“What’s Offensive About Good News?” ( Acts 13: 48, NIV ) by Carley Evans


“All who are appointed for eternal life believe.” (Acts 13:48, NIV)

Luke records the truth that Paul and Barnabas “have to speak the Word of God to [Israel] first.” (Acts 13:46) Only Israel’s rejection and their inability to “consider [themselves] worthy of eternal life” open the door for Paul and Barnabas to take the good news to the Gentiles.

Israel is God’s own people. They are appointed — decided on beforehand; designated — for eternal life. Among the Gentile nations are people “appointed for eternal life,” and these people believe when they hear the good news. How can they believe if no one preaches? asks Paul.

How offensive is God’s sovereign choice? How disturbing is the good news? When the Gentiles hear Paul say “the Lord commands us: ‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth” (Acts 13:47) “they are glad.” (Acts 13:48) Those designated beforehand honor the Word of God, and believe just as God decides.

“[Christ] comes to that which is His own, but His own do not receive Him. Yet to all who receive Him, to those who believe in His Name, He gives the right to become children of God — children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” (John 1:11-13)

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“All It Means” ( Acts 5: 20, NEB ) by Carley Evans


The High Priest and colleagues who are Sadducees arrest the apostles at Solomon’s Portico in Jerusalem. Apparently all the apostles are imprisoned. But an angel of the Lord releases them by opening the prison door during the night. After all, what good is it for all the apostles to be imprisoned together at the same time and in the same place? The angel says,

“Go, take your place in the temple and speak to the people, and tell them about this new life and all it means.” (Acts 5:20)

“This new life and all it means” is the message that the apostles are charged to share with the people and from a particular place in Jerusalem. The angel of the Lord charges them to “take [their] place in the temple.” After all, this is where the people of Israel come to hear whatever God has prepared for them to hear.

The angel of the Lord sets the apostles free so that they are able to speak of the “new life and all it means” and to speak of it from the temple of God in the holy city, Jerusalem.  From the center of God’s earthly rule, the apostles preach at the command of God.

And, what a message!

You can have a new life, one of Light which brings you out of darkness. You can walk in this Light, which shines from within you because that Light dwells inside you as a Person. All this means is you can be a fundamentally different kind of human being both now and in eternity. You can be changed from the inside out. And this is not of yourself, lest you feel the urge to boast of this change in yourself. This alteration of your very nature is a gift, a present from utmost kindness of God the Father through Jesus Christ His Son.

Lift your voice! Sing praises to the One and Only King of the Universe!

“Remove the Unbearable Yoke” (Acts 15: 9, NIV) by Carley Evans


“[God] purifies their hearts by faith. Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of the disciples a yoke that neither we nor our fathers have been able to bear? No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.” (Acts 15:9-11, NIV)

So says Peter to “the believers who belong to the party of the Pharisees” who are calling for the Gentiles to “be circumcised and required to obey the law of Moses.” (Acts 15:5)

Peter argues God shows His acceptance of these Gentile believers by giving them the Holy Spirit just as He gives Him to Jewish believers. After all, says Peter, God “knows the heart.” (Acts 15:8) James agrees with Peter, speaking before “the whole assembly” (Acts 15:12) that they “should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God.” (Acts 15:19) A letter is sent to “the Gentile believers in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia” telling them that “it seems good to the Holy Spirit not to burden you with anything beyond” a few things they would “do well to avoid.” (Acts 15:28, 29)

We are able, if willing, to learn a lot from Peter and James. Often we burden babes in Christ and even mature believers with impossible rules, requirements, regulations — you’ve got to do this and not do that or God will not be pleased. We forget God knows the hearts of His people; He knows long before we do who hears and believes the good news. So, let’s not “test God.” (Acts 15:10) Let’s refrain from burdening ourselves and one another with a yoke God has removed.

“Sacrifices To Men” ( Acts 14: 13, NIV ) by Carley Evans


In Lystra, Paul upon seeing the faith of a crippled man, tells him to stand up. The man is instantly healed. The surrounding crowd shouts, “The gods are come down to us in human form!” (Acts 14:11) Paul is called Hermes by them while Barnabas is Zeus — rather interesting name choices given that Hermes is the son of Zeus and a protector of travelers, thieves, and cowherds. Zeus, on the other hand, is the chieftain of the gods.

Turns out the priest from the temple of Zeus, located just outside the city, brings bulls and wreaths “to offer sacrifices” to Paul and Barnabas! Paul and Barnabas are mortified, tearing their clothes. They vehemently deny they are anything other than “men, human like you.” (Acts 14:15)

Hollywood stars and athletic heroes enjoy similar worship today. Unfortunately, some religious leaders do as well. Most of these individuals, I believe, would say the same as Paul and Barnabas. “Men, why are you doing this? We too are only men, human like you.” (Acts 14:15) Hollywood stars and athletic heroes may not bring the good news; however, religious leaders ought to. They ought to tell us to “turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made heaven and earth and sea and everything in them.” (Acts 14:15)

Like Paul and Barnabas, sometimes it’s hard to “keep the crowd from sacrificing” to religious leaders, Hollywood stars, and athletic heroes. What an enormous waste, to sacrifice to men.

“Appointed For Eternal Life” ( Acts 13: 39, NIV ) by Carley Evans


Here and there, as I have written before, a single verse in the Word of God presents the good news simply and directly. Paul, while preaching to the men of Israel in the synagogue at Pisidian Antioch, states:

“Through [Jesus] everyone who believes is justified from everything you could not be justified from by the law of Moses.”

Paul warns the men of Israel not to be scoffers. He tells them the truth — that he had to preach the gospel to the chosen people of God first. But, now that they “reject it and do not consider [themselves] worthy of eternal life” he turns to the Gentiles, functioning as “a light” for them. (Acts 13:46,47)

Paul knows that “all who are appointed for eternal life believe.” (Acts 13:48)

 

Reposting “Always A Consequence”


“Always A Consequence” ( Acts 5: 1-10, NIV ) by Carley Evans

Familiar with the expression ‘I’m my own worst enemy’? God does not punish us when we fall into a sin — that punishment fell upon Jesus as He suffered and died on a cross. But, though God forgives and forgets our sin, a consequence always follows. Some consequences are relatively minor; others are devastating.

Ananias and Sapphira, when learning that Joseph — you know, Barnabas — has sold his field and given all the monies to the disciples to help the needy among the brothers and sisters in the Lord, decide to do the same. However, rather than tell the truth, they lie. They pretend they are giving the whole amount gained from selling their piece of property. When confronted by Peter, Ananias falls down and dies. Later, Sapphira is given the opportunity to ‘come clean’ so to speak. But, she lies — telling Peter that the monies given represent the entire price of the property. Peter tells her bluntly she is going to die. And she does.

Seems like punishment, doesn’t it?

But, I maintain it is not. Rather, their deaths are consequences. For all we know, Ananias had a heart attack and Sapphira a stroke upon being confronted with such a public shame. Imagine it: the entire church body is “sharing everything.” (Acts 4:32) And, “there are no needy persons among them.” (Acts 4:34) Barnabas generously shares all he has gained from selling his field. Ananias and Sapphira are jealous — they want the attention and acclaim Barnabas obviously receives.

This couple lies to God, the Holy Spirit. As Peter says, “How can you agree to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look!” (Acts 5:9)

Public shame and their unforgiving spirits — yes, their unwillingness to ask for and receive forgiveness — these kill Ananias and Sapphira.

I repost because this particular note is important to me — it’s a key concept in our walk with the Lord. Please indulge me. Thank you; and God bless.

“Always A Consequence” ( Acts 5: 1 – 10, NIV ) by Carley Evans


Familiar with the expression ‘I’m my own worst enemy’? God does not punish us when we fall into a sin — that punishment fell upon Jesus as He suffered and died on a cross. But, though God forgives and forgets our sin, a consequence always follows. Some consequences are relatively minor; others are devastating.

Ananias and Sapphira, when learning that Joseph — you know, Barnabas — has sold his field and given all the monies to the disciples to help the needy among the brothers and sisters in the Lord, decide to do the same. However, rather than tell the truth, they lie. They pretend they are giving the whole amount gained from selling their piece of property. When confronted by Peter, Ananias falls down and dies. Later, Sapphira is given the opportunity to ‘come clean’ so to speak. But, she lies — telling Peter that the monies given represent the entire price of the property. Peter tells her bluntly she is going to die. And she does.

Seems like punishment, doesn’t it?

But, I maintain it is not. Rather, their deaths are consequences. For all we know, Ananias had a heart attack and Sapphira a stroke upon being confronted with such a public shame. Imagine it: the entire church body is “sharing everything.” (Acts 4:32) And, “there are no needy persons among them.” (Acts 4:34) Barnabas generously shares all he has gained from selling his field. Ananias and Sapphira are jealous — they want the attention and acclaim Barnabas obviously receives.

This couple lies to God, the Holy Spirit. As Peter says, “How can you agree to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look!” (Acts 5:9)

Public shame, pride, and their unforgiving spirits — yes, their unwillingness to ask for and receive forgiveness — these kill Ananias and Sapphira.