Tag: Jews and Gentiles

Discipleship at Antioch

/Scripture reading for April 20th: Acts 11

Key Scriptures: Acts 11:19-25 “Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the Word to no one except Jews. But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who on coming to Antioch spoke to Hellenists also, preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord. The report of this came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he saw the grace of God, he was glad and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose, for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord, So Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch.

Luke now tells the story of how the Church spread out from Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria. The persecution after Stephen drove disciples outward, and under the direction of the Holy Spirit they preached the Word to Jews and increasingly to Gentiles. The Jerusalem church heard about the salvations and sent a trusted leader, Barnabas, to check it out. Barnabas was an encourager and was a “good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith.” He exhorted the new believers to stay faithful but then went and found Saul (Paul) and brought him there to help disciple these Jew and Gentile converts. For a year they met together and taught the Word of God. It was here that disciples were first call “Christians.” Paul got experience teaching the new Gentile converts that he would be increasingly involved with as God had commissioned him.

Acts 11:26 “For a whole year they met with the church and taught a great many people. And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians.”

Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, making disciples of all men and teaching them to observe all that You taught is the mission of the church. Help Your church to keep the main thing the main thing. Fill me with the Holy Spirit and faith to fulfill Your mission.

Matthew 28:19-20 “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

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To Him Be Glory Forever!

Scripture reading for November 22nd: Romans 9-11

Paul, the author of Romans, was a devout Jew before his encounter with Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus.   His Jewish roots were never forgotten and Paul had a heart for his own brothers’ salvation.  His understanding of God’s plans for Israel is an amazing revelation from the Holy Spirit.  As Gentile Christians, it is helpful for us to carefully study Paul’s teaching in Romans 9-11.

“Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved.” (Romans 10:1)  Paul passionately wanted to see his brothers saved.  He knew how they sought to keep the law and establish their own righteousness, because he himself had done just that.  Paul knew that the Jews were a stubborn and disobedient people who were hardened because they had rejected Christ.  They should have been the first to understand that righteousness would come by faith.

Paul preached the message of faith in Christ to his own people.  He told them that they must confess with their mouth “Jesus is Lord” and believe in their hearts that God raised Him from the dead and they would be saved.  (Romans 10:9-10)  The way of faith was the same for Jews as for Gentiles.  Faith would come by choosing to hear and believe the message of Christ.  God desired all to be saved, but those who rejected the message would be lost.

Paul also warned the Gentiles not to become proud but to consider the kindness of God towards them and the possibility of God’s sternness coming upon them if they fell away from faith.  (Romans 11:17-23)  “I do not want you ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited:  Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, . .” (Romans 11:25-26a)

Paul closes this discussion with worship!  “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!  How unsearchable are His judgments, and His paths beyond tracing out.  Who has known the mind of the Lord?  Or who has been His counselor?  Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him?  For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things.  To Him be the glory forever!  Amen” (Romans 11:33-36)  God works everything out for His Glory in ways man cannot fully understand!

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Everyone Who Calls on the Lord Will Be Saved!

Scripture reading for November 21st: Romans 9-11

There are some people in religious circles who believe in universal salvation.  In other words, no one will be lost.  They contend that God is good and He would never send anyone to hell who is made in His image.  If you take only the verses on God’s love and twist your reading of Scripture, you could justify this position.  However, this is not the teaching of the Scripture!  Paul is explaining in Romans 9-11 how God plans to save the Jews, a very religious people who had the right of adoption as sons, the covenants, the law and temple worship, and all the promises.  Although they had all this, they still needed to come to God by faith in His Son Jesus Christ!

“That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.  As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in Him will never  be put to shame.” For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile–the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on Him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:9-13

Salvation begins in the heart.  It is with the heart that we believe that Jesus Christ is Lord and that God raised Him from the dead.  We believe that He died for our sins on the cross as the Son of God, descended from Abraham in the flesh through the son of promise, Isaac.  We simply believe in God’s mercy through Christ, not in our works to be right or righteous. When we believe, we are justified by faith just like Abraham and Sarah.  Our believing is counted as righteousness in our heavenly account because of what Christ has provided in His death, burial and resurrection.

Because we believe in our heart, we confess with our mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord!  This is the confession that can save us.  Confession is not a work that we must do.  It is the natural flow of a heart that believes and is fully persuaded about Jesus Christ!  It is an outworking of faith.  We confess Jesus as Lord and live in submission to Him and His word.

Faith puts both Jew and Gentile on the same level ground at the foot of the cross of Jesus Christ.  Believing opens the door to all who will call on the Lord for saving!  In this manner, all will be saved who call on the Lord!  If you will not believe and confess Jesus as Lord, you will be lost eternally!  It is really simple.  If you have called on Jesus for salvation, take time and thank Him for His marvelous gift.  If not, today is a great day to do so!  It’s available to everyone who will!

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