God’s Word for You
Acts 9:28-29 Speaking boldly
by Pastor Timothy Smith on Thursday, February 6, 2020
28 So he lived among them and move about freely in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord. 29 He spoke and debated with the Grecian Jews, but they were going to try to kill him.
It didn’t take Paul very long (1) to show that he was a powerful preacher, and (2) to get the Grecian Jews angry enough with him to begin a plot to kill him. Paul showed that the goal of Christian ministry is not to get along with everyone, nor to bring false joy into the world, but to preach Christ crucified. Paul was welcomed by all of the Jerusalem church and “moved about freely.” He went from group to group, preaching and teaching and witnessing about everything that he had heard and seen. The method of Paul’s preaching was probably the same here as it had been in the synagogues of Damascus. There, he had “proved” that Jesus is the Christ. The word “proved” (Acts 9:23) is symbibazo, to bring (facts) together to offer proof. Paul took Old Testament prophecies and foreshadowings of the Messiah and laid them side by side with the life and ministry of Jesus to show that he, and only he, truly is the Messiah.
Paul spoke boldly; he didn’t hesitate to preach about all of the amazing things that Jesus did: His miracles, his parables, and especially how he rose from the dead. When Festus the governor described Paul’s basic message years later, he said that it was “about a dead man named Jesus who Paul claimed was alive” (Acts 25:19). This is the very heart of our faith, that Jesus died and rose again, and that we, too, will rise from the dead and live with Jesus forever in heaven.
The “Grecian Jews” (one manuscript just calls them “Greeks”) insisted that salvation comes from keeping the law alone, or even just certain parts of the law, such as circumcision. Early in Paul’s letter-writing ministry, he defended the Bible doctrine of salvation by faith in Christ alone against such attacks in his letter to the Galatians. He said:
“Consider Abraham: ‘He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.’ Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham…. So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith. All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.’ Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because ‘The righteous will live by faith.’” (Galatians 3:6-7, 9-11). With three passages, Genesis 15:6, Deuteronomy 27:26, and Habakkuk 2:4, Paul proclaimed the gospel, the law, and the gospel once again, to show us how we are saved. Some might argue (and doubtless the Grecian Jews did) that the law of God shows us the obedience that leads to eternal life. But the problem is not in the law. The problem is man’s obedience. We cannot keep the law perfectly (in the Deuteronomy passage, God insists on “everything,” not “some things,” be done), and therefore we stand condemned. But Jesus Christ came into the world as promised to Abraham (Genesis 15:6) in order to keep the law perfectly in our place.
One of the more famous Inquisitors of the famous Spanish Inquisition was Peter Martyr (died 1252), who was especially renowned for his leniency. He once said, “Faith turns itself away from the (mere) symbols of the (Lord’s) Supper and ascends above all heavens and there lays hold of Christ in his majesty.” He was close to the truth, but he was mistaken as to who does what in the sacrament. It is not we who lay hold of Christ, but Christ who lays hold of us. We do not reach up into heaven; the one in heaven reaches down and grasps us. He holds onto us, and he will not let us go. Put your faith in Jesus Christ and know that God credits your faith to you as righteousness, for Jesus’ sake.
Pastor Timothy Smith