Skip to main content

Freedom Through Christ

Freedom through Christ

The Scriptures record Paul's conversion in Acts 9. We get descriptions of Paul's preaching and teaching activity immediately. Paul's first full recorded message comes in chapter 13.


Paul has been preaching Christ for 13-14 years when he speaks in the synagogue in Pisidian Antioch in Acts 13. Reading Acts 9 to Acts 13 only takes minutes. It can be easy to miss how much time has passed. When Paul accepts the invitation to speak in the synagogue he is seasoned.

Paul stands and preaches the gospel fully and faithfully. The full message (only 582 words in the NASB) could easily have been delivered in three minutes. Paul covers the history of Israel from the entrance of the people into Egypt through David. Paul focuses on the promises made to David and their fulfillment in Jesus Christ.

Paul paraphrases history from Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, and 1 Samuel. This is approximately the first third of his message. It is his foundation. The promises of the Gospel are built on real history. They are not fairy tales. Paul's audience understood this history better than most modern hearers. Paul still took the time to recount this history to make sure the Gospel had a firm foundation.

Paul then explicitly quotes five passages from the Old Testament Scriptures. These passages are taken from the psalms and the prophets.

How Paul Uses the OT


All of Paul's quotations are used to emphasize God's fulfillment of His promises made in the Scriptures. When Paul lays out the essential components of the Gospel in 1 Corinthians 15:3-5 he is clear that the testimony of the Gospel must be built on Christ's fulfillment of the Scriptures. This is where God's promises have been recorded.

Paul knows the Scriptures. He also knows his audience. He is preaching in a synagogue to a Jewish audience. He starts with a passage they would not find controversial. He starts with David.

A Man After God's Own Heart


Paul's first citation is 1 Samuel 13:14. In context this passage is just as much about King Saul as it is about King David. The prophet Samuel is explaining to King Saul why God is rejecting him and giving the kingdom to David. King Saul was rejected because of his disobedience to the covenant.

Paul uses this passage to transition to the more recent prophet John the Baptist. Paul explains that John came preaching repentance. This prophet came to prepare the way for the One who was fulfilling the promise made to David of an enduring kingdom through his line. John's prophetic ministry was to announce the coming of the Messiah.

Paul's audience was rejecting God's plan and promises like King Saul before them. They failed to recognize the Messiah and the promises made in the Scriptures they gathered to hear every Sabbath. They condemned their own Messiah by putting Him to death in fulfillment of these Scriptures that they ignored.

Resurrected According to Promise


Paul's next three quotes all point to the promised resurrection of the Messiah after His rejection and execution by His own people. Paul cites Psalm 2:7, Isaiah 55:3, and Psalm 16:10 to establish his point.

Psalm 2 is clearly messianic. It is worthwhile for every Christian to memorize and meditate on the description of Christ revealed in this psalm. Paul's focus is on the declaration of Jesus's identity as the Son of God. It is through the Son that the promises are fulfilled. The Son is to be exalted over all the nations. This exaltation happened after His death, burial, and resurrection. Christ ascended to heaven and took His seat and the right hand of the Father in heaven.

Paul cites Isaiah 55:3 to point to the everlasting covenant based on the promise to David. The Messiah is the one who fulfills this promise as the King who will reign forever.

These passages could be fulfilled theoretically through an unbroken line of kings through the lineage of David. Jesus was born as a descendant of David. However, no further persons are needed because Jesus fulfilled the final passage Paul cites from Psalm 16:10.

This passage was also used by Peter on the day of Pentecost. The final King would never undergo decay. Although Jesus was crucified, He is risen. He is never going to die again. His body was not dead long enough to undergo decay.

These three passages together show the fulfillment of God's promise. The eternal King has been revealed by His death according to the Scriptures, His burial, His resurrection from the dead, and His exaltation to the right hand of the Father in heaven.

The Final Warning


All of God's promises are true. His promises for blessings. His promises for curses. Neither should be ignored. People often focus on God's positive promises and conveniently ignore His negative ones.

Paul warns His hearers about this. Paul's final citation is from the prophet Habakkuk.

This final quote is a declaration that God will achieve His purposes even in the midst of scoffers. For those who continue to scoff and ignore God's gracious offer of salvation through repentance and faith in the Messiah they can only expect to perish under God's wrath.

God's Messiah and the declaration of salvation through Him alone is not something to take lightly. Many modern Gospel presentations water down the presentation at this point. They focus only on the promise of eternal life for those who come to Jesus. Many leave unsaid the terrifying prospect of ignoring the Messiah. Paul did not leave it unsaid.

It is only through the resurrected Messiah Jesus that we can gain freedom from the penalty of our sins. This must be made explicit in our testimony of Jesus.

We must tell of the fulfillment of God's promises through the Messiah Jesus. These promises include blessing for those who repent and trust in Him. These promises include a terrifying expectation of judgment for those who do not.

Comments

Popular Posts

Prayer vs. Petition

Q: What's the difference between prayer and petition? Phil 4:6 for example.

A: An excellent word study question! When attempting to study words from the text it is necessary to analyze the word being studied in the original language (in this case Greek) as attempting to look up the words in English will often produce erroneous results.

For example, in English the word petition has within its range of meanings things that are certainly not within the scope of meanings for the Greek word (i.e. “a sheet that is signed to demonstrate agreement with some principle or desire for some social action to be taken” is part of the range of “petition” but not of the Greek deesis from which “petition” is translated).

The word most commonly translated as “prayer” in our English Bibles is proseuche, which appears 36 times in the New Testament (NT) in one form or another (for the purposes of this study, we are only examining the usage of these words as nouns – the verbal forms will not be included…

What is Salvation, Part 4

Q: What is salvation and can you lose it?

There's the saying "once saved always saved". Using the scripture that no one is able to snatch them out of the Fathers hand. (John 10:29) but it says in verse 27 My sheep hear my voice, I know them and they follow me. So the no snatching is referring to those who hear and follow, in other words who are obedient to His Word. So, the ones that do not heed the call of the Lord and follow can be snatched?

What about sin hardening the heart? (Hebrew 3:13)

Shipwrecked faith? (1Tim 1:19)

I have heard the saying - "It's not how you start the race but how you finish it."

In Hebrew 3:14 For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end,

If you aren't a true follower of Christ then how can you have the strength on your own to even run the race. It is because of Christ and who He transforms you to be that you would even want to run the race at all. So…

The Judgment Seat of Christ

Q: If our sins are forgiven, what are we going to stand judgment for?
A:Part of the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ is that "...there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1). This is great news indeed! How amazing that the Holy and Righteous Judge and Creator of the world has made a way for rebellious and wicked sinners to be reconciled to Him.

Jesus the Christ, the one who became accursed by God so that all who believe in Him could be justly forgiven, and who rose from the dead and who is exalted at the right hand of God, has secured a victory over sin, death and the devil both now and forever. On the foundation of this completed work of Christ, believers can have assurance that they will be able to stand on the Day of Judgment. This is why it is good and right to sing the praises of Him who has overcome!

Because of what Jesus has done, the Bible teaches very clearly that our salvation is not on the basis of deeds, but on the basis of…

The Church Isn't A Business

I used to be a salesman. I sold a lot of different stuff. I worked retail. I did door-to-door. In all my various jobs my function was essentially the same. I was the link between company and customer.

Successful companies know their customer demographics. Many sales meetings revolve around numbers. Persons are treated as statistics. The customer becomes a set of numbers, preferences, and habits. Really successful companies cater their goods and services to a target demographic.

It's all about the consumer experience.
I remember when I began in pastoral ministry. People assured me that my experience as a salesman would be beneficial. They said there was a lot of overlap between pastors and salespeople. That may be true in our experience. But is it true of what we read in Scripture?

When I open my Bible and read about Christ's church I see a beautiful design that is very different from a business. Night and day different.

When Jesus walked the earth He rebuked those who failed t…

Lift Up The Son, Part 1

"As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life." (John 3:14-15)
There is a difference between outreach and evangelism. Outreach can take many different forms. It can be service. It can be advertising. Outreach can (and should) contain evangelism. But it doesn't always.

Sometimes Christians fall into the trap of preaching ourselves. Preaching our churches. Preaching our favorite doctrines, moral battles, pressing burdens, or our pet programs.

To be sure, there is a time and a place for all of that.

But Christians must also remember the counsel of Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles:

For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus' sake. (2 Corinthians 4:5)
We do not preach ourselves. We preach Christ Jesus as Lord. We present ourselves as servants of others for Jesus' sake. Our service to them can take many forms. …