Monday, May 26, 2008

Acts: Religious Opposition in Antioch (Pisidian) & Iconium (13:44-14:7)

Another passage for missional strategy. As already stated, it was Paul’s custom to initiate work among the Jewish population of a town. After all, it was to them that the Messiah had come; they knew the special revelation that was the background to God’s plan fulfilled in Christ. They were given “first dibs” on the Gospel message and it would be their privilege to join Paul in passing the massage on to the world around them.
 
Sadly, the majority of Jews rejected the Gospel. They seemed to do so out of jealousy and racial pride. They alone were God’s chosen people.
 
The next group exposed to the Gospel message was the God fearing gentiles, those who believed in God but were not yet converted into the Jewish religious practice. Many of them gladly received the message of the Gospel.
 
This may be a good pattern to follow in modern missions. First approach the local bodies of believers (if any) and invite them to embrace great commission ministry. Then go to those who believe in God, but do not yet know or have a personal relationship with Christ (in Western Europe this is a smaller portion than other places in the world); then work to expose others to the reality of a personal God who wants a relationship with them.
 
*A note on verse 48. Here the paradox of predestination and free will is seen in one verse. Many gentiles believed (a voluntary decision), they just happened to correspond to the number that had been appointed to be saved (God’s selection). Make of it what you will, that is what the verse says. Any attempt to change the reading is imposing a view on the verse. However, if Paul had not preached, they would have not heard and could not have believed.

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