On a Mission: First Steps
Lord, You are the Holy God of the past, present, future—and eternity. I bow in worship before You.
Read ACTS 9:19-31
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“Lord, take my lips and speak through them; take my mind and think through it; take my heart and set it on fire” (W.H.H. Aitken).
We might be surprised that Saul starts to preach immediately, but he was well trained in the rabbinical schools and was known and respected in the synagogues. He is continuing to do what he has done for some time, but with a completely new thrust to his message. In accordance with God’s message to Ananias, he “carries” the name of Christ. His message makes two points that give rise to opposition. First, that Jesus is the Son of God (20) and, secondly, that he is the Messiah (22). The idea of sonship would not have been totally unacceptable to the Jews—Psalm 2:7, for example, describes the king as God’s son—but the early Christians interpreted this in a radically new way (Acts 13:33; Heb 1:5). For them, this was a statement about the deity of Jesus, his oneness with the Father. There had been other messianic claimants and the Jews would not have been unduly surprised at Jesus’ claim—except that he did not fit the popular model.
Jesus Christ is still the content of our message, but titles like Son of God and Messiah do not create the same impact in our world with its very different terms of reference. The heart of our message is that Jesus has entered the world, God in human flesh, and has done so in order to save a lost humanity, bring wholeness to broken people and bring in God’s reign of peace and justice. These are truths that the world desperately needs to hear. Perhaps we can take a lead from v. 29. Debating implies that there was a dialogue, listening and responding. This does not involve a dilution of the message, but it does mean a sensitive presentation to which others can relate.
How could the good news of Jesus be made intelligible to those who live and work around your church? What could you do to enable that?
Lord, I know You have not given me the gift of evangelism, but You have called me to witness. Fill me with Your Spirit and use me for Your glory.
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