Thursday, August 23, 2012

Continue in the grace of God

Acts 13:38-43  Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you,  (39)  and by him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses.  (40)  Beware, therefore, lest what is said in the Prophets should come about:  (41)  "'Look, you scoffers, be astounded and perish; for I am doing a work in your days, a work that you will not believe, even if one tells it to you.'"  (42)  As they went out, the people begged that these things might be told them the next Sabbath.  (43)  And after the meeting of the synagogue broke up, many Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who, as they spoke with them, urged them to continue in the grace of God.
The entire 13th chapter of the book of Acts presents the story of the calling of Paul and Barnabas to the proclamation of the gospel message. It was in keeping with Jesus original commandment to bring the gospel message to the Jews first before proclaiming it to the Gentiles. Paul explains with scriptural authority that the resurrection of Jesus was the fulfillment of the promised good news. He goes on to promise that this good news freed them from all the things that they could not be freed from by the Law of Moses. I find it interesting that Paul admonishes them to continue in the grace of God. As you read the entire 13th chapter of the book of Acts, it becomes clear that the grace of God, the word of his grace, and the word of God are all terms that mean the gospel as presented in context. This is merely added support for the idea that I have posited, which shows that Jesus and his followers redefined the phrase word of God to mean gospel, and highlights the importance of this paradigm shift.

Here we find an example of continuing in the gospel to be a commandment. So then, what does continuing in the gospel mean? Obviously, it means continuing to believe the gospel. Here is yet another example of how important the obedience of faith really is in the new covenant. It becomes more and more apparent that establishing the redemptive focus and purpose of the Scripture is Jesus and his follower’s sole purpose. This provides reinforcement for understanding the juxtaposition between law and grace. There is a real contrast between old covenant law and new covenant grace.

So here we have another example showing the importance of grace as the driver in new covenant theology. Grace is prime, and holds a foundational position. Law is secondary, something that has been fulfilled in the resurrection of Jesus. Resurrection is of prime importance. It provides the correct understanding of the good news. Humanity is eternal and eternally reconciled to God by Jesus and the cross. The cross is merely the instrument of death chosen by God to demonstrate the resurrection and thereby demonstrate the eternal reconciliation of humanity to God. It further shows the length that God was willing to go, to reconcile humanity. In other words, it shows God's commitment to reconciling humanity, and provides assurance of the eternal relationship between God and creation.

It should be self-evident that this understanding would promote peace with God based on the ability to rest in his grace. This peace becomes the catalyst for all loveand obedience. Once again simply put, the gospel is the engine driving the reconciliation train.

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