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  • Chad Werkhoven

Acts 13:26-41 - Entirely in Christ

Salvation is found 'entirely in Christ.' Where else are you looking for it?

 

Acts 13:26-41 (NIV)


CONTEXT: Earlier this year we read about how "the whole city" showed up to hear Paul and Barnabas preach in Antioch. This passage is from the words they spoke in the same place a week earlier, containing the announcement that got everybody's attention.


26 “Fellow children of Abraham and you God-fearing Gentiles, it is to us that this message of salvation has been sent. 27 The people of Jerusalem and their rulers did not recognize Jesus, yet in condemning him they fulfilled the words of the prophets that are read every Sabbath. 28 Though they found no proper ground for a death sentence, they asked Pilate to have him executed. 29 When they had carried out all that was written about him, they took him down from the cross and laid him in a tomb. 30 But God raised him from the dead, 31 and for many days he was seen by those who had traveled with him from Galilee to Jerusalem. They are now his witnesses to our people.


-----


38 “Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. 39 Through him everyone who believes is set free from every sin, a justification you were not able to obtain under the law of Moses. 40 Take care that what the prophets have said does not happen to you:


41 “ ‘Look, you scoffers,

wonder and perish,

for I am going to do something in your days

that you would never believe,

even if someone told you.’”

 

Listen to passage & devotional:


 

Belgic Confession of Faith, Article 22 - Our Justification Through Faith in Christ


We believe that

for us to acquire the true knowledge of this great mystery

the Holy Spirit kindles in our hearts a true faith

that embraces Jesus Christ,

with all his merits,

and makes him its own,

and no longer looks for anything

apart from him.


For it must necessarily follow

that either all that is required for our salvation

is not in Christ or,

if all is in him,

then he who has Christ by faith

has his salvation entirely.


Therefore,

to say that Christ is not enough

but that something else is needed as well

is a most enormous blasphemy against God—

for it then would follow

that Jesus Christ is only half a Savior.

 

Summary


What's the most egregious, unbelievable claim you can think of being made by someone - a stranger visiting your town, no less - in church on a Sunday morning. Imagine some travelers show up one day, people that look and talk like you, but you're not quite sure what to think about them. Then they stand up and matter of factly state that a small time religious guru who was executed by the government years earlier had been raised from the dead by God Himself in fulfillment of everything the prophets had spoken of for thousands of years.


And not only did this happen, they go on to say that because it did, the forgiveness of sins is now proclaimed in his name! In fact, these visitors boldly claim, everyone who believes this is set free from every sin. All the things you've religiously done in your life to justify yourself before God, the visitor goes on to say, all of the sacrifices, offerings, and rules you've carefully followed - none of those things matter. You just need to believe that God raised Jesus from the dead.


This is exactly what happened on that otherwise quiet Sabbath morning in Antioch as Paul was invited to say a few words. How would have you reacted if you were there? What effect would this news have in your life?



Dig Deeper


Our Confession states that "he who has Christ by faith has his salvation entirely. Therefore, to say that Christ is not enough but that something else is needed as well is a most enormous blasphemy against God."


The challenge for the Jewish people Paul spoke to here in Antioch and in other places was to let go of all of their religious rituals and cling to Christ only. The Reformers who wrote our Confession had the same challenge as they rediscovered the doctrines of grace and worked to wean people off of the rituals the Roman Catholic Church had introduced which actually pointed people away from Christ.


Maybe you've come out of the RCC and know that struggle to let go first hand. But I'm left wondering what the "something else" is that most of the rest of us try to add as a necessary part of our salvation. What is it for you? Trust in yourself? A desire to conform Christ to our cultural norms? Expecting our obedience to be rewarded with temporal blessings? Our exhausting efforts to simultaneously seek the things of this world alongside the kingdom of God?


Try and put yourselves in the position of the people in Antioch who heard the shocking claims of the gospel for the first time and who had to suddenly let go of so much since salvation is entirely found in faith in Christ. What else do you cling to that you need to let go of?



  • ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Our Father, who raised Christ from the dead to fulfill the promises He made to us, His people;

  • ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Pray that God will help you identify the things you're holding onto in place of, or even in addition to Christ;

  • ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED:

 

Read the New Testament in a year! Today: Luke 8

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