Acts Devotionals

The Way

Remember my lengthy introduction yesterday? The onslaught upon the Gospel can be severe and it is nothing new as we have seen in the Book of Acts and see again today.

Ac 19:9 But some of them became obstinate; they refused to believe and publicly maligned the Way. So Paul left them. He took the disciples with him and had discussions daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus. 10 This went on for two years, so that all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord. 11 God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, 12 so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.

A matter never to forget, is that everyone outside of Jesus Christ follows the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is at work in those opposed to God and His righteousness.

Eph 2:1 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.

As frightful and ghastly as this is to read or hear, it is reality and without such knowledge, rejecting God’s Gospel offer and persecuting the Church and its people comes naturally. Only once one experiences God’s grace in salvation are we able to understand who we were and who we followed … and now whom we are and whom we followed.

Eph 2:4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.

1) An open onslaught against the Gospel of God.

Ac 19:9 But some of them became obstinate; they refused to believe and publicly maligned the Way.

These people were Jews and were part of the synagogue Paul preached in. (1) The attack was against “the Way” as Christianity became known. Considering what we read in Ephesians chapter 2 about whom we were before salvation as well as who we followed until Jesus became our Lord and King, we can understand these religious Jews reaction to being told that their Jewish Faith was obsolete and they needed to receive Jesus Christ as Messiah, who had already come. Some believed yet many did not believe … all are called … yet not all are chosen! If you have time, please read Matthew 22:1-14. There Jesus tells a parable:

Mt 22:2 “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. 3 He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come.”

The picture in this parable is that all are invited to come into the Kingdom of God … but not all invited shall come! Surprisingly Jesus ends the parable saying:

Mt 22:14 “For many are invited, but few are chosen.”

(2) Because of this we are able to grasp something of the dynamics happing at the synagogue in Ephesus.

(a) These Jews were stubborn (obstinate). The thought here is “to make oneself hard or to harden oneself against something.” They hardened themselves against what Paul was teaching. It was deliberate and intentional. Only once saved by grace can one look backwards and see how stubborn the heart was … how adamant the heart was in rejecting the Gospel. You see, the heart is the problem:

Jer 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?

That internal battle for the heart is great. The devil (prince of the air) wants to control it, keeping it away from Jesus.

(b) This resulted in these Jews continuing in their unbelief (refused to believe). The root here is “not to allow one to be persuaded. It is a blatant rejection of the Gospel resulting in a defiant disobedience to the Gospel’s call. When we couple the “stubborn or obstinate” and the “unbelief or refused to believe” we see how decidedly they were in bondage to the evil one. Not only would he (satan) not let them go, they would not let him go. Perhaps now we are able to see and understand why so much of our evangelism seemingly fails. Some hearts tend to be impenetrable.

(c) The culmination of this satanic control led to speaking evil (publically maligning the Christian Faith). The Greek for “maligned” is “to speak evil of, revile, abuse, make false defamatory statements to damage one’s reputation.” As in other cases, the synagogue membership dropped significantly due to conversions to the Lord Jesus Christ. To the Jews it seemed the only way to stop the continual loss was to spread false defamatory statements to damage the reputation of Christianity. Yesterday I heard of a man from a Muslim country coming to faith in Jesus and serving at a Church in another country as an intern to learn the Scriptures, preaching, evangelism and pastoral work. He returned to his own country and led others to Christ. Once the authorities found out they did awful things to the lady coverts, killed some men and by God’s grace the man escaped. He fled to another country on the same continent but was followed and he has been threatened with death. The pastor under whom he served left his country in another continent to try and assist the man. He has also been threatened with death. This is precisely the aggression and sentiment behind … some of them became obstinate; they refused to believe and publicly maligned the Way. Pray for missionaries and pastors in countries where the Gospel is opposed.

2) Christianity became known as the “Way”. Some suggest that early Christians from a Jewish background called Christianity “the Way” based upon:

Isa 40:3 A voice of one calling: “In the desert prepare the way for the LORD; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God.”

John the Baptist quoted Isaiah as the forerunner announcing the coming of the Christ:

Mt 3:2 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” 3 This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: “A voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’”

It is possible that some early Christians who were Jews might have used the “prepare the way for the LORD”, taking “the way” as the name of Early Christianity … though the Gentiles seemed to label followers of Jesus (disciples) differently:

Ac 11:26 The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.

Another reason for “the Way” would be because Jesus said:

Jn 14:6 “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Some people today call their Church “The Way” or themselves as “followers of the Way. There are mystic religions speaking of themselves or what they do as “the way”. Although “Christian” could mean almost anything to the casual onlooker, I prefer to call myself Christian.

Lord, Your people are under constant attack in many parts of the World when living out or proclaiming the Christian faith. Mercifully protect them from harm and danger as we ask You in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *