Saturday, September 24, 2022

2022.09.24 Hopewell @Home ▫ Acts 13:42–48

Read Acts 13:42–48

Questions from the Scripture text: Who were going where (Acts 13:42)? But who else did what on their way out? What did they want? But when everyone was out, who did what to whom (Acts 13:43)? And what did Paul and Barnabas do to them? In what did they persuade them to continue? When does Acts 13:44 take place? Who come? To do what? Who saw what in Acts 13:45? With what were they filled? What two things did they start doing? Why were they doing this? What happened to Paul and Barnabas in Acts 13:46? In this boldness, what did Paul and Barnabas say was necessary? But what have the Jews done to the Word? And what frightful thing have they done to themselves? So, what are Paul and Barnabas doing now? Who had commanded this (Acts 13:47)? Who was the light and salvation of Isaiah 49:6? How is He now to be shown and proclaimed? Who heard this in Acts 13:48? How did they feel? What did they do to the Word of the Lord? Which ones believed?

What are the possible responses to the preaching of the gospel, and who is responsible for them? Acts 13:42–48 looks forward to the morning sermon on the coming Lord’s Day. In these seven verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that even the very best gospel preaching may be rejected by those who are given over to judge themselves unworthy of salvation, but the Lord has appointed others to eternal life, and these will believe. 

An alive response to gospel preaching desires more of itActs 13:42-43. The scene in verse 42 has some familiar aspects. The service is over, the people file out. One difference, however, is that the Jews all leave first. As we’ve been seeing since chapter 10, they refused to fellowship with Gentiles, even God-fearers. So Paul and Barnabas are left inside, and we see the effect that their preaching has had on the Gentiles. They “begged that these words might be preached to them the next Sabbath” (verse 42). Finally, the Gentiles get outside, and there are “many Jews and God-fearing proselytes” who refuse to leave. They follow their guest preachers, who persuade them to continue in the grace of God. The spiritually alive respond to gospel preaching by desiring more of it!

A dead response to gospel preaching responds from the fleshActs 13:44-46. The unbelieving Jews had apparently been polite enough on their way out in Acts 13:42. But things change even before the service on the next Sabbath. Rather than rejoicing at the greatest attendance ever at their synagogue, the Jews are filled with envy when they see the multitudes (Acts 13:45) of nearly the whole city eager to hear the Word of God (Acts 13:44). And because they are responding in a fleshly way, they think little of blaspheming Christ.

Paul had warned them at the end of the former sermon (cf. Acts 13:40-41) that the Lord had prophesied about those who respond with unbelief even to the proclamation of God’s good and glorious work. Now they fulfill that prophesy by rejecting the word of God. Though under the sovereignty of God, it is a dreadful thing when men reject the truth of the gospel! Yet, they cannot blame God. “You judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life” (Acts 13:46).

The three aspects of a saving responseActs 13:47-48. Though our translation uses different words, in the original the thing that the Jews judged themselves unworthy of in Acts 13:46 is what many were appointed to in Acts 13:48. So, what does the response to gospel preaching look like, when God has appointed someone to eternal life? Gladness, praise, and faith. “They were glad” the Gentiles rejoiced to hear that God’s plan was to proclaim Christ to them as light and salvation. They “glorified the Word of the Lord”; not only was Christ praise-worthy to them, the preaching was received as from Him, and they glorified it as His. “As many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.” It’s not a saving response just to enjoy the Word and praise it as Christ’s. Salvation comes through faith in Christ; it is faith that receives Him and all that is in Him for us. And it is God’s appointment that gives this faith, in order to give eternal life.

How do you feel when you hear the gospel preached? How do you respond to the preaching itself? How do you respond to the Christ Whom you hear preached? Who determined that you would?

Sample prayer:  Lord, save us from responding to gospel preaching in a fleshly way. When we are irritated by earthly things in connection with it, we could be judging ourselves unworthy of eternal life. Grant, instead, that we would be eager for more preaching, rejoice to have heard the preaching, praise it as coming from the Lord Jesus Himself, and put all of our hope in Him, for we ask it in His Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP2 “Why Do Gentile Nations Rage?” or TPH425 “How Sweet and Awesome Is the Place” 

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