“Men of Israel and you who fear God, listen. The God of this people Israel chose our fathers and made the people great during their stay in the land of Egypt, and with uplifted arm he led them out of it. And for about forty years he put up with them in the wilderness. …Acts 13:16–18
Paul and his companions move from Crete to the mainland to continue their mission. When they come to Pisidian Antioch (they were sent out from a different Antioch, in Syria), they enter into the synagogue and are invited to share a word with the people.
We will get into Paul’s gospel next week, but for now, let’s look at Paul’s introduction as he steps out onto common ground with his audience. The goal is to draw some encouragement as believers from some core truths (often overlooked) surrounding our faith.
1. Our faith is rooted in History. (*His Story*)
Paul begins with the call of Abraham. He could have begun with Genesis. When Luke begins his genealogy of the Christ in his gospel he begins with Adam (and therefore with creation).
It is significant to remember that our faith is rooted in history, that is to say, history is HIS story.
Some seek to diminish these historical roots, or they reason that the historical element is irrelevant but we cannot dismiss the historical element of our faith as merely the wrapping or context for a religious tale. Our faith is true because the history surrounding is true.
Some – even some who would claim the name of Christ – dismiss pieces of our faith history as irrelevant. They dismiss the virgin birth, they spiritualize the resurrection, and they seek to rationalize the miracles.
These are not small errors.
It is significant that Jesus was born of a virgin, that He fulfilled prophesies, performed miracles, and that He literally preached the gospel on the actual hills of Galilee and Judea.
It matters that He was betrayed and violently executed… and then literally raised from the dead.
More than that: David, Solomon, Hezekiah were real kings; Lachish, Bethlehem, Jericho were real places. The walls of Jericho really fell, The Red Sea really split, and the first Passover happened just as Exodus tells us.
Moses was REAL. Abraham was REAL. Noah and his ark were REAL. And, while we’re at it, Adam stands as the REAL original man, the first of the human race, created by the hand of God and animated by His Spirit.
Our faith is grounded in hisdotry and that also means that history is in the hands of our Lord and He is guiding it according to His will and aiming it into eternity.
Because God has been over the unfolding of history, we also know Him to be overseeing the present day unveiling of history. Therefore, we can live in confidence and hope.
2. Our faith is founded on His promises.
Because God is sovereignly sitting over history, we can trust His ability to fulfill every one of His promises. His Word CANNOT FAIL. His plans are never in question, His purposes are never in doubt, and His promises are never uncertain. We can TRUST Him.
Even when the process takes longer than we desire, (I mean, 450 years for the conquest), and even when the path is darker than we would choose, He never leaves us or forsakes us.
His ways are right, good, true, and loving. He gives strength to the weary and hope to the hopeless. He draws near to the orphan and widow. He hears the cries of His people & His presence comes close.
And we never need to fear that God’s faithfulness will fail on our account either, for…
3. Our faith is secured by His faithfulness.
David faithfully became king and his offspring, the Messiah, faithfully arrived. David, by God’s own testimony, is remembered as a Man after God’s own heart who did all that God purposed for him to do.
The fulfillment of HIS promises are secured by HIS unfailing faithfulness and not ours. They are brought to fruition by HIS strength and not our own ability.
In the same way, God’s purposes in your life will be fulfilled because of God’s faithfulness and not your resources.
Sure, our role is important. It is an evidence of God’s working and is, in part, a means by which He works. Yet, our effort and giftedness is not where our confidence lies, and, consequently, our lack of giftedness or inferior ability cannot be the reason we fail.
Labor, work, and strive… but do so with His strength and with a confidence in His faithfulness. This is Paul’s example and our command.
For the entire message, “Gospel Roots” click here to watch Sunday’s wintery livestream.