Enjoy Eternal Life Now & Here!
Acts 13:42-52 (Pastor Heo)
13:42 As Paul and Barnabas were leaving the synagogue, the people invited them to speak further about these things on the next Sabbath. 43 When the congregation was dismissed, many of the Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who talked with them and urged them to continue in the grace of God.
44 On the next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord. 45 When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and talked abusively against what Paul was saying.
46 Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: “We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles. 47 For this is what the Lord has commanded us:
” ‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles,
that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’ “
48 When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed.
49 The word of the Lord spread through the whole region. 50 But the Jews incited the God-fearing women of high standing and the leading men of the city. They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region. 51 So they shook the dust from their feet in protest against them and went to Iconium. 52 And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.
Chp 13 & 14 are one package = they cover the First Missionary Journey of Paul & Barnabas. Chp 13 = the first half.
In chp 13, P&B&(John Mark) started from Antioch church in Syria, sailed to Cyprus – their first mission field. The began in the east end and went to the west end (Salamos -> Pathos) – like from NYC to LA if it were the US.
From the west end, they sailed to Perga in Pamphylia. There, John Mark left them, but the other two continued on to the other Antioch. Then, Paul preached (last week) and his sermon is the same as my sermon:
- Jesus died for our sins
- On the third day, he rose again for our justification
- He is alive today and sitting in heaven on the right hand of God and interceding for us
- The justification of sins (declaration of righteousness) is based entirely on the death and resurrection of Jesus
Today’s sermon = the response of the people to this message.
Also today, we are showing our reaction / response to the Word of God.
“42 As Paul and Barnabas were leaving the synagogue, the people invited them to speak further about these things on the next Sabbath. 43 When the congregation was dismissed, many of the Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who talked with them and urged them to continue in the grace of God.
44 On the next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord. 45 When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and talked abusively against what Paul was saying.”
This is very interesting:
Before the same Word of God:
- some are filled with jealousy
- others are filled with joy in the HS
When they heard this sermon of Paul, the people wanted to hear more. So the news spread throughout the whole city of Antioch in Pisidia. So, on the next Sabbath, almost the WHOLE city gathered to hear the Word of God – most of them were Gentiles.
So the Jews were filled with jealousy.
Jealousy, you know, is a dangerous sin – it can consist of one or more emotions: helplessness, spite, rivalry, disgust, etc… It is a consuming desire for the other person to be a loser / failure / unhappy “like me.”
When I’m jealous of somebody, look at myself – I’m already a failure, miserable, and ruined. Jealousy is one of the strong weapons that Satan is using to destroy our Christian character.
Ask yourself, when you see SOMEONE ELSE benefiting, or winning, or succeeding, where I cannot, can I rejoice with them?
Actually, jealousy is a more common reaction – but how tragic this is when our emotions cause us to stop God’s work. So, IF that person is impacting someone’s life for Christ, REJOICE! no matter who is in the spotlight.
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or in vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” (Philippians 2:3-4)
“I’m free from jealousy ~ I’m free from envy~”
Light & Life
“46 Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: “We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of **eternal life**, we now turn to the Gentiles. 47 For this is what the Lord has commanded us:
” ‘I have made you a **light** for the Gentiles,
that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’ “
48 When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were *appointed* for **eternal life** believed.”
Keywords are “eternal life” and “light”
“Appointed” is a military word – chosen, arranged, predestined (theologically)
- v. 46: They reject eternal life because they do not like it
- v. 48: They receive eternal life because they were chosen / ordained / elected for eternal life
- If we are saved, we are saved because **GOD** elected us before the Creation of the world.
- But, if not, then it is because **WE** reject the grace of God.
This is a grand mystery in Christianity.
God’s logic is not the same as man’s, it is higher.
Isaiah 59:5 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, my thoughts are higher than yours.”
Yes, we must believe in predestination – we believe in the sovereign will of God.
Romans 8:30 “Those he knew, he predestined; those he predestined, he called; those he called, he justified; those he justified, he glorified.”
“God knew us before the Creation of the world… in his love, he predestined us to be called children of God.”
Eph 2:8-9 “It is by grace you have been saved… not by works, this is the gift of God, so that nobody can boast of his salvation.”
But, nowhere does it say that God predestined anybody to be destroyed. Rather, he wants ALL men to be saved and come to the knowledge of God. He does not want ANYONE to perish. He is not happy with the destruction of any sinner.
Yes, we must believe the doctrine of predestination – but we must also know that this doctrine is ONLY applied to the “elect” – only to the saved.
God’s logic is beyond human logic.
- There are two sides to every coin:
- if this, then that;
- if not this, then not that
But God’s logic is NOT limited to two sides of a coin.
Now about “eternal life.” Let me make it more clear. What is it? What are its characteristics? How can we get it? How can we know we’ve got it?
Eternal life: The gift of God
Romans 6:23 “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
This means, this life is a gift of God. Also, this gift is in contrast to death that is the natural result of sin. This gift comes only through Jesus Christ. This gift comes only to those who believe in Christ – the Resurrection and the Life. “I am the Resurrection and the Life, he who believes in me will live, even though he dies.”
Eternal life = perpetual life – with no end.
But also, we must understand that life in Hell has NO END. There is no finish to it.
But, it is a mistake to understand this “Eternal life” as an unending sequence of years.
Greek “eternal life”: aionia zoi (αιώνια ζωή)
Eternal life is independent of time – it can function beyond the boundaries of time as well as within the boundaries of time. Therefore, eternal life is something we Christians experience NOW! Now and here!
Now and here!
We receive eternal life AS SOON AS we believe in Christ!
John 3:36 “Whoever believes in Jesus Christ *has* eternal life.”
John 5:24 “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my Word and believes in him who sent me *has* eternal life – he *has* crossed over from death to life.” (Present perfect tense)
John 6:47? “Truly, he who believes *has* everlasting life.” (present tense)
The focus of eternal life is NOT on our future – but on our CURRENT standing in Jesus Christ. This pertains to the present.
Why? Because the purpose of Jesus’ death, resurrection, and glorification was to provide eternal life to human beings. The Bible definitely mentions this as in the person of Jesus Christ.
John 17:3 “This is eternal life, to know God, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom he sent.”
Eternal life = knowledge
There is no knowledge of God without the Son. He came as the visual revelation of the invisible God.
Jesus says, “He who sees me, sees God.”
It is through Jesus that God reveals himself to the elect.
Another important point:
This eternal life (knowledge about God and the Son) is relational knowledge – this is not just an intelligence briefing.
On the final judgment day, there will be some who claim to have followed Christ – but never had any relationship with him. To those false claimers, he will say, “I never knew you! Away from me!”
This experiential, relational knowledge of Christ = so important. This is why it was Paul’s FINAL goal.
Of course, Paul knew Christ more than me, more than you, but this was still his ultimate goal.
Phil 3:10-11 “10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.”
This is good news (gospel) – Jesus died for our sins and rose for our justification. Believe and accept this good news!
This is good news!
Imagine, if good news is very difficult, many people could not understand it. But this news is good for ALL people – short, simple, easy to understand. Old, young, rich, poor, educated, uneducated, all can understand.
“If you confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
1 John 5:10-11 “And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life and this life is in his son. He who has the Son, has life; he who does not have the Son of God, does not have life.”
“47 For this is what the Lord has commanded us: ” ‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’ ” “
If you have eternal life, then you are the light of the world.
“A city on a hill cannot be hidden; nor can a lamp be hidden – rather it is put on a stand. Therefore, let your light SHINE before men.”
“You are a chosen people; a royal priesthood; a holy nation; a people belonging to God so that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness and into his wonderful light.”
“49 The word of the Lord spread through the whole region. 50 But the Jews incited the God-fearing women of high standing and the leading men of the city. They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region. 51 So they shook the dust from their feet in protest against them and went to Iconium. 52 And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.”
The Word of God is like seed – it is scattered and spread.
Our hearts that receive it are like soil – the earth that receives it.
The seed is always the same, but the field is often different.
Four kinds of fields
There are 4 kinds of fields that Jesus illustrated:
- Hard field – birds come and eat the seed away
- Rocky field – seed can’t take root
- Thorny field – seed takes root, but the thorns choke it to death
- Good field – seed takes root and can produce a harvest of 100 times that which was planted
Which field is your heart?
In the time of Jesus, in the time of Paul, this seed is spreading – the same seed – but the fields are all different.
Also, in Antioch here, the same word, the same seed, was preached by Paul – but the reception was so different.
- one group received it with joy
- the other group rejected it, persecuted them, and expelled them from the region
Remember, P&B were set apart by the HS, sent by the HS, filled with the HS, but they encountered hardships, sufferings, persecution (v. 50). Yes, even those set apart, sent, filled with the HS, can encounter these hardships. Why? Because they preach the gospel.
Some Christians may say, “There was only persecution at that time – but not in Korea, in America, there isn’t that kind of thing any longer.”
No. Haha – have you ever TRIED?
Preaching the gospel = persecution (literally like two sides of the same coin)
Jesus, “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of me – rejoice and be glad because great will be your reward in heaven.”
The last verse: “And the disciples were filled with joy and with the HS.”
Imagine – if you give money, clothes, etc, things the people want, they will not persecute you. Only preaching the gospel = followed by persecution.
But, at the same time:
Preaching the gospel = great joy (like a three-sided coin)
Preach = persecution = joy
Persecution is overcome by the joy.
You know, Jesus tasted death to give us eternal life. If you believe this, why are you not willing to taste a SMALL suffering for his glory, for the benefit of others?
If we really believe that Jesus tasted death to give us eternal life, we should preach the gospel.
If you are children of God, you are coheirs with Christ. If you share in his sufferings, you share in his glory. But our present sufferings are incomparable with the glory that is to be revealed. The best is yet to come!
The best is yet to come!
The best is coming soon!
God bless us, let’s pray.