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Posts Tagged ‘justified

Acts 13:13-52

900165955_466ceaa8d7_mAt bedtime, I read to my son the scriptures where Paul and Barnabas visited the synagogue in Antioch and after the reading from the Law and the Prophets,  the rulers of the synagogue asked them if they had any words of encouragement for the people.  What struck me is when Paul stood up, he used this opportunity to preach about Jesus.

He didn’t start off talking about Jesus.  Instead, he gave a brief summary of Israel’s history beginning with when the Israelites were in the wilderness for forty years.  He spoke about how the Jewish people were ruled by judges until the prophet Samuel and how they wanted to be like the other nations who had kings ruling over them.  They wanted a king too even though God was their King.  They got their wish when Saul, the son of Kish was chosen to be their king.  However, God removed him because of his disobedience and chose David to be his successor.  Then, Paul introduced Jesus, saying,  “From this man’s descendants God has raised a Savior for Israel, Jesus, according to His promise.”

He spoke of the role the people had played in the arrest and death of Jesus. By doing these things they had fulfilled the Word of God.  The Good News, though was that God raised Jesus from the dead and through Him are the forgiveness of sins.  Paul made it clear that we are justified by faith in Jesus and not by the law.  His words encouraged the Gentiles who begged him to preach again to them the following Sabbath.

Has God given you an opportunity to share the Good News about Jesus with others as He did with Paul?  Would you do as Paul did and share your faith so that people will come to know the Savior who died for them as well?  You don’t have to give a history lesson like Paul did.  You can share your own testimony of how you came to know the Lord like the woman at the well.  She told her community that Jesus must be the Messiah that they had been waiting for because He knew everything about her.

What about the challenges you will face when you share the Gospel?  The following Sabbath when Paul and Barnabas returned to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles, they were met with opposition from the Jews who were envious.  They contradicted what Paul said but he and Barnabas didn’t allow them to spoil things for them.  Instead, they boldly declared to them that since they rejected the Word of God which was supposed to be given to them first, it would be given instead to the Gentiles for the Lord commanded them, “‘I have established you to be a light of the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.'”  Verse 48 says that when the Gentiles heard this, “they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And all who were ordained to eternal life believed.”

Don’t be discouraged when people oppose you and contradict what you say.  It’s Satan, your enemy at work, trying to prevent you from doing what God has called you to do.  Like Paul and Barnabas did, act boldly, knowing that the Lord is your side and He will not allow His work to be hindered.  Share the Gospel for the sake of those who will gladly receive it. Don’t let the Satan or anyone put out your light.  Keep it shining for those who will come to it and receive salvation through faith in Jesus.

Today, if God gives you an opportunity to encourage people with the Good News about Jesus, grab it.  And don’t worry about what to say.  The Holy Spirit has that covered.

 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ. For it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek – Romans 1:16

galatiansfreedomIt’s very interesting how Paul opens his letter to the Galatians. “Paul, an apostle (not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from the dead)” He identifies himself as an apostle of Christ and the Father. He is preaching the Gospel of Christ who died and was raised from the dead. This is the authentic Gospel–the one he was give to preach not by men but by the Lord Himself and to the Gentiles.

The Gospel Paul was preaching was one of grace.  And he was quick to point out that unlike the perverted gospel that had permeated the church, the one he was preaching, was “preached by me is not according to man.  For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

There were people in the church who were teaching the congregation that grace was not enough.  It had to be accompanied by works.  It had to be Faith and works not faith alone.  They had the Gentile Christians believing that they were justified by the works of the law.  Paul elaborates more on this in the second chapter where he talks about Peter’s hypocrisy.  The Jewish Christians were trying to force the Gentile Christians to be circumcised.  We read about this earlier in the book of Acts.  Acts 15:1 states:  And certain men came down from Judea and taught the brethren, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.”  Even though Paul and Barnabas testified of how they had converted the Gentiles and how God had done through them, a sect of the Pharisees who believed insisted, “It is necessary to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.”

This led to the Jerusalem Council discussing the matter and it was decided that that “we should not trouble those from among the Gentiles who are turning to God,  but that we write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from things strangled, and from blood” (verses 19, 20).  And now here was Paul dealing with the same issue again.

He had to rebuke Peter, the same Peter who stood up and defended God’s grace when he declared, “Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?  But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they” (verses 10, 11)  Paul rebuked Peter because he saw that before certain men came from James who was one of the pillars of the church, Peter had no problem eating with the Gentiles but the moment these men visited, he distanced himself from the Gentiles.  Paul had every right to be angry with Peter.  Peter should have known better.  He should have defended God’s grace this time just as he had those other times.

Paul referred to those who were perverting the Gospel of Christ as “false brethren secretly brought in (who came in by stealth to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage” (Galatians 2:4).  These people were compelling Titus who was a Gentile to be circumcised and this is why Paul had to set this troubling matter straight.

He stated the following message twice so that they would get it loud and clear, “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.  As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:8, 9).  In other words, there is only one Gospel.  And that Gospel is the Gospel of Christ which teaches that we are saved by God’s grace not by works lest we should boast.  We cannot earn salvation.  It is God’s gift to us.  All we have to do is accept it in faith.  It costs us nothing but God His beloved Son.

It must have been very upsetting for Paul to see how these people were perverting the Gospel and making it seem that what Jesus did on the cross was not enough.  This is why he had to make it crystal clear that “a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified” (Galatians 2:16).

If anyone you know is teaching that salvation is by works and not by faith alone, use the Word of God to rebuke and correct them.  Encourage them not to set aside the grace of God and enslave themselves to the works of the law which cannot justify anyone–neither Jew nor Gentile.  If it did, then as Paul said, Christ died in vain.

There is only one Gospel.  And it’s the good news of a loving God who gave His only Son that we who believe in Him will not perish but will have everlasting life.  Only Jesus can save us.  The law points us to Him but it in of itself cannot save us.  Salvation comes by grace through faith not by the works of the law.  No matter of lawkeeping could save anyone.  In Christ we have freedom through the amazing grace of God.

Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace,
Freely bestowed on all who believe!

You that are longing to see His face,
Will you this moment His grace
receive?

Jesus spoke the parable in Luke 18:9-13 because there were people who trusted in their own righteousness and despised others. I found myself thinking about this parable and decided to study it.  The parable is about two men–a Pharisee and a tax collector.  First, let’s take a look at each of these men.

The Pharisee

– He prayed with himself

– He thanks God for not being like other men such as extortioners, unjust, adulterers or like the tax collector

– He fasts twice a week

– He gives tithes of all that he owned

The Tax Collector

– He stood some distance away

– He would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven

– He beat his breast

– He prayed, “God, be merciful to me a sinner”

The Pharisee’s prayer was not so much a prayer as it was a self-promotion.  He was self-righteous.  He did not acknowledge that he was a sinner.  He felt that fasting twice a week and paying tithes made him righteous. He puffed himself up.  His heart was not with God.  His pride did not allow any room for God.  He made himself big, thus diminishing God in his eyes.  There was no reverence.  He exalted himself instead of God.  He was boasting not praying.

Instead of thanking God for His mercy, he looked down on others, thanking God that he was not like them.  His prayer is not the kind of prayer that would please God.  How could God accept a prayer from someone who shows not love or compassion for others?  This Pharisee condemned others because they were different.  What he failed to understand was that God loved these people.

When tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Jesus and His disciples, the Pharisees wondered why He would do something like that.  Jesus said to them, “Those who are well have no need for a physician, but those who are sick.  But go and learn what this means:  I desire mercy and not sacrifice.  For I did not come to call the righteous but the sinners to repentance” (Matthew 9:10-13).

According to Paul we are all sinners.  In Romans 3:23, he says, “For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  Like the rest of us, this Pharisee was a sinner who needed a Savior.

The tax collector could not even raise his eyes to heaven.  He was so humble.  He showed total reverence to God.  He stood afar as if he felt unworthy to approach or be near the throne of mercy.  He beat his chest as he begged God to be merciful to him.  He acknowledged that he was a sinner.  His prayer God accepted.  It was done in humility and with a contrite spirit.  He gave himself to God.  He, not the Pharisee, went to his house justified.

Proverbs 16:5 says, “Everyone proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord.”

Psalm 138:6 says “Though the Lord is on high, yet He regards the lowly; But the proud He knows from afar.  The Pharisee’s self-righteousness and pride separated him from God.

James 4:6 says, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”  God resisted the Pharisee. 

God gave grace to the tax collector who was humble.  Jesus said that the tax collector went home justified.  I looked up the word “justified” in Strong’s Concordance and came up with the following definition: to declare, pronounce, one to be just, righteous or such as he ought to be.

So, the Pharisee left the temple the same way he went in–a proud, self-righteous and unrepentant sinner.  The tax collector went into the temple a humble, repentant sinner and left as a man whom God declared righteous.  He was vindicated.



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