Devotion 264 – Friday of Pentecost 3

Opening Prayer

Grant that we fear You, Lord, and know the true Word of Your grace. Amen.

Text: Acts 13:44–49

And the next Sabbath almost the whole city came together to hear the word of God. But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy; and contradicting and blaspheming, they opposed the things spoken by Paul. Then Paul and Barnabas grew bold and said, “It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles. For so the Lord has commanded us: ‘I have set you to be a light to the Gentiles, that you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth.'” Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed. And the word of the Lord was being spread throughout all the region.

Devotion

The Jews in Antioch “rejected the Word of God and judged themselves unworthy of everlasting life,” therefore Paul and Barnabas moved on. Here we learn why people are lost. “God desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1Ti 2:4), but they themselves despise grace and reject the only Savior. The statement in v. 46, that God wanted to save them, but that they themselves despised the Word and the Savior, teaches us to understand verse 48 where it says that “the Gentiles, as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.” This would be impossible if God had appointed some to salvation and others to damnation. It is clear that those who were lost were lost because they themselves despised the life which God had prepared for them and earnestly offered to them.

But when it says that those who were saved were appointed to eternal life, this points back to God’s eternal decision in Christ as the basis of our salvation and is very encouraging for faith and hope. It was not first today or yesterday the Lord decided to call you, dear Christian. It was determined in the counsel of His love, before the world was. He decided not only to redeem all by His only-begotten Son, but He appointed you, that is, everyone who believes, to receive a portion in this salvation. He knew you from eternity and saw that you would receive the call, repent, believe, and remain in faith to the end. And “whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified” (Rom 8:29-30). But listen to this: whom He called and justified, these He also glorified. So be sure of this in faith! But we hold firm that God does not desire the death of any sinner, but the conversion of all. All are told: You are created to be saved, and for you the great Supper is set, but you are lost if you do not repent. But each believer is told: Your salvation rests on an eternal decision, which rests on the immutable counsel of God’s good and gracious will, and no one shall be able to separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus.

Closing Prayer

Lord, teach us to believe and to build our hope only on Your grace so that we are strengthened in faith and are victorious in all temptation and reach the heavenly Supper. Amen.

Hymn

My Spirit will give faith
To ev’ry soul who’s turning
From sin and certain death,
Who for true life is yearning;
The Spirit gives you strength
To die to worldly pow’r,
And all that round you stands,
Until your dying hour.

I then shall open wide
The gates of My sweet heaven,
And let the sound abide,
From ev’ry heart be given:
Come in, come, one and all,
The victory’s assured,
His grace you shall receive;
For this you have His Word.

Brorson: O giver Lyd L 460:6-7 tr. DeGarmeaux;
tune: Nun danket alle Gott (ELH 63); alternate hymn: From eternity, O God ELH 220

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