Acts Devotionals

Change of Plans

Some might think a change of plan is wrong. Consider the many people who have gone through theological education and have ministered within the confines of a country, say in Britain, Germany or South Africa and yield little results, not because their labors were lacking but because the hearts of the hearers were hardened to the Gospel. Then they decide to venture into the hardest countries to minister such as China, Japan, Mongolia, Thailand and Nepal, as examples. Their costs are higher, their health is at risk. Their lives are in danger. Politically they need to be extremely cautious, but they go … because they want to find hearts that the Holy Spirit will open to hear the Gospel. Back in their First World Home Country they see no response and mostly resistance, so they chose to go into the most dangerous regions, leaving family and loved ones because they want to serve Jesus to grow the Kingdom. Let’s read again from:

Ac 13:46 Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: “We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles. 47 For this is what the Lord has commanded us: “‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’’” 48 When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed. 49 The word of the Lord spread through the whole region. 50 But the Jews incited the God-fearing women of high standing and the leading men of the city. They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region. 51 So they shook the dust from their feet in protest against them and went to Iconium. 52 And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.

1) They decided to change evangelistic direction. Their own people, the Jews rejected and refuse the Gospel with an onslaught of blasphemous attacks upon them and the Gospel … so that decided … we now turn to the Gentiles. This is the picture I tried to paint above. Their first responsibility was the Jewish people. They rejected the Gospel so the decision was taken to reach the Gentile World. They were within their Biblical Mandate to do so:

Mt 28:19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations

Ac 1:8 you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

These are Jesus’ words to His people. The Jews and then all nations. I have tried before to show that within our Churches there are many people who are pew warmers. They are faithful members or adherents but have not yet surrendered their hearts to the Lord Jesus. We need to try to reach these soul before venturing outside the Church to reach the lost … but should these dear souls refuse the Gospel, then we need to go into the society around us and seek to win souls from amongst the unbelievers for Jesus. The missionaries took the command of Jesus seriously … I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth. Will we take His command to us seriously?

2) There was gladness and delight in the Lord. Irrespective who the lost soul are, once they hear the Gospel and affectively believe, repent and follow Jesus … they are thrilled that God has come to them and saved their soul through whoever shared Christ with them:

Ac 13:48 When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord.

But note … not only were they glad … they honored the Word of the Lord! That is, they obeyed the Gospel fully. They left their idols and wickedness and turned fully to follow Jesus. This is what we lack today. Many want salvation but will not honor the Gospel. These are those who want the best of both worlds. They don’t want to leave the world’s side for the Lord’s side. Such people demonstrate that they are not truly saved. It is for this reason preachers need to include the Gospel message in every sermon, including at wedding and funerals.

3) All called by grace were saved. Here we are confronted with doctrine that some people detest, but however people feel, this doctrine is included in Scripture

Ac 13:48 and all who were appointed for eternal life believed.

Many want control over their salvation. They want to make the decision and the kind of decision based upon their terms. God puts it differently in the Bible. Please take the time to read the following passage:

Eph 1:4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. 9 And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment—to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ. Eph 1:11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12 in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.

I don’t intend expounding this passage other than to say that in reading it you will soon see that God in His grace has chosen a people, not out of punishment, but out of love. He did not chose you because he foresaw you will be a good person or a good asset to His Kingdom, but out of love. He did not chose you to discriminate against another, but in love. Everyone He chose before the creation of this world shall hear the Gospel, believe, repent and be saved. To this some might say … “well … then we can sit back, relax and wait to be saved.” Actually no! This is the reason for the Gospel message. As people hear, so the Spirit works to bring them to an understanding of their lost-ness and need, driving them to flee to Jesus in repentance and faith for salvation. Remember:

Jn 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

This verse places the onus on the hearer to respond. How will you ever know salvation if you don’t respond to the Gospel? The Glory of the Gospel is the response to the Gospel because each time a soul is saved, God is glorified proving the Gospel effective and the only method of salvation. How then do you know whether you are part of the elect … that you are chosen? You respond to the Gospel in genuine sincerity and then you shall experience the New Birth … and you will know you have been saved, are part of the elect because God has chosen you for eternity.

Lord God, thank You that Your ways are not my ways. Thank You that I do not need to understand all the intricacies of doctrine to be saved. Thank You that Your Spirit helps me to understand the Gospel, believe it and be saved. Amen.

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