Covered: Acts 10-14; James 1-5
Scripture Memory: Perfectionism – Psalms 127:1-2
Anything that has chains isn’t truly free. Chains hold back. Chains weigh down. Chains choke, restrict, and limit. Prisoners are chained. Anything that we want to keep from running around and spreading is chained.
Chains can be good because not everything should be allowed to run free. But what happens when we try to chain the gospel? It is something that we have all done in our lives. Jesus died so that the world; every tribe, tongue, people, and nation would one day worship Him. That extends to those that are currently practicing every religion, those that have every skin pigment, those that speak every language, those from every country, and those from every socio-economic level. Anyone that says yes to Jesus and no to themselves through turning from following their own desires and running toward Jesus is forgiven. But we have gotten good at putting chains on the gospel. There are people in our life that we think are way too far gone to be forgiven. There are nationalities that we think can’t be redeemed. There are those of other religions that we think shouldn’t be allowed in. For some of us, that person we don’t think deserves forgiveness is ourselves.
Peter also put chains on the gospel. This week we got to read Acts Chapter 10 where Peter finally begins to realize that his assumptions about God had been wrong. Even after seeing Jesus rise from the dead, even after hearing Jesus command him to take the gospel to the whole world, he still didn’t get it. It will still take a few more chapters before it fully sinks in, but we get to see his progression. In Acts 10, Peter is sitting on a roof praying, and God gave him a vision. In this vision, Peter is told to eat different animals that he had grown up being taught were unclean. He refused. This happened three times, and God’s message was clear: the things you thought were unclean are not unclean, Peter didn’t know yet that this wasn’t just about animals.
Then some men invited Peter to come to Cornelius’ house. Cornelius was a Gentile. He was unclean. Peter wasn’t allowed into a Gentile, unclean house. But the message starts making sense. The gospel has no chains. So he went.
These Gentiles heard the gospel from Peter’s lips, and before he was even done, the Holy Spirit fell on them, indicating that God was moving to bring redemption to them. The text says that Peter and those with him were amazed! No one saw this coming. They thought the gospel had chains.
Over the next several chapters, Peter uses this experience to try to convince everyone else in the leadership of the church that Jesus’ death and resurrection did something incredible. Now even the Gentiles could be saved. They never would have seen that coming.
Who would you be “amazed” at if God’s grace and goodness extended to them? Someone from your family? Someone you work with? Someone you might have called a terrorist? Someone who has wronged you? Would you be amazed if God really did forgive and love you?
If, as a church, we believed that the gospel had no chains, that no one is beyond God’s grace, and that the message of Jesus could transform anyone, anywhere, from any background, and any past, I believe we would get to see some incredible things in this city and throughout this world. In order to do that, we need to put down the chains we try to put on the gospel. Maybe you need God to rip the chains off of your view of the gospel. He’s gracious and will do it if you ask Him. Just like Peter, let us see the grace of Jesus extended even to those that we thought were beyond it. Lets allow ourselves be amazed and the incredible grace of Jesus.
The gospel has no chains.
Written by: Steve Elworth
Photo Credit: Zulmaury Saavedra