Dear Members and Friends of Gloria Dei Lutheran Church,
“So being sent on their way by the church, they passed through both Phoenicia and Samaria, describing in detail the conversion of the Gentiles, and brought great joy to all the brothers.” Acts 15:3
Paul and Barnabas where going from Antioch to Jerusalem to speak to the apostles about the first missionary journey they took. They had been sent by their congregation in Antioch to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ to those on the island of Cyprus and to places in Asia Minor (what we now know as Turkey).
On their missionary journey they began by going to the synagogues in each city or town where they stopped. They wanted to tell their fellow Jews that the Messiah had come. Paul and Barnabas wanted to share with the Jews that God had kept His promise to send a savior into the world.
The wonderful result of this journey was that many Gentiles (those who were not Jewish by birth) also heard the Good News and believed. Saint Luke calls it “the conversion” of the Gentiles. The word “conversion” tells us that when the Gentiles heard the Good News, many of them “turned” to God for forgiveness.
“Conversion” or “turning” to God is not something we can do on our own. Scripture tells us that we are born as enemies toward God and that we, from the beginning, turn away from God to go our own way. Since that is true, “turning” to God–asking for forgiveness and trusting in His mercy–must happen with a power outside of ourselves.
The power to turn us toward the God of mercy and grace is the power of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit gives us the gift of faith as we hear the Good News about Jesus Christ. By God’s grace we are converted from the path that leads to eternal death to the path that leads to eternal life.
That is why the message of the conversion of the Gentiles brought great joy in Acts 15. That is why we give thanks to the Lord. He and He alone have turned us around so that we see his arms stretched out welcoming us into His kingdom. “O give thanks unto the Lord for he is good and his mercy endures forever.
As always, I ask that you keep Gloria Dei in your prayers and that you pray for me as I will continue to keep all of you in my prayers. The blessing of Jesus be with you.
In Christ’s service,