Today’s readings.. (Ezra 1,2), (Hosea 5), (Acts 21,22)
The circumstances, vary greatly, that lead to decisions to be baptised and take on the name of Jesus Christ so that he is our spiritual elder brother and God truly our Father. In a very real sense we must feel we have become or are becoming part of a new family, a spiritual family.
Our thoughts on this were prompted by today’s reading of Acts 22 in which describes Paul’s experiences in returning to Jerusalem. There is an uproar in the Temple and a Roman tribune sends soldiers to rescue him. Paul obtains permission to speak to the crowd and he says, “… hear the defence that I now make before you” [v.1]. He states how he was “zealous for God as all of you are this day” [v.3]. But it was a zeal for the old law that came to an end when Christ was crucified as the “sacrifice” (see 1 Cor. 5 v.7)) that fulfilled the old law.
In his zeal for the old law Paul (then called Saul) says how he persecuted the followers of Christ until he was humbled on the road to Damascus and led into the city – blind (v.6-12). Ananias, a devout believer and convert in Damascus comes to him with a divine message, “The God of our fathers appointed you to know his will …” [v.14] Today, if we are motivated to seek the real meaning of life , we too can “know his will” – and should know it – if we have been baptised as Paul then was.
Paul describes how he was told by Ananias “…why do you wait? Rise and be baptised and wash away your sins, calling on his name” [22 v.16] Baptism washes away the past and gives us a wonderful new start in life, to real life! Until we made (or make) that decision we were (or are) “dead in trespasses and sins” (see Ephes. 2 v.2,5 4 v.5).
For each one of us the circumstances at the point of that decision were (or will be) different – but the result is the same! Paul told the Galatians that “God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts” and they had become “an heir through God” [Ch.4 v.6,7] and “a new creation.” [6 v.15]
Let us be faithful so that we receive “the inheritance” we are now heir to – remembering Paul’s words to the Ephesian elders we read 2 days ago and making them personal to ourselves, “I commend you to God and the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance …” [Acts 20 v.32] That is why we must read God’s word every day.