Sabbatical 2017

Sabbatical 2017
Arc de Triumph

Friday, November 18, 2016

Chronological Reading Plan for Nov 19, Acts 11-12

Today's readings are Acts 11-12. Tomorrow's are Acts 13-14.

In Acts 11, we see the church, praising God for sending the Holy spirit to the Gentiles. This is  evidence of the transformation the gospel has brought to these Jews who previously despised the Gentiles. Acts 11:18 tells us God has "granted" repentance to the Gentiles as well as the Jews. Some may struggle with the thought that repentance is granted (given) by God. Many people would rather believe that they decide to repent.  However, we see  the same thought again in 2:Tim 2:25. Meanwhile, the command to repent appears a number of times in the Scriptures. These are all examples of the tension between God's sovereignty and human responsibility we see in the Bible. God is completely sovereign over those who repent while holding accountable those who refuse to do so.

We also see the church expand beyond the borders of Judah, into Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch. Here's the pattern, so far;

 And here's a map of the "Diaspora", the scattered Jews after Pentecost

In Acts 12, believers begin to die for the sake of the gospel. The non-believing Jews become increasingly hostile to the church, James is executed and Peter is imprisoned. The new church unites in prayer for Peter and he is, once again, miraculously delivered. Yet, in Acts 12:18-19, others die because of Peter's deliverance. 

In Acst 12:20-23, Herod's word and his pride are his undoing thus perpetuating a pattern among prideful kings and leaders we see in Scripture. 

Meanwhile, in Acts 12:24, God's word causes the church to continue to grow. As He did with the Jews in the Old Testament, God will use oppression and suffering to refine and multiply His people. Keep an eye out for this in the Book of Acts. You'll see that oppression and anger towards the church inevitably produce stronger teaching and wider dispersion of the gospel. 

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