In case you missed my first What I’m Learning in the Bible post I am sharing what I am learning as our church studies through the book of Acts together over the next few months. I’m a little behind in blogging about my Acts studies but I have been keeping up with my readings. We are actually pausing currently to go through a Christmas series at church and while paused I’m hoping to catch up on the blogging end of things.
As a reminder, I am using this ESV Acts Study journal. Basically it has scripture on one page and then a blank lined page next to it for taking notes.
Saul’s conversion and beginning of serving the church are a big focus of Acts 9. A couple of little things stood out to me while reading through this again. In verse 4 Saul hears a voice saying “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”. The use of me instead of “my church” just shows how deeply Jesus identifies with His church. Their persecution is His persecution.
In verse 7 it mentions that the men traveling with Saul also heard the voice and were speechless. I wonder what happened to these men. Did they give their lives to Christ too? Sometimes the Bible gives us just little glimpses into some people’s lives and we don’t really see how things turned out for them. This is one of those cases where I wonder. These men who were traveling with Saul were probably devout Jewish men who were assisting him in what he was doing and yet they heard the voice of Jesus when he did and they saw what happened to Saul. Did it change their lives?
Chapter 10 is where we see a huge emphasis on how the Gospel is for everyone. Acts 10:43 makes this abundantly clear- “…everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”. One of our pastors shared this quote when talking about this passage and I loved it so I jotted it down and I wanted to share it because I think it rings so true. It’s a quote by Ajith Fernando:
We must help people understand the nature of Christian identity, which does not depend on human distinctions. When people realize that they are accepted as significant and useful to the kingdom not because of any merit of their own but only because of the mercy of God, they also realize that they cannot look down on anyone. In what is most important to them, they are undeserving recipients of glorious gifts. Prejudice, then, is an expression of insecurity and feelings of inferiority. If we do not feel secure and accepted in Christ, we need earthly things to make us feel important. One of those earthly things is the idea that we are superior to others. To one who has truly understood grace, such a position is an impossibility.Ajith Fernando
In chapter 11 Peter reports back to the church everything that happened and they conclude that “to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life” (Acts 11:18).
Acts chapter 12 focuses primarily on Peter’s imprisonment and rescue. I love how detailed this account. I also love that near the end of the chapter we get the very simple update: “But the word of God increased and multiplied.” There is a lot of persecution and upheaval in the book of Acts but the word of God continued to increase and multiply.
Have any thoughts to share? I would love to hear them in the comments below!