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Beloved in our Lord Jesus Christ, I was privileged to be raised in a house where my father set the example to bring his family to church on a Sunday. I remember Sunday’s as the day of the Lord, attending the Worship service with my family and I can’t recall days when we were not in church. I remember that on Sunday mornings my dad relaxed a bit later in bed, he was a farmer and was normally at 5 am already out and at work. This is one of the reasons I did not want to be a farmer and had no interest in farming!
But on Sunday mornings we would go to my parents’ bedroom, drink coffee with them and get ready for church. And when my dad went to the bathroom, we had about 20 minutes to be ready and in the car as he wanted to be early at church.
I also remember the hot summer days without aircon in church, the worship service and the Pastor’s sermon and prayers that were especially lengthy on these days! But as the years went by, I grew in understanding of the Scriptures, the sermons started to make sense and I grew in the understanding that God spoke His Word and Gospel through His servants. I understood more about grace and that it is through grace alone that I am saved.
This is something I want to praise the Lord constantly for; faithful parents that instilled the love of the Lord in the hearts of their children. This is the father I want to be as well and want to be remembered for. On Fathers’ Day we think about our earthly fathers and we thank the Lord that they can and could be part of our lives.
I also want to thank the Lord, our Heavenly Father for the Gospel message and that we could hear about His grace and that our Lord Jesus Christ is risen. And because of this we have nothing to fear.
Jesus Christ is the initiator. Everything starts through Him and with Him. He gathers His church, He protects, He maintains, He appoints to eternal life and He gives His Holy Spirit who awakens faith when people are hearing the Gospel.
The task of every believer is to proclaim the Gospel, and this is exactly what Paul has done in our Bible Reading. Paul started with Israel’s history when he proclaimed the Gospel message to them. In verses 17 -23 he told them their history they were so proud off and what made them who they were. They were God-fearing people, chosen by God, led out of Egypt. In this survey of Israel’s history, Paul noted important events – the choosing of the patriarchs, the deliverance from Egypt, the time in the wilderness, the conquest of Canaan, the time of the Judges, the creation of a monarchy – but it all led up to Jesus.
Paul said in verse 30: “But God raised Him from the dead.” Jesus’ resurrection was the emphasis of Paul’s preaching. Why? To be risen from death, like Jesus, is the proclamation of God’s New world. The life of the resurrection is the proclamation of God’s Kingdom.
The response to Paul’s preaching led to crowds of people that wanted to hear about God’s grace but also to people who resisted and wanted to contradict what Paul has spoken. God’s grace is teaching us, that those who were appointed to eternal life, believed, and they were rejoicing and glorifying the Word of God. This is God’s people who hear the Gospel, those who God appointed to eternal life.
We read in verse 44 that almost the whole city gathered to hear the Word of God. But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and began to contradict what was spoken by Paul reviling him. The dramatic response of the crowds made the leaders of the synagogue envious. Paul’s preaching was opposed with his opponents contradicting him. It seems strange that these religious people who waited so long for their Messiah would now reject Him when Jesus was presented to them. One great reason was they wanted to keep the division between Jew and Gentile, and if Jesus was to be the Messiah of all men, they wanted no part of Him.
Some commentators propose the following reasons the Jews did not want to hear this: “They simply could not accept a teaching that opened such floodgates. For themselves and their supporters they could accept a message as God-sent and tolerate some change in their teaching and practice, but they could not endure that the Gentiles should be made equal with God’s ancient people.” And: “some people end up rejecting Jesus because of the way He changes our relationship with other people. Some would rather hold on to their bitterness and animosity towards others than turn to Jesus and be reconciled.”
Brothers, in the Jews animosity we should see the world’s animosity against the Gospel but also the sinner who has not been saved and does not repent when they hear the Gospel. Some people from our generation also don’t want to listen, because it means that they should repent and leave their lives of sin and hate and follow Jesus. It also means that they should get rid of the idols in their life, like time, money and leisure. Others and there are so many in Australia now have never heard the Gospel and it is our task to proclaim the Gospel!
Why did the Jews not listen to the Gospel of grace? The Jews was against change and like Jonah they did not want to see God’s grace preached to the Gentiles. This is our sinful nature where we don’t want to see God’s grace to all the nations. Even the disciples struggled to understand that God’s grace is for all His people, the Gentiles as well. The disciples expected after Jesus’ victory over death, on which they were personal eyewitnesses, Him to do the final finishing of His work to save Israel of all their enemies. They asked Jesus Acts 1 verse 6: “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel”. There is no doubt. Christ is King. They were eyewitnesses. He had conquered death. He was crucified and died and was risen from death. ‘’Now the time of the kingdom of God in the world will start to liberate Israel from all His enemies.’’
The disciples still thought there would be only an Israelite kingdom on earth. All their hopes and expectations were in this question. But the disciples still did not understand how big God’s kingdom was. Jesus understood, and He rectified their misunderstanding. This was not the kingdom of Israel in its full glory, but the age of the Holy Spirit to come. The Holy Spirit will change everything, and He will make the hearts of stone a heart of flesh and lead people to faith.
Jesus wanted them and us to see that unless we are born again through the Holy Spirit, to a life of faith where we are grafted into Christ and accept all His blessings, we will still hold on to this world.
The Holy Spirit makes us share in the salvation through Jesus Christ in a true faith. If this happens the rebirth takes place. The miracle is only from God. And the Spirit works the Rebirth through the preaching of the gospel. In 1 Peter 1: 23, 25 we read ‘’for you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.’’ And in verse 25: “but the word of the Lord endures forever.” “And this is the word that was preached to you.”
Paul and Barnabas was bold in our Bible Reading in his message to the Jews. The Gospel message was spoken to the Jews first, but they thrust it aside, and judge themselves unworthy of eternal life, and therefore the Gospel went to the Gentiles.
People don’t listen to the Gospel because of sin. Sin leaves people holding on to hate, to disunity, their old-selves and according to Galatians 5: 19-21: “sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
And Jesus said in John 8:47: “Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.”
Beloved, this is grace and Paul and Barnabas wanted the people to experience God’s grace and he preached God’s grace through the Risen Jesus. With the doctrine of grace, we confess that God graciously preserves us and keeps us. When we are faithless, He is still faithful. We can only stand before God by His grace as He attributes to us the righteousness of Christ. Those who listened were saved by grace alone and they were appointed to eternal life.
God’s truth in the Gospel reveals to us who we are, so that we can flee to Christ with our brokenness and sin. “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.”
Paul explained in Ephesians 2, that grace was God’s saving act in Christ. We were dead in our sins, but God has made us alive in Jesus.
When the Gentiles heard the Gospel, they began rejoicing and glorifying the Word of God. This is what happens when sinners hear the Gospel; God’s grace in Jesus and the Holy Spirit works the faith. They believe, they rejoice and glorify God and they preach the Gospel themselves. We read that the Word was spreading throughout the whole region.
This also say so much about our calling. We still need to preach the Gospel, not only to the World but also to our children. We should set the example and as fathers and mothers be faithful in how we serve the Lord. And our children will follow. Fathers, and I especially address you today on Father’s Day; be the man God wants you to be and be the father God called you to be. If you rejoice, glorify and serve the Lord, your children will follow. If you are negative, about the church, God’s people, your children will also be negative. I don’t know if you have ever seen the ad about how children reacts because they saw dad doing that? This is how our children responds and learning through our example!
Bring the Gospel also to your children, be faithful in the way you serve God and glorify God in everything you do and rejoice that you can be His child out of grace alone.
I remember my father today and I honour his memory on Fathers’ Day, and I am especially grateful that he continued to teach the Gospel to His children. And I rejoice and glorify God that I can teach the Gospel to my children and one day hopefully my grandchildren. I pray that they will listen, repent if they fall in sin and flee to Jesus with their sin but I also trust that they belong to God through their baptism and that God promised that His Spirit would make His home within them. And that while living in them, the Spirit continually works to continue and strengthen their union with Christ.
How good example is the infant baptism not of grace undeservedly received? A child is not baptized because of his or her faith, but because of the heritage that they undeservedly received, “heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ’’ Romans 8. This is their inheritance out of the grace of God alone and the reason why our children should be baptized and brought up in faith so that they too can rejoice and glorify God.
I want to conclude; we have so many reasons to rejoice and glorify God. But the best of all is that we could hear the Gospel of Grace and could believe.