We need to express gratitude and worship to keep growing into strong and mature believers. One of the great challenges we face is getting from a troubled heart to a heart full of praise. The Psalms can help us make that transition.
The child learns to speak because his father speaks to him. He learns the speech of his father. So we learn to speak to God because God has spoken to us and speaks to us. By means of the speech of the Father in heaven his children learn to speak with him. Repeating God’s own words after him, we begin to pray to him.
— Dietrich Bonhoeffer, 1906-1945, in Psalms: The Prayer Book of the Bible
In Acts 11 we see three types of subject matter that need to be communicated by God’s servants.
11:20 preaching euaggelízō to announce good news, “evangelize”. This is to unbelievers. They really just need to hear the gospel. Until they grasp that nothing else really matters very much.
11:23 encouraging parakaléō to call alongside, exhort, admonish Related to parakletos, a title used of both Jesus and the Holy Spirit. (See John 14:16, 15:26, 16:7 and 1 John 2:1) This is especially to new believers. They need to go beyond the gospel itself and hear about commitment to Christ, growth and perseverance – so that they don’t see trials and fall away. More mature believers also still need this from time to time because, let’s face it, we get discouraged and need motivation.
11:26 teaching didáskō (like “didactic”) to impart instruction, explain or expound a thing, instill doctrine. This is educating Christians about God and the Christian life, communicating all that God has revealed to us – from A to Z, Alpha to Omega, the whole Bible from Genesis to Revelation, the Contents to the Maps. Teaching nourishes and matures a church. It is sorely needed in the church today. Many Christians are ignorant of the Scriptures and are therefore weak in their faith (Romans 10:17). We their pastors need to feed it to them.
Our transformation gives us much to be thankful for and even more to think about. Our very nature has been changed. When we received new life in Christ it was a life that was really, well, new. Thus, we are no longer those same old people. Here are two passages that explain what happened and is to happen still:
And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.” – Ephesians 2:1-3 (NKJV)
So that’s who we used to be. And now, what?
Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” – 1 John 3:1-3 (NKJV)