Reading through Acts, I found a statement that struck me. I must not have thought about this in my past readings of Acts. In Acts 13, Paul is preaching to Jews in Antioch when the Jews “were filled with jealousy and began to contradict what was spoken by Paul, reviling him” (v. 45). I want to note what Paul says in response to them,
[Act 13:46 ESV] And Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, saying, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken first to you. Since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles.”
Had you asked me yesterday, “Are you worthy of eternal life?” I would have answered with an emphatic no, but now I see that would be wrong. Paul says to these Jews and then the Gentiles, they are worthy of eternal life. What a statement!
How am I worthy? Not by my righteousness or my abilities at all. I am sinful and have not lived up to the standard God expected of me (Rom. 3:23). But if God offered me eternal life, doesn’t that mean he thinks I’m worthy of it? If God thinks you are worthy of something, then you must be worthy of it, right? So, if God sent his Son to die for me, I must be worthy of it. Again, my worthiness is not by my ability.
How am I worthy of eternal life? I can think of only one answer: God’s love. Romans 5:8, “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” I suppose the saying is true, “Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.” While I was unworthy of salvation by means of merit, God saw me as someone worthy of saving.
In all the teachings of how sinful humankind is we may forget that God highly prizes his creation. He made us in his image, he has guided our species through history, and he even gave his own Son for our sake. Humankind makes mistake after mistake and no doubt, none is righteous, no, not one (Rom. 3:10). For all the transgressions of mankind, God’s grace is that much greater (Rom. 5:20).
I find myself thinking like Job, “What is man, that you make so much of him, and that you set your heart on him” (7:17), or like the Psalmist, “O LORD, what is man that you regard him, or the son of man that you think of him” (144:3).
There is no greater lesson on the value of humans than the sacrifice of Christ. Too many humans believe they are no more valuable than an animal or that they are even less valuable than that! Too many humans believe their value lies in their appearance, their success, or their talents. The value of a human being is derived from the love of God that offered the precious blood of Christ (1 Pet. 1:19).
In Acts 13 the Jews refused to believe they were worthy of eternal life like God said, but the Gentiles gladly accepted this good news, “And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed” (Acts 13:48).
God says you are worthy of eternal life–if you weren’t he wouldn’t have offered it to you. Believe this, rejoice, and glorify the word of the Lord!