And Paul, as his manner was, went in to them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures,…
I. THE CHIEF OBJECT OF CHRISTIAN FAITH. "Jesus" — Saviour from sin, and fear, and hell, through the power of His sacrifice, and the prevalence of His intercession. "Christ," anointed by the Eternal Spirit, and set apart to kingly, prophetic, priestly office forever. No redeemer for man can be imagined of a nobler type, of a fuller efficiency Granted that redemption is necessary, then we have no choice of persons. "There is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." When the gospel began, Jesus Christ was the one object of faith, and He is so now. By no rearrangement of the materials of revelation, can you have a system of Christianity without Him. The central attractive power gone, the forces will strive with each other, and the motions will be incalculable. There is a throne; someone must sit on it. There is a gate; someone must stand at it to keep it open into the way that leadeth unto life. There is a peril towering high above all other dangers; we need someone to break it and roll it away, and there is no one but Christ. Never was demand more reasonable than this, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ."
II. THE MEANS USED TO PRODUCE FAITH ARE NOW THE SAME. Our apostle met them on the Sabbath day — the day of rest, when they frequented the synagogue, and "he reasoned with them out of the Scriptures." We, too, open the Scriptures as our book of authority. It is the duty of those who set forth God's mind in the Scriptures, to "reason" with men. The Greek word originally means to carry on an argument by way of dialogue. That was the apostolic method of serving Christ; not at all like that of putting on and off clothes, turning the back to the people, going up and down altar stairs. Different, too, from that of the strong doctrinal dogmatist, who asserts and does not "reason." To preach Christ is to "reason out of the Scriptures," and, in a secondary degree, out of the great book of human life and experience, and also out of the great book of material nature; but in any case it is to "reason," to lay out the matter as it seems to ourselves, to press it home upon all whom it concerns; to remonstrate, expostulate, entreat, and then to leave the issue with God.
III. ALONG WHAT LINE THE REASONING USUALLY WENT towards proving that Jesus is Christ. Paul "opened" the Scriptures, that is, brought out the hidden yet real meanings concerning the promised Messiah, and then "alleged" that the real Messiah must be a sufferer, and not a splendid Monarch attended with all kinds of visible success. But also a risen Lord, having power over death and life; and from all this came the conclusion that Jesus of Nazareth is Christ. Each age has its own thoughts and doubts; and the real preachers for any age are those who deal with its thoughts fairly, and dispel its doubts by light of truth and breath of love — but all this with a view to the manifestation and exaltation of Him in whom God is "well pleased," and to whom, in His "lifting up," all men will at length be drawn.
IV. THE FAITH IS THE SAME NOW AS THEN. The faith as a feeling, the conviction that is rooted in knowledge, and yet goes deeper than knowledge, that is founded on evidence, but which is itself evidence; for "faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." "I know whom I have believed." Faith is produced by different means, but the precious result is the same faith — faith in Christ, the Sufferer, the Death-destroyer, the Life-giver, the Redeemer of all trusting men. The same feeling. Is this an objection or an offence? It is a great commendation of it. This common faith of the common heart is the historic something that continues through the ages. Systems of government and thought have been forming and vanishing away; civilisations have arisen and have perished; but here is a secret something which has been running along the ages, the line of which has been human hearts, the power of which has appeared resurgent, after all calamities, and which seems destined to run on to the end of time. "May I share in this feeling?" "Yes." "Then by God's grace I will!"
V. THE OUTWARD RESULT OF THIS FAITH IS THE SAME. "They were persuaded, and consorted with Paul and Silas," and with the other Christian people who were all drawn together by their common faith. Yet now there is rather a largo escape from this. The fish are in the net and held securely there, but somehow they do not get landed. Relievers are made, but somehow a good many of them do not consort, rather take pains, some of them, to let it be known that they do not. Many who really are believers in Christ, do not enter any Christian Church. But —
1. It must always be good to "consort" with good men.
2. It must always be good to be associated as closely as possible with a good cause, and Christianity is unquestionably the greatest cause in the world.
3. It must always be good to escape from an equivocal position. To believe in One for life and death, who is not confessed, whatever excuses and explanations may be given, must be more or less equivocal.
4. It must always be good to remove a little farther from danger; and the shelter, the nourishment, the inspiration of a Church is, as far as it goes, a real safety; it helps in many ways, it ought to hinder in none.
5. It must always be good to obey Divine commandment, and as a Church is a Divine institution, connection with a Church must be the fulfilment of a Divine obligation.
(A. Raleigh, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures,