Grace for Every Race- Acts 10

Weekly Devotional- August 28, 2017

Sometimes we take it for granted that we have access to the gospel. We forget that there was a time when the Jews thought that Jesus was just for them. In fact, in Acts 10 we learn that some Jews were astounded that God would save Gentiles. Throughout Acts 10 we learn that the grace of God really is a grace for every race.

A Little Background

The Jewish people were a very proud people. They hated the Samaritans because they were not pure Jews. The called them ‘half-breed dogs.’ They could not fathom God wanting to save the Samaritans.

But the one thing they hated more than the Samaritans were the Gentiles.

Jews would have nothing to do with Gentiles. They would not stay in their homes as a guest. They would rather sleep on the streets than a Gentile’s house. Dirt from a Gentile country was considered defiled. If a Jew had been walking though a Gentile area he would shake the dust off his feet before entering Jewish territory. Jews would not eat food prepared by Gentile hands.

Before the gospel could be preached to all nations there was a cultural barrier that had to be broken down.

The Cultural Barrier

In verse 28 Peter clearly points to the cultural barrier that existed.

You know it’s forbidden for a Jewish man to associate with or visit a foreigner.  But God has shown me that I must not call any person common or unclean.

He again highlights this barrier in verse 34-35.

Then Peter began to speak: “Now I really understand that God doesn’t show favoritism, but in every nation the person who fears Him and does righteousness is acceptable to Him.

This is seen in the Jews’ response to Gentiles receiving the Holy Spirit in verse 45.

The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astounded because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also.

There was a clear cultural barrier that stood in the way of the gospel spreading to the Gentile people — a barrier that God tore down.

Grace for Every Race

The gospel message was not just for the Jews, but for all people. This truth is seen in a couple of verses in this passage starting in verse 35.

But in every nation the person who fears Him and does righteousness is acceptable to Him.

Again, it can be clearly seen in verse 43.

All the prophets testify about Him that through His name everyone who believes in Him will receive forgiveness of sins.

The message of Christ is not a secret to be protected, it is hope to be spread. As believers we must embrace the truth that the gospel of Jesus Christ — the grace of God — is available to all, and as such, it is to be communicated to all. This responsibility falls on those of us who have, in God’s grace,  received the message of the gospel.


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Why You Should Pursue Spiritual Growth

Weekly Devotional- July 17, 2017

For many people, spiritual growth seems unattainable. It is a mountain that they love to look at, but never climb. It is something they view as being for the spiritually elite. As a result, spiritual growth is not something they ever put much effort into pursuing. There are some important reasons why we need to make spiritual growth a priority in our lives. Here are a few of them.

1- The pursuit of spiritual growth offers protection against error.

We live in a culture that is permeated with error. This includes doctrinal error, philosophical error, and moral error. How do we guard ourselves and our families from all of this error? How can we remain firmly planted in Truth? Both Ephesians 4:13-16 and I Peter 3:17-18 teach that it is the pursuit of spiritual maturity that offers such protection.

2- Individual spiritual growth leads to the spiritual growth of the entire church.

Ephesians 4:15-16 teaches that as we as individuals grow spiritually the entire church grows as well. Our individual growth leads to the growth of the Body. When we fail to grow as individuals we not only hurt ourselves, we also hurt the entire Body.

3- The pursuit of spiritual growth protects us from being useless and unfruitful Christians.

There are many Christian lives that, from an eternal perspective, are somewhat useless and unfruitful. How do we guard against this being how our lives are characterized? According to Peter, it is through growth in godliness. When we are growing spiritually we are ensuring that our lives are in a position to be used by God in any way He chooses.

4- When we are not growing spiritually we lose sight of what Christ has done.

II Peter 1:9 teaches that those who refuse to pursue spiritual growth have lost sight of what Christ as done for them, or perhaps never have experienced what Christ has done through a relationship with him. Just as God’s grace brings salvation, so God’s grace brings growth.

Closing Thought

Spiritual growth requires regular time in God’s Word. It is in the Bible that we learn about who God is, what God does, why He does it, and how He wants us to live. To ignore God’s Word is to refuse spiritual growth.

Spending time in God’s Word take intentionality. We must put forth effort to be growing spiritually. Spiritual growth is not just a prize to be imagined, it is a goal to be pursued.

Take some time and think about what you can do to increase your spiritual growth.

Why the Old Testament Law?

Weekly Devotional- July 10, 2017

One of the greatest sources of confusion when it comes to understanding the Bible is centered on the Old Testament Law. Why did God give it? Is it all still binding on believers today? If not, why not?

People naturally respond in one of three ways. (1) Some people think that all of the Old Testament Law is binding on all believers, and so they strive to obey all of it. (2) Some people think that the Old Testament Law is now meaningless and serves no purpose, so they ignore it. (3) Other people have no idea what to think about it, so they don’t give any thought to it.

All of the above responses are incorrect. It is when we understand what the law does that we can begin to understanding the “Why?” of the Old Testament Law.

What the Old Testament Law Does

 

1- The Old Testament Law reveals the nature and the character of God.

It is through the O.T. Law that we learn that God is holy, righteous, and opposed to sin. Leviticus 20:26 says that we are to be holy. Why? Because God is holy. The law of God flows from the character of God, and it is in the O.T. Law that we see that character.

2- The Old Testament Law reveals sin.

Several verses in Romans point to this truth such as Romans 3:20 and Romans 4:15. But perhaps none is more clear than Romans 7:7 which says, “…if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin…” The law reveals sin, but more than that, it also shows the seriousness of that sin.

3-The Old Testament Law shows God’s desire for His people to be distinct.

Many of the dietary and ceremonial laws were all about God demonstrating his desire for his followers to be distinct from the world around them. Believers are to be holy and distinct from the surrounding world, and this is demonstrated in the O.T. Law.

4- The Old Testament Law points us to Christ.

Galatians 3:24 says that  “the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ…” While the law demanded righteousness, it could not create it. The law cannot give life. The Law proclaims, “I cannot save you.” It points us to Christ because not only did Christ fulfill the Law, but it is only though faith in Christ that we can have salvation.

Closing Thought

So the next time someone you know seems confused about the “Why?” of the Old Testament Law, feel free to explain how it is through the Law that we learn about God, the seriousness of sin, and God’s desire for his people to be distinct. Also, share how that the law points us to Christ — the only source of true life.