...“testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Acts 20:21, ESV)
In Acts 20:21 I discussed in the previous post about repentance toward God. In this passage, Paul is addressing the elders at the church of Ephesus and expresses that he is testifying to both Jews and Greeks this 2 fold message of repentance and faith.
Is this not the good news that we also see Peter proclaim earlier in Acts 2? Should this not be the model that we follow today? I was listening to the radio the other day and heard a message that explained the gospel as a coupon that God has given to us that you can use to gain salvation. Does this not make the gospel of Jesus Christ a product that is being sold. In our american culture today how do we see products? Seems to me products can be purchased, used as needed, and then discarded if it is no longer meeting my needs. I have seen this mentality first hand. Jesus is not a product to be sold, there is no magic formula or coupon needed to obtain salvation. Salvation is accomplished by God, and God alone in the lives of those he is calling by His amazing Grace. God in His wonderful Grace also uses us to be a testimony to those people who he is calling and our job is simple, proclaim the gospel! The really great thing is that we have examples of this in scripture with Paul and Peter being great examples to us today.
The word above for testifying in Greek is diamartyromai which means to assert, or declare, or testify. Look closely at the word and you will notice that it contains the root for martyr which is one who is a witness. In the LXX this word is used in Is 43:10-12, and Is 44:6-8
“You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “and my servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me. I, I am the Lord, and besides me there is no savior. I declared and saved and proclaimed, when there was no strange god among you; and you are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “and I am God.” (Isaiah 43:10–12, ESV)
“Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: “I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god. Who is like me? Let him proclaim it. Let him declare and set it before me, since I appointed an ancient people. Let them declare what is to come, and what will happen. Fear not, nor be afraid; have I not told you from of old and declared it? And you are my witnesses! Is there a God besides me? There is no Rock; I know not any.” (Isaiah 44:6–8, ESV)
We are God’s witness, and what are we to proclaim? “that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he…I am the Lord, and besides me there is no savior.”
Is not the testimony of Paul very similar? “testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Repentance toward God – Paul is declaring a return to trusting in God’s instructions, instructions from the King of Israel for living a life that is pleasing to the King.
Faith in our Lord Jesus Christ – Paul tells us to have faith in Yeshua (which means salvation) the Messiah of God..”and besides me there is no savior.”
When I put this in light of John 14:11 and Heb 1:1-3, Is not the same message we see in Isaiah being proclaimed, just in a different light.
“Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.” (John 14:11, ESV)
“Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,” (Hebrews 1:1–3, ESV)
What a amazing God we serve, the message has not changed, only what is revealed is more clear. The radiance of the glory of God has been revealed, light has shined into the darkness..
“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you. And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.” (Isaiah 60:1–3, ESV)
Lord, help me to have a heart to declare your salvation to the nations, to be a witness like the example we have in Paul and Peter your servants, to proclaim the message of repentance toward God and faith in Yeshua the Messiah.