Final Pleadings for His Own

July 26, 2021

Acts 28.23-28           

23 They arranged to meet Paul on a certain day, and came in even larger numbers to the place where he was staying. He witnessed to them from morning till evening, explaining about the kingdom of God, and from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets he tried to persuade them about Jesus. 24 Some were convinced by what he said, but others would not believe. 25 They disagreed among themselves and began to leave after Paul had made this final statement: “The Holy Spirit spoke the truth to your ancestors when he said through Isaiah the prophet:

26 “‘Go to this people and say,
“You will be ever hearing but never understanding;
    you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.”
27 For this people’s heart has become calloused;
    they hardly hear with their ears,
    and they have closed their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
    hear with their ears,
    understand with their hearts
and turn, and I would heal them.’

28 “Therefore I want you to know that God’s salvation has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will listen!”

More than once, Paul says that he goes to the Jews first, and then to the Gentiles.  And his experience with the Jews in Rome, along with the portion of Isaiah that he quotes to them, shows why.  He wants his people to believe in Jesus.  Yet he sees that many of them will go the way that Isaiah prophesied so long ago.  Almost looking like the three monkeys with eyes, ears and heart covered (heart replacing the covering of the mouth in the image).

It is so easy to cover all our senses and stay blind to the gospel.  And with these ones in Rome there are some who open their eyes and ears and believe.  And there are others who disagree with them and will not believe, closing eyes and ears, and thereby closing their hearts.  And it is easy for us to point, to blame and to wonder about their disbelief.  Yet our goal is not to look at them in judgment.  It is to see that we also have that same dilemma, belief and disbelief.

We may think that writing to those in the church we would assume belief on the part of all.  But notice that these are the religious people of Paul’s day.  They are the ones who walk away in disbelief about Jesus, yet they are certain of their place with God as his people.  It is important for us, even now, to see that our faith is in Christ alone.  That our belief in the gospel is from the one Jesus came proclaiming, not one that fits our desires for today.

How are we living out the faith we have, showing our belief.  Are we looking for everything to go our own way?  Are we trying to get the church to be modeled after our ideas of how things should be?  Or are we holding onto faith and trying to hear the Spirit move in our midst and follow God’s leading into the future, to become what he desires instead of what we desire?  As we are about to end the book of Acts in this series, seeing the church then and now, I hope we can focus our lives on the gospel and live out the words the church teaches of us all together regarding our hope for the present and the future:

Q & A 1

Q. What is your only comfort
in life and in death?

A. That I am not my own,
but belong—

body and soul,
in life and in death—

to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ.

He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood,
and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil.
He also watches over me in such a way
that not a hair can fall from my head
without the will of my Father in heaven;
in fact, all things must work together for my salvation.

Because I belong to him,
Christ, by his Holy Spirit,
assures me of eternal life
and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready
from now on to live for him.

SongIn Christ Alone

Prayer

We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty,

the One who is and who was,

for you have taken your great power

and have begun to reign.

Now have come the salvation and the power

and the kingdom of our God,

and the authority of his Christ.

Great and amazing are your deeds, Lord God the Almighty.

Just and true are your ways, King of the nations.

Lord, who will not fear and glorify your name?

For you alone are holy.

All nations will come and worship before you,

for your judgments have been revealed. Amen.

—from Revelation 11:17; 12:10, NIV; 15:3-4, NRSV

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