God is self-existent, he has always been and will always be. This is the foundational belief that we hold to be true and from this we understand our place and purpose. The only other option is to believe that matter has always been and somehow this matter came into being and had inherent power to change and create life. An impersonal substance somehow was able to create personal beings. If we hold this to be true there is no need for God and our lives can be lived by our own desires because we are free to act as we want. We are not accountable to anyone ,there is no moral code that we must submit to. Once we acknowledge that there is a God then we also must acknowledge that we are accountable to him. Our Creator is a kind and benevolent God who created human beings for his pleasure and to be the objects of his love. He is a good God and everything he does is based in his goodness. True life begins when we understand the first sentence of the Bible and place our lives under the rule of our Creator.
19Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God.
No one will be able to plead innocent before God. Whether we are under the law or not we all have offended God through our actions against his moral laws written on our hearts. We must recognize that we can do nothing to justify our actions nor can we declare that we have lived a perfect life. We are accountable to God and we will give account for what we have done as well as what we have not done. Our only defense is receiving what Christ has done to take care of our guilt and penalty. He makes possible the pardon for our failures.
31He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ—with all boldness and without hindrance!
Paul never ceased sharing the good news he was commissioned to proclaim. His boldness marked his life and he pursued every opportunity he was given in spite of the opposition he often confronted. We are witnessing today an attempt to place restrictions on sharing the gospel publicly under the guise of political correctness and accusations of being intolerant. The truth must be proclaimed with boldness to a world that is being deceived and drawn away from the evidence that brings conviction, repentance and faith in Jesus the only hope for them.
22Then Agrippa said to Festus, “I would like to hear this man myself.” He replied, “Tomorrow you will hear him.”
Paul was given the opportunity to share his testimony with Agrippa and everyone who was with him. God opened the way for him to testify what he had done in his life. Paul did not hold back from sharing the truth but persuasively stated his case. The impact of his testimony was felt by Agrippa and most likely reverberated in his mind for years to follow. Though Agrippa did not become a follower of Jesus, he now was accountable to God for the message he heard. Sharing our testimony truthfully, persuasively and passionately is our responsibility and the results are the decision of those who listen.
32“Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.
Paul’s parting words to the believers from Ephesus that came to see him emphasize the grace of God. Grace was a new concept to many of the converts who were under the law. Rules and human effort were dominant elements in their relationship with Judaism. Everything was earned by good works and obedience to the law. Grace was receiving something you didn’t deserve or be able to attain by human effort. Grace is a powerful force in our relationship with God. It will build us up through the things we freely receive from God. His grace is sufficient for every situation we encounter and every hardship we face. Grace will provide the inheritance we will receive and enjoy through all eternity. The grace factor distinguishes Christianity from all other forms of religious beliefs.
31And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you y and your household.” 32And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house.
The jailer had witnessed a tremendous miracle that set Paul and Silas free from the horrible jail conditions and stocks that held them captive. The jailer must have listened to the praise and worship of Paul and Silas and when the earthquake struck he realized that something was extraordinary about these two men. He immediately wanted to know how he could be saved. Salvation came to him and his house through the word that was shared by Paul and Silas. Faith comes by hearing the Word of God and responding to it in obedience.
21They preached the gospel in that city and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, 22strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” they said.
Paul and Barnabas won many people to the Lord and took the time to return to encourage and strengthen the believers. They knew that there would be opposition from both the Jews and Romans. They prepared the believers and were realistic about the hardships they would face as they lived out their new faith. Follow up care is critical for new believers. They must be taught the Word of God and given encouragement by the leadership. Many believers in countries that are dominated by religions that are false face persecution and alienation by their own families as well as the government. They especially need to be grounded in the Word and encouraged to be faithful.
23Immediately, because Herod did not give praise to God, an angela of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died. 24But the word of God continued to spread and flourish.
God is unchanging in his character and his holiness. Some people want to disregard some of the acts of judgment described in the old testament or claim that the new testament portrays a different image of God. To deny the acts of judgment upon people who were guilty of violations against the standards God has established is to misrepresent the character of God. God is slow to anger and compassionate yet he cannot tolerate sin and judgment must be rendered to validate his holiness. He is the same yesterday, today and forever.