THE LORDSHIP OF CHRIST AND THE MISSION OF THE CHURCH

ACTS 1.8 and 2.47

PAUL’S CONVERSION AND THE SPREAD OF THE CHURCH

 

Paul, the Grand Witness to God’s Promise  Acts 9, 21.18 - 23.35

 

(The Unfolding of God’s Promise in Acts - Acts 2.33

 

Abraham, Isaac, David - divinely appointed witnesses and offspring, a blessing to all peoples on the earth

 

Jesus - see esp. 1.3, 24, 32-33, also quote of 110.1.

 

From Steven to Saul/Paul - Saul the opposer of the expansion of The Church

 

Philip as an obedient evangelising agent of The Lord (note: correlation of “angel of the Lord” (8.26) and the “Spirit of The Lord (8.29-30.

 

Simon the Magician and Saul the Persecutor are to be confronted by the Living Lord.

 

                                    Saul has to hear from the near “opened heaven” that the Jesus whom he is persecuting (9.5)

Ananias doubts are overridden by Saul who will represent His name before “Gentiles and Kings and sons of Israel” (9.15).  Saul filled with the Holy Spirit (9.17)

 

                                    The Lord is in command even in the face of the most fierce or subtle opposition and the Spirit is the mediating agent of this Messianic and Missiology focused reign.  Neither opposition from the inside or outside can keep God from empowering His people from multiplying (9.31).

 

                                    The Gospel of the Lordship of Jesus Christ is pictured as moving out from Judea to the costal regions, and the area of Joppa and Caesarea would represent more of a mixed population of Jews and Gentiles,

 

                                    God continues to hear the prayers of “seekers” after God (10.1-4).  God’s vision to Peter has revealed that there is no dichotomy between Israel and the Gentile world (10.15).  Peter then goes to the house of Cornelius and then toward Caesarea (10.19-20).

 

                                    From this point on, it becomes progressively clear that God is not partial, because Jesus is “Lord of All” (10.31). Luke presents Peter’s experience as the breaking of the barriers between Jewish and Gentile mission.  Here we take note that this event is a pivotal confrontation and victory!  Peter commanded that these Gentile converts “be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ” (10.48).  Peter declares - “Who was I that I could withstand God?” (11.17)?  The persecution which arose over the Stephen event caused the Christians to spread out to the areas of Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, but the new Jewish-Christians felt free to witness concerning their faith in Jesus only to Jews (yet read 11.21).  The ministry of this good man, Barnabus, resulted in a large company being “added to the Lord” (11.24).

 

                                    In Syrian Antioch, the Gentile context, the disciples of the Lord were first called “Christians” (11.26).  This God had dealt with the internal resistance of the Judean leaders of the Church and of the psychological resistance of the early Judean Christians to the universal claims of this new Lord.  Our Lord’s command to disciple the “nations” is now for the time being realized.

 

                                    As the Church grows the persecution intensifies.  From the Pharisees to Herod the King (see esp. 12.11), Christ’s victory includes victory over Herod also.  As Paul and Barnabus continue their witnessing, persecution intensifies (e.g. 13.12; 38--89). The work of Paul and Barnabus brought the results of their being worshipped as the gods Zeus and Hermes.  Further opposition precipitated the stoning of Paul.

 

                                    Paul declares that God is a missionary God - “All that God has gone with them and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles” (14.27). This phenomenon created chaos between the Jerusalem Christians and Gentile converts (15.4).  Barnabus and Paul had . . . “risked their lives for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ” (15.26; 16.26).

 

                                    From Thessalonica to Athens, Paul had preached the univocal reign of God.  Even the haughty Athenians will have to reckon with God’s rule in Jesus Christ!  Christian witness in Corinth, prior to Paul’s coming, has prepared the way for Paul’s ministry.

 

                                    Paul’s encounter with the Ephesian disciples of John the Baptist made room for further teaching, which prepared them to respond and be baptized in the “name of the Lord Jesus” (19.5). 

 

                                    Through he remainder of Paul’s missionary endeavour, disciples gathered in response to “the will of the Lord” (25.13).  God had sent Paul to “open the eyes” of the Gentiles (26.17-18)  Luke’s presentation of God’s lordship of the Church’s missionary enterprise reveals several elements which are clearly identifiable!

 

1.  The Gospel of the Crucified, Resurrected and Ascended Lord is the only firm base of the explanation of the early Church’s missionary crusade. 

 

2.  This fact is the inseparable corollary for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and His daily active presence - Expresses, Implements and Effectuates this saving reign of Christ.

 

3.  The Witnessing Role of the Renewed Believing Community as agents of His Kingdom is the corollary, effect and implementation of the enthronement of the Christ over the nation and of the pouring out of The Spirit of God upon all flesh. 

 

4.  Christ’s Lordship as set forth in Ephesians 1.20-22, and so chronicles how the Prince of David handles both the Internal and External opposition to His reign (compare David’s and Christ’s temptations).  David succumbed to temptation.  Jesus was victorious over Satan’s temptation by The Scriptures, e.g. the Word of God (Matt. 4.1-11; Luke 4.1-12).  Jesus quotes Deuteronomy 8.3 - It is written, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds form the mouth of God (daily food).  The second temptation was theological.  The Temple was the center of Israel’s faith.  Jesus responded, in Psalms 91.11-12, “You shall not tempt the Lord your God.”  Then the third temptation was political - The devil showed Him, “all the kingdoms of the world” and Jesus responded from Deut. 6.13, “You shall worship the Lord Your God and Him only shall you serve.” 

 

5.  Christ’s reign is powerful, e.g. mighty work and wonders take place in the name of Jesus.  Christ’s Gospel is a regal boldness (parraysia) in the face of overwhelming odds. 

6.  Christ’s authority and power are effectual - Judea, Samaria, Syria, Cyprus, Asia Minor, Greece, Malta and even in Rome itself. the heart of the Roman Empire.  While in the prison in Rome Paul preached an “Unhindered Gospel” (unhindered is the Greek word authentica, i.e., originating).  We must write ACTS 29 in the New Millennium!

 

 

JDS