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Saturday, November 26, 2016, 10:19 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Give Ear to Jesus.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Acts 13 (Select vv. ESV).

The Holy Spirit set Paul (formerly Saul) and Barnabas apart for the work to which God had called them. In Pisidian Antioch, on the Jewish Sabbath Day, they went into the synagogue and sat down. After the reading of the law and the prophets, the synagogue rulers gave them the opportunity, if they had a message of encouragement for the people, to speak. So, Paul spoke. He began his speech with some Jewish history, beginning with the Jews’ enslavement in Egypt, God’s deliverance of them out of slavery, and their rebellion for 40 years in the desert. And, when he got down to David, who was a king of Israel, he told the people that it was from David’s descendants that God brought to Israel their Savior Jesus, just as God had promised.

A Savior, Jesus (vv. 23b-25)

“God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus, as he promised. Before his coming, John had proclaimed a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. And as John was finishing his course, he said, ‘What do you suppose that I am? I am not he. No, but behold, after me one is coming, the sandals of whose feet I am not worthy to untie.’

Jesus Christ was the Son of God, and he was God. He was with God in the beginning, and through him all things were made which were made, i.e. he existed always as God, and he is our creator (See: John 1:1-34). Yet, he left his throne in heaven, came to earth, and was born as a human male, conceived of the Holy Spirit, with a human mother (Mary). He grew up and became a man. At around age 30 he began his earthly ministry. Prior to this the Lord sent John the Baptist, who had also been prophesied about in the Old Testament, to be his forerunner, to prepare the people’s hearts for him. When Jesus then entered on the scene, John gave witness to who he was, and that now Jesus was to become greater, and John was to become less.

During Jesus’ earthly ministry, which covered a span of about three years, I believe, he preached repentance for the forgiveness of sins, he taught obedience as proof of genuine faith and love for God, he confronted sin in sinful human beings, and warned of divine judgment, yet promised hope, healing, deliverance and eternal life with God for the repentant and the obedient. As well, he taught that his followers must deny self, die daily to sin and self, and follow (obey) him (Lu. 9:23-25). If anyone was unwilling to give up his life for Christ, then he could not be one of Jesus’ disciples.

Following Jesus Christ means death to sin and living to righteousness, which is what he taught his followers, and it is what his apostles then also taught the people (1 Pet. 2:24). They did not teach these feel-good sugar-coated messages that so many false apostles of Christ are preaching today, who are leaving people dead in their sins without true hope of salvation and eternal life with God. Yet, Jesus was real clear in what he taught. If we want to be one of his followers, we must turn away from our lifestyles of sin, follow our Lord in obedience and in surrender to his will for our lives, and make him truly Lord (owner-master) of our lives. He said that if we hold on to our old lives (of living for sin and self) we will lose them (die in our sins), but if we lose our lives (die to sin), we will gain eternal life (Lu. 9:23-25).

The Message of Salvation (vv. 26-33a)

“Brothers, sons of the family of Abraham, and those among you who fear God, to us has been sent the message of this salvation. For those who live in Jerusalem and their rulers, because they did not recognize him nor understand the utterances of the prophets, which are read every Sabbath, fulfilled them by condemning him. And though they found in him no guilt worthy of death, they asked Pilate to have him executed. And when they had carried out all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb. But God raised him from the dead, and for many days he appeared to those who had come up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are now his witnesses to the people. And we bring you the good news that what God promised to the fathers, this he has fulfilled to us their children by raising Jesus.

When Jesus walked the face of this earth, during the time of his earthly ministry, he healed the sick and afflicted, raised the dead, delivered from demons, comforted the sorrowful, and encouraged the timid and those humble of heart. If that is all he did, he probably would have been better received, though the religious leaders often harassed him about healing on the Sabbath, although they themselves would rescue a sheep on the Sabbath or would circumcise a child on the Sabbath, so they were hypocritical in their objections to him healing people on the Sabbath.

But, he also called a spade a spade, i.e. he called things as they were, and he didn’t sugar-coat anything. Depending on who he was talking to, he might have done so gently or more firmly, i.e. he was much more direct and firm with the Pharisees, because they knew the scriptures, and they taught the scriptures, and because of their hypocrisy, because they were all too concerned with how things looked on the outside while inside they were full of wickedness. Not only that, but they took advantage of those weaker than them, and they didn’t show love, mercy and kindness, but held to a strict observance of external regulations while they had stubborn and rebellious hearts which refused to recognize Jesus for who he was - their Messiah.

So, they hated Jesus because he didn’t think and act like them, and because he didn’t follow all their traditions and man-made rules, and external regulations. They despised him because he told them the truth about what was in their hearts, that they were sinners who needed to be saved from their sins. They were jealous of him, too, and his popularity among the people, and they were threatened by him, because they feared that their own positions of power and authority might go away if more and more people followed Jesus. They were indignant against him, as well, because he claimed to be their Savior, their Lord, their Messiah and their God. And, so they plotted and carried out his death on a cross, but this was to fulfill scripture, that the Christ must die, be buried, and rise again (1 Co. 15:3-4).

Freedom from Sin (vv. 38-41)

Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and by him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses. Beware, therefore, lest what is said in the Prophets should come about:

“‘Look, you scoffers,
be astounded and perish;
for I am doing a work in your days,
a work that you will not believe, even if one tells it to you.’”

When Jesus died, he who knew no sin became sin for us so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Co. 5:21). So, when he died our sins also were put to death and buried with him. Yet, he rose triumphant over death, hell, Satan and sin on our behalf. So, when we truly come to faith in Jesus Christ, to be Lord and Savior of our lives, of the Spirit of God, we are thus crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ in newness of life, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (See: Eph. 4:17-24; Ro. 6:1-23). The old has gone. The new has come. Where once our desire was to please our sinful nature, now our desire is to please God with our lives in all that we do. Now we walk according to the Spirit, and no longer conduct our lives (in lifestyle) according to our sinful nature (flesh), to fulfill its desires (See: Ro. 8:1-14; Tit. 2:11-14).

This is not saying that we are sinless or that we never sin again after we receive Jesus Christ to be our Lord and Savior (See: 1 Jn. 2:1). But, it should mean that our lifestyle is transformed of the Spirit of God away from sin to walking in Christ’s righteousness and holiness – all in the power and working of His Spirit within us, as we cooperate with that work of grace.

The Bible is real clear, that if we say we have fellowship with God, but we continue to walk (conduct our lives) in darkness (sin, wickedness), we are liars, and the truth is not in us (1 Jn. 1:6). If we walk according to the flesh, we will die (in our sins), but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live (with Christ for eternity) (See: Ro. 8:1-14; cf. Lu. 9:23-25). God’s grace is not a free license to continue in sin. His grace teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return (Tit. 2:11-14). Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.

Yet, along with this promise of forgiveness of sins to the repentant and obedient, i.e. to the believer in Jesus, is a divine warning to the scoffers (unbelievers). The warning quoted here in Acts 13:41 is found in the Old Testament, in Habakkuk 1:5. It is a warning of divine judgment. If they persisted in unbelief, and in their wickedness, the promise of forgiveness of sins would not be theirs, but only a fearful expectation of divine judgment. Yet, this also applies to those who make a profession only of Christ as Savior, but who are still walking in darkness, and not according to the Spirit.

God is sending against this world the beast (one-world totalitarian government), the false prophet (false one-world religion) and the dragon (Satan). Yet, through this time of judgment, many wayward Christians will be revived, the gospel will go forth to the ends of the world, and many will trust in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior before Jesus returns. Even the righteous will be affected by this, as great persecution against the saints of God is all part of God’s divine judgment on this world he has made. Yet, those who are walking in Christ’s righteousness have the hope of heaven when they die, whereas the unbeliever, which includes those who give lip service only to God, only have divine judgment and eternity in hell in their future. So, listen to what God (Jesus) says, and obey him today.

Give Ear to Jesus / An Original Work
Based off Isaiah 55 / February 16, 2016

Call on your Savior.
Seek the Lord while He is near.
Let the wicked forsake his way;
Turn to the Lord.
God will have mercy.
He’ll forgive you of your sin.
He will freely pardon you
And give peace within.
Turn from your sin, follow Jesus,
Be cleansed from sin.

Give ear to Jesus.
Come to Him. Your soul will live.
Listen to Him speaking to you:
“Eat what is good.”
If you are thirsty,
Come to Jesus, drink from Him.
Drink His Spirit given to you.
Be born again.
Listen to Him. Do what He says.
Rejoice in Him.

God’s Word, eternal,
Will achieve what He desires.
He is willing none should perish,
Saved by His blood.
Share now the gospel.
Jesus died so we’d go free.
Walk in vict’ry,
Free from your sin, eternally.
Die to sin, and live to Jesus.
In Him believe.

"While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation." (Hebrews 3:15)

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