Friday, 20 January 2023
“Beware therefore, lest what has been spoken in the prophets come upon you: Acts 13:40
Paul has spoken of Israel’s history, the coming of Christ, the treatment Jesus received from the hands of Israel, and the good news that this was all a part of God’s plan for the redemption of the world. Because it is this way, it is through Him that forgiveness of sins is received and that through faith in Him, justification that could not come through the Law of Moses is received.
Having said that, there is an obvious point that has not been explicitly stated even if it is implied. If Jesus has initiated a New Covenant, and if that is now in effect for the forgiveness of sins, then the Mosaic Covenant is annulled in Him. The offering of forgiveness of sins through the sacrificial system, including the Day of Atonement, is no longer effectual. Because of that obvious point, Paul next says, “Beware therefore.”
This is not a threat, but a solemn warning. Paul has shown that what he has stated was prophesied in advance and recorded in Scripture. He will next demonstrate that even the consequences for rejection of God’s offer of Christ Jesus had been prophesied. As this is so, then those who reject that offer are continuing to fulfill prophecies that were written concerning this new and exclusive path to salvation. That is made perfectly clear from his continued words, “lest what has been spoken in the prophets come upon you.”
Paul began his talk to the people with the selection of Israel and their being exalted while dwelling “in the land of Egypt, and with an uplifted arm He brought them out.” Immediately after that, he then said, “Now for a time of about forty years He put up with their ways in the wilderness.”
That was a time of the rejection of the Lord’s deliverance. It resulted in the death of every man, twenty and above, who perished for their lack of faith. Paul is now tying the account of Jesus directly in with that as he closes out his speech. The words are as bookends on his speech. The Lord exalted Israel in their own type of Egypt, being under the bondage of the law. He brought them out with an uplifted arm via the cross of Calvary. And yet, the nation has already rejected this offer for the most part.
But this was known by God, and it was spoken of in advance through the prophets. Paul’s words are telling the people that just as Moses had to fashion a fiery serpent in the wilderness and hold it up for any who looked to it to live, even while national Israel was being punished and perishing, so each Jew would have to do the same with the cross of Christ. They could individually look to the cross and be saved.
To support this, he will next cite the prophet Habakkuk to close out his discourse to those at the synagogue.
Life application: Paul has spoken his gospel message to those in the synagogue. This included Gentiles as will be explicitly stated in verse 42. He has given them the gospel; the same gospel was extended to all who heard. There were not two separate speeches to the two categories conveying two separate gospel messages (hyperdispensationalism).
The consequences for national Israel’s rejection of Christ Jesus are implied in his words, and they will receive their just punishment for this rejection. However, Paul’s appeal has been to individuals of the Jewish nation as well as to those Gentiles who were in attendance. Now each will have a choice to make. Will they accept the gospel he presented and be saved, or will they reject it and perish?
This same offering has continued to be extended to all people, Jews and Gentiles, for the past two thousand years. Each person who has heard it will either accept it and be saved or reject it and perish. God is not forcing this upon people, choosing them apart from their free will (Calvinism). This will be evident in the citation from Habakkuk.
Likewise, Paul has shown in his words that the law is ineffectual to save while Jesus’ offering is fully effectual to do so. His words imply that the Law of Moses is now no longer in effect for forgiveness of sins. To remain under this law (Jews), or to place oneself under it (Gentiles) as taught by the Judaizers’, Adventists, Hebrew Roots Movement, etc., is thus a rejection of Jesus and a point of condemnation.
Further, Paul has noted that “everyone who believes is justified from all things” (Acts 13:39). This is a clear refutation of the doctrine of Arminius and those who follow him concerning loss of salvation. To be justified from all things is to have all things removed from penal consequences. Those who are so cleansed are also no longer under law, but grace. As this is so, then there can be no further imputation of sin. Salvation is eternal.
By simply paying attention to the words of Paul, the correction of defective doctrine or even heresy can come about. Don’t be a heretic! Come to Jesus, drop the foolish things that keep you separate from the truth of the gospel, and live out your life in the contented bliss of knowing that you are not just saved, but that you are also living out your salvation in the proper manner.
Again, come to Jesus! Believe the word! And walk in soundness of doctrine, thinking through the various principles that are presented in Scripture.
Lord God, how simple the plan of salvation is. You have sent Jesus and made the offer of salvation through Him. And yet, we seem to desperately try to muddy up those pure waters with all kinds of crazy ideas. Help us not to do this, but to follow Jesus in the purity of the gospel and in the assurance of our salvation for all our days. Amen.