The Advent Part 42
Acts 2:9-11, “Parthians and Medes and Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs – we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.”
In these three verses, Luke outlines all the nations and tribes from which the devout Jews traveled, as well as the nations and tribes from which proselytes were present for the Day of Pentecost. Although we could readily gloss over these verses, since some of these nations no longer exist by their ancient names, and on the surface seem irrelevant, there is a spiritual subtext to all the names that Luke listed that is interesting to say the least.
Before we get into that however, there is one thing that although glaringly obvious I would like to point out nevertheless. No matter the nationality, no matter the religion, no matter the social standing, man is a sinner, and being a sinner he is in desperate need of the grace of God which can save him. No man is exempt from the need for salvation whether due to his bloodline, lineage, wealth, prominence or position. We all, to the last, need the grace of God in order to be redeemed, reconciled unto Him, and saved from everlasting destruction. The truth of God is the same for every man, for every nation, and for every gender. There are no special clauses, there are no special exemptions for a certain segment, because the way of salvation is singular, it is one, and all who desire to be saved must walk this narrow way.
Within the list of those who had gathered, those who were present to hear the words that those who had been gathered in the upper room were speaking, we see individuals from all walks of life. The Parthians were known as the soldiers of the time, the Medes as the ordinary people of their day, the Elamites as the nobles, the Mesopotamians as the wise men, the Judeans as the religious elites of their time, those of Cappadocia as the workers or the blue collar crowd as we would call them nowadays, those of Pontus as the seamen of their day, those of Asia as the lower class, the poor, the sinner and the fallen, those of Phrygia describe those who are dead in their sins who have no life in them, those of Pamphylia were seen as an amalgam of nations all shackled by their sin, those of Egypt as the slaves of their day, those of Libya as those thirsty for salvation, those of Cyrene as those frozen in their sins, those of Rome as the proud, and those who trusted in their own might, the Cretans are seen as those enslaved by fleshly lusts, and the Arabs as those who are unfruitful or living in the desert places.
God does not identify us by our nationality, He does not identify us by the religion we were born into, He looks at us as sinners to whom He freely offers salvation. After He washes us, cleanses, us, redeems us and saves us, we are no longer of our native heritage, we are no longer of our particular tribe or nationality, but we are His, belonging to Him, becoming like Him, transformed, renewed, righteous and holy and free. This is what salvation is, the utter transformation from what we once were, to what God desires us to be.
Even though all these men from all these nations heard these Galileans speaking in their own tongue, the words that they heard were by far more important than the fact that they were hearing it in their own language.
What they heard, were not the ruminations of men, they were not the results of the latest raffle giveaway at the local church, what they heard were the wonderful works of God. It is hearing the wonderful works of God that draws men to the truth, it is hearing of His redemptive power, and the sacrifice of His Son, it is hearing of the new life in Christ and mysteries of sovereign wisdom that compels men to repent and turn to Jesus.
Colossians 1:27, “To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
What befuddles me is that although we see what draws men to the truth time and time again clearly outlined within the pages of Scripture, we are on a constant quest to diminish, minimize, and altogether extricate the reality of ‘Christ in us the hope of glory’ from the message we present to a dying world lost in sin and hopelessness. Jesus and the riches of His glory have become taboo subjects even within the house of God, or what we deem to be the house of God, because the message of Christ as the only way, the only truth, and the only life is too controversial, too polarizing, and too intolerant of other religions. And so, rather than present a risen Christ, one who can free men from the shackles of sin, we substitute the message of Jesus with free giveaways, and interactive presentations of how to decrease our debt while still retain our present lifestyle.
Much of what we call the church today no longer identifies with the cross, they no longer identify with the Christ, they no longer identify with the saving grace that was obtained for us on Calvary not realizing that in attempting to sidestep these truths, in attempting to minimize that which Jesus did we are in essence negating the Gospel, and have become of all men most pitiable.
Whomever it is that we are speaking to, wherever it is that we are speaking to them, may we speak of the wonderful works of God, may we speak of Christ Jesus the Savior of men’s souls, and may we live our lives according to His precepts. There is no other way by which men can be reconciled unto God, there is no other sacrifice that God deems worthy of blotting out our sins than that of His Son, and as such there is no other way into the Kingdom than through Him.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.