The opening verse of this section poses both a question and it's answer as Paul writes in verse 9,
What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin,
Every person born into this world has been born under the condemnation that comes from the power of sin. All of mankind is doomed to die because of sin within each and every person. And there is no escaping it in this world.
But when a person looks to God and seeks Him through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, then that is an entirely different matter. We DO have the power to escape sin, condemnation and eternal death, but only through Jesus Christ and only by the grace of God the Father.
But before a person comes to Christ, they are no different to anyone else in the world. They are under the power of sin and are sinners. That is why Paul asks the question, are the Jews any better off than the Gentiles. And then says, “No, not at all.”
So let us look at this section of scripture a little more and see what else it is saying.
God is just. His justice is perfect and not susceptible to the weaknesses and failings of mans justice. God sees all things and knows all things and so when He judges, it is a just judgement based upon all truth and all evidence.
When man judges he does not always have all the evidence and knowledge of a matter. That is why man often judges wrongly. But God is not like man and no man can hide anything from God for He will reveal every matter of a mans heart and so judge a man accordingly.
There is a standard by which God will judge the world. It is the standard of right and wrong according to the way God sees it. He set the standards for what is righteousness and what is unrighteousness and it is by those standards that every person on earth will be judged.
Knowing this to be true makes the way many people of this earth think and behave something of a puzzle, for man uses the same processes for judgement, albeit they are imperfect, as God does.
Can you imagine the possibility where God gives up? How bad must a situation become if God gives up?
Well it has happened! In this section of scripture Paul writes and describes not once but three times where God gave up. Three times in this section we see that God gave up on mankind because of what man was doing.
We are all given the right to choose and to make choices about how we live our lives. God wants people to choose Him and to follow in His ways. But do they?
Well, not only did people in the past (oh…and today too), not follow The Lord and walk in His ways, they rejected God and all He stands for. Is it any wonder that He gave up on mankind? Man rejected Him and chose to live a life in complete opposite of what God seeks.
Who can be saved? This is an interesting question. When you look at some of the things preached in many churches you would think that there are very few who can or have the right to be saved. And then others believe that almost everyone will be saved.
Whether we like to admit it or not there is often a degree of prejudice among Christians against certain groups of people. There are some who scream hell fire and damnation against anybody who does not believe as they do, and as for the people of the world…well according to such people they are without any hope whatsoever.
But is this what the bible says? Is this what Jesus preached? No it isn't. Jesus came to save sinners and He did not really care about the nature of the sin. Under the grace of God ALL sin was the same and ALL sins were able to be forgiven. In fact as far as God was concerned there is only one unpardonable sin and that was to speak blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.
But if you fall under any other form of sin you were able to be forgiven and God was more than willing to offer His grace so that you could turn and come to Him in order to do what is right. This section of scripture in Acts 19 shows us how some people were accepted in spite of them being practitioners of one of the most evil of all sins. Sorcery.
Here we see one of the stark contrasts between the teachings of the old covenant and the new covenant and as it says in verse 2 of this chapter, it caused a great argument and “No small dissension” between the two opposed groups.
There were some men, and I must point out here for it is important, these men were believers, who came down from Judaea to the places where Paul and Barnabas were teaching and preaching the word. These men who came were now saying to the people, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” (Vs 1)
Then again when they along with Paul and Barnabas took this matter to the council of the apostles and elders in Jerusalem, we see they again said the same in verse 5. “But some believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees rose up and said, “It is necessary to circumcise them and to order them to keep the law of Moses.”
Before going into the deliberations of the council and how a decision was made, let us consider why this caused a great dissension and argument. Why was it that Paul, who had been a Pharisee and administrator of the law of Moses, was so strongly opposed to this view that he decided to go to the council in the first place.
Jealousy! How many people have lost opportunities, friends, relationships and more because they were jealous? And how many have caused untold destruction, damage and misery because of their jealousy?
Jealousy is often called the green eyed monster, and a monster it is! A destructive, powerful force within people that causes them to do all kinds of hurtful and irrational things because they feel they have been overlooked, overshadowed, outdone, outshone or outperformed by someone else.
And worse. Often it is hidden and the outpouring of the jealousy of such people just simmers and burns in the background until it is unleashed as spite against the one who made them jealous. Not always though, as we see in these few scriptures. Here the jealousy of the Jewish leaders in the synagogue was fully out in the open, bold and vicious against Paul and Barnabas and the message they had to preach. But it is interesting also how those two men of God chose to deal with it. Continue reading “Jealousy, the Green Eyed Monster!”
Friedrich Nietzsche wrote in one of his book these words, that God is dead. He was speaking about how the whole idea and concept of God was dead in modern western society. How the premise of atheism has overtaken modern thinking to attempt to destroy all thoughts and actions in society that promote the truth of God.
There was only one time in history when those words were true, and that was when Jesus Christ, the Son of God was nailed up and put to death in accordance with the plan, design, foreknowledge and the will of God the Father. But unlike a man, He was only dead for three days and then arose to live in eternity and to offer mankind eternal life.
This scripture looks at how the Holy Spirit convicts or convinces the world of three important matters. When Jesus left the world He said that it was to our advantage for He would send the Holy Spirit to us and the Holy Spirit would convict and convince the world concerning sin, righteousness and judgement.
These three factors are linked together. They were not random points that the Lord pulled out of a hat. They are connected in a special way that is important for us to understand. And it is the working of the Holy Spirit that draws these three together. Continue reading “Holy Spirit Convicts”
The first question that pops into my head looking at the title of today’s post is, “Why?” Why did the people of Jesus’ day hate Him without a cause? Why also do people hate him still today?
There is certainly a common understanding among all people that Jesus did good things. He healed the sick, helped the poor, gave comfort to those suffering, cast out demons and more. So why did people hate Him both then and now?
Let’s look at some of the things this scripture has to say and what we can learn from this for this affects us too. As we saw in my last post, Jesus said that if they hated and persecuted Him they would hate and persecute us too.
As we study the scriptures there are often the obvious lessons that can be seen, but now and again we see some less obvious teachings. There is one such lesson in this section of scriptues. There were a number of times in the scriptures where Jesus healed or ministered to people and attached conditions to the word. We see a situation such as this in this section of the scripture. The Lord healed a man who had been paralyzed for thirty eight years (as discussed in my previous post) but after the healing he attached a condition to his work.