Christians are those who believe that Jesus is the risen King, who welcomes unworthy sinners into God’s kingdom under His saving rule. But Christians are those who not only believe this to be true, but who also proclaim this good news to the nations. In our text, we look at the message and the method and the mixed response to this proclamation.
In this passage, we see three individuals who show us what it means to be free. True freedom doesn't mean that we are able to do what we want; true freedom means that we are free from our bondage to sin and Satan and death. For those who believe in Jesus, there is true freedom.
No matter what we’ve done, no matter how badly we’ve messed up, if God can orchestrate all of human history, so that His Son is crucified to reconcile sinners and to restore all of creation, then God can handle any problem that comes our way, because He is seated on His throne, and He will reign forever.
God is creating for Himself a people who are united by grace through faith in Christ alone. We may disagree on everything else, but if we are united on the gospel, then we are united on what truly matters. Through our unity and our joy and our love for one another, the church can be a shining light in a world darkened by division and hostility.
The most important question anyone can ask is, “How can we be good with God?” Every religion and cult answers this question by performing certain “works,” but the gospel of Jesus Christ says that we are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone to the glory of God alone according to the Scriptures alone. In Acts 15, we look at a church fight over this definition of salvation, but it is a fight that is worth it.
As Paul and Barnabas come to the end of their missionary journey, we learn that the follower of Jesus Christ is to be committed to building up the church and committed to declaring the glory of God. When all is said and done, will it be said of us that we fulfilled what God set out for us to do?
At a synagogue service, Paul and Barnabas were asked to share a word of encouragement with those in attendance. In his sermon, Paul tells his hearers and us today to know our history and how God is at the center of it, to know Jesus and what He has done, and to know forgiveness by repenting of our sins and trusting in Jesus. The question is: Will we believe this message of salvation, or will we scoff at it?