Hugh’s News & Views (Paul’s Speech . . .)

PAUL’S SPEECH TO THE EPHESIAN ELDERS

I have always considered the apostle Paul’s speech to the elders of the church in Ephesus (Acts 20:17-38) one of the most touching and moving speeches in all of the Bible. Obviously, it does not rank above our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5, 6, 7) or Peter’s sermon on Pentecost when the church was established (Acts 2) or Stephen’s sermon resulting in his martyrdom (Acts 7) or even Paul’s sermon on Mars Hill in Athens (Acts 17). Yet, for sheer pathos, to say nothing of its sobering content, few if any speeches in the New Testament would outrank Paul’s address to the Ephesian elders. Continue reading

#acts, #elders, #hughfulford

These Jews were more open minded than those…

“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” Ac 17.11 NET.

Comment on the verse, please.

#acts, #votd

Moving and speaking: Saul’s first trip back to Jerusalem after conversion

old-jerusalemAfter Saul is converted in the city of Damascus, Barnabas opens the doors for him into the fellowship of the Jerusalem church.

The disciples were wary of him, apparently not believing his conversion was genuine, but rather a ruse in order to find and arrest them.

And he was with them, moving about freely in Jerusalem, speaking out boldly in the name of the Lord,” Ac 9.28 NASB.

Here are some disparate thoughts on this verse.

What does Luke mean by the phrase, “moving about freely in Jerusalem”? Among the brethren? Or that he was already going to the Jews to preach the gospel? Continue reading

#acts, #apostle-paul, #jerusalem

The First Gospel Sermon (Mike Glenn)

This month the Joshua Generation characteristic encourages us all to be evangelistic. The slogan is “Go ye means go me.”

It is by the foolishness of preaching that God will save the world (1 Cor. 1:18-31). Therefore, I would like to turn our attention for this study to the first gospel sermon ever preached. Particularly, I would like for us to consider at least some of the preparation that made that first sermon possible.

To prepare us to make the application of the lesson, let’s you and I remember that we are “members one of another” (Eph. 4:25) and that we have “obtained like precious faith” with the apostles though they are long passed. What made the first gospel sermon possible? What made it necessary? Let’s take the second question first.

What made this first gospel sermon necessary? Simply, Adam, and every man and woman who has lived since then, has committed sin against God, others and self, thus bringing the penalty of eternal death and suffering upon all (Rom. 3:23, 5:5-18, 6:23). Paul would say that if one died for all, then all were dead (2 Cor. 5:14). No man has ever been able to find his own solution to sin or even to control of his passions and temptations (Jer. 10:23).

The second question is, “What made the first gospel sermon possible?”

The simple answer is, the love of God (John 3:16; Romans 5:6-8). It is the details bringing us to that first sermon that teaches us the value of our soul and of those around us.

First, the plan was formulated before the world began (Eph. 1:4). Then, it was some 4000 years in the preparation (Eph. 3:9) until the time was just right for our Lord to enter the earth (Galatians 4:4).

Also, there was THE CHOICE. I am talking about the Lord’s choice to give up equality with God to come and to die (Phil. 2:5-8; John 10:17-18). There was also the process of training 12 men of human failings, emotions and intellect (consider Peter, Thomas, Judas) to preach, defend and live by the eternal message they were to carry to the masses and to the individuals. Continue reading

#acts, #gospel, #gospel-sermon

Good communication does not always bring the desired result

3-5 Paul Before Felix

There is only one verse and one point that I want to consider for our study tonight. These thoughts are particular addressed to the many folks on this list who are trying to take the gospel to their family, friends and neighbors. The verse is Acts 24:25. This is the statement of both the effort Paul made to communicate the gospel to Felix and the results of that effort.

The point that I want to make is this: Good communication does not always bring the desired result. Paul presented the gospel so well in this audience before Felix that Felix felt its power and trembled at the fear of the judgment to come. Yet, he was not moved to obey the gospel. Sometimes Christians become dissatisfied with themselves because they believe that if they had said just the right thing, if they had communicated the truth in a better way, the person with whom they are working would have obeyed.

It is true that some people are better communicators than others. Some have a personality which others feel compelling. However, no one who has communicated the truth in love has failed in their communication. The power of the gospel teacher does not lie in the wisdom of words (1 Cor. 1:17) nor in the persuasive power of enticing words (1 Cor. 2:4). Paul obviously effectively communicated the gospel to Felix. But Felix did not allow the power of the gospel’s words to work in convicting him. The failure was his, and later, Festus’ and later, Agrippa’s.

When it comes to communicating the gospel, we want to do our best. And then we want to leave the increase to the power of God.

—Mike Glenn

#acts, #communication, #evangelism

Trouble From Within and Without (Acts 5)

The Case of Ananias and Sapphira. Acts 5:1-11

 We’re told that Ananias and Sapphira sold their property and gave the proceeds to the apostles. But there was one difference in this case that was not present in the account of Barnabas. They sold the property for a certain amount and then tried to deceive the apostles by only giving a portion of the amount received.  It was their money to use as they saw fit.  There Watson sin in keeping back a portion of the proceeds. The sin came when they tried to deceive. The sin was in lying to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is God. Peter tells us that it was Satan who. Filled Ananias’s heart. Peter had foreknowledge of this sin.

Verse 4 tells us that the practice of selling ones land and giving the proceeds to the church was voluntary.  After Peter had told Ananias that he had not lied to man but unto God, he fell dead on the spot.  We’re told that he was buried the same hour. Three hours later Sapphira came on the scene. Peter asked her if the price that Ananias had mentioned was the full amount received for the sale of the land. After she answered in the affirmative, she too was struck dead on the spot for lying to the Holy Spirit.

There is a questioned that needs to be considered.  Were Ananias and Sapphira believers who sinned or were they hypocrites who never were saved?  If they were Christians, were they lost because of their sin? It would seem that at one time they were Christians who let Satan tempt them to lie to the Holy Spirit.  We’re not told the answer to the questions above in this text.

Trouble from Without-the Twelve Arrested. Acts 5:17-26

Again the persecution came from the High Priest and his Sadducean allies.  This time they put the Twelve in jail. During the night God performed a miracle. They were released by an angel who told them to go to the temple and teach the people the old, old story of Jesus and His love.

At daybreak the apostles entered the temple to teach the people.  When the Sanhedrin was called to order they sent word to have the Twelve  brought before them.  In verse 22-23 the officers found the cells locked, the guards at their posts, but when they opened the cell, no one was to be found.  The Captain of the Temple guard and the chief priests could not figure what had happened.  Then someone came and told them the Twelve were teaching in the temple.

The Captain if the Temple guard went to, personally arrest the apostles.  They brought them back peaceably to the Sanhedrin because they were afraid of the multitudes.

The Twelve on Trial. Acts 5:27-40

The High Priest, who was a member of the Sadducees, presided  over the Sanhedrin. He wanted  to know why the  apostles had defied his order not to speak about Jesus. He was  also upset that the  apostles were putting the blame for the  death of Jesus on the  Council. The  apostles told him that they must  obey God rather than men. The Bible teaches  that when there is a conflict between God’s law and man’s laws, God’s must take precedence.

The  apostles take the opportunity  to testify of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The  Sanhedrin was told that it was  “the God of our fathers” who raised Jesus from the depths of the  grave. The Lord Jesus Christ is the Author of our  salvation. (Heb. 12:2)

Again the Twelve testify of the  resurrection of Jesus, of which, they were witnesses. They  preached the same message. It is in this passage that the Word of God tells us that God gives the Holy Spirit to all who obey. This was  more than the  Sanhedrin could take. The High Priest and  his allies were ready to condemn the Twelve to death.

In verse 24 the apostles  found, somewhat of an  unlikely ally in the person of the Pharisee, Gamaliel.  This was not to say that he was on their side, but he seemed to be willing to let  God judge the movement.

What are some of the facts  about this man? He was a Pharisee, a teacher of the Law and was  respected by the  people. He was also the teacher of Saul of Tarsus, who later become Paul the Apostle. He ordered  the  Twelve out of the Council chambers while they decided what to do with them

In verse 35 he warns the  Sanhedrin not to act in haste. In verse 36-37 he reminds them of  two others who led  revolts or claimed to be the Messiah or  advocated new movements. He  reminds them that the  actions of these men were not  rooted in God. They were killed and their followers scattered. It was only a  passing fad. In verse 38 Gamaliel tells them that if Christianity is from men it will pass away. But if it is from God it will endure and we will be  found fighting against God Himself.

Verse 40 tells us they ordered the apostles  to be brought back into the  room. They beat them and again ordered them not to teach and preach in the  Name of Jesus. Then they released them.

The Twelve Released. Acts 5:41-42

The  record tells us that the  Twelve went away from the  Council rejoicing in the fact that they had been worthy to suffer for Jesus’ sake. Verse 42 informs us that everyday they continued to uphold the  Name of Jesus and preached His resurrection to the people.

Please read the 6th chapter of Acts in preparation for our next  study. Some have said that the first church election is  in this  chapter. The lesson  will be title “The Choosing of Fellow Workers.”

#acts, #book-of-acts, #studies-in-acts

Why The Early Church Grew (Acts 4:1-37)

The  Persecution: Acts 4:1-7

Verse 1 tells us that first persecution the early church experienced came from the Sadducees. This was not unusual because they did not believe in the resurrection from the dead. It was the resurrection of Jesus Christ that the Apostles were proclaiming to the people that day.

The Captain of the temple guard is mentioned in this passage; he was second in command on temple grounds to the High Priest. Rome allowed the Jews to police the Temple grounds. We would like to give you a comparison of the beliefs of the Pharisees and Sadducees. Irving Jensen, gives us this account:

Pharisees

Sadducees

Name meant “the separated ones.” Name may come from zaddikum “the righteous ones.”
Largest and most influential sect. Second to Pharisees in prominence -majority power in the Council at this time, the aristocratic minority, educated and wealthy class.
Extreme legalism External legalism
Little interest in politics Major concern was politics.
Operated principally in the synagogues. Operated principally in the Temple. 
Held these doctrines: immortality, resurrection, spirits and angels. Denied: immortality, resurrection, spirits and angels.
Regarded rabbinic tradition highly. Accepted as authoritative only the written Old Testament.

In verse 2 we read of the opposition by the Sadducees concerning the resurrection from the dead. They had Peter and John put in jail for the night. Their reasoning: the Mosaic Law forbade night trials. This was conveniently disregarded in the case of Jesus. Verse 4 tells us of 5,000 souls being added to the church.

The Sanhedrin convened the  next day. Some of the  ones  presiding over the procedures had been the same ones  who condemned Jesus. They wanted to know by what authority Peter and John healed the lame man.

Peter’s Defense: Acts 4:8-22

Peter, filled with the  Holy Spirit. Now  presents his defense. He says that they were on trial for doing good. In verse 10 he  says it was  by the  authority of Jesus Christ that this man was healed. He then refers to Psalm 118:22 where it says that the  Messiah would be  rejected. In verse 12 Peter emphasizes the fact that Jesus is the  hope of the  world. Jesus is the  Blessed Hope, as  Paul calls Him in Titus 2:13. Only  through Jesus can sinful mankind come to the Father. We think back to John 14:6 where it reads, I am the way, the truth, and the life.”

The Sanhedrin took note of the fact that these  men were unlearned. This  meant that they had  not  attended  or were trained in the rabbinic schools. They were not professional scholars. They also recognized them as  being with Jesus. The lame man stood with them, witness to the fact that a miracle had taken place. The Sanhedrin could not  deny that.

In verse 15 the Bible tells us that the Sanhedrin ordered the  apostles out of the chambers so they could  come to a decision. What shall they do with these men? They could not  deny that a  miracle had transpired. They decided to warn them never again to speak in the  Name  of Jesus. They brought  Peter and John back in and gave them the decision.

In verse  19-20 Peter tells them  that he and John can’t stop preaching. The  apostles had been commanded by the Risen Savior (Luke 24:48-49) to proclaim His resurrection and to teach about Him. We are told that they set them  free and that the  lame man’s age was  40.

The Early Church Was A Praying Church: Acts 4:23-31

After their release the two apostles went back to the company of their companions. After relating the  events  of the trial to fellow-believers, they went to the Lord in prayer. First of all they acknowledged  the sovereign power of God. In verse 25 they quoted from Psalm 2. In verses 26-27 there is a  quote from Psalm 2:2. This  brings  out the  fact that responsibility for the death of Christ lay on both Jew and Gentile. Verse 28  tells us that all this was in  the eternal plan and purpose of God.

They did not  pray for the persecution to stop, but, rather prayed for the boldness to speak with  confidence amidst the  persecution.  While they spoke the Word, God confirmed the  Word  with miracles. Verse 31 relates that they were filled with the Holy Spirit. It is right and proper to pray for God’s Holy Spirit to fill us.

The Early Church Shared Their Possessions: Acts 4:32-37

The early Christians shared  what they had in common with each other. They said  what is mine is yours. In verse 33 the Twelve were continuing to proclaim the  power of the resurrection. Those  who owned  property would  sell it and give the  proceeds to the  apostles to distribute to the  needy.  That this was  voluntary, we will see in the  5th chapter of Acts.

In verse 36 we  see the  first  mention in  the  New Testament of Barnabus. He was  a Levite from the island  of Cyprus.  His name means “Son of Encouragement.” He  ownedsome land and sold it and gave the  proceeds to the  aposltes to be  used for feeding the  needy. This is  how the  4th chapter ends. If their was a need the  church met it; they helped their own.

There will be  an  additional article based on the  4th  chapter. It will be  called  “Five Reasons For  Chruch  Growth.” After that  article, we will continue  with Acts  5: “Trouble From Within and Without.”

#acts, #studies-in-acts