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The Bible Speaks

Acts 1:15-20
In those days Peter stood up among the believers (a group numbering about a hundred and twenty) and said, 'Brothers and sisters, the Scripture had to be fulfilled in which the Holy Spirit spoke long ago through David concerning Judas, who served as guide for those who arrested Jesus. He was one of our number and shared in our ministry.' (With the payment he received for his wickedness, Judas bought a field; there he fell headlong, his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out. Everyone in Jerusalem heard about this, so they called that field in their language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.) 'For,' said Peter, 'it is written in the Book of Psalms: '"May his place be deserted; let there be no one to dwell in it," and, '"May another take his place of leadership." (NIVUK)

This is a somewhat gruesome narrative. Peter assumes the leadership role, as he had often done before; this time to deal with the problem that the twelve apostles had become eleven after the death of Judas. The details are in the text and do not need further elaboration. Miserably, Judas, ruled by his love of money (John 12:6) had allowed Satan to enter him (John 13:26-27), motivating him to betray Jesus for thirty silver coins. But Satan always despises his servants, and after using him, abandoned Judas to his hopeless remorse (Matthew 27:3-10).

By contrast, Peter's fleshly denial left him bitterly shocked by his betrayal (Luke 22:54-62) but he was repentant, and later restored by Jesus (John 21:15-17). There is a way back from sin: Peter chose to take it because he trusted God's Word (Psalm 130:4). Peter had learned from Jesus that God still speaks powerfully through the Scriptures. Many times, Christ used ancient texts to proclaim God's Word in a contemporary situation. For example, Jesus quoted from Isaiah 56:7 and Jeremiah 7:11 to condemn the commercial trading of sacrifices in the temple in Matthew 21:12-13.

So Peter applied that principle to the apostasy of Judas. Two statements from the Psalms came to his mind (Psalm 69:25 and Psalm 109:7-8). Those verses speak about false friends who ally themselves with wicked people to oppose God's servant. Peter remembered Jesus had said that twelve apostles would be leaders of the church (Matthew 19:28) and believed that God had spoken to him about Judas through those Psalms. And so Peter proposed that the remaining apostles, and a large group of believers, should agree to appoint a replacement apostle (Acts 1:21-26).

God still speaks through the Scriptures. He alerts our hearts as we read the Bible, connecting our current circumstances and attitudes to what has been written. Unlike Peter, we do not have Jesus' physical words to compare with the Bible; but we have the Holy Spirit, who is the Spirit of Truth, to help us to understand what is true (John 16:13). The Holy Spirit uses God's written Word to shine His light on our situation, so that we know we can keep in step with Him (Galatians 5:25). We trust that you have already experienced that in your personal life, home, church and workplace. Indeed, every time you read the Bible you should expect Him to speak to you. So listen to His Word today and apply it to your life.

God of truth. Thank You for speaking to me through Your written Word, and alerting me to its personal significance by Your Holy Spirit. I repent of the times I have failed to read the Bible or refused to listen to what You have been saying, and so fallen into sin. Thank You for Your amazing forgiveness which gives me fresh hope for the future. Help me to keep in step with You so that I will know what is true and work wholeheartedly with You. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams