For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep and was laid with his fathers and saw corruption, 37 but he whom God raised up did not see corruption. 38 Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, 39 and by him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses. 40 Beware, therefore, lest what is said in the Prophets should come about:
41 “‘Look, you scoffers,
be astounded and perish;
for I am doing a work in your days,
a work that you will not believe, even if one tells it to you.’”
42 As they went out, the people begged that these things might be told them the next Sabbath. 43 And after the meeting of the synagogue broke up, many Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who, as they spoke with them, urged them to continue in the grace of God. – Acts 13:36-43
Two men of God have provided me with context and perspective to theology and Christian living. One was a seminary professor – with whom I may not totally agree today, but who taught me how to think. He drilled into issues of Scripture and would not stand for pat answers or trite truisms. He helped me and other classmates mine deep truths from the Bible.
Another is currently serving as a District President in a district of the LCMS. His gift was helping cast questions in their proper light and framework. Issues were not only about right and wrong, but about how we come to right and wrong, and how we understand the right and wrong we believe.
Both of these men are men of God, gifted, faithful, gracious, and challenging. But neither – great as they were – were able to offer forgiveness of sins. Neither could construct a system of belief that could be perfectly applied or lived-out. Neither are the Savior.
A good friend of mine teaches at the St. Louis Seminary. He is known to tell the men in his class who are studying to be pastors, “Gentlemen, the world needs a Savior. And you are not him.” Indeed; even the best man in the world – political leader, church leader, pastor, teacher, problem-solver – cannot sustain all things forever. They will all one day fall asleep. They will all one day be laid in a tomb.
Jesus, however, did a work that we must not ignore, lest we are confounded and miss the blessing of God in Jesus. On this occasion a number of Jewish people followed Paul and Barnabas, seeking to embrace the grace of God more fully. That is a great example for all of us: Never must we substitute even the best of men for the Savior of God.