Ordered not to speak, Acts 4.18

“And they called them in and ordered them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.”

Acts 4.18

Peter and John angered the authorities for preaching Christ. They were imprisoned, but many believed. The church now numbered 5,000 men. Now they are ordered to be silent.

Society would silence the saints. Christ has ordered us to announce the Good News. We must decide. Silence is deadly—for the lost and for ourselves.

#votd #Acts #persecution

Be attuned to the Spirit’s ways

One blogger criticizes following a program to be the church:

Everyone loves to idealize the early church. Those were “the good old days.” Entire movements of the church, known as Restoration Movements, have attempted to cast aside all of church history and tradition  beyond what we have recorded in Scripture, in the interest of getting back to the “early church,” when it was all working. If we can just do what they did, the rationale goes, we will see what they saw.

What’s his solution?

As we move forward in reading the story of The Movement, let’s take care not to read too prescriptively, in search of  principles and such. Let us instead seek to attune ourselves to the person of the Holy Spirit and his nature, character, and ways of engaging with the human community. To be clear, the acts of the Apostles mattered. That’s just not what this story is about.

Oh, too prescriptively. Can we read it a little prescriptively? But wait, isn’t he searching for principles and offering us merely another set of them when he starts ought, “Let us instead …”? Indeed, he is! His problem is not with prescriptions, norms, or principles, but he wants us all to adopt his.

There’s the catch, isn’t it? How to be attuned to the Spirit and to his “ways of engaging with the human community”? Is it not through Scripture? Or are we to wait for some whisper in our ear from above? Or do we go pawing through church history (yours, ours, or theirs?) for those principles?

The Bible is exactly that, prescriptive. Otherwise, chunk it. Go with your hunches. Stick with your unholy-spirit induced beliefs. Find the Holy Spirit’s ways in animal entrails or emotional outbursts. Whatever tickles your fancy.

The writer throws out the baby with the bath water. The book of Acts is normative. It show us how it’s done and how it ought to be done. And why it’s done. And who makes it happen. We need the power and the prescription.

#Acts #restoration #normative

A prophet like me: Acts 7.37

“This is the Moses who said to the Israelites, ‘God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your brothers.’”

Acts 7.37

Stephen pointed the Jews to the very words of Moses, who spoke of Jesus. If they claimed to listen to the lawgiver, they should have welcomed the grace-bringer.

Prophecy ought to create and strengthen faith in God’s work. The Old Testament deserves much reading and study. Jesus is also present there. How is my Bible reading going?

#votd #Acts #prophecy

You will be told: Acts 9.6

“But stand up and enter the city and you will be told what you must do.”

Acts 9.6

Obedience is part of the gospel. Through the gospel God establishes a covenant. A covenant details God’s part and man’s part. Saul would have understood this instinctively.

After the establishment of the church, God, Jesus, nor the Holy Spirit never told anyone what to do to be saved. It was always left to those to whom the task had been given: the church.

#votd #Acts #obedience

They sent Peter and John: Acts 8.14

“Now when the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them.”

Acts 8.14

Some think Peter and John went to Samaria to keep things under their control. Better to consider that they went to provide support and encouragement.

Do I want to control or encourage? Biblical “sending” is for the gospel. For what purpose am I sending, or being sent?

#votd #Acts #sending

Saying farewell: Acts 20.1

“After the disturbance had ended, Paul sent for the disciples, and after encouraging them and saying farewell, he left to go to Macedonia.”

Acts 20.1

After surviving a mob in Ephesus, Paul moves on. His last act is to encourage the disciples and say goodbye. It is a deliberate act. Greetings and farewells were important acts in first-century faith.

Greetings and farewells (in Greek, the same word) are not perfunctory functions, but moment to “spend time in warm exchange” (BGAD). How are your skills in this area?

#votd #Acts #greetings #farewells

Severe famine about to come: Acts 11.28

“One of them, named Agabus, got up and predicted by the Spirit that a severe famine was about to come over the whole inhabited world. (This took place during the reign of Claudius.)”

Acts 11.28

Prophecy was inspired teaching and sometimes, as here, included revelation of future events. Even the latter served as a call to action. The Christians decided to send help, v. 29, and then did so, v. 30.

Barnabas was from Jerusalem. Perhaps through him it was revealed that the saints in Judeia would be especially affected. Prompt action was taken, before the famine hit, to benefit a specific set of people, and carried out according to a specific plan.

#votd #Acts #prophecy

Help us! Acts 16.9

“A vision appeared to Paul during the night: A Macedonian man was standing there urging him, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us!’”

Acts 16.9

God closed some doors to Paul and opened others. By this vision the Lord wanted his apostle to see the need in a new place.

We need no such miraculous visions today. The need is in the whole world, places that have yet to hear the gospel. It is good to be motivated by others’ need of salvation.

#votd #Acts #evangelism

I now truly understand: Acts 10.34-35

“Then Peter started speaking: ‘I now truly understand that God does not show favoritism in dealing with people, but in every nation the person who fears him and does what is right is welcomed before him.'”

Acts 10.34-35

Peter finally began to get the idea of what God desired as he stood before Cornelius and his family. He speaks of Christ, vv. 37-43, but he begins by what God wants from us in order to draw near to him.

Never hesitate to put what God requires of man up front in your message to others. It’s as much a part of the gospel as the death of Christ. Make redemption clear, by sharing God’s part and man’s as well.

#votd #Acts #obedience #fear

Do not be silent: Acts 18.9-10

“The Lord said to Paul by a vision in the night, ‘Do not be afraid, but speak and do not be silent, because I am with you, and no one will assault you to harm you, because I have many people in this city.'”

Acts 18.9-10

Many people had already been immersed in Corinth, and opposition was fierce. The door of opportunity, however, was still open. People were receptive. Paul should continue to proclaim the gospel. The Lord foresaw still more conversions.

We do not have today visions from the Lord about a city’s receptivity. We do have his mission. “… when God gives a man his task to do, he also gives him the power to do it. In the presence of God Paul found his courage and his strength” (Wm. Barclay).

#votd #Acts #mission

More open-minded: Acts 17.11

“These Jews were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they eagerly received the message, examining the scriptures carefully every day to see if these things were so.”

Acts 17.11

“Open-minded” translates the word for “noble.” This nobility showed itself in willingness to learn and to consider the message, and compare it with what Scripture says.

The Bereans are properly used as a good example of what we should do today. Open-mindedness is not accepting everything that is said, but a critical ear that weighs all against the Word.

#votd #Acts #study

Increasing in number: Acts 16.5

“So the churches were being strengthened in the faith and were increasing in number every day.”

Acts 16.5

The book of Acts contains several growth summaries, like this one. News of the Jerusalem letter about freedom from the law — the pure gospel — contributed to the church’s growth.

How may our congregations grow? By freedom from all additions to the gospel, for one. What additions have we acquired?

#votd #Acts #church-growth

Repent, be immersed: Acts 2.38

“Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and each one of you be immersed in the name of Jesus Christ in order to have your sins forgiven, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.'”

Acts 2.38 TGOG

The terms of salvation given in the first gospel sermon, in order to establish the church as Jesus had promised, are clear. Jesus was preached, salvation was offered, and the conditions to receive it were a part of the message.

Forgiveness comes upon being immersed, not before. This is an essential understanding of the act. Have you obeyed the gospel this way?

#votd #Acts #immersion

You will be told: Acts 9.6

“But stand up and enter the city and you will be told what you must do.”

Acts 9.6

Saul saw the Lord Jesus on his way to persecute Christians in Damascus. He asked what he should do. The Lord told him. To do for what purpose? To be saved.

Saul was not saved on the road to Damascus. He was saved in Damascus after he heard what to do to be saved. He was immersed in water and his sins were washed away, Acts 22.16.

#votd #Acts #baptism #salvation

He assisted greatly those who believed: Acts 18.27-28

“When [Apollos] arrived, he assisted greatly those who had believed by grace, for he refuted the Jews vigorously in public debate, demonstrating from the scriptures that the Christ was Jesus.”

Acts 18.27-28

In Achaia Apollos defended the gospel among the Jews. This greatly helped the saints, because he aided them in their mission and strengthened their faith. “For” identifies his preaching as the means of his assistance.

Evangelism benefits the whole church. It is central to her identity and edifies all in every way. The best one can do for the church is to teach others how to be saved.

#votd #Acts #evangelism