“Brothers, sons of the family of Abraham, and those among you who fear God, to us has been sent the message of this salvation.”Acts 13:26
Paul arrives as Pisidian Antioch and is invited to speak. The Pharisee become missionary, proceeds to establish common ground with his audience, “Men of Israel and those who fear God.” (13:16)
When you want to preach Jesus and see people come to salvation in Christ, “common ground” must be a launching pad not a final destination. Having laid the foundation of a common belief in Yahweh and a shared hope in Messiah, Paul then moves to declare that Jesus – the resurrected Christ – is the One they are waiting for and hoping in. More than declare Jesus as the Christ, he deomnstrates from the Scriptures that Jesus is the only way to the Father.
As Paul unpacks the reality and wonder of the gospel, we must understand at least three things about this gospel message:
(1) The Message of Salvation has been sent to us.
God has SENT us this message… we did not create this gospel nor could we have ever have guessed our way to salvation. This message has been “once for all delievered to the saints.” (Jude 3) Christianity is not a manmade religion. It is not the fruit of human philosophy or creative storytelling.
No. The Christian faith comes from Divine revelation. God Himself has revealed Himself to His people. Apart from this sovereign initiative, we cannot know God.
More than sending a message to us, God has sent His Son. Christ came to communicate, embody, and establish the gospel. He shared the mind of God as He taught on Galilean hills and in the Judean countryside. He modeled the will of God as He ministered to people, showed compassion, and healed diseases. And He purchased our salvation through His death, burial, and resurrection.
Therefore, it is no mystery that…
(2) This Message of Salvation centers on Christ.
Two key elements of Christ’s life and ministry help us understand the gospel.
First, Christ was rejected by us. Paul says of the Jews that did not recognize Jesus nor did they understand the Scrpitures so they fulfilled those same Scriptures by having Christ killed. (13:27-29)
We have each rejected God and Jesus whom He has sent. None of us are BORN Christians; everyone of us are born into sin with rebellious hearts, strong wills, and stubborn spirits.
Until we acknowledge, grieve over, and turn away from our sin, we cannot know God.
Next, we see that Christ has been vindicated by God. Although we rejected God and had Jesus executed, although we persist in pride and suppress the truth, although we continue in sin and prefer darkness to light, even then God sent Christ and demonstrated His approval of Jesus by raising Him from the dead.
The resurrection is a vital part of our faith — the real, actual, physical, literal raising of Jesus from the dead! The tomb is empty and our salvation is secure because Christ defeated death and blazed a trail into heaven for all who will trust Him through repantant faith.
Because Jesus has been raised from the dead… His claims are validated, His sacrifice is received, and His teaching is verified. Also, the promise we have of a future resurrection, beating death, and living eternally with Him – all these promises are confirmed.
Finally, as Paul concludes His gospel message, we recognize…
(3) This Message of Salvation demands a response.
This message is either believed for salvation & reconciliation or it is rejected unto destruction & alienation.
This gospel rings true. It’s truth is clear and compelling; it’s hope is real and authentic. It’s ancient echoes ring true and find substance in Christ. This is not a made-up religion. It is the promise of God as He was revealed Himself to us throughout history. And only those who suppress the truth and insist on self-rule can convince us otherwise. Jealousy and self-importance will keep us from embracing Christ as our Savior.
The appropriate response to this message, and the only saving response, is to thank the Lord for sending Jesus, to acknowledge our sinfulness before Him and ask for forgiveness, and surrender your life to His grace and authority.
…and if you need help knowing how to do that, wondering what it looks like, or are unsure if you need to, please message me or leave a comment. I would enjoy having that conversation with you.