Monday, October 10, 2005

The Truth Goes Forth -- Acts 13:1-52


The Church has always been missionary in its endeavors. It is what the Lord directed us to be...to be witnesses to the "uttermost parts of the Earth," by "making disciples of all nations." A pretty BIG task if you ask me, but one He has given us the power and authority to complete.

The obedient church is the church which is at the work of loving proclaiming the good news about who Jesus Christ is, and what He came to do. In this passage from Acts we see Saul, Barnabas and John Mark taking on the call.

What grabbed me here was that in the first two cities they ministered in they did so with different methods, but with positive results in both places. In one there was a direct spiritual confrontation and in the other an encounter of discourse and explanation.

The question I lay before you, my loyal bloggers, is if you were given just 5-10 minutes to explain the work of God in the world from Abraham to the Messiah (and even beyond) what would you say, or since we are blogging here, what would you write? I think the Apostle Paul did a pretty good job, but what would you say? How would you put it? What would you include?

I'm waiting.... :o)

Oh yea, sorry I missed inputting anything last week, but I see some of you carried on without me. Way to go!

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

That is a pretty tall order,Pastor! Here goes nothing!!!
"Let me tell you about God's "plan B" for the world He created. Plan A was that He created a perfect world and everything in it was perfect...but He created Adam and Eve with an ability we call "free will"....that is, they had the ability to choose right or wrong. God WANTED them to love Him enough to choose RIGHT...He gave them only one negative direction. They had the whole of the beautiful garden in which they were created to live and love and produce children and live in harmony with their holy creator and "live happily ever-after"....but they were NOT to eat of just ONE tree in the garden...or they would surely die.

This is where we find God's plan "A" fail(and He KNEW it would!).... for Eve couldn't resist the temptation and ate of the forbidden tree...and if that wasn't bad enough she enticed her husband to sin along with her...share the guilt!! Now they had exercised their freedom of choice and failed miserably. Humanity changed from that point on...their relationship with their creator changed from that point on. Humanity was now in an "estranged" relationship with a holy God...for He can not tolerate sin. But God missed His creation...He wanted fellowship with them...He wanted to save them from themselves and their own eternal destruction....so here comes "plan B".

God chose for Himself a people who would devote themselves to loving and following Him and a plan for their redemption and restoration of fellowship once again.....He chose a leader of these people..Abraham...he would be the earthly "father" to this people called the Jews and point them to their Heavenly Father by teaching them and observing certain "laws"all of which, if observed would eliminate their sin and restore their fellowship with their HOLY God. Abraham was a GOOD man but with this human failing within him called the sinful nature that he inherited from his forefathers dating back to Adam.He believed God but he also got impatient and sometimes "overrode" God's plan and instructions...which caused turmoil and division between some of the people he was to lead.Sin has upset the apple cart all through history...God's perfect plan kept being usurped by His creation using their God given gift of "free will". The Israelites, as they became called...got "hung up" on observing the letter of the law and even added many more laws of their own and got sidetracked in their focus on God and the Messiah He promised them. This Messiah was to come and "save" the people from their sins "once and for all".....no more animal sacrifices...no more strict adherance to the "law" . This Messiah which they were to look forward to was a long time in coming. In their sinful humanity. they wrapped themselves in the own "robes of rightousness" by being observers of the Law and their eyes became dimmed to their promised Messiah. When He came wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger of hay in the most humble of circumstances...they didn't recognize Him! They were looking for a KING...a mighty warrior...a deliverer...NOT a BABY!! As that baby grew He began to teach...He was an amazing youth...it became evident that there was something different and extraordinary about this boy named Jesus...the son of Mary and the carpenter,Joseph in the little town of Nazareth. As Jesus matured He began His ministry. He performed miracles, He healed the blind and made the lame to walk, He taught in the synagogs...He chose 12 men to travel with Him as He ministered for 3 yrs.His message was well received amongst the common folk....especially those with needs that He could cure! But there was trouble brewing amongst the spiritual leaders of the day. People were following this Jesus...not them....Jesus was beginning to say He was God...of all things! This was heresy that had to be stopped! Plans began forming to rid the earth of this heretic and restore order to the Jewish "faith".

After 3 yrs. of ministry Jesus completed the master plan of salvation and resoration of sinful man back to a HOLY God. He gave His sinless life on the cross of Calvary where He became the " spotless lamb of God"...slain once and for all for the sins of all mankind. His blood became the covering needed for God to see His sinful creation as once again "holy" and now able to fellowship once again with their holy God. Only one glitch in this plan....every single person has to on their own, BELIEVE in their hearts that Jesus IS the Son of God, that He died for THEIR sins, that He rose from the dead and now sits at the right hand of the Father. Then they must CONFESS with their mouths that He is LORD in order to be "saved". For generations upon generations humanity has been trying to save themselves by all sorts of means(especially their own goodness)...but to no avail. Jesus said "I am the WAY, the TRUTH and the LIFE...NO man cometh to the FAther except through ME"!! God's Plan B" is a plan for ALL people who will accept and believe,Jews and gentiles alike. There are no more plans "in the works". Jesus said on the cross "it is finished"...the way back to a Holy God is complete...now the ball is in YOUR court. You can exercise your gift of free will and accept this pre-paid gift card of eternal life...or you can reject it and suffer the consequences. The choice is yours...Adam and Eve made the wrong choice....what will YOUR choice be? End of sermon....Ruthie

Pastor Randy said...

Ruthie,

We're going to make a preacher out of you yet. You did a great job of putting in all the key points. It sure is tough, because there is so much we feel should be included. So much of such a great story of God's great love for us.

Thanks for taking the time and effort to put your thoughts down. I rpay it will prove helpful as you continue to look for opportunities to share this truth.

Blessings,
Pastor Randy

Anonymous said...

A tall order indeed! I'm glad you didn't give us a maximum word count. I figure you could tell someone this in ten minutes if you talked very fast like Donald Duck.
---------

When God created mankind, he game us two choices. We could choose life or death, blessing or cursing. If we refrained from eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, we would be blessed and live forever. If we ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, mankind would be cursed and die.

But one of God’s fallen angels convinced Eve that not only would they not die if they ate the forbidden fruit, but they would be like God and that temptation was just too much for Eve to resist. Then Adam seeing that Eve had eaten and wasn’t dead helped himself to some as well not realizing that spiritual death occurred instantly and life began draining from them slowly the moment they first disobeyed God.

It wasn’t until God came and they felt shame for the first time that they realized they had been deceived. They hid from God because their shame was so deep.

So it is that ever since Adam and Even, we are born into this world “ego-centered” thinking the world revolves around us. Children always believe they caused everything in their universe and feel a great deal of shame even for things they didn’t do wrong. If mommy and daddy get divorced, a child “naturally” thinks it is their fault. They believe the lie that they are God. This never has to be taught to a child. They are born suffering from this delusion. All children. The whole negative self-destructive shame cycle keeps them feeling bad about themselves, trying harder and harder and feeling worse and worse sometimes about things they are tempted to do wrong and can't keep from doing and sometimes for things they didn't even do wrong.

Fortunately, God knew that mankind was destined to be deceived and eat from the fruit and he had formed a plan from the foundation of the earth to save us. He began teaching thousands of years ago that blood had to be shed to pay the penalty for mankind’s sins and that the sacrificial lamb that was sacrificed had to be perfect without blemish. He also chose a man named Abraham and gave him a son named Isaac and a promise that through Isaac an entire nation would come to be.

Then God asked Abraham to sacrifice his beloved son on the alter. Abraham did not understand but he trusted God to keep his promise and figured God could bring his son back to life if necessary. He was just getting ready to slaughter his son Isaac when God provided a substitute sacrifice. A ram appeared and Abraham was able to sacrifice that instead.

This was symbolic because really the blood that was shed from all the animals that were ever sacrificed never did one single thing to wipe away anyone’s sins. It was simply a foreshadowing of the substitute God would provide one day when he sacrificed his only begotten son on the cross.

Eventually one of Abraham’s descendants – a virgin named mary would become pregnant with God’s child and the child born to this virgin would not only be God’s only begotten son, but the only perfect man who never sinned who could qualify to pay the price for mankind’s sins.

The nation of Israel understood that God promised he would send a messiah to save them, but few people understood that the messiah who came would be sacrificed as the ultimate, perfect, unblemished lamb of God. Instead they accused him of blasphemy when he told them who he was and nailed him to the cross.

Many didn’t realize when they nailed Jesus to the cross that he claimed to be God because he (Jesus) was in fact God (incarnate). They couldn’t fathom a God who loved mankind so much that he would be willing to come to earth as a man and give his very own life to pay the penalty for man’s disobedience.

Others stood by heartbroken as they watched him die on the cross knowing that the messiah was being put to death. They didn’t doubt God’s love, but they suddenly doubted His power. It wasn’t until three days later when the rock was rolled away from the tomb and Christ was resurrected from the dead that even his closest friends understood that death had been defeated once and for all.

Today we are faced with the same two choices man has always had. We can choose life or death, blessing or cursing depending upon whether we decide to put our life back in God’s hands by relying upon Christ’s sacrifice or we can face a mighty, powerful, holy God wearing our own righteousness which in his holy eyes will look like nothing more than filthy disgusting rags.

Some are afraid to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth to people for fear they will think they can sin as much as they want figuring Christ has paid the price for their sins, but we are saved by faith not by works

Christ is the author and perfector of our faith, and faith comes from hearing the word of God. In order to trust God and have faith in him, we have to really realize what he did for us on that cross. Someone had to tell us the good news. Once we fully understand who Jesus was and what he did, it becomes easy to trust him and we won’t be able to keep from loving him when we realize how much he first loved us.

Then we cannot help but follow him like obedient little puppies or sheep who love and adore and depend upon their master and we obey him because we want to although sometimes we slip up and put one of our paws in the mud and he forgives us and wipes the mud off which only causes us to love him even more and follow even closer because he is the good shepherd and we are his sheep and his sheep know his voice and will not follow another.

So we sin less and less and a lot less than if we are depending upon our own righteousness and trying our hardest to keep the laws so that’s why we need to tell everyone how much God loves them and what he really did for them on that cross because faith comes from hearing the word of God and people need to know just how much God loves them so they can trust him too and so they can’t help but love him because they really understand how much he first loved them.

gentledove (okay ruthie, I'm being a blog hog this time, but it's a long story).

Pastor Randy said...

gentledove,

I do appreciate your word pictures. I am drawn to the imagery of the child being born with the idea that they are God "They believe the lie that they are God. This never has to be taught to a child. They are born suffering from this delusion." What an interesting picture, but a good one as well.

I also appreciate whne you write, "It wasn’t until God came and they felt shame for the first time that they realized they had been deceived. They hid from God because their shame was so deep." This is the same situation we find ourselves in today. We don't know how bad it is until we once again come face to face with our Creator, and then seeing our sinm we see the need for a Savior.

Thanks for writing, and sharing.

Pastor Randy

Anonymous said...

Wow, Randy, that's a tough question. Most of the time when talking to others about Jesus, it's a conversation. I've rarely had the chance to commandeer ten whole minutes of uninterrupted talk-time. In fact, I've found that having a conversation rather than a spiel is more productive. There are, however, some very loose rules of thumb (from experience, perhaps) that I keep.

1. You know, for some odd reason, some people don't like the "Four Spiritual Laws" anymore. Not sure why, but I still like the basic format. Optimum situation; Problem; Solution; and Choice. I don't pull out the tract booklet anymore like I used to, but insert various Biblical verses and stories as the Lord leads.

2. I try to remember that it's a conversation, not an attack. The person to whom I speak is a breathing person, one who is precious to God. I try to act as if "Handle With Care" is stamped on their forehead.

3. Accept questions, but stay on target. It's so easy to get sidetracked by the peripherals. I've taken so many side roads ("What about UFO's?" "Old earth, or New earth?") that I wind up being as frustrated as the person to whom I was talking.

4. Trying to move in God's timing, not mine. I'm not out to "clinch the deal" every time I see the person, but I will offer the opportunity in one way or another. I don't force or manipulate, because I don't see God ever forcing or manipulating. Just offering up the chance, and the information for an informed choice concerning eternity.

5. I'm not there to impress them with how much I do or do not know. Jesus could've blown everyone's brain with what He knew. But that's not why He came. He came to love us out of Hell. My words should reflect that.

I don't know, sometimes the conversations last a few minutes, sometimes a few hours.

IF I DID have the chance to say something uninterrupted for 5-10 minutes, I'd probably stick to the simple Four Spiritual Laws, or the Roman Road. I mean, have you ever heard Billy Graham speak? The guy gives the gospel so incredibly simply, it's amazing. And effective. There's something to that....

Love you,

Dan-o

dvopilgrim said...

Scriptures say that God "declare[d] the end from the beginning" (Isa. 46:10), including the Fall of Adam. So he knew from before the creation of the world that Adam would violate his covenant (Hos. 6:7).

Thus, God doesn't have a "Plan B." If we say he has a Plan B, then we're making him a lesser God, a God who's not omniscient and not omnipotent. He would be like a chess player who knows all the possible responses to whatever move his opponent makes. But he doesn't control and know his opponent's moves.

No, God is not the God of "Open Theists." Before the foundation of the world, he chose his elect (Eph. 1:4; 2 Tim. 1:9). He didn't revise his "Plan A" because Adam sinned. He knew Adam would sin, and that's why he also chose Christ "before the foundation of the world" to save His chosen ones from sin (1 Pet. 1:20).