August 7, 2013
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
We have already seen in the August 2 blog that God’s Word, the Bible, will produce the fruit of the Spirit in your life – “…love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control...” (Galatians 5:22 and 23). And on August 5 we also looked at the fact that “…faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Such faith is needed to both begin and continue the Christian life.
Acts 20:32 gives further information on What The Word Will Do in the believer. Paul was heading back to Jerusalem at the close of his third missionary journey. He had spent two plus years ministering to the people in the city of Ephesus – located on the coast of western Asia Minor – and establishing a strong church there (Acts 19:1-20:1). Because he wanted to arrive in Jerusalem by Pentecost, the apostle didn’t want to spend the time for a visit to Ephesus. So he stopped briefly in Miletus, about 30 miles south of Ephesus, and called for the church leaders to meet him there. This would be there last meeting upon earth, and the leaders of the church in Ephesus were saddened by that fact. In this brief meeting, Paul wanted to leave them with something to bless them and affect their future Christian lives. And so, Acts 20:32:
And now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which
is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all those who are
It is a gracious Word that God has given us – full of undeserved favor and blessing, which is what grace means. “…the Word of His grace…”: what will it do? It will “…build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.” Who are the sanctified? They are not the super-holy elite – the very few of the Christian life. You, common everyday, ordinary, garden variety Christian, are in one sense sanctified – made holy, righteous, set apart for God’s use – the moment you accept Jesus Christ into your heart and life to be your Savior. That is called positional righteousness. In the April 19 blog, Four Wonderful Words, I discussed this type of righteousness. Also in March 27 blog, The Great Exchange, the idea is put forth. Positional righteousness is what you have in Jesus Christ. He takes your sins from you as if stripping you of filthy rags, and clothes you with His own beautiful white robe of His own righteousness. We then stand as perfect before God – even if in our own personal lives we have a long way to go to be perfect!
The second kind of righteousness is practical righteousness. It is that which is produced in you over the years of your Christian life by God – by His Holy Spirit working in and through you. He is making you more and more like Jesus. So “…those who are sanctified,” are not the super-holy, but simply the ones who have accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior.
What kind of inheritance do Christians have? We have eternal life (John 3:16, I John 5:11, 12)! We have heaven, guaranteed, someday (John 14:3)! We have the opportunity to experience abundant life now (John 10:10)! We have the abiding presence of Jesus Himself through the Holy Spirit (Hebrews 13:5; Matthew 28:20, John 14:16-18)! We will rule and reign with Christ someday in His kingdom (Revelation 20:6). We have the opportunity for rich rewards in heaven besides heaven itself (I Corinthians 3:11-14)! And this is not an exhaustive list!!! Such a list is impossible to create from our earthly perspective! Eternal life is so much more than we can even imagine! Paul says it in I Corinthians 2:9: “But as it is written, ‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.’ ”
Now, in Acts 20:32 there is another part to What The Word Will Do: “… the Word of His grace…is able to build you up….” See, the Bible is not just a book. The words recorded are God’s words – the written record of the revealed mind of God. And Hebrews 4:12 states that “…the Word of God is living and powerful….” The Holy Spirit is behind each word – both written and read – and He makes it come alive within us to accomplish the work God intends for it to do. In the case of Acts 20:32, “…the Word…[will] build you up….”
Build you up for what? It enables you – by the Christian life you live – to lay up more and more riches in your inheritance in Jesus Christ. He said in Matthew 6:20, “…lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven….” According to Mark 9:41, if you even give a cup of water to someone because the Lord is leading you, you shall not lose your reward. To be built up by the Word is to have increased faith, since “…faith comes…by the Word of God.” (Romans 10:17). This, in turn, will make you more sensitive to the directions of the Holy Spirit, which – if obeyed – will give you a greater “…inheritance among all those who are sanctified.”
Are you beginning to see the importance of reading and studying your Bible regularly? There is a lot more of What The Word Will Do, and we will look at some of those things in the coming blogs.