The apostles and the early believers were despised by the religious Jews because of the gospel which they preached. It was not because they lived immoral lives, failed to do good works, nor because they were covetous or proud men. They were persecuted because the gospel of God's grace, which they preached, was offensive to human pride. They preached that salvation, even for the most moral person on earth, is only possible because of the grace and mercy of God, given to us in Christ Jesus. These believers knew nothing of free-will, decisionism, and giving God a chance. They knew only one way of salvation, that of God's being gracious and showing sovereign mercy to sinners in Christ. The gospel of grace and glory does not appear OCCASIONALLY in their preaching and writings, nor was it a deeper truth or doctrine which they discussed PRIVATELY; it reigns, shines, and dominates all that they said, wrote, and did. It is the ONLY THING that they preached! To them, any word of human worthiness, works, or rights was totally wrong and counted for nothing in the matter of acceptance before God. They addressed all men (even themselves) as guilty, condemned, and perishing justly unless God is pleased to come in mercy and lift the beggar from his dunghill dwelling, sanctify and justify him through Christ Jesus, and accept him in the Beloved.
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