Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

We’re in sequel territory.

In this follow-up to the gospels, the main character leaves in the first scene, the supporting characters repeat much of the action from the first (the miracles) and there are extensive continuity references to everything that has gone before.

In fact, it must be said, the sheer amount of continuity and back-referencing in the Bible makes the whole thing hang together incredibly well.

There is only one character who makes it all the way through the Bible, and that’s obviously God. And here, despite all the talk of forgiveness, he’s very much the same God that he was throughout the Old Testament.

When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened.

- Acts 5:5 (NIV)

At that moment she fell down at his feet and died. Then the young men came in and, finding her dead, carried her out and buried her beside her husband.

- Acts 5:10 (NIV)

Immediately, because Herod did not give praise to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died.

- Acts 12:23 (NIV)

These deaths are a bit of a shock. They make Jesus seem much kinder than God. And they make it harder to perceive Jesus as God.

Jesus, as far as the record goes, didn’t kill anyone.

Maybe the deaths above are there to emphasise the importance of forgiveness?

What also comes across from Acts is that the world was still a crazy place. While our heroes are learning from the Holy Spirit how to be level-headed and loving to people, the rest of the world are still trying to think without much understanding of right and wrong.

At this the high priest Ananias ordered those standing near Paul to strike him on the mouth. Then Paul said to him, "God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! You sit there to judge me according to the law, yet you yourself violate the law by commanding that I be struck!"

- Acts 23:2-3 (NIV)

The commander came up and arrested him and ordered him to be bound with two chains. Then he asked who he was and what he had done.

- Acts 21:33 (NIV)

Paul gathered a pile of brushwood and, as he put it on the fire, a viper, driven out by the heat, fastened itself on his hand. When the islanders saw the snake hanging from his hand, they said to each other, "This man must be a murderer; for though he escaped from the sea, Justice has not allowed him to live." But Paul shook the snake off into the fire and suffered no ill effects. The people expected him to swell up or suddenly fall dead, but after waiting a long time and seeing nothing unusual happen to him, they changed their minds and said he was a god.

- Acts 28:3-6 (NIV)

One thing that is coming across to me from the whole of the Bible is how every author – unanimously – recognizes all mankind’s colossal failures. No-one is exempt – royalty, ancestors, those visited by God – everyone is recorded as screwing up. Everyone except Jesus, and even he gets annoyed with a tree.

Some people claim that the Bible was written as fiction / was changed / was used to subjugate the masses, but the book’s content consistently challenges this. According to the Bible, even history’s greatest kings were sinners.

It’s no wonder that, in Acts, the first Christians realized that they were never going to be able to keep the laws God had handed-down, and quickly recognized that salvation could only be achieved through being forgiven, which would require trust.

Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of the disciples a yoke that neither we nor our fathers have been able to bear? No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are."

- Acts 15:10-11 (NIV)

"It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God.

- Acts 15:19 (NIV)


0 comment(s):

Post a Comment

<< Back to Steve's home page

** Click here for preceding post(s) **

** Click here for following post(s) **