Dr. John Hartmann

Proclaiming the Whole Counsel of God

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The Church – a People in all Nations Defined by the Faith of Abraham

January 1st, 2012 · No Comments

Texts for the Study: Acts 11:19-26; 13:1-4; Romans 3:21-4:25

Those scattered because of the persecution associated with Stephen’s testimony and martyrdom brought the Gospel to the city of Antioch Syria at a fairly early stage, probably within 2-3 years after the outpouring of the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. God thus used persecution for the furthering of His purpose (Rom 8:28) to have the Gospel preached in all nations, in accordance with the promise given to Abraham, that “in you and your seed all nations will be blessed” (Gen 12:1-3).

God’s intention, from the beginning of salvation-history, was to have a people in all nations, a family marked by Abraham’s faith in the God Who raises the dead and calls into being what does not exist. In this case it is faith in the God Who raised Jesus, the One Who was delivered up for our transgressions and raised for our justification (Rom 4:13-25). Justification means that we are exonerated of all charges against us in the Divine Court, that we are acquitted of all guilt and put into right standing with God, Who alone can pronounce this favorable verdict, that we are “justified” in His sight, free of any charges that might be brought against us because of our transgressions of His Law. Scripture uses dynamic metaphors to convey the thought that our sins truly are forgiven and forgotten, erased from the record (see Ps 103:12; Micah 7:18-20; Heb 8:10-12).

God’s plan to have a people who are justified by faith is seen in Luke’s version of the Great Commission, in which Jesus commands that repentance and forgiveness of sins are to be preached in His Name in all nations, beginning in Jerusalem. Luke makes clear Christ’s redemptive accomplishment in death and resurrection, and the preaching of this good news in all nations, are both a fulfillment of what was foretold in Holy Scripture (Luke 24:44-49).

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