Wednesday, May 9, 2018. In the first chapters of the biblical book of Acts we learn a lot about God and about menkind. These chapters report the first steps of the young Christian church. After the death and resurrection of Jesus, the apostles and disciples start to preach the gospel. Today, let us look at the point where the gospel moves from the Jewish people to the world.
Christian Faith for Everyone …
There is a fantastic story in Acts 10 about the the centurion Cornelius, who had an appearance of an angel, telling him to find Peter. Peter himself saw a vision, at the same time, and then brought it all together. Let us read the conclusion of this story:
34 So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, 35 but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. 36 As for the word that he sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace through Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all), 37 you yourselves know what happened throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism that John proclaimed: 38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.
39 And we are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree, 40 but God raised him on the third day and made him to appear, 41 not to all the people but to us who had been chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42 And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. 43 To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” (from Acts 10)
We receive forgiveness of sins through his name, the name of Jesus. It is there for everyone who believes, for each and every person, from all nations. It is for the British, for the Americans, for the French, but also for the Chinese, for Africans, for Australians, for Japanese, for Koreans etc etc. It is for people from the middle East. It is for all faiths, for all nations, for me and for you!
Invitation to Everyone …
The invitation for all people who fear him and do what is right, those who believe in his name, is a far reaching statement. There are enough countries today where you are threatened with death if you win someone for Jesus. Very bad things can happen to you, that applies to some Islamic countries and to communist countries as well. Our world is not moving towards a peaceful freedom, but only when you comply with quite strict rules which are far from a freedom of religious choice, you can live in peace. What type of peace is this? Judge it yourself …
The Christian message is quite strong and far reaching with many of its parts. That we can receive full pardon in the name of Jesus, new life, a new beginning, supported by the power of the Lord - that is a far reaching statement. That it is for everyone, and everyone should turn to Christ - that is another message which has dynamical power. This spiritual challenge brings life and conflict at the same time!
What can we say? There is no way to avoid this challenge, to avoid the conflict with those who want to suppress the gospel. Clearly, the gospel is challenged from all sides - from atheists as well as from our Muslim friends. Jesus himself had to go this way, it is called the path of the cross. The invitation stands: “To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name” (Acts 10, 43) (Roland Potthast) ... further texts