Saved by words

sea-241665_640Acts 11:14: Who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved. (ESV)

That was Peter reporting what happened when he went to the house of a gentile and was even detained there for a few days (Acts 10-11). The focus verse was Peter later on quoting some words, to answer a question posed to him about that trip. He went to the house of Cornelius, whom an angel had told to send for Peter, mentioning him by name. And the focus verse were the words of that angel, telling Cornelius what Peter was going to help them with.

God had sent an angel to Cornelius telling him that he had attracted special attention from God because of his prayers and almsgiving, but those were not enough to save him, he was told that Peter will show him the missing link. That is the gospel- a Jesus-centric message, touching on the power he wields.

God at that time was sending a strong message that the time has come for the church to include all people of all races, who can now come into the covenant blessing of Abraham.

God had promised Abraham: through your seed all the families of the earth will be blessed (Genesis 28:14).  That seed is Jesus (Galatians 3:16), and Peter was given the key to open the kingdom of God to the gentiles (Matthew 16:19). Before then the possibility of gentiles coming into favour with the God of Abraham Isaac and Jacob was very remote.

The former covenant was based on a strict natural Abraham, Isaac and Jacob bloodline. But Jesus said from the time of John the Baptist, the kingdom of heaven was preached and many people press into it (Matthew 11:12). From the time of John the Baptist, a new day opened up, a new season began on the earth for pressing into God’s kingdom. The gate is wide opened to receive people from different background.

The coming of the gentile into the church was based on God’s initiative, and Peter said that he could not resist God because his personal disposition was to neglect the gentiles.

Peter was a man severely broken after he denied Jesus three times in the face of a threat to his life and he does not want to be caught in that compromising situation again (Luke 22:33-62).

After a series of supernatural events, it was very clear to Peter that he did not have any choice but to agree that the time has come for the gentiles to become part of the church, against his own prior conviction. He preached about Jesus to the people in the House of Cornelius and they were saved.

The bible says that God has chosen through the foolishness of preaching to save those who believe (1Corinthians 1:21).

A General Naaman in Syria suffered from leprosy and was directed to Elisha, who asked him to go wash in the water to be cleansed. It was simple enough, but as far the big man was concerned, it was foolish. He expected him to do something spectacular, Elisha did not even come out to greet him, did not show respect for his position (2Kings 5:1-17). The man was livid but the common sense of one of his servants prevailed, and the man washed seven times in river Jordan as commanded and his skin was restored to that of a baby.

There are lessons to illustrate our salvation experience. There is the sense in which the word of God is water, and the gospel of salvation is for us to be born again, just as the skin of Naaman was turned to that of a baby.

“The foolishness of preaching” shows that it does not align with our common sense, but that is what will save.

Paul said that “the Jews seek for a sign, the gentile seek for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, which is foolishness to the gentiles and a stumbling block to the Jews (1Corinthians 1:21-25).”

It is a stumbling block to the Jews because they cannot imagine a saviour who had to die on the cross, because dying on a tree means you are rejected by God, you are accursed, committed to total destruction (Galatians 3:13).

Also, the preaching of the cross is also a stumbling block because the people cannot accept that all they had believed over the years needed an upgrade, that things are now changed as Jesus instituted a new covenant.

It is a stumbling block to them because for a long time, religion has always been about what is seen. They cannot imagine something/someone coming to cancel out their elaborate worship which God himself set up.

There was a physical temple, and there was a physical ark of the convent which represents the very presence of God. Now with the gospel, they have to see somebody, see Jesus, as the saviour, to bring us into the very presence of the Father. They thought they did not need anything because they were Jews, with rich religious heritage. So it was difficult for them to make the transition, when they considered the number of centuries people have practised the old covenant.

The message of the gospel is foolishness to the Greek because it involves parameters that cannot be observed by natural means, they are not amenable to the sense. They are the word of God to save us.

The Word guides us to the way of salvation. We will not know what to do except we are told. When Paul and Silas were in a jail and they were supernaturally freed, the man in charge of the prison wanted to kill himself, after Paul had told him not to, the man asked: what I shall do to be saved (Acts 16:30)? He was told to believe in the lord Jesus and he will be saved he and his household.

In another place, Paul asked a series of questions about hearing the gospel: how shall they hear unless without a preacher, how shall they preach unless they are sent, and Jesus has been sent.

People need to be told the truth. The bible says that: God gave the Word, great was the multitude of those proclaim it (Psalm 68:11). So do not be bothered about the multiplicity of churches, or place where people meet to hear God’s word. This is God’s means of saturating everywhere with his word. Do not be bordered at the multiplicity of satellite channels. It is to fulfil the scripture that their voices (of those who preach the Word) are heard all over the world (Romans 10).

We are saved by the word of God, and nothing else. It is by the incorruptible seed of the word which abides forever (1Peter 1:23). It is when we know the truth (comes into the truth) that we are set free and the truth is in Christ. Any area in which we lack truth, we will remain in bondage. When we lack truth then the devil can get away with his stealing, killing and destruction. The truth will lead us to the experience of light.

It is because we do not truly believe that if people do not believe in Jesus they will perish. That is why we do not have enough zeal to preach the word. That is why we do not make the sacrifice to reach out to others with the word of God.

It may be because we do not truly believe the gospel that we do not share it not convinced of its power to bring salvation. It is because we do not realise the potency of the blood of Jesus to buy salvation for us, we are not all over the place proclaiming truth. It is because we are not persuaded that the wrath of God is real against sinner; that is why we do not take the issue of their soul condition serious.

Paul said that being convinced of the wrath of God he persuades men (2Corinthians 5:11), if by any means he could win some. He does not just leave people to die and go to hell, he sees himself as being sent on a rescue mission. He said he becomes all things to all men to save some, and by words too (1Corinthians 9:22).

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