«And we here to bring the Good News for you: What God promised our ancestor he would do, he has now done for us » (Acts 13:32, GNT)
IN ANTIOCH OF PISIDIA, Paul went to the synagogue on Sabbath, to worship God as Creator and to preach. In this First sermon, he highlights three great themes.
l God’s omnipresence. He is everywhere. The God of Paul’s message is everywhere and has access to all places,
God’s sovereignty. He is above all and above everyone. This sermon highlights the verbs choose, exalt, remove, support. give, lift, fear, and know, which show the definite purpose of God’s sovereignty. Even Paul’s very presence among them was the result of God’s will and plans. God’s sovereignty should not be understood as being contrary to of choice, since it does not suppress our freedom, but neither can our choice evade that divine sovereignty.
God’s grace. He loves us. Paul shows a kind. close, present God who always seeks to help, support, save, and restore despite the repeated instability and rejection of His people. For Paul. grace is the essence of God’s character.
John Newton was a Royal Navy captain, a vulgar, rough, blasphemous, and arrogant man. He then engaged in the slave trade off the coast of Africa. One night, a terrible storm battered his boat with such fury, that terrified, he asked God for mercy. This was the beginning of his conversion to Christianity. Later on, he abandoned the slave trade and studied theology.
In 1764, he was ordained as a minister in the Church of England and began composing hymns along with poet William Cowper. He wrote the hymn «Amazing Grace»— perhaps the best-known hymn in the English language—to illustrate the New Year’s sermon of 1773:
Amazing grace! (how sweet the sound) / That save a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found, / Was blind, but now I see.
Through many dangers, toils and snares, / I have already come,’
‘His grace hath brought me safe thus far, / And grace will lead me home.
The earth shall soon dissolve like snow, / The sun forbear to shine;
But God, who called me here below, / Will be forever time.
How comforting it is to know that in his sermon. Paul presented a God «‘ho is always present and sovereign, and who loves me as if I «ere the only one that He had to attend to in the whole universe.
«That same God Is waiting today for you to respond to His Amazing grace.