The first recorded sermon we have from the Apostle Paul is found in Acts 13:14ff. Paul and Barnabas were on their first mission trip and were in Antioch of modern-day Turkey. It was approximately 18 years after Peter’s sermon in Jerusalem on Pentecost.
The parallels in the two lessons are striking but not surprising. It is clear that Jesus’ story arises from the context of the history of the Jewish nation. Both Peter and Paul begin with God’s gracious dealings with the Jews, which included the all-important promise of a coming Savior Who was descended from the great King David. His coming was prophesied in the Old Testament and was announced by John the Baptizer.
Although Jesus was God’s Holy One Who did nothing deserving of death, some Jewish leaders were complicit with the Romans in executing Him. But God used this to accomplish the great salvation He always intended to offer humanity. He resurrected Jesus from death on that wonderful Sunday morning and exalted Him to His own right Hand as Lord over all.
Those who carried the gospel in their hearts and lived it out in their lives were not shy about the earth-shattering truth of the Lordship of Jesus Christ. They simply announced the fact of it and invited others to accept and submit to it. In those days when Caesars thought they were divine lords, God’s people did not simply suggest that there was another rightful Lord, they proclaimed it! They didn’t say Jesus would be Lord if you permitted Him to be.
They declared Jesus was Lord, and it didn’t matter what anyone else had to say about that. They went up against the government authorities and doctrinal opponents in the Name of Jesus Christ. They said, “Yes!” to Jesus and “No!” to all who opposed Him. They taught people how to respond to the gospel in believing its truth, accepting Christ as Lord, repenting of any and all sin, being immersed into Jesus and then living a brand new “resurrected” life in Him from the moment of their baptism and onward. There was a great joy that characterized them once they had submitted to their risen Lord!
And now, here we are 2000 years later, and it is that same gospel we preach, believe and submit to with the same kinds of wonderful results in the lives of all who will submit to Jesus as Lord! 2000 years ago the gospel had its enemies. By all outward appearances many of them were very powerful adversaries. But guess who is gone and what lives on?! The gospel is powerful because the Lord of the gospel is powerful! We are not in this alone. May we ever commit to obey God rather than men. Any other course would mean spiritual destruction. Hold to the one gospel!
Written and submitted by Doug Oakes, minister, Woodlawn Church of Christ, Zanesville; email firstname.lastname@example.org