Acts 13

Read Acts 13.

When Paul described the core of the gospel, he wrote: “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Cor 15:3-4).

“The Scriptures” Paul talked about in those verses are, of course, what we call the Old Testament. It isn’t hard to show how the scriptures prophesied that Christ would die for our sins. But where exactly does the Old Testament predict the burial and resurrection of Jesus?

Verses 32-37 answer that question. In verse 32, Paul said that “God promised our ancestors” that Christ would rise from the dead. He quoted from several Psalms in the following verses. The most relevant to the promise of Christ’s resurrection was Psalm 16:10 which Paul quoted here in Acts 13:35: “So it is also stated elsewhere: ‘You will not let your holy one see decay.’”

David wrote those words and people naturally interpreted those words as referring to him, that is, to David. But, as Paul pointed out in verse 36, David died, “was buried with his ancestors and his body decayed.” So, Paul reasoned, David must not have been writing about himself (v. 36).

Instead, David was writing prophetically about Jesus. Verse 37 says, “But the one whom God raised from the dead did not see decay.”

The death and resurrection of Jesus were not an unexpected detour or change in the plan of God. Old Testament prophesies show that the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus were the plan of God all along. They are essential to everything we have through faith in Christ and to every promise God has made to us in eternity.

So, rejoice in the resurrection of Jesus and don’t ever look at it as optional to our faith or a secondary point of doctrine. Instead, hold fast to the resurrection of Jesus; it means everything to us as his followers and children.

Numbers 3, Isaiah 28, Acts 13

Read Numbers 3, Isaiah 28, Acts 13 today. This devotional is about Acts 13.

Being part of the first church in Jerusalem must have been an amazing experience. People were being saved all the time and everyone who believed started meeting in one another’s homes for prayer, instruction, and fellowship. Here in Acts 13, the first Gentile church at Antioch, seems to have had a similar experience. Verse 1a told us that there were “prophets and teachers” there and they are named in the latter half of that verse. Although they enjoyed great worship and fellowship, God’s work needed to go forward so that more and more people would become part of the church and, when Jesus returns, experience eternity in the kingdom of God. So God spoke in the person of the Holy Spirit and called on the church to send Barnabas and Saul out to evangelize people and form new churches.

Thus began both the “first missionary journey” of Paul and Barnabas and the final stage of the Great Commission as described in Acts 1:8: “…to the ends of the earth.”

God worked through Barnabas and Saul (and, for some reason, Luke the author of Acts, switched to calling him “Paul” in verse 9). People came to believe in Jesus and they were organized into local churches. But I want to focus for this devotional on the importance God’s mission over our comfort. The church at Antioch sounds like an amazing experience and, human nature being what it is, Paul and Barnabas may have desired to stay there for many years doing the Lord’s work. It took the direct voice of the Holy Spirit to compel the church to send Barnabas and Paul out on their first missionary journey. They needed God’s prompting to do what Jesus had commanded us to do in Acts 1:8–just as the Jerusalem church needed the prompting of persecution to move to “Judea and Samaria” (Acts 1:8).

God acts sovereignly to make sure that his will is done so we never have to worry about the mission failing.

What we should remember, however, is that until Jesus returns, we have work to do. It is easy to get very comfortable with the familiar–even (especially?) when God is using us and ministry is going well. But God did not call us to be comfortable, he commissioned us to spread the gospel and start churches.

This means that our church will sometimes have to part with people we love who are obedient to the mission. It has already happened to us in recent years and it will happen again.

This is also why we send 8-10% of our giving as a church away into missions and church planting. If we spent 100% of what God provided to us on our own work–even good, spiritual work–we would be disobedient to what God commanded us to do.

Maybe you’ve been considering some kind of change–giving more to the church or to missions, starting a new ministry here at Calvary, or going into church planting yourself. If comfort with the present situation is stopping you from taking on a new challenge for God’s glory, will you reconsider that in light of this passage?