The BlogShipwrecked Faith from a Shipwrecked Church
The Damascus RoadIn Acts 9, we find Jesus verbally speaking to Paul on the Damascus Road. It wasn’t just a command or some proclamation declared from heaven. It was a conversation where both He and Paul spoke to each other. And in this conversation Jesus did not only speak through the written Word, which for Paul would have been the Old Testament. Instead, He verbally communicated His personal message and will to Paul that could not be found from reading, for example, the Psalms or Isaiah.
Acts 9:4-6 - Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.” So he, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” Then the Lord said to him, “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”“Got it,” you say. “But that's the apostle Paul. He was an apostle and could therefore hear God speak to him verbally in ways He doesn’t do today, to anybody, ever. You and I are not apostles. We don't even have apostles anymore. So how God spoke to Paul back then was just for Paul— and not for us today.” Really? So how do we explain God speaking, just a few verses later, to a non-apostle named Ananias? He was not an apostle like Paul. He was just a faithful disciple of Jesus who lived in Damascus that God had chosen for a specific task. And how was Ananias to know what specific task God had in store for him unless, somehow and in some way, God spoke to him personally.
Acts 2:36 - "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified (now it's personal), both Lord and Christ."Then, under the convicting power of the Holy Spirit, the people cry out for an answer. They long and seek for salvation, some deliverance from the guilt of their sin.
Acts 2:37 - Now when they heard this (the words Peter just spoke), they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?”Peter answers their question with an if / then promise regarding repentance and salvation. They must do something (if) to receive salvation and the forgiveness of their sins (then). If they fail to do what is required of them (if - repentance), then salvation does not follow (then). Watch how this plays out.
Proverbs 2:1-5 - My son, if (condition) you receive my words, and (if you) treasure my commands within you, (to what extent) so that you incline your ear to wisdom, and apply your heart to understanding; Yes, if (condition) you cry out for discernment, and (if you) lift up your voice for understanding, if (condition) you seek her as silver, and (if you) search for her as for hidden treasures; then (result of meeting the condition) you will understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God.As you can see, the promise of understanding the fear of the Lord and finding the knowledge of God only comes after the if conditions are met. One is contingent upon another. Meeting the if condition is the key that unlocks the then promise, If I want to understand the fear of the Lord and discover the knowledge of God, then I must meet the condition set forth to receive that promise. It is foolishness, according to this passage, to assume we will receive the promise without meeting the condition.
Least Likely to SucceedNone of those Jesus chose were rich nor educated. None of them were well-trained. Some were fishermen, some probably merchants. Others were common, day laborers. One was a tax collector. Another a closet revolutionary, a zealot. They were just ordinary, blue-collar people from rural Galilee and the surrounding areas. The only thing they had in common was that they had very little in themselves that would point to future success. But Jesus called each of them unto Himself. And as Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die.”
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9).Often we find ourselves hamstrung and impotent in our spiritual lives, when compared with Scripture, because of the limitations we place on our God by the box we try to force Him into.