Doing what we’ve always done

Our tendency is to do what we’ve always done. Call it habit, or a rut, or tradition, or whatever; by itself it is a powerful and problematic motivation. The persecuted Christians who left Jerusalem (see Acts 8:1) took the gospel offshore to Cyprus, to the coastal region north of Galilee (Phoenicia), and to one of the three most populace cities of the entire empire (Antioch; v. 19). These are not Jewish dominated locales as was the place they had fled. Still, “they were speaking the word to no one but Jews” (v. 19). It’s not difficult to understand why. But, the fact that this is all they had ever done was not only insufficient reason to continue in the same way, in this case it was contrary to God’s plan. Our tendencies, if we’re not careful, can put us at odds with God. — Wrong Tendencies | i read the word

David Deffenbaugh has a good thought today that challenges ungodly ruts.

#book-of-acts, #evangelism

Acts 2.40 in verse

From a Very Ancient Blog:

http://random.antville.org/stories/48256/

Somebody wrote the entire NT, I think, in verse. That’s a bit much for me.

#book-of-acts, #christian-poetry

Conversion of Saul

Go ye means go me!! Because the church was in its infancy in the first century record of conversions in the book of Acts, some have occasionally had difficulty drawing 20th C. principles from the 1st C. events. Today, let’s consider one of the better known conversions and some things it may teach us. Our text is Acts 9:1-20 and Acts 22:1-16.

· Sometimes, those who seem to be bitter enemies of the truth can become faithful workers for God. Let’s be sure to give everyone the chance to study, for we do not know who will listen and who will not.

· Events in life can change a closed heart into an open heart. Saul’s event was his miraculous encounter with the Lord on the road to Damascus. For many today, birth, death of loved ones, job changes, serious illness might be the catalyst that opens a heart. Or, something as simple as a kindness given (Matthew 5:16) might open a heart. For others, the life changing event might be nothing more than a request from you for them to study. Let’s be aware, when we can, of things going on in the lives of friends, neighbors and family.

· Like every other person on earth, Saul heard the truth from another man (Acts 9:6). Whether we are reading the words of the apostles and writers of the N.T. or hearing those words through another person speaking, it will always be true that faith comes by hearing the word of God (Romans 10:17; John 6:45). This, brothers and sisters, is our strong motivation for “going.”

· Despite good intentions for God (Acts 23:1; cf. Matthew 7:21-23), despite days of prayer (Acts 9:9-11), despite undeniable faith that he had met the Lord, Saul was not saved until he was baptized (Acts 22:11). Many are leaning in the direction that minimizes the importance of baptism, but the Bible is the standard that teaches we come into Christ and have our sins washed away in the obedient act of baptism (Gal. 3:26-27; Col. 2:11-12; Romans 6:3-4).

· The newly saved can be the new teachers of the word of salvation (Acts 9:19-20). Let us all immediately begin sharing the truth with folks we know.

#book-of-acts, #conversion-of-saul, #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

The Healing of the Lame Man and Its Results (Acts 3:1-26)

The Healing Itself.  Acts 3:1-4

Peter and John, as it was their custom, were traveling to the Temple. They would enter through the vast Court of the Gentiles through the gate that was called Beautiful. It was the ninth hour, that is, 3:00p.m. It was the hour of prayer associated with the evening sacrifice.  The scriptural background for this practice is found in Exodus 29:38-41; Psalm 55:17 and Daniel 6:10

The lame man they came in contact with was well known to the multitudes who came to the Temple.  We’re told that he was 40 years old and that everyday he was brought to the same spot. It was advantageous to be in such a good spot as many people  entering the Temple to worship had to pass him by giving him the opportunity to ask of them alms.

It was at this time that Peter and John arrive on the scene. The lame man asked of them alms. They said, “Look at us.” I’m sure he expected them too give him alms.

But we find out that Peter and John had nothing to give of monetary value. In the Name and authority of Jesus the lame man was healed.  He could now walk. He had never walked before, but now was doing it like he had done it all his life.

He went into the Temple with Peter and John, all the time leaping and praising The Lord for the miracle he had experienced.

In verse 9, we are told that the people in the Temple were aware of the change that had occurred. They said, “isn’t he the one who used to beg alms at the Beautiful Gate?  What’s happened to him?” The multitudes gathered together at the Portico of Solomon. It ran the length of the east side of the outer court of the Temple.

The Second Gospel Message. Acts 3:12-26

Seeing the people gathered together, wondering what had happened, gave Peter the opportunity to preach to them.  He told them that he and John had not, of their own power, healed the lame man.

In verse 13, they referred to the God f Israel and declared that He performed a miracle when He had glorified Jesus Christ.  He reminded them that they were the ones who had brought Jesus before Pontus Pilate.  They were the ones, when Pilate sought to release him, called for his life.  Verse 14 says that the Jews rejected their Messiah in favor of a murderer.

In Verse 15 Peter tells them hat although they crucified the Christ of God, the Father raised Him from the dead. The grave could not hold Him. He had conquered death itself. The apostles stressed the fact that they were witnesses to the glorious resurrection f Jesus Christ. He told them that it was by the authority f the Risen Savior that they were able to heal the lame man.

In verse 17 he says that although they and their rulers acted in ignorance, they should have known that Jesus was the promised Messiah. Although they had acted n ignorance, God would not overlook the ignorance.

In verse 18 he tells them that the Word of God prophesied that the Messiah would have to suffer.  An example is found in Isaiah 53. The Jews could not see how Jesus could be the Lion of Judah and still be a suffering Messiah.

In verse 19 Peter give the Jews present a chance to repent of their sins and accept Jesus as the promised Messiah.     Verse 21 tells us that Jesus must remain in Heaven until the times of the restoration.

Verse 22 tells us that Jesus incorporated the Old Testament concept of a Redeemer. He was both Prophet and Messiah. If one does not heed the words of Jesus, that one is lost.

Peter informs the crowd that the prophets from Samuel on spoke of these days and witnessed  to the fact that the Messiah would come. In verse 25 Peter says that Jesus fulfilled the prophecy of Genesis 22:18.

The chapter ends with Peter telling them that it was God who raised Jesus from the dead to bless the  world. One fact that can be  learned from this  chapter is that God wants everyone to repent and  acknowledge His Son as  Lord.

In preparation for the next lesson, read the 4th chapter of Acts. The lesson will be titled “Why The Early Church Grew.”

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

Studies In the Book of Acts: “The Birthday of the Church of Christ” (Acts 2)

The Coming of the  Promised Holy Spirit: Acts 2:1-4

What was the  importance of the Day of Pentecost? Warren Weirsbe, gives us this account:

         The Feast of Pentecost took place fifty  days after the Feast of First Fruits. (The word Pentecost means fiftieth.) It is outlined in Lev. 23:15-21. Just as Passover is a picture of the death of Jesus (1 Cor 5:7), and First fruits a  picture of the resurrection of Jesus (1 Cor. 15;20-23), so Pentecost pictures the coming of the Holy  Spirit (1 Cor. 12:13). The loaves of bread with leaven were presented that day, a picture of the  Church composed of Jews and Gentiles (In 1 Cor. 10:17 the  Church  pictured as a loaf of bread). The leaven in the bread speaks of sin yet in the Church. Actually there are  two occurrences of the  Spirit’s baptism in  Acts: upon the Jews in Acts 2, and upon the  Gentiles in Acts 10. This illustrates the  two loaves presented at Pentecost by the priests.”

The events that took place that day were a fulfillment of Matthew 16:18. There is one interesting  fact that should be  noted here. No where in Acts 2 does it say, point blank, the Church of Christ began on the  Day of Pentecost. We find the  inference in Acts 11:5.

It is this  writer’s conviction that only the  Twelve were present on that  day. In the  original text there were no chapter or verse  breaks. Here is  Acts 1:26 followed by Acts 2:1. Read them as if there were no chapter breaks.  “And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles. When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place.” It  tells us that Matthias was numbered  with the eleven. In the next  verse they were all together. Who were  the  “They?” It refers to the Matthias  being  numbered with the  eleven. Only the  Twelve Apostles were present on Pentecost. Jesus, before  His ascension, in Acts 1:8, had  told them that they  would receive the Holy Spirit. This as  the  Baptism of the Holy Spirit and not the Gift of the Holy Spirit that  is  promised  to all believers in verse 38.

As the  events in  chapter 2 transpired, they were still in the upper room. In all probability they  left the  upper room in verse 3. The Bible states that God sent  from Heaven a sound like a mighty wind. This is  how Dr. Luke describes it. It tells us that the  tongues of fire appeared over each of the twelve. In the next  verse they received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. What Jesus had  promised had come  to fruition. This  event only took place twice in the New Testament; here in Acts 2 and also in Acts 10. There are no instances of this  baptism anywhere else in the New Covenant  scriptures. All believers are promised the Gift of the Holy Spirit (verse 38-39), but we are  not  promised or  told to seek after the  Baptism of the Holy Spirit.

It is important that we realize that they were speaking and praising God in known languages. This was  not  undecipherable gibberish. They were  speaking (or at least the  hearers were hearing them in their own languages) in the well known  languages of the  day.

They  Heard The Apostles In Their Own Languages  (Acts 2:5-13)

Why were there so many  different  nationalities assembled in Jerusalem? There is a simple answer; they were there to celebrate the Feast of Pentecost. The Jewish religion had gained converts from all over the known world. The sound like a mighty wind probably brought the multitudes together. How big was the number? There were at least 3,000 because that many became Christians.  Those assembled could not understands how they were hearing the Twelve in their own language. They were very perplexed. The Galileans were not known for their proficiency in speech. They had like, our Southern neighbors, a distinct accent. The Bible tells us they were still confused. They realized that something was happening but could not fathom the importance. In Acts 1:9-11 we have a listing of the people’s and languages represented on Pentecost

“Parthians and Medes and Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya around Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes. Cretans and Arabs, we hear them in our own tongues speaking of the mighty deeds of God.”

Verse  12 shows us that the multitudes were still at a loss for what was transporting. In verse 13 some said they were drunk.

The First Gospel Message (Acts 2:14-36)

We find Peter acting as the spokesman for the Twelve. Less than two months earlier it was he who denied his Lord. Here we find him possessing blondness and ready to stand up and proclaim that Jesus Christ the only hope of the world. Peter tells them  that they were not drunk as it was only the third hour, they is, 9:00 a.m. On feast days the Jews neither ate or drank until 10:00 a.m.  or 12:00 p.m.

In verses 16-21, Peter relates that the events transporting we’re prophesied by Joel in Joel 2:28-31.     In verses 22-36, he gives them a review of the life and times of Jesus. He says that Jesus proved Himself to be the Messiah by the working of miracles among the people. He also brings out the fact that all Jesus said and did was in the eternal plan of God.  Jesus saw us in our sinful condition and loved us so much that He was willing to come to earth to die that we might be redeemed (Rom. 5:8). He died on the cruel cross of Calvary, was buried and arose on the third day according to the scriptures.

Peter then quotes from Psalm 110:1. This passage refers to the present ministry of the Lord Jesus, that of sitting at the right hand of the Father.

The Results of Gospel Preaching.  (Acts 2:37-47)

Peter got to the main point of his message in verse 36. He informed them that they had killed the Christ of God, as Luke refers to Jesus in the account of the good confession in Luke 9:20. The One that they had killed, God raised up to conquer death. This was a strong charge, but a true one.  Perhaps some of the people assembled were present when Jesus was brought out by Pilate and called on him to execute Jesus.

These people were now ready to make a complete reversal in their lives. Just weeks ago, they rejected the Messiah, now they were willing to put their trust in Him.  They had been convinced by the overwhelming  evidence that the apostles presented.  Because they were convinced of His resurrection they were willing to accept Him as Lord of their lives.

They had recognized their sins and wanted to know if there was any way to remedy the dark deed that they had done. They wanted to know if their was anyway they could turn to Jesus. They wanted to know if their sins could be forgiven. Next we have the question of the ages: “What shall we do?” They had come the place where they were willing to put their trust in Jesus as Lord of their lives.  They believed that He was the Christ, the Son of the Living God. In verse 38, Peter gave the answer that should be given today to a lost and dying world: “Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the Name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

         We want to break down the different  phrases of the passage. Repentance  meant a complete reversal in their lives. We  must be  willing to live for Him who died  for us. In Galatians 3:26-27, Paul says that  all who are in Christ have been baptized. In the Name of Jesus Christ means by  His  authority. For the forgiveness of sins:  Jesus  promises that He will forget your  past  sins; He  promises you a  new life. The Gift  of the Holy Spirit: All who are baptized into Christ are  promised the Gift of the Holy Spirit. It is given at the time of the  new birth. The Holy Spirit enables us to live the Christian life. In verse 40 the Gift of the Holy  Spirit is promised to all who accept God’s saving grace and seek to obey His commandments.

Peter continued teaching the   people. The   record tells  us that on that  day 3,000 souls were added to the  Church of Christ, being baptized into Christ for the  remission of their sins.

Verse 42 gives us some of things the early  church shared in.

  • They devoted themselves to the Apostles teaching. The  3,000 continued to learn from the  apostles the things  God wanted them to hear. The  Apostles were expounding the Word of God to eager converts.
  • Fellowship. Christian  fellowship is wonderful. Christian fellowship is sharing the  common life.  J. W. McGarvey gives this  account     “For the purpose of being taught by the apostles, they must have assembled together, and this was the occasion for manifesting their fellowship, which term expresses their common participation in religious privileges. It has been urged by some writers, that the term koinonia should here be rendered contribution, instead of fellowship, and that it refers to contributions which were regularly made in the public assemblies, for the poor. That the term is used in this limited sense in at least two places in the New Testament, must be admitted, viz.: in Romans 15:26, “It hath pleased them of Macedonia to make a certain contribution for the poor of the saints in Jerusalem;” and in 2 Corinthians 9:13, where Paul says the saints “glorify God for your liberal contribution to them and to all men.” But such is not, by any means, its common usage. It usually occurs in such connections as the following: “You were called into the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ.” [1 Corinthians 1:9.] “The favor of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you.” [2 Corinthians 13:14.] “And truly our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.” [1 John 1:3.] “We have fellowship with one another.” [1:7.]”
  • The early church practiced the observance of the Lord’s Supper on the first day of the  week (Acts 20:7).
  • They were a praying  church; they believed in the power of prayer.

The Apostles were continually performing wonders and  confirming their office  by these  signs. Verse 45-46 do not  teach “spiritual communism,” as  some teach. The pilgrims  that were converted on Pentecost, at least  some of them, we  believe, stayed on  to be further taught the Word of God.  The  Christians in Jerusalem undoubtedly  helped them with lodging and  good. Communism says “what  is yours is mine.” Christianity says “What  is mine is yours.” There is a vast  difference.

The early  Jewish Christians  still went to the Temple. They were now complete  Jews. But they were also followers of Jesus Christ. They met on the  first day of the week  to break bread in  commemoration of His death, looking forward to His return. The  record  tells us there were  souls added each day. The  early church experienced phenomenal growth. May we  seek to preach the Gospel to the lost, expecting God to bring forth the  increase.

Next lesson will come from chapter 3. The  lesson will be titled “The Healing of the Lame Man and It’s Results.”

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

Never Doubt the Kind of Influence You Can Have

When Paul was on the ship on the way to Rome in Acts 27 he had to sail through rough waters to say the least. Being packed in with 275 passengers on one boat that had  no plumbing facilities, facing a “Northeaster”and having very little food to survive on would be extreme enough, but one grave danger still lay ahead in the journey.

Just before reaching the shore the soldiers decided it was best (for them) to kill the prisoners instead of taking any chance that they might escape after hitting the beach. Kill the prisoners? But that would include Paul!!! That’s right. What would Paul do? The truth is, Paul couldn’t do anything but what he had already done in the past with his influence. Since boarding that boat Paul managed to get in the “good graces” of the centurion who was in charge.

In the beginning of the chapter Paul warned the crew not to sail, but the centurion listened to the those who were more concerned with meeting a dead line and making a buck or two instead of listening to this warning of grave danger. Who can hardly blame him though. This wouldn’t have been the first time this centurion would have heard some kind of plea! But toward the end of the chapter things changed dramatically. Before it was all said and done, Paul had gained more than a guard in charge of his chains – he gained a body-guard personally bent on protecting him!

Who says the way we live, worship, talk and care for others doesn’t have an effect? It sure had one on a gruff and tough soldier, and it still can today. I don’t know if Julius the centurion ever became a Christian, but I bet he never forgot about the one that he was in charge of on that boat!

Remember that your influence can put you in the “good graces” of others, and hopefully lead them to the most wonder grace ever imagined – Jesus!

And the soldiers’ plan was to kill the prisoners, lest any of them should swim away and escape. But the centurion, wanting to save Paul, kept them from their purpose,…” (Acts 27:42-43 – NKJV)

#apostle-paul, #book-of-acts, #faith, #influence