September 21, 2010

In Every Nation, Anyone Who Fears Him

I've been going through a study of the life of Paul in the Bible, and this afternoon I read something that was really encouraging.

As many of you would know, shortly after Jesus rose from the dead God intervened dramatically in the life of a man named Saul, who then became a follower of Christ (and renamed Paul).  He describes his conversion in Galatians 1:15-16, saying "He who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son to me, in order that I might preach Him among the Gentiles."  God describes Saul's calling in a similar way in Acts 9:15, where He said "He is a chosen instrument of Mine to carry My name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel."

A ministry to the Gentiles would have been revolutionary to Jews at this time.  And Saul, of all people, because of his upbringing and profession, probably had not had a high opinion of Gentiles before he became a follower of Christ.  Jews generally thought of Gentiles as unclean and not chosen by God.  But Saul joyfully obeyed the Lord and took the good news to the Gentiles that everyone who believes in Jesus receives forgiveness of sins through His name.

Other disciples of Christ might have been reluctant to hear that the word of the Lord was going out to the Gentiles.  But God revealed to another leader of the early church, Peter, the same good news of salvation to all who would believe.  Peter said in Acts 10:34-35, "Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears Him and does what is right is acceptable to Him."  What a verse!!  And listen to what comes next...

"As for the word that he sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace through Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all), you yourselves know what happened throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism that John proclaimed: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. And we are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree, but God raised him on the third day and made him to appear, not to all the people but to us who had been chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name."  Acts 10:36-43

Everyone who believes!  In every nation!  Anyone who fears Him!  What beautiful words.


May we also show no partiality, but freely share the gospel of God's grace through Christ, which has been extended to us, with all people.

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