entrusted talents to God’s glory. Every true Christian is a missionary. While in this world, we are to consider ourselves in active service for the Master; and we should make this message of present truth which God has sent into our world of the highest importance. There are those who have an understanding of the Scriptures theoretically, and yet the religious meetings under their charge are spiritless and of no vital interest to the worshipers. God has given us tact; and if we have any power of influence, let us bring this power into active service for Him.” - Ellen G. White, Review and Herald, July 26, 1887, par. 3
God speaks, and He does so through His Word. God uses His Word to teach, rebuke, correct, and instruct His people (2 Tim. 3:16). The preaching of God’s Word, therefore, should have a central place among the people of God wherein they receive His Word, share His Word, and live out His Word together.
It is good to remember that God’s Word, like God Himself, is eternal. His Word is also trustworthy, just as He is. In this text, we will see how God’s Word is central to the life and ministry of the people of God and how it guides us as we live in biblical community.
I. GOD’S WORD MUST BE PROCLAIMED TO GOD’S PEOPLE (VERSES 1, 2)
In this passage, the Greek-speaking widows were being neglected in the distribution of resources (perhaps food, but more likely financial resources). As a result, the apostles were seeking to assist with this need, to the detriment of their ministry of proclaiming the Word. This was of major concern to the apostles, as they recognized the centrality of the Word of God and the necessity of its proclamation. They did not want to ignore the obvious need of these widows, thereby disobeying the Word they would proclaim. More importantly, they did not want to neglect their responsibility for preaching.
It seems that today, at least in many churches, this would not have been much of an issue. Some today would gladly lay aside the proclamation of the Word in favor of meeting practical needs. But the reaction of the apostles and the teaching of God’s Word will not permit such a response. While God’s people should meet practical needs, as we will see in a moment, the proclamation of God’s Word must remain central. By its proclamation, God’s Word will guide God’s people and give direction for service that will honor and glorify Him.
Do you give priority to hearing God’s Word when it is proclaimed to God’s people? Do you go to corporate worship with a sense of anticipation that God will speak to His people through His Word by His Spirit? It is important for us to hear God’s Word together, for it reminds us that there is one God who has brought us together as one people by His one Spirit for the one purpose of living lives—individually and together—that honor and glorify Him.
II. GOD’S WORD MUST BE APPLIED BY GOD’S PEOPLE (VERSES 3-6)
When the problem arose regarding the distribution to widows, how would the people of God respond? They would apply the teaching of God’s Word to the situation. They knew they were commanded to care for one another, particularly those who could not care for themselves. The Old Testament (particularly the prophets) is replete with examples of God rebuking His people for overlooking those in need among them. They also knew, however, that they must not overlook the proclamation of the Word. Therefore, they selected men who had a good testimony, were wise, and were full of the Spirit. We see the whole gathering affirming this plan.
The division of labor as noted should not be read as if the apostles were too good to take on menial tasks. Rather, it is a matter of calling and roles. Every believer is called to minister to one another. The apostles, however, had the additional responsibilities of preaching and leading the people in prayer. Because they were spending so much time assisting the widows, they were neglecting their God-given responsibilities of prayer and proclamation.
Are you allowing God’s Word to impact every aspect of your life—how you worship, serve, work, and minster to others? One of the reasons we hear the Word of God proclaimed together is so we can encourage one another to live out the truth of the Word in our lives, our families, our churches, and our communities.
III. GOD’S WORD WILL BE MULTIPLIED AMONG HIS PEOPLE (VERSE 7)
What was the result of the apostles’ commitment to proclaim the Word of God boldly, faithfully, and consistently? The Word of God “continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly . . .” As the Word was faithfully proclaimed, God used it to impact the lives of these Christ-followers, sending them out—either willingly or by means of scattering through persecution—to make disciples of all nations. As the number of disciples continued to multiply, the impact of their lives and ministry spread. In Acts 17, we read that the expanding ministry of these early followers of Christ had such an impact that they were known as “these men who have turned the world upside down.”
We do not always know the specific ways that God’s Word will impact His people and, by extension, those around them. What we do know, however, is that God’s Word is living, powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword (Heb. 4:12). We also know that God’s Word will not return to Him void but will be effective for accomplishing that for which He sends it (Isa. 55:11).
Do you seek to hear and apply the truth of God’s Word in community with other followers of Christ? Do you watch to see what God will do as you live in faith and obedience to Him? Do you pray that God will multiply the effects of His Word through His people, touching the lives of those who do not yet know Christ?
For someone who does not know Christ, the Word of God stands as a testament to that person’s sinfulness and need of a Savior—the only Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. For the people of God, the Word of God teaches, rebukes, corrects, and instructs, forming them into the image of Christ, preparing them as His Bride, and equipping them as God’s people to live for God’s glory.