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Passage: Acts 9-10

On Monday, November 24, 2014, Yujin wrote,

Again a voice came to him a second time, “What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy" (Acts 10:15).

We know that God does not change (cf. Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8); however, many commit the non sequitur fallacy by presuming that because God does not change, His laws also do not change. His laws certainly do change. After all, just the fact that there was a time, when there was no Law, proves His laws change. In our passage today we learn that God, the Giver and final Enforcer of the Law, can declare what was once unclean to now be clean. Jesus exercised the same authority (cf. Mark 7:19). Jesus even declared that He was the Lord of the Sabbath Law (cf. Luke 6:5).

Here is what we must understand. The One who has the absolute authority to make the law also has the authority to change the law. This is also why God could replace the Old Covenant Mosaic Law with the New Covenant Law of the Spirit of Christ:

For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another... By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear (Hebrews 8:7,13).

God does not change in His nature. He does not lie (cf. Numbers 23:19). He is absolutely faithful (cf. Deuteronomy 7:9; 1 Thessalonians 5:24). He does not break His promises, for to do so, He would be changing His nature. But that God gave Adam and Eve one Law, then Moses another Law, and then Christians yet another Law, each within their respective dispensation of God's grace, does not alter God's essential nature one iota. 

What is more, not only can God change His laws, He is also above His laws. In other words, they do not apply to Him. He can order the massacre of Amorite children, but no one can hold Him to account for breaking the law against murder. It is not murder for God. He who brought people into the world is always justified in taking them out. There is no unrighteousness in God because He always lives to define what righteousness is. To know good is to know God, for God is good (cf. Psalm 136:1). We are bound to follow His laws as the creature is bound to its Creator, as the weaker is subject to the Stronger. 

Friends, let us not allow ourselves to diminish God in our hearts. He is more than our Savior. He is our Creator; and more than this, He is the Maker of all things, the First Principle, before Whom there is nothing else; He is the only uncaused Cause. As such, there is nothing better for us to do than to worship Him and to align our lives after His revealed will for us. Let us never fall into the folly of judging what God says or does, but as we have believed, so let us completely trust and obey Him. 

Passage: Acts 9-10

On Monday, November 25, 2013, Yujin wrote,

But Saul kept increasing in strength and confounding the Jews who lived at Damascus by proving that this Jesus is the Christ. When many days had elapsed, the Jews plotted together to do away with him (Acts 9:22-23).

And he was talking and arguing with the Hellenistic Jews; but they were attempting to put him to death (Acts 9:29).

This does not sound like the most auspicious way to begin a ministry. Twice in two places Paul barely escaped death by the hands of his offended Jewish audience. It is clear that he used logic and persuasion to prove that Jesus was actually the Christ in fulfillment of the Jewish Messianic hope; however, rather than embracing this truth, they sought to kill him. 

Friends, as I have tried to argue elsewhere, there is definitely a need today for bold, confrontational witness. Our preoccupation with the more culturally-acceptable friendship evangelism has often done nothing more than water-down the Gospel message to pagan acceptability. Tolerance and accomodation are the mantras of our age. Christianity is considered just one of many ways to heaven. And every religion is thought to worship the same God, simply him by a different Name. Our generation is all about the experience and ever further removed from the truth of God's Word. 

Friends, I believe that growing wickedness and spiritual implosion are inevitable; however, we can slow this inevitable decline in our generation through a bold and confrontational witness. But I see fewer and fewer pastors embrace this challenge. Instead, they have compromised and are compromising God's truth for popular preaching that people enjoy, religious platitudes that carry no conviction or consequence, and a kind of political correctness that fills congregations with every sort of unlikely and unholy congregants.

Where is the boldness of John the Baptist?! Or of Jesus, who called out the Pharisees for their hypocrisy and the rich young man for his greed. Or of Peter, who directly accused the Jews of murdering their Messiah. Or of Stephen, who gave the whole history of his people only to conclude that they have always been stiff-necked and rebellious. Or of Paul, who called the Jews unworthy and the Gentiles ignorant. Today, there is hardly any real persecution in America. Perhaps this is because there is hardly any real boldness or confrontation by Christians in America. 

Passage: Acts 9-10

On Saturday, December 8, 2012 (Last Updated on 11/25/2013), Fernando wrote,

 Acts 10

15 And the voice came to him again a second time, "What God has made clean, do not call common." 16 This happened three times, and the thing was taken up at once to heaven.

17 Now while Peter was inwardly perplexed as to what the vision that he had seen might mean, behold, the men who were sent by Cornelius, having made inquiry for Simon's house, stood at the gate

You think after 3 times he would get it. I am glad that God has even claimed the thick headed.

Passage: Acts 9-10

On Sunday, November 25, 2012, Yujin wrote,

The Lord chooses Saul...

Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” (Acts 9:1-4).

The Lord chooses Cornelius...

At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion in what was known as the Italian Regiment. He and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly. One day at about three in the afternoon he had a vision. He distinctly saw an angel of God, who came to him and said, “Cornelius!” (Acts 10:1-3).

I want to ask those that think that the Lord is an equal-opportunity kind of God... Was Saul the only murderous Jew in Jerusalem? Yet, he was the only one given this miraculous vision of Christ. Was Cornelius the only God-fearing Gentile? Yet, God visits him only with a miraculous vision and even sends the apostle Peter to him. There is nothing in Scripture to suggest that God is an equal-opportunity kind of God.

Now, the Scriptures do teach that He does not show favoritism. But this just means that He does not necessarily favor the rich over the poor or the intelligent over the dumb. It does not mean that He will choose everyone for service or for salvation. It just means that His election is not based on human favoritism. 

I bring this to your attention because one of the arguments that those that deny election and elevate "free will" makes is that God is "fair" in salvation, whereby, they mean that God gives everyone an equal opportunity for salvation. Just a moment of thought should prove this absurd; however, people still cling to a notion that God has to treat everyone the same. Just think what a privilege you have in America to hear the Gospel, and not just once but numerous times. Do you still think that everyone has an equal opportunity to believe? When over a hundred thousand died in the tsunami in Indonesia and the earthquake in Haiti, how many of these, men, women and children, never heard the Gospel? So how essential in salvation is the exercise of a person's free will?! 

Isn't it much more reasonable to take the biblical view that we are all deserving of condemnation but God graciously chooses to save some?

Passage: Acts 9-10

On Tuesday, February 28, 2012, Bill wrote,

Paul (Saul), the last Apostle, experiences his conversion in a dramatic way. Paul was a Pharisee and a Roman citizen, and a persecutor of Christians. Despite all this Jesus chooses Paul as his messenger to the Gentiles.

(Acts 9:1-5,15)

1 Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. 3 As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him,"Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?"

5 "Who are you, Lord?" Saul asked. "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting," he replied. 6 "Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do."

15 But the Lord said to Ananias, "Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. 16 I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.

Paul was one of my favorite apostles as his faithfulness was evident in his writings (he wrote about half of the new testament books). Its interesting that Jesus chooses Saul as he was unlikely follower, we read a bit later that the other Apostles were frightened of Saul because of his brutal reputation, but obviously God knew what he was doing.

There are a few points that I take from this passage. Firstly, Jesus tells Saul that his persecution of the Christians was a persecution of Christ. As we testify to the good news of Christ we are Gods hands, feet and mouth. And a rejection of us is really a rejection of God.

Secondly, Jesus tells Ananias that He has selected Paul ('my chosen instrument') to share the gospel to Gentiles (non Jews) and Israel. Today much of what learn about Jesus teaching is written by Paul, Pauls letters are the instrument by which Christ delivers his message today.

Finally, Jesus tells Ananias that He will show Paul how much he must suffer in the name of Christ. Paul made many suffer in the name of Christ and now Christ will says that he will suffer for Him. Paul's transformation was extraordinary, but the true miracle was his passion for winning souls for Christ. Paul would travel throughout the region sharing the gospel, planting churches, encouraging them with his letters - suffering beatings, imprisonment, ship wrecks and finally a martyrs death.

Yet, Paul maintained joy in serving his God despite his suffering. He writes in the book of Timothy (4:6-7) "For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith."