Sabbatical 2017

Sabbatical 2017
Eiffel Tower

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Chronological Reading Plan for Nov 17, Acts 9-10

Today's readings are Acts 9-10. Tomorrow's are Acts 11-12.

The dramatic conversion of Saul in Acts 9 shows that no one is beyond redemption. Saul becomes Paul. His name change is evidence of his transformation and the new life he has in Christ. It is significant that Paul was in the synagogues "proving that Jesus was the Christ". Paul was not only a highly educated and well-respected Jew but quite the theologian as well. Using the only Scriptures he ahd available to him, the Old Testament, he was effectively preaching the gospel.

Later in the chapter, we see another miraculous healing. The result? "Many believed in the Lord." (Acts 9:42). The signs are always followed by the gospel and belief.

Acts 10 shows Peter's vision of what is clean and unclean before the Lord. That which was formerly considered unclean is proclaimed clean by God Himself. This has less to do with food (although it addresses food also) then it does the fact that Peter is about to be called to a Gentile's house to present the gospel. The Gentiles were considered unclean by the Jews. The homeowner, Cornelius, and his family hear the gospel and believe. This is the first conversion of a Gentile we read about. Acts 10:44 tells us the Holy Spirit was poured out on those who heard the word. We've seen the Spirit poured out on the Jews first, then the Samaritans and now the Gentiles.

This progression of the Spirit from Jew to Gentile is an important point to keep in mind. Paul tells us, in Rom 1:16 that the gospel is "the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek." To a Jew, that would include everyone in the world as they considered there to be only two types of people, Jew and Gentile (Greek). We're seeing the gospel go out from Jerusalem (Jews), the Samaria (half-Jews), to The Gentiles (non-Jews). The Spirit is poured out on people groups (Acts 11:1), radiating out from Jerusalem.

As we continue through Acts, we'll see that that Spirit, once poured out on "all mankind", is given freely and completely upon receiving the gift of salvation and not in stages nor as a "second blessing" nor as a second type of baptism. Luke records the movement of the Spirit to make sure all of his readers understand the gospel is for all people and all nations. This is a new way of thinking for most of the Jews who believe one must convert to Judaism in order to have a relationship with God.

The story in Acts shows us that it is belief in Christ that gives us that relationship. This is clearly in evidence when, at the end of ch 10 (Acts 10:46-48), Peter has the new Gentile believers baptized. Baptism was previously reserved for those Gentiles converting to the Jewish faith. Now, we see that they are baptized as a public declaration of their belief in Christ.   

No comments:

Post a Comment