Tag Archives: Mercy
Last time I stated that the giving of the gospel is not an academic exercise but a spiritual one. Paul and Barnabas were opposed outwardly by the magician Bar-Jesus but they were also being opposed inwardly as well. The magician apparently sought to not only distance Sergius Paulus from Paul and Barnabas but to convince him not to believe them as well. We will also see later how a growing disagreement between Paul and Barnabas would lead to the separating of this ministry team that God had sent out with a definite mission. The opposition to God’s work was indeed fierce.
Paul addresses Bar-Jesus directly giving him an ear-full of revelation about the false messenger’s lack of character. Paul also pronounced a time of blindness to be upon him which did indeed occur. The proconsul believed the message of Paul and Barnabas according to verse 12. He also witnessed the power of God in seeing the judgement upon his deceitful sidekick.
So, did the proconsul carefully weigh the information and “decide” to accept Jesus based upon his intellect alone? There is no example of such a thing anywhere in scripture. To the contrary, we are told over and over again how God rescues the perishing by His grace by producing faith in those who believe. Romans 1:16 says that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation to all who believe. The sovereign hand of God plucks out a people to be His own. We never see someone give out info about Jesus and wait while people carefully consider the information as if they were deciding whether to buy a used car. We never see the apostles give out the gospel and then try to manipulate the audience to get “decisions” in a pragmatic way.
What we do see however is God’s message being proclaimed and people responding. Those who are the elect will believe is the general idea. Those who are not have no capacity to do righteousness or it would be works that demand a credit to their accounts. In Phillipians 2, Paul tells believers that it is God who works in believers both to will and to do of His good pleasure. Jesus stated very plainly that those whom the Father gives Him would come to Him, would be kept by Him, and nothing could take them from His hand in John 6. Again in Romans 8 and Ephesians 1 we see God’s sovereign election of His own unto salvation and eternal life. Many more examples of the same idea exist throughout scripture.
So what do we take away from this knowledge? We MUST evangelize the world! God has chosen to use the spreading of his word to call out His elect. In Jesus’ great commission to His followers, He told them to take the message to the world. He didn’t say to conquer the world politically nor militarily. He didn’t say to build mega-churches nor to repackage His message into gobblygook that doesn’t resemble the original idea in order to bring into a social group those who would not respond to the gospel.
In our day as well in any day, we must not lose track of the central truth that God is doing His work using us as His tools. His will will be accomplished with or without us. God is sovereign, we are not. God has the roadmap. God is the pilot. He drives the bus…you get the message.
We see an excellent example of His sovereignty in Acts 13. Sergius Paulus responded in belief despite cultural, political, physical, economical, social, and religious differences. May God be praised for His sovereign grace.
Hello, old friends and new. When I began this blog less than a year ago, I had no idea it would catch on the way it has. At first, I would get a hit from a friend every so often and they knew me so an explanation of the moniker “Truthinator” was not needed. Today, I get visits, replies, and emails from heavy-hitters in the faith and royalty among the Christian bloggers (all quite to my surprize).
Truthinator is to be taken totally tounge-in-cheek. I do not fancy myself as being any more in command or understanding of the truth than anyone else. God has shed His grace upon me and I can take no credit for anything. If I sometimes hit upon a truth or concept that helps communicate God’s truth, I take no credit. To Him alone is glory due…
I see myself as more of a Barney Fife type of character than an Arnold Schwartzenegger one. My zeal and desire to be in the truth is carefully guided and controlled by the Master, else I would only be banging a cymbal…or shooting myself in the foot with my one bullet.
A dose of humility from the Truthinator…
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Daily Truth Bible Study Acts 9:22-43 Let us continue to follow what God is doing in the Church during its formation. How does this compare with what is happening in the “church” today?
Verse 22 tells us that Saul/Paul confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus proving that Jesus is the Christ. Now we know that it was not the lesser of the Jews he was confounding because, in every other situation we have seen, the leadership of the Jews is always out in front of the confrontation. It was true in the very beginning. The Jews who were leading the battle against Jesus were the leadership and that continued. So do not think that Saul/Paul was sneaking around and talking to the lowest level of Jew only. He was confounding the leadership and proving that Jesus was indeed who He had said He was.
How did Saul/Paul do this? I would say that he did it the same way he continued to do it throughout his ministry. He taught that Jesus is the Son of God who died, rose, and ascended to be with the Father. He taught that there is salvation in no other name except Jesus. This is the same message Paul taught throughout his ministry. The power of God was also involved without question. God’s power was at work to accomplish His purpose. Saul/Paul was only as able as God made him to be.
Now, I would like to combat the thought popular today that “since modern people do not want to hear about doctrine, we need to be relevant to them and meet them where they live”. This type of thinking is bankrupt. It implies that God and His word is not relevant unless man gives it the right to be. This is an abomination! God is Holy, Holy, Holy. He is all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-encompassing. He determines what is relevant.
The “relevance to the world” crowd are working from the belief that man is sovereign in determining whether or not he will accept God. They may not admit it but it is true. Why else would a person think it necessary to the relevant to a group in order to tell the group what it needs to hear? They are trying to get the group’s approval or buy-in.
We have already covered the fact that God is sovereign and determines those who will be saved and is justified in doing so. God predetermines and calls those who will be saved unto Himself. This is why God is always relevant. People need to hear the truth so the elect will come to God in repentance (which is a sign they are the elect).
Saul/Paul could talk the talk and reason with the educated. He was a well-educated pharisee before his conversion. If he had wanted, he could have argued Jewish beliefs all day long. As an educated man, he could have also argued Roman politics and world events. He did not do this however. He preached Christ alone as the savior of the world.
Next, look at verse 23. After many days, the Jews plotted to kill him. Here we go again. Not much has changed. The Jews realized they were in trouble of loosing their hold over the people. Saul/Paul’s message threatened to undo their religious system. Their hardened hearts were not capable of repenting (apparently) and thus they planned to kill the messenger so as to remove the problem.
Wow, what a religion! They could not win the argument with facts and they did not apparently have a great deal of faith in their religion so they plotted to kill Saul/Paul to quiet him.
What does this tell you about Saul/Paul and his message. There was real power there. If not, would the Jews desire to kill? Maybe. Saul/Paul’s message was considered blasphemous to them. However, watch how they planned to kill him. They were not planning to walk up to him and kill him publicly. They waited at the gates to catch him. This may suggest the Jews were not acting with the popular opinion of the population of the area.
Regardless of the exact reason for their plans, Saul/Paul was not to be stopped. God made a way for his escape. Saul/Paul was a force to be feared by the Jews. He carried the message of redemption to his part of the world.
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Daily Truth Bible Study Acts 6:1-15 part 2
Last time, we saw howGod continued to build His church. The twelve apostles made the decision to organize the efforts to serve those who were in need allowing the twelve to continue in their prayer and study. This is the first instance where organization as a method of operation is shown. The outcome was that God continued to add to the number of believers. The organization did not add the believers, God did. The organization was a step in effective operation in order to best honor God.
We now see Stephen briefly appear on the scene. The brevity of time should not indicate to us a smallness of his ministry, however. Look at verse 8. Stephen was full of faith and power and he did great wonders and signs among the people. The mention of him in scripture is brief but that does not diminish how we should feel about his impact.
Watch what happens as a result of Stephen’s effective minstry. Opposition arose from a group of religious people. These people did not see eye-to-eye with the truth taught by Stephen because the Bible says they disputed with him. Not only did they dispute with him, verses 10-11 say they were not able to resist his wisdom and the Spirit by which he spoke so they secretly induced men to lie about what Stephen was teaching.
So, since the opposition could not win by debating the facts and issues, they formed a group of liars to spread falsehoods in order to swing public opinion away from Stephen. This sounds like typical politics today. Not much has changed over the years. If you cannot win with the strength of your cause, lie, cheat, and steal until you can win through corruption. Yes indeed. This sounds like politics in the US today. The truth matters little. What matters is how many people and how much media you can get to spout your lies until people generally begin to believe you.
There is a huge problem with this tactic however. One day, all people will stand before God. The Bible says that God cannot be mocked and people will reap what they have sown. Abe Lincoln said you can fool all of the people some of the time and some of the people all of the time but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time. That seems to be true. It is also true, however, that you cannot fool God ANY of the time.
The disputers stirred up the people and the temple officials. Stephen was brought before the council. More liars were put into place to twist Stephen’s words and to connect him to the same lies told about Jesus when he was on trial.
Watch what happens in verse 15. Despite being on trial before corrupt politicians with a group of lying witnesses, all of the people who were seeking Stephen’s demise saw his face to be like that of an angel. I would imagine that most people would be in a bit of stress standing before a kangaroo court full of cheats, liars, and thugs. Yet, Stephen had the calmness and serenity of an angel. Stephen was given grace by God to withstand the trial he was facing.
It is difficult to imagine how a person could be calm during an uproar like this one. His life was definitely in jeopardy. God gave him the grace he needed when he needed it. It seems to me like God is not one to waste. We cannot imagine how Stephen could remain so calm despite his circumstances because we have never been there. However, for those who have been in similar circumstances and lived, their testimony reveals that God provided what they needed when they needed it. May God bless the study of His word. Comment below if you wish.