Light of the World

For the Lord has commanded us saying,
“ ‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles,
that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’ ”
And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and
glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were
appointed to eternal life believed.
Acts 13:47, 48

I always thought Saul’s name changed to Paul right when he became converted to Christianity. Today it registered that is not so. A gradual change of name occurs from the time Saul (now Paul) gets converted to Christianity in Acts 9, until Acts 13, as we learn of the beginnings of his missionary journeys to the gentile nations. I understand why the change is gradual. Saul (now Paul) used to persecute and kill Christians. Now he is the leader of missionary journeys to those who had never heard the gospel before. We need the gradual change as readers to get used to the new Saul, now Paul. The change is permanent after we read Acts 13.

There is a lesson for all of us there. Change is gradual and we should expect it to be so. If you have lived a totally non-Christian lifestyle, don’t expect others to believe you are a changed person instantly. Our actions will speak volumes though and often our words too. And thankfully, by God’s grace, we can walk the walk, not just talk the talk. His grace can change the worst of sinners, as Paul said, and as we all must admit.

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: 
Christ Jesus came into the world to 
save sinners — 
of whom I am the worst.
1 Timothy 1:15

(Written by Paul (in the past Saul) to Timothy.)

In today’s Scripture we learn of Paul and Barnabas leaving Antioch and going to Cyprus.

I stand amazed at Paul’s ability to “speak the truth in love” firmly and forcefully.

Paul and Barnabas meet a magician, a false prophet, named Bar-Jesus.

These are Paul’s (filled with the Holy Spirit vs. 9) words to him:

While looking at him intently he said,

“You son of the devil,

you enemy of all righteousness, full of deceit and villainy,

will you not stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord?”

(Acts 13:10).

So from that we learn we must speak the truth (filled with the Holy Spirit) boldly and firmly to those opposing the gospel of truth!

Wow, I could learn a lesson or two from Paul’s boldness. What about you? And we must lean on the Holy Spirit for that wisdom and boldness as we learn to confront others in love.

Many, including the proconsul (governor) believed when the magician became blinded as Paul instructed through the power of the Holy Spirit!

So God’s Word, the message of the gospel, spread, and now reached the Gentiles and they could hear and believe as God appointed. God used men like Paul and Barnabas and so many others as a tool in His hand to bring the gospel of salvation “to the ends of the earth.” Both Jew and Gentile are part of God’s plan of salvation, but only as they accept Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord of their lives.

And in closing, may we be as the disciples of old…

“And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.”
Acts 13:52

 

 

 

 

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