God’s Word for You
Acts 13:26 This word of salvation
by Pastor Timothy Smith on Monday, May 25, 2020
26 “Men, brothers, children of Abraham, and those among you who fear God, it is to us that this word of salvation has been sent.
Like a cowboy with a lasso, Paul ropes all of his listers into the same group: “Men, brothers, children of Abraham, all who fear God.” With “Men” he addresses the group formally like an orator. With “brothers,” he softens his tone to the fellowship of Israel, but still as an orator. With “children of Abraham,” he broadens the lasso a little because anyone with faith in God even outside the family of Israel is Abraham’s descendant by faith (Romans 4:16). Just to be clear, Paul adds, “those among you who fear God.” Not everyone who has come to faith understands the subtleties of theology or where he or she might fit into the family of God. But Paul assures all: “It is to us that this word of salvation has been sent.”
Paul describes the word of God in different ways. Here he says, “the word of salvation,” but he also calls it the word of life (Philippians 2:16), the word of grace (Acts 10:32), the message of wisdom (1 Corinthians 12:8) and other things. Paul doesn’t use these words because he has a college thesaurus with him. He is describing the value of the word of God. It is true wisdom, grace, salvation, and life. It is the clear testimony handed down from God as to how we show our love and obedience to him. Each of us needs to set aside his own will, desires, cravings, yearnings, preferences, and even opinions about spiritual things and fleshly things as well. We conform to God’s will, and we only know his will through his word. When we understand just how impossible it is to conform to that word and to his will, and how our sins and failures condemn us in God’s sight, then we will stop reaching inside ourselves and reach out only to Christ. It is through the grace of Jesus Christ alone that we will be brought safely from this life to the serene joy and divine perfection of the life of the world to come. When we are tested in this life, it is not to purge away our sins as if we will become perfect, but to purge away the sinful opinion each of us has that we are somehow deserving of God’s grace. Then we can consider our sins in their true hideousness in the light of God’s word. Luther says: “Before God we should plead guilty of all sins, even those we are not aware of, as we do in the Lord’s Prayer… Consider your place in life according to the Ten Commandments. Are you a father, mother, son, daughter, employer, or employee? Have you been disobedient, unfaithful, or lazy? Have you hurt anyone by word or deed? Have you been dishonest, careless, wasteful, or done other wrong?” (Small Catechism: Confession, secondly and thirdly). Now we have been roped with the lasso of the law. Now we see how wretched we are, and how desperately we each need our Savior.
But God is not far away, a distant God who is unaware of those who need him. “He is not far from each one of us” (Acts 17:27), and he has sent his servants into the world to proclaim his forgiveness, pastors and ministers who are compelled to proclaim: “By the authority of Christ, I forgive you your sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.” (Small Catechism: Confession, fourthly; see also John 20:21-23). This is the word of salvation. It is not confirmation that all my opinions and desires are okay, but rather it is confirmation that all of my sinful opinions and desires have been covered by the blood of Jesus. My guilt and your guilt have been atoned for, and we are invited by Jesus into everlasting peace.
Pastor Timothy Smith