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I was recently  (recently meaning yesterday) convicted about the sin of discontentment in my life. I was getting frustrated about not being able to get something which I have been wanting for the past four years. I have done all that I can do and yet it never seems to come about.

Now that provokes a question about contentment. What is contentment? I remember being mystified by this for years. Was it the ability to lose all interest in the desire? To develop a cold, complacency where there was no longer desire to attain it? That can’t be the case since when Paul starts talking about being content in all things he mentions going without food (Phil. 4:10-13). I doubt Paul developed such a control over his digestion system that he could stop his stomach from growling.  The desire for food would still be there.

Thus, I would go so far to say that the ascetic removal of the desire is not contentment. Take for instance, I have no desire to keep bees. Nothing against those who do, in fact I am glad that they do. Someone has to get the honey which I put on my biscuits. But I don’t have any desire to keep the bees. So does that mean I have an exuberant amount of contentment when it comes to bee keeping? No. I just don’t want to keep bees. Thus, the absence of the desire does not equal contentment. You have to want it to be content without it.

What does it mean then? I believe that contentment is the ability to rest in a greater satisfaction while not attaining a lesser satisfaction. Food brings satisfaction. If it has been 13 days since you last had food, a ham sandwich will chips will bring great satisfaction. But how does one have joy when the food does not come? That is the question of contentment.

Let me use John Calvin to point to the answer (this is the quote that spurred on this discussion),

Whenever those things present themselves to us which would lead us away from resting in God alone, let us make use of this sentiment as an antidote against them, that we have sufficient cause for being contented, since he who has in himself an absolute fullness of all good has given himself to be enjoyed by us.

In this way we will experience our condition to be always pleasant and comfortable; for he who has God as his portion is destitute of nothing which is requisite to constitute a happy life.

—John Calvin, Commentary on the Psalms (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 2009), commenting on Psalm 16:6

(HT: Of First Importance)

Notice the lines which have God giving Himself to be enjoyed by us. If food, clothing, sizable savings account, or __________(fill in the blank) does not sustain us. Then God has given us Himself to be the sustaining foundation of our lives.

What does this mean? this means that God, in all His character, is a greater satisfaction than anything on this universe.  Money not there? God is always there! Food not there? God promises a dwelling place where food will not be a problem any more. God has given Himself as the satisfaction to sustain one through any difficulty. Thus Paul could say, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13).

Also, this shows the foolishness of entrusting yourself to anything other than God. God is the only satisfaction that will sustain. Looking to anything else for sustaining satisfaction is an offense to the One who offers Himself as the ultimate satisfaction who will truly sustain.

I have got one final to go and after that the semester will be over!

I know that there have not been posts for the past few days. That has been due to papers and tests which I had to do. Now, however, the big storm has past and I can keep up with things.

By the way, I LOVE  the blog J. C. Ryle Quotes! Just morning I looked at today’s post in my reader and read this from bishop Ryle,

Look not to yourselves! You are by nature wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked; you cannot make atonement for your past transgressions, you cannot wipe out a single page in that long black list. And when the King shall ask you for your wedding garment you will be speechless. Look simply unto Jesus, and then the weight shall fall from off your shoulders, the course shall be clear and plain, and you shall run the race which is set before you.

I can’t tell you how much I needed that this morning. Thanks so much Erik for letting J. C. Ryle constantly preach the gospel to me!

“And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured (μετεμορφώθη) before them,” (Mark 9:2)

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed (μετεμορφώθη) by the renewal of your mind,” (Romans 12:2)

What was this transfiguration about? It was the in-breaking of a future world/age into the present one. It was Christ arrayed in His glorious nature, which be possessed before He came and what He will possess, shining forth before the disciple during his incarnation.

This is near to the same idea Paul has when he commands us to be transformed (μετεμορφώθη). A Savior who is bring an new heaven and new earth has appeared before us. And this everlasting life is upon us now. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life” (John 3:36). We live in the already, not yet tension. Where the absolute glories of the next age are not consummated, but where next age is inaugurated.

Thus, our transformation is taking on the image of Christ and the glories of His kingdom and not the filth of the kingdom of this world. We are to take the form of another age; not the present world which is dominated by sin. Our lives are to an in-breaking of a future kingdom. A kingdom where we will love as Christ loved, think as Christ thought, feel as Christ felt. For this is the glorious kingdom which we long for. And now, by the power of the Spirit we no longer have to reside in the image of the present world/age but we can start to become an image of the coming world which will be lighted by the glories of Christ.

Okay…it is not done in 140 characters. But who cares when it is truth this magnificent!

The Bible pictures all human beings as defendants in a courtroom: a courtroom in which God is the judge and our sins constitute the evidence against us. The judge weighs the evidence and finds every single one of us guilty of sin and announces that we, therefore, must be condemned. The marvellous news of justification is that God has himself provided for us the means of escaping that condemnation: by responding to his gracious initiative in faith, we become joined with Christ, who died for us and was raised for us. We become joined to Christ, who takes on himself the penalty for our sin and covers us with the ‘righteousness’ that we need to reverse the verdict of condemnation and receive the verdict of ‘justified’, ‘right’ with God. And because we have been joined to Christ, the holy one, and have in that union received the gift of God’s powerful holy Spirit, we, who have been justified, also find our lives transformed so that we love God and neighbour.

~Douglas Moo (HT: Justin Taylor)

This is a paper that I wrote for my Acts class in the spring of 2009. The reasons that I will post some of my own work for classes are two fold: 1. My writing needs to be critique and challenged. I will never become a better writer, arguer, and thinker if people don’t question my reasoning and point out my errors in writing. So please, if you read these let me know where you disagree with me with precision, not just a  general “I don’t like.” Let me know what you don’t like and why you don’t like it. This would be a help to me to interact with you and hopefully sharpen both of our thinking. 2. Because what things I do study need to be passed on to aid others. Not that I have a lot of deep, spiritual things to say. But I want to aid in pointing people to Christ in any way I can. So enjoy!

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CONVERSION OF SAUL: ACTS 9:1-9

Introduction

In Acts 9:1-9 we have the dramatic conversion of Saul. At the beginning of this narrative he was bound and determined to squelch the belief of “the Way” (other wise known as Christianity) and its followers. Then, however, we witness the intervention of a sovereign God who converted the one whom He had set apart before he was born (Gal 1:15) so that Paul would preach him among the Gentiles (Gal 1:16).  Like the prophets of old, God summoned Saul to himself and gave him a message to proclaim to others.[1] I believe the emphasis that colors this narrative is that it is Christ himself who brought about this change[2] that would bring the kingdom of Christ to the Gentiles. Even though evil men try to stand against this coming kingdom, they find themselves no match for the sovereign Christ who subjugated the most evil of these men and made him a vessel for the further increase of this kingdom.

Historical Background

There are two areas that we can look at to help us understand the happenings here in this text. The first one is the person of Saul: who he was and what was his mission. And the second will be the context leading up to this passage.

The Person of Paul

Saul was born, raised, and educated at the city of Tarsus as revealed in verse 11. Tarsus was a wealthy university city that was famous for being a center of learning.[3] There Paul studied under the feet of Gamaliel (Acts 22:3), the same Gamaliel that stopped the Jews from killing the Apostles in Acts 5:33. Now there is an obvious difference between the reaction to the new belief of Christianity between Gamaliel and his student Saul.[4] Gamaliel responded by a peaceful action and wanted to leave the outcome of this group to the judgment of God (Act 5:38-39), Paul resorted to terrorizing and persecuting the church (Acts 8:1-3). N. T. Wright points out that there were two main camps of the Pharisees: the Shammaites and the Hillelites. These groups debated on the strictness of personal observance of the Torah in the midst of Israel being ruled from outside forces.[5] The Hillelites believed in a policy that was fine with foreign rule as long as they could freely practice Judaism where as the Shammaites believed that the Torah demanded that Israel be free from foreign rule. And this freedom could be accomplished by any means necessary—even violence.[6] It seems to me that Gamaliel was of the Hillelite thought, as Wright points out, his action in Acts 5:34-39 portray a pacifist attitude regarding the Christian movement.[7] Yet, this Hillelite’s pupil, Saul, resorted to violence to fend off the Christian movement (Acts 8:1-3, 9:1-2). Probably, Saul began to see the danger of the Christian movement and it’s ever increasing strength. He saw them growing so much that he left the example of his teacher and followed the path of the Shammaites to deal with the followers of “the Way.”[8] Saul (who would be named Paul at the time of writing these things) would later testify to his passion in persecuting the church as “zealous” (Gal 1:14, Phil 3:6). It could be said that Saul began seeing himself in the same heroic line as Phinehas (Num 25:1-9) and Mattathias (1 Macc 2:23-26) who displayed their zeal for God by slaying those that openly defiled God’s commandments.[9] Thus, when Paul is shown in the first part of this narrative he is “breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord” (Acts 9:1). For his passion against those that defiled the Torah is great enough that he used violence to set things right. And in his mind the Christians called for such a response.

The Placing of the Narrative

In Chapter 7 we have the first martyr of the faith—Stephen. Stephen’s discourse in chapter 7 centers on the charge that the Jews had always rejected God and his messengers. And their present rejection of Jesus as the Messiah is the culmination of them being a stiff-necked people (Acts 7:51-52). The crowds became enraged (7:54) and proceed to stone Stephen to death (7:60). Then in the start of chapter 8 massive persecution breaks out against the church headed by Saul (8:1-3). Yet, in the words of John Calvin, “thus doth the Lord use to bring light out of darkness, and life out of death.”[10] For from this persecution came the spread of the gospel to places outside of Jerusalem (8:4). Thus we see Philip travel to Samaria and proclaim the gospel to crowds that are eager to listen (8:5-6). Then again God spread the message when he called Philip to meet the Ethiopian who was receptive to the gospel (8:26, 35-38).

So we have wicked men throwing violence against the church of Jesus. But what comes from this persecution and attempted squelching of the Christian message is an increase of believers in it! The reason is that this movement is not another cultic uprising that the Jews were familiar with. This was the very people of God! This was the church of the Messiah. And no gates of Hades could stand against it (Matt 16:18).

And so we come to chapter 9 having the church increasing because of the prosecutions. And Saul is all the more furious because if it.

Commentary

9:1-2. The passage begins with Saul continuing his persecution against the church. He was still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord. Even though God’s kingdom had triumphed over the first attack of persecutions it has not thwarted Saul’s resolve to stop this Christian movement. His hatred for Christians had increased to the point that his desire was for them to be murdered.[11] Thus to fulfill his desires Saul went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Saul’s plan was to travel to Damascus and extract[12] the Christian Jews there and bring them to Jerusalem to be imprisoned.

Now here we have the Christians being titled as followers of “the Way”. “The term ‘Christian’ was first coined at Actioch of Syria,”[13] So early on other titles were given to the followers of Christ such as those of “the Way” or “the sect of the Nazarenes” (24:5, 14; 28:22).[14] The term speaks about the way of life Christians are to believe in and live. As Longenecker clearly articulates, “it surely had something to do with the early believers’ consciousness of walking in the true path of God’s salvation and moving forward to accomplish his purposes.”[15] Thus, Paul moved out to find, capture, and export the followers of “the Way” back to Jerusalem so that more violence could be done against them. But next we see that no evil act of man can trump the purposes of God!

9:3-4. Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. Without warning a light of intense magnitude flashed upon Saul. Such appearances of blinding light are comparable to the theophanies found in the Old Testament.[16] The only difference in this physical revelation from that of theophanies is that the Son is the one that is out rightly revealed.[17] Jesus was no new religious philosopher. He is the same God that existed before time and ruled over the people of Israel. And Saul was being blinded by His glories. And falling to the ground… Saul’s reaction is just like any other person at an event as this.[18] The light knocked him from his horse and onto the ground. he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, This doubling of names “indicates intense emotion.”[19] God cries out from the vision the question to Saul, why are you persecuting me?” This statement is rich in substance. The voice from heaven asks Saul why he is persecuting him (As we will see, Saul already new that this vision was of a heavenly and therefore divine making). Confusion may have been racking his brain as he attempted to piece together what was going on.[20] He was on a mission for God to end this heretical sect of Christ followers and now a divine manifestation has knocked him to the ground and declared that Saul is persecuting Him.

And there is a deeper theological and ecclesiastical truth conveyed here. This phrase “points to Jesus’s corporate solidarity with the church. To persecute the Way is to persecute Jesus.”[21] One of the theological truths presented here is the picture of the church being the body of Christ in 1 Corinthians 12:12. “The image [in 1 Cor 12:12] emphasizes that the church is the locus of Christ’s activity now just as was his physical body during his earthly ministry.”[22] Yet, there is even a deeper theological truth that acts as the foundation for this one. In his epistles Paul (the same person we are seeing converted in this narrative) would talk about Christians being “baptized (immersed) into Christ” (Rom 6:3, Gal 3:27), chosen and made perfect in Christ (Eph 1:4), and “hidden in Christ” (Col 3:3). This is what is called union with Christ. As John Murray explains,

Union with Christ is really the central truth of the whole doctrine of salvation not only in its application but also in its once-for-all accomplishment in the finished work of Christ. Indeed the whole process of salvation has its origin in one phase of union with Christ and salvation has in view the realization of other phases of union with Christ.[23]

Here in this narrative we see an aspect of this union fleshed before our eyes where Christ takes the personal offense against evil actions against His church. So hidden is the believer in Christ that to persecute him is to, in actuality, persecute the living God!

9:5-6. After gathering himself Saul asks a question, And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” Some have made the suggestion that the Greek word for “lord” in this passage should better translated “sir” since it was common to use the term to address people respectfully. But the context of a divine vision calls for a greater meaning of the word than just “sir.”[24] Though, Saul still does not know that this is Christ so the term does not have Christological significance.[25] Thus Saul asks for the identification of the person of the heavenly vision—and he was answered. And he said, I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. What was revealed to Paul at this moment was of epic proportions. The heavenly figure that had knocked Saul to the ground in a unparalleled beam of light and who had accused Saul of persecuting his very being was none other than Jesus Christ! The one who he had probably considered a blasphemer was now in front of Him robed in the glories of God! The people who he once thought were heretics are now the true followers of God! Saul now understood that he was waging war against God Himself.[26] The truth was now right in front of Saul, a truth that had been articulated by the very one that taught him (Acts 5:39), that he was opposing God. And in the misted of his worldview being absolutely shattered, Jesus gives the command, But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do. Jesus commands Saul to continue to Damascus. Yet now, this is not the old Saul that was going to go in hatred for the church. He arose with “a new perspective on divine redemption, a new agenda for his life, and the embryonic elements of his new Christian theology.”[27] He had under gone a change, a change that “can only be attributed to God himself.”[28] Saul was now a believer in the true Messiah and willing to follow His commands.

9:7-9. The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. Those accompanying Saul are dumbfounded at the experience. They heard a voice[29] but were unable to see anyone. Saul rose from the ground, and although his eyes were

opened, he saw nothing. So they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. Saul finds himself having no sight even though he could open his eyelids. Thus, he was led into Damascus completely powerless. The once fierce Saul has been reduced to a handicapped status by the power of God! And for three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank. All Saul could do was wait and think over the experience he had encountered.[30] And possibly he lived in penitence as he reflected on what he was truly doing when persecuting the church.[31]

Conclusion

John Calvin says it very well when expounding this passage, “And whereas such a cruel wolf was not only turned into a sheep, but did also put on the nature of a shepherd, the wonderful hand of God did show itself therein manifestly.”[32] Yes, here in this passage we do witness the wonderful hand of God in manifest! For we witness God’s power as He grows His church. Even though evil had purposed to over throw God’s plan of redemption it found himself being thrown to the ground by the brilliantly powerful glory of God! And not only was it defeated. But God sovereignly made this rebel into one of his own. And as John Calvin put it, not only did God turn a wolf into a sheep, but he made this sheep into a shepherd. A shepherd that would carry the gospel to the Gentile world and further increase Christ’s kingdom and God’s glory.

Application

No matter what evil or persecution sets themselves up against Christ’s kingdom they will find themselves utterly defeated and used for the further increase of that kingdom in the end. We live in country that is constantly tearing at the fabric of the church. Whether it be the post-modernism that screams violence when we proclaim that our story is the story, or the secularism that laughs at our “primitive” beliefs, the church has a scoffing world for her audience. And if the outside world is not bad enough there are the unceasing problems within the churches walls. Whether the problems resides in church members that hold a grudge against others or to churches that find other things to preach rather than the gospel of Jesus Christ, problems infect the church beyond quick cure. By looking at such things one could quickly draw the conclusion that the future of the church is pretty much doomed! Yet, as this passage displays before us, this church is not a lonely entity that tries to survive the changing years. There is a power behind this church that is none other then the one who sustains the universe by the word of His power! This is His bride that the Father drew to Christ. And His people are hidden in Christ. Their identities are so intertwined that Christ identifies Himself as the church! This is the redemption that He initiated and will see to completion! And evil itself, in the end, will be found as a means for the increase and furtherance of this redemption on earth! All praise and glory to the might of His name!

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BIBLIOGRAPHY

Books

Schreiner, Tom. Paul, Apostle of God’s Glory in Christ. Downers Grove Ill: InterVarsity Press,       2001.

Bruce, F. F. New Testament History. New York, NY: Doubleday Galilee, 1969.

Wright, N. T. What saint Paul Really Said: Was Paul of Tarsus the Real Founder of  Christianity? Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1997.

Robertson, Archibald Thomas. Word Pictures in the New Testament. vol 3. Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1930.

Murray, John. Redemption Accomplished and Applied. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans        Publishing Company, 1955.

Commentaries

Longenecker, Richard N. The Acts of the Apostles. in vol. 9 of The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Edited by Frank E. Garbelein. Grand Rapids, MI: Regency Reference Library, 1981

Bock, Darrell L. Acts. In the Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2007.

Bruce, F. F. The Book of Acts. Rev. ed. In The New international Commentary on the New Testament. Edited by Gordon D. Fee. Grand Rapids MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1988.

Polhill, John B. ACTS. In The New American Commentary, vol. 26. Edited by David S. Dockery. Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1992

Calvin, John. Calvin’s Commentaries Volume XVIII: John 12-21, Acts 1-13. Grand Rapids MI: Baker Books, 2005.

Marshall, I. Howard. The Acts of the Apostles: An Introduction and Commentary. Grand Rapids MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1998

Barrett, C. K. A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on Acts of the Apostles. Edinburgh, Scotland: T&T Clark, 1994

Theologies

Erickson, Millard J. Christian Theology. 2nd ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 1998

Schreiner, Tom. New Testament Theology: Magnifying God in Christ. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2008

Dunn, J. G. The Theology of Paul the Apostle. Grand Rapids, MI: B. Eerdmans Publishing

Company, 2006.

Culver, Robert Duncan. Systematic Theology Biblical and Historical. Great Briton: Mentor, 2005.

Articles

Marshall, I. Howard. Acts. Commentary on the New Testament use of the Old Testament. Edited by G. K. Beale and D. A. Carson. Grand Rapids MI: Baker Academic, 2007

Hamilton, James M., Jr, “The Center of Biblical Theology in Acts: Deliverance and Damnation  Display the Divine.Themelios 33:3 (2001): 34-47.


[1]Tom Schreiner, Paul, Apostle of God’s Glory in Christ (Downers Grove Ill: InterVarsity Press, 2001), 47-49. C. K. Barrett, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on Acts of the Apostles. (Edinburgh, Scotland: T&T Clark, 1994), 442

[2]Richard N. Longenecker, The Acts of the Apostles. In The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, vol. 9. ed.

Frank E. Garbelein (Grand Rapids, MI: Regency Reference, 1981), 367.

[3] F. F. Bruce, New Testament History (New York, NY: Doubleday Galilee, 1969), 234

[4] Ibid, 238

[5] N. T. Wright, What Saint Paul Really Said: Was Paul of Tarsus the Real Founder of Christianity? (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1997), 26-27.

[6] Ibid., 27.

[7] Ibid., 28. Darrell L. Bock and also agrees with Hillelian thoughts in Gamaliel. Bock says that Gamaliel was a student of  Hillel. Acts in the Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2007), 249. Longenecker and Polhill would agree with Hillelian thought as well but say that Gamaliel was a relation to Hillel. Longenecker, The Acts of the Apostles, 322.  John B. Polhill, ACTS in The New American Commentary, vol. 26. ed David S. Dockery (Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1992), 171. F. F. Bruce raises the fact that earlier traditions which would “reflect direct memory of Gamaliel…do not associate him with the school of Hillel.”  F. F. Bruce, The Book of Acts rev. ed. in The New International Commentary on the New Testament. ed Gordon D. Fee. (Grand Rapids MI:  Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1988), 114-115. Just because  Gamaliel is not listed does not, in my mind, force me to the conclusion that Gamaliel did not follow Hillelian views. His actions regarding the apostles in Acts 5:33-39 makes me agree with the view that Gamaliel was a Hillelite.

[8] Bock, Acts, 319.  Bruce, New Testament History, 238.

[9] Schreiner, Paul, Apostle of God’s Glory in Christ, 43. J. G. Dunn, The Theology of Paul the Apostle. (Grand Rapids, MI: B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2006), 352.

[10] John Calvin, Calvin’s Commentaries Volume XVIII: John 12-21, Acts 1-13. (Grand Rapids MI: Baker Books, 2005), 328.

[11] Speaking of the phrase “breathing…murder”, Bock says, “It may not mean that he seeks to murder them himself, given that the execution remains in Roman hands, but it expresses what he hopes will be the result of his arrests” Bock, Acts, 354.

[12] Ibid., 355.

[13] Longenecker, The Acts of the Apostles, 370.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Ibid., 370.

[16] Marshall, I. Howard. Acts. Commentary on the New Testament use of the Old Testament. ed. G. K. Beale and D. A. Carson (Grand Rapids MI: Baker Academic, 2007), 576.

[17] Ibid.

[18] Ibid. see also C. K. Barrett,  A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on Acts of the Apostles. (Edinburgh, Scotland: T&T Clark, 1994), 449.

[19] Bock, Acts, 357. F. F. Bruce would see an allocution in the double use. Bruce, The book of Acts, 182

[20] Longenecker, The Acts of the Apostles, 371.

[21] Bock, Acts, 357.

[22] Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 1998), 1047.

[23] John Murray, Redemption Accomplished and Applied (Grand Rapids, MI: B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1955), 161

[24] Bruce, The Book of Acts, 182-183. Longenecker, The Acts of the Apostles, 371. Barrett, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on Acts of the Apostles, 450.

[25] Bock, Acts, 358.

[26] I. Howard Marshall, The Acts of the Apostles: An Introduction and Commentary. (Grand Rapids MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1998), 170.

[27] Longenecker, The Acts of the Apostles, 371.

[28] Schreiner, Paul, Apostle of God’s Glory in Christ. 44.

[29] Which probably means that they heard something that they understood at least to be a voice but they where not, however, able to understand what was being said. Thus in Acts 22:9 Paul can say that they did not hear the voice of the one speaking to me. Bock, Acts, 359.

[30] Ibid

[31] Marshall, The Acts of the Apostles: An Introduction and Commentary. 170

[32] Calvin, Calvin’s Commentaries Volume XVIII: John 12-21, Acts 1-13. 367.

The gospel is not something partial or piecemeal: it takes in the whole life, the whole of history, the whole world. It tells us about the creation and the final judgement and everything in between…There is no aspect of life but that the gospel has something to say about it. The whole of life must come under its influence because it is all-inclusive; the gospel is meant to control and govern everything in our lives.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones. Spiritual Depression, p. 55-56.

“No matter how righteous you are, or how moral you are, or how religious you are, or whether God has produced all that in you or you have produced that in yourself, do not trust in anything that is in you, or that you do, as the basis of your justification before God. That is not how you are accepted. That is not how you come into God’s eternal favor. That is not how you will be justified now or in the last day. Trust in Christ—his blood and righteousness—as the sole basis of your justification.”

~John Piper. From the message given at T4G: Did Jesus Preach Paul’s Gospel?

I enjoy songs that are full of the gospel truths. And more so, songs which are the gospel in totality. This is one of those songs. Meditate over the stanzas to reap the harvest of the astounding truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ! From the very beginning where every other voice that promises happiness, which is not the true gospel, is a lie. To the end where the Lord of heaven sees us in our sinfulness but bids us to trust in Christ and so receive the reward! This song conveys the gospel so wonderfully. Enjoy.

O ye sons of men be wise,
trust no longer dreams and lies,
Out of Christ, almighty pow’r
can do nothing but devour.

God you say is good. ‘Tis true.
But he’s pure and holy too;
just and jealous is his ire,
burning with vindictive fire.

This of old himself declared:
Israel trembled when they heard.
But the proof of proofs indeed
is he sent his Son to bleed.

When the blessed Jesus died
God was clearly justified:
Sin to pardon without blood
never in his nature stood.

Worship God, then, in his Son,
there he’s love and there alone.
Think not that he will, or may,
pardon any other way.

See the suff’ring Son of God,
panting, groaning, sweating blood!
Brethren, this had never been
had not God detested sin.

Be his mercy therefore sought
in the way himself has taught:
There his clemency is such,
we can never trust too much.

He that better knows than we,
bids us all to Jesus flee.
Humbly take him at his Word
and your souls will bless the Lord!

~Joseph Hart (HT: Justin Taylor)

“but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities,” (2 Cor. 6:4)

” [Paul]… does not view his suffering as an apostle as a tedious detour; it is rather the main highway.” -David Garland, 2 Corinthians.

Suffering.

It is something that I make an aim to avoid. I try to make life the safest it can possibly be. Whatever it takes, whatever I might lose, whether it be a deeper relationship with someone, to see my neighbor exposed to the gospel, to become wiser and pass on that wisdom to others, it does not matter. It is so much safer keep Christianity in-doors. And so it remands. Buried under the dirt, never any risk of bad happening to it…or anything for that matter! Nice and safe, with no suffering.

Forgive me for this Lord. May I imitate one who was faithful to you, Paul. For he went head long into suffering when your mission, to glorify you name by the proclamation of the Christ called for him to go into it.

The Bible

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