“When the congregation was dismissed, many of the Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who talked with them and urged them to continue in the grace of God.”
When the church service is over what will you do?
This is Pisidian Antioch, Paul and Barnabas are teaching the grace of God to a group of Jews who are more focused on the rules of true believers and followers of Jehovah. Then they are dismissed.
These people were not just following the 10 commandments. That would be easy compared to the 613 commandments found in the Torah that they were trying their hardest to fulfil. How many rules do you have?
We didn’t have rules when we came to Christ. We came because of grace, amazing grace. It was undeserved kindness by a loving God. However as we continued in Christ, the Church and/or other Christians introduced us to some rules depending on the generation we were saved in depended on the rules.
This week I am thinking of going to the cinema. If I go then I would be breaking one of the rules that Pentecostals held to in the 1960s. Yesterday I discussed make-up with my 21 year old daughter who was asking me if I thought she should wear it. In the era I was born in then my answer of a father to a daughter would have been, ‘No Christian girl wears make-up.’ Thankfully we are not in these days now. But there are still rules that show whether we are a true follower.
The message of Paul and Barnabas still applies today, don’t believe any message that says you must do A, B and C to please God or receive His blessing on your life or even to prove to others you are who you say you are.
Grace is challenged continually across the world by leading preachers who are concerned about a sinful Church. The fact is the Grace of God is the answer to a sinful Church.
And we need to urge people to continue in it, not abandon it to a set of rules.
God is an upside down God. He is not where you may think He may be. He hangs around communities you would not want to go near. His grace is amazing but it also offensive. It is not fair. There seems to be no justice.
It throws parties for sons who have wasted the inheritance.
It promises assurance to dying thieves who ask to be remembered in the next life.
It is found in defeat not victory.
It refuses to break the bruised reed that everyone wants to break or snuff out the smouldering wick that everyone sees as useless.
You may be hurting, beating yourself up, troubled in your heart, held in the addiction to sin, feel this is for anyone but you, but the call remains, ‘come to my grace’.
To live by grace means you are not denying or trying to forget the sin in your life, but by allowing grace to expose it you find who you really are. Not that we end up depressed and whipping ourselves in a frenzy of guilt and shame over our sinful lives. Self-pity will never motivate you. Self-pity will not move you to grace any more than the victories, visions, successes and miracles will. Self-pity will keep you locked in failure, away from your home.
Grace calls you to keep coming back to Jesus, let Jesus bind up the wounds, don’t let your self do it.
Continue in grace.