Paul’s first sermon has at least four themes that seem very important for the reader of Acts 13. First, the word of this salvation is sent to both Jews and Gentiles (13.26). Second, there is a purposeful emphasis upon the resurrection of Jesus Christ (13.32-33). Third, there is great danger in despising the Gospel (13.38-41). Fourth, conversely there is great delight in receiving it (13.46-48).
“Men and brethren, sons of the family of Abraham, and those among you who fear God to you the word of this salvation has been sent” (Acts 13.26).
We must fulfill the Great Commission, which simply stated without the participles is to make disciples. This includes proclamation of the word of salvation through our evangelistic efforts. Toil, sacrifice, and suffering will pale in comparison to the reaping of souls on the account of God’s faithfulness in and through us. We should live and die for Christ.
As a pastor, I come before believers each week as God’s ambassador, bringing salvation with me and declaring it to everyone who will come and hear me. So, to use today’s vernacular: Ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, those among you who respect and reverence God: To you the word of this salvation has been sent. First….
What is the word of this salvation?
The word of this salvation is also known as the Gospel or the Good News of Jesus Christ.
1.The word of this salvation is clearly revealed to us. God the Father planned it; God the Son provided it; God the Spirit applies it to the souls of men and women. Salvation is all of God. You are set free from sin through the death, burial, and resurrection of the Savior of the World, the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the propitiation for our sins through His shed blood and death upon the cross. His righteousness is worked out in and through us because of His resurrection from the tomb. Our relationship in Christ provides fulness of life, eternal in its quality. The word of this salvation is so clearly revealed, a child may accept it and an intellectual adult stumble over it.
2.The word of this salvation is freely offered to us. Faith is not a work of man; it is man’s acceptance of the grace of God. You are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus (Romans 3.24). It is of faith that it might be according to grace (Romans 4.16). In the ages to come God will show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast (Ephesians 2.7-9). The kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life (Titus 3.4-7). Salvation is freely offered to us!
3.The word of this salvation is freely received by us. The moment the sinner receives the word of this salvation in faith is the moment that that sinner is translated from darkness to light …from the power of Satan to God. As many as received Jesus Christ, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name (John 1.12). The word of this salvation is in no other name, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved (Acts 4.12). If you truly receive the word of this salvation, you shall be saved by it. The word of this salvation is clearly revealed, freely offered, and freely received!
Paul spoke to both Jews and Gentiles in Acts 13.26. Those of the sons or stock of Abraham, and those who fear God refer to both the Jews and Gentiles respectively. The Jewish people to whom Paul preached represent those today who feel as if they don’t need the word of this salvation. They have a heritage after all! The Gentile people to whom Paul preached represent those today who know they are alienated from God but believe they are beyond the grip of His grace.
The Legalistic Sinner Needs the Word of This Salvation
We bring salvation to bare upon the lives of many who feel as if they don’t need what God has clearly revealed and freely offered. It was not until the Jews went out of the synagogue, that the Gentiles begged that the word of this salvation might be preached to them the next Sabbath (Acts 13.42).
Many religious people align closely with the position of the Jewish people in our text. People often view salvation as turning over a new leaf. They do good works and attempt to save themselves, but that is not the word of this salvation! I have met some very gentle and loving people in my time (some more gentle and loving than many Christians I’ve known), but they share in common with all mankind the fact that they are sinners. They too are in need of the mercy and grace of God. We must be found in Christ, not having our own righteousness, which from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith (Philippians 3.9).
Legalism is dependence upon your own righteousness in order to reconcile yourself with God. It is to you that the word of this salvation is sent. Cease striving and come to Jesus. He says to the legalistic sinner, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11.28-30). The legalistic sinner needs the word of this salvation! But there is a second category of people in our text represented by the eager Gentiles.
The Licentious Sinner Needs the Word of This Salvation
Gentiles were thought of as dogs by the Jewish people. They were not God’s chosen people and felt as though they were beyond the grip of God’s favor and grace. The Jewish people should have been an evangelistic people, but they considered the Gentiles to be beyond hope. Paul changed all of that in our text. The blood of Jesus Christ has the potential to make all clean. Anyone who comes to God in Christ will not be turned away. The only condition is faith. Jesus said, “Most assuredly, I say to you , he who believes in Me has everlasting life” (John 6.47).
You may have lived a life of great sin, but know right now that it is to you that the word of this salvation is clearly revealed and freely offered. You must freely receive it by faith. There are three responses to this salvation epitomized in Acts 13.
•Some will beg to hear more (13.42).
Acts 13:42 (NKJV) — 42 So when the Jews went out of the synagogue, the Gentiles begged that these words might be preached to them the next Sabbath.
It is certain that they heard from Paul even before the next Sabbath. This is the right attitude when it comes to the word of this salvation. May God fill our church with those who beg to hear more. Whenever the word of this salvation is sown in your heart, don’t allow it to fall upon hard ground. Receive the seed of the word and let it bear fruit in good soil!
•Others will contradict and blaspheme (13.45).
Acts 13:45 (NKJV) — 45 But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy; and contradicting and blaspheming, they opposed the things spoken by Paul.
Not only did the Jews reject the word of this salvation, they bitterly opposed it because of envy. There will always be opposition to the truth of God. Don’t allow that to keep you from it. If they rejected Jesus, Paul, and countless Christians before us, they will certainly reject our feeble efforts with the Gospel. The unbelief and bitter opposition of many will not deter us. We know the One in whom we have believed. He is able to keep that which we have committed to Him until that day (see 2 Timothy 1.12).
•Many will believe (13.48).
Acts 13:48 (NKJV) — 48 Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.
The Gentiles were glad and glorified the Lord. Those who had been appointed to eternal life believed. John Calvin argued that the appointing or ordaining of eternal life in this verse must have been of the eternal counsel of God alone. But the verse is clear: these Gentiles heard, were glad, and glorified the Lord. Most importantly, they believed. From God’s perspective they are elect in Christ before the foundation of the world. From our perspective they have eternal life because they believed.
The finite mind cannot understand how God’s sovereign choice and human choice come together. And yet, they do. Those who have believed on Christ for eternal life will never be able to boast of their goodness. God did not choose them because of anything that is within them. God chose them in Christ before the foundation of the world. Every true believer acknowledges the fact that God looked down on a poor lost sinner and had mercy. All are saved by the grace of God. It is always of grace that we are saved through faith. It is for this reason that we preach the word of this salvation: Many will believe!