Wednesday, June 22, 2011
It's Necessary For Us To Enter Into God's Kingdom Through Many Hardships - Acts 13-14
As I said yesterday, starting here in chapter 13 we see the explosive spread of the good news about Jesus on its way to "the ends of the earth" as the Spirit picks Barnabas and Saul out for this work.
First of all, I can't write about this section without imagining how sweet it must have been for Paul to say to Bar-Jesus (in the words of the NIV), "You are a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right!" Woah! The child reference, of course, may be a word play on his name "Son of Jesus." Perhaps Paul is wanting him to experience what he did, who knows..., and what strikes me is that Sergius Paulus was amazed at Paul's teaching about the Lord, not the blindness that struck Bar-Jesus.
As far as big picture things go, it's insightful to look at how Paul tells the same good news in different ways to different crowds and settings. In Pisidian Antioch he starts from the Exodus and works with prophesies fulfilled and such. Then in the Gentile cities he works from a sort of "natural knowledge" of God and tells them to serve the one and only true living God instead of idols (notice he doesn't mention justifying yourself by works or anything of the sort...), and he doesn't run into trouble until the Jews who didn't believe in the other cities come and stir up trouble. Paul starts where people are at, and gets to Jesus as the Lord Messiah who's calling all to change their ways and trust and follow him.
On a practical level, it's good to study Paul's method of not just leaving behind the places he visited, but appointing leadership, and reporting back to home base what all happened. Paul's not a "lone ranger," but instead a team player.