TODAY’S READING: ACTS 12-13
“And Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, saying, ‘It was necessary that the word of God be spoken to you. Since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles.” – Acts 13:46
Jesus came to give us eternal life. This was the message, the word of the Lord, that he came to tell us.
In John 12:49-50, Jesus said, “For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment – what to say and what to speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father told me.”
In John 6:63, Jesus said, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.”
Jesus became a life-giving spirit. He is ever giving life. He only and always gives life.
Jesus asked the apostles if they wanted to leave him like everyone else. “Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.'”
Jesus’ message of eternal life was not about the afterlife. It was about right here, right now. Jesus’ message was that we should have the life of God, eternal life, now, in this life.
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved.” – Ephesians 2:4-5
“And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands.” – Colossians 2:13-14
Eternal life is not about existing forever. It’s about a quality of life now.
We may be existing now, but we were dead in our trespasses. God makes us alive together with Christ now. He gives us eternal life, his life, now. Not after death, when we no longer physically exist.
Notice the similar words lumped together in Ephesians 2:4-5 and Colossians 2:13.
We are made alive together with Christ.
God is rich in mercy. In other words, he has forgiven us all our trespasses, all our sins.
We are saved by grace, having the record of debt that stood against us canceled when Christ nailed it to the cross.
These are the same words and phrases that Paul uses in Acts 13.
Paul says they have been given “the message of this salvation.” (Acts 13:26)
“Through this man [Jesus] forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and by him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses.” (Acts 13:38-39)
In Luke 24:46-47, Jesus said, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.”
Jesus declared that forgiveness of sins, salvation, eternal life, should be declared to all nations, to everyone. Jesus deemed everyone worthy of this message, of eternal life.
So, why do some not receive eternal life?
“Since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life.”
God does not judge anyone unworthy of eternal life. We judge ourselves unworthy of eternal life.
You know who else judged himself unworthy of eternal life?
The prodigal son.
“I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.'” So he arose and went to his father. Even while he was a long way off, the father saw him, felt compassion for him, and ran toward him. The father embraced him and kissed him. Yet, the son said, “Father, i have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer to be called your son.”
When the son says “no longer worthy” it is the same Greek words as Paul uses when he says that we judge ourselves “unworthy” of eternal life. This is just what the son is saying when he says that he is no longer worthy of being the father’s son. He is saying he is no longer worthy of the life of the father.
But, the father will have none of that. The father runs to him, embraces him, and kisses him. The father gives him his robes, puts a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. The father restores him. The father judges his son worthy of eternal life even his son does not. “For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.”
Are you worthy of eternal life?
In God’s eyes, the answer is always yes.
This is why Jesus died on the cross. To show you that you are worthy of eternal life, to forgive all your sins.
We judge ourselves, and others, unworthy of eternal life because we judge according to the flesh.
In John 8:15, Jesus said, “You judge according to the flesh; I judge no one.” When we judge according to the flesh, we judge with condemnation and death.
“For this is why the gospel was preached even to those who are dead, that though judged in the flesh the way people are, they might live in the spirit the way God does.” (1 Peter 4:6)
We judge ourselves and others unworthy of eternal life, worthy of death and eternal punishment, because we judge according to the flesh. But, God judges by the spirit. The Spirit is life. So, God judges us worthy of eternal life that we might live in the Spirit the way God does.
Therefore, Paul said, “From now, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh.” (2 Corinthians 5:16) We no judge people according to the Spirit. We see them as new creations. We see the old passing away and the new coming. This is from God. It is how he is reconciling the world to himself through Christ. “In Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them.” God is forgiving, saving, judging worthy of eternal life the world, everyone.
As Christians, the message is never you are not worthy, you are going to hell, God will destroy you.
As Christians, we proclaim the gospel, the good news, the same message that Jesus was commanded by the Father to give – eternal life. We proclaim you are forgiven. We proclaim you are worthy of eternal life. “Be reconciled to God.” This is our message. No exceptions.
This is how we are light to the world.