The Pattern Of The Sending Church

The Pattern Of A Sending Church

Text Acts 13

We find as we get further into the Book of Acts that the “Gospel” is finally moving. It is easy to say that the Church at Jerusalem was holding things up but we cannot blame anything on a building nor entirely on a group of people until we accept the blame on ourselves also.

We should all ask ourselves “are we being obedient to God’s command”?

The “key” to the Book of Acts is still Acts 1:8:

Act 1:8  But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

This command given by Jesus was not to a building or a gathering  place called a church, BUT to each individual that has accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as their personal Savior!

It was to begin in Jerusalem then all Judea, on to Samaria, and then to the uttermost places of this entire globe we live on, called Earth.

We will see that the Body of Christ that was located and that gathered at a place at Antioch of Syria, finally understood, “with the help of the Holy Ghost”, what God meant about spreading the “Gospel”!

What we may not realize it but at this time but Antioch of Syria was one of the largest cites of the known world. It’s population was near that of Rome and even Alexandria of Egypt.

Though the title missionary is not found in the Bible it is clearly understood and “it can be said”, that at Antioch missionaries were sent out, sponsored, and supported by a group of believers in a local church.

Those that had gone out from Jerusalem had done so, because of persecution!

We can also see that the church at Jerusalem was not considered to be a home church but that all houses of God are on the same level of equality!

This group of believers in Antioch of Syria. gladly accepted the task of sending God’s Word out to the world!

This is the same task that every group of believers have, no matter their location, on this Earth!

Let’s begin:

*****Act 13:1  Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.

We should notice immediately that the church at Antioch, is a “whosoever” church.

We have Barnabas from Cyrus.

We have Simeon who was a black man but also a teacher in the early church.

We have, Lucius from Cyrene, who is listed in the Book of Romans as a kinsman to the Apostle Paul. This could mean that he was of the tribe of Benjamin or possibly some closer kin.

We have Manaen who had been in the company that traveled with Herod Antipas who was  the governor assigned by Rome and who had beheaded John the Baptist.

And not the least of them but we also have Saul, already at this time considered at least a teacher of the “Gospel” of Jesus Christ.

*****Act 13:2  As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, “the Holy Ghost said”, “Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them”.

Notice, these men were already busy.  They were already serving the Lord and committed to His Word at this time!

They were committed to fasting and prayer!

We don’t hear a whole lot about fasting in the modern church but maybe we should!

Fasting is giving something up for the Lord! It is more than just missing a meal, though nourishment is the means for this flesh we live in, to live.

Jesus said:

Luk 4:4  And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.

Jesus sent the devil packing with these words, SO, we we can certainly send the devil packing by fasting along with our prayers!

Satan hates to see anyone give up anything for the Lord, because he used to get all that affection when we were all out in the world with him.

1Co 6:11  “And such were some of you”: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

It is only when we are already busy about the work that the Lord has given us to do, that the Holy Spirit will come calling for His special work.

When we just sit around waiting on something from the Holy Spirit, our wait will be long and He will not be forthcoming unless in chastisement!

The Holy Spirit calls people who have proved themselves to be in God’s Army by being on the front lines!

We can also see that there was no guessing as to what the Holy Spirit was saying. The Holy Spirit had already been working on Paul and Barnabas for the work He was calling them to do!

*****Act 13:3  And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.

The Holy Spirit is very clear when He calls, but we should still pray and fast to get His latest instructions!

Paul and Barnabas knew what they were to do, but the entire “Body of Christ” must also get involved!

When the church sent them out for God’s work, “they knew they would have to provide as much as they could for them”.

The first thing they needed was prayer but they would also need to meet their physical needs!

“To be sent” also means to carry the message of the “Gospel” of Jesus Christ!

“To be sent” also means that there would be some accounting of these men that were sent.

“To be sent” also means that there would be some accounting of those that sent them!

This whole church at Antioch, was behind this action and not just Saul and Barnabas!

You know we have two men, Nathan Sears and Scott Davis, that were sent out from our church that we totally support but sometimes that support is not enough because we get lax in giving for them.

*****Act 13:4  So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus.
Act 13:5  And when they were at Salamis, they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews: and they had also John to their minister.

Seleucia was the seaport of Antioch but it was about 15 miles from the city limits.

Cyprus is an island and it was the native land of Barnabas.

Salamis was on the eastern coast of Cyprus and the chief city of Cyprus at that time.

Cyprus was about 130 miles by sailing ship from Seleucia.

We might not understand all we need to know about John Mark at this time but what we do know is that he was probably an eyewitness to the death, burial, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

SO, His information to Paul would be firsthand, eyewitness information.

Cyprus was a good choice because it was the native land of Barnabas and also of Manaen.

AND, we can also know that the Holy Spirit would have already been working in Cyprus.

There were many Jewish synagogues located there, because Rome did allow freedom of religion for many years, at least until Christianity began to grow and spread!

In a lot of cases, without those “certain” Jews from Jerusalem causing problems, these synagogues welcomed Paul and this also gave he and Barnabas access to the Gentile population!

Skip down to verse 26

*****Act 13:26  Men and brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, and whosoever among you feareth God, to you is the word of this salvation sent.

It is best to keep in mind though we call these missionary journeys of Paul and Barnabas they were much more than hasty dashes from one city to the next.

When the Apostle Paul entered a city he established a foundation for a local church. He only moved to another city when he came under pressure from the local authorities or by the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Barnabas was with Paul throughout this entire first journey, BUT John Mark had departed when Paul and Barnabas left Cyprus.

This first journey had begun with success, but there was some unexpected trouble from a sorcerer. These men were just magicians as we have in our day but these men were counted as “wise men” in most cultures of this time.

What did God say?

Pro 26:12  Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him.

We may not know why John Mark departed from them but the Apostle Paul was not impressed much with him at this time.

AND, Mark did not return to Antioch of Syria but went back home to his mother in Jerusalem.

Paul later changes his mind about Mark and he makes that clear in his epistles.

At the time of this verse Paul and Barnabas had arrived in Antioch of Pisidia which is an entirely different place than Antioch of Syria.

Paul would usually try to to begin his ministry in the local synagogue, if one was available.

Paul had a never ending burden for his people and he usually always found at least some of them that were ready to hear the Word of God.

*****Act 13:29  And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulchre.
Act 13:30  But God raised him from the dead:

Paul presented the ministry of Jesus as the fulfillment of prophecy that it was!

Paul used the same Old Testament scriptures that these people had a copy of, and preached Jesus to them.

Paul appealed for them to avoid the error that Jerusalem had made, by rejecting Christ Jesus.

But Paul emphasized to all of them, that those in power at Jerusalem had done all these things, BUT “God had raised Jesus from the dead” which was the fulfillment of prophecy of the Messiah!

Jesus’ life as a man in the flesh was taken away from Him and He certainly died!

Jesus was taken off that cross as a dead man!

Jesus was buried as a dead man!

And even in death the flesh of Jesus was not allowed to see sin! He was only in that grave for 3 days and not 4!

But as God, “He could not be held in a man’s grave”, because God the Father raised Him from the dead by the Power of the Holy Spirit!

The Bible says:

Psa 16:10  For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

And:

Act 2:24  Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.

You see God had also promised that “He would swallow up death in victory”! (Isa 25:8)

God had also said that His redeemed, would live together with the dead body of Jesus which did rise from the dead. (Isa 26:19)

And Job said:

Job 19:26  And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God:
Job 19:27  Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.

This is the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

*****Act 13:31  And he was seen many days of them which came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are his witnesses unto the people.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ “was the great proof” of His being the true Son of God with power!

The resurrection “was the fulfillment” of all that was written about Him.

The resurrection “was His confirmation” that the Bible is the true Word of God and cannot be denied!

*****Act 13:32  And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers,
Act 13:33  God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, {Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee}.

We should see that the prophecy of the second Psalm (2:7) is specific when it says that Jesus was “begotten” at His resurrection and not at His birth!

This term is used 15 times in the New Testament and can also be used to describe the “Rapture” of the Church!

1Jn 5:1  Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him “that begat” loveth him also that “is begotten of him”.

And the Apostle Peter:

1Pe 1:3  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath “begotten us again” unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
1Pe 1:4  To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,
1Pe 1:5  Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

Another thing we should not miss in this verse is what Paul says:

He uses the words “the second Psalm”.

This teaches us that the division of at least the Psalms, then was “not done” many years later by Bible scholars but were already done in the day of Apostle Paul.

*****Act 13:38  Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins:
Act 13:39  And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.

Notice Paul was not preaching a deliverance from Rome.

Paul was preaching a deliverance from sin!

Paul was preaching that Jesus was the expected Messiah!

Paul was preaching that those highly revered Laws of Moses could not justify anyone from sin!

Paul was preaching that not just Jew and Gentile but “whosoever” would believe these things could be justified from all sin forever!

Paul was preaching the “good news”, the “Gospel” of Jesus Christ!

“Justification” is an act that only God can perform and this was the method God had chosen!

It is God’s “plan” and not for us to question His plan!

The Jews were taught that God justified the righteous and punished the wicked BUT the “Gospel” says that God will justify “the ungodly” who will put their faith in Jesus Christ “because there are no righteous” people on this Earth!

Rom 3:10  As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:

NO Law can ever justify the sinner!

Rom 3:19  Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.

Paul closed his sermon with a word of warning, He said these words from God:

Act 13:40  Beware therefore, lest that come upon you, which is spoken of in the prophets; (Habakkuk 1:5)
Act 13:41  Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish: for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in no wise believe, “though a man declare it unto you”.

*****Act 13:43  Now when the congregation was broken up, many of the Jews and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas: who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God.

Notice it is always the same, some believe, some do not believe, and some are curious enough to want to come back.

Jesus explained this to the Apostles:

Mat 13:3  And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow;
Mat 13:4  And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up:
Mat 13:5  Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth:
Mat 13:6  And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.
Mat 13:7  And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them:
Mat 13:8  But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold.
Mat 13:9  Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.

Some were persuaded to continue in God’s Grace.  And from where comes God’s “Grace”?

Joh 1:17  For the law was given by Moses, “but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ”.

2Pe 3:18  But grow in grace, and “in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ”. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.

When we can be persuaded of this fact of “Grace” we can then, get on that path of righteousness:

Eph 2:8  For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

*****Act 13:44  And the next sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God.

We can see that there was much discussion of Paul’s message. BUT, The topic of that discussion was the Lord Jesus Christ.

*****Act 13:45  But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming.

These Jews here were those same Jews who were zealous of Judaism.

As we go through the Book of Acts we will see this group over and over again trying to stop the spread of the “Gospel”.

Jude the half-brother of the Lord Jesus wrote these words about this group of non-believers.

Jud 1:10  But these speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves.

They were extremely jealous. They had not seen this much interest in the God of the Hebrews and were certainly not willing to share Him with all these Gentiles.

They regarded the Law as the standard of salvation and would not agree to any other means.

The Apostle Paul was preaching blasphemy in their eyes!

*****Act 13:46  Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.

Paul informs this entire congregation that he was being obedient to the Word of God.

AND, Paul later wrote to the Romans:

Rom 1:16  For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
Rom 1:17  For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.

When we reject the truth of the “Gospel” we are saying that we are unworthy of God’s “Grace”!

When we refuse the free gift of God’s “Grace” then we have rejected the results of that “Grace” which is eternal life!

It was Jesus Himself who said to preach the “Gospel” to the Jew first but He then said go to the uttermost parts of the world which included “whosoever” would believe.

*****Act 13:47  For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth.

It was now time to fulfill the prophecy of the Old Testament:

Isa 49:6  And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.

We will see this pattern develop and continue even in our day. There are many Jews who have come to the knowledge of the saving “Grace” of the “Gospel”.

This will continue until the “Church Age” has been completed and God will then turn His attention back to the Jew.

Paul would continue to plant churches until God called him home.

We see that Paul and Barnabas played a great part in taking the “Gospel” to the Gentiles but more important “they were sent by the Holy Ghost”!

We will continue to see that there is no power on this Earth that can stop the spread of the “Gospel” of Jesus Christ!

But we can also see that Satan, the Devil, will not cease to hinder God’s Word even though he cannot ever prevail!

We are on the winning side if we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ!

*****Act 13:49  And the word of the Lord was published throughout all the region.

Questions?

Let’s Pray!

The Power Of The Praying Church

The Power Of The Praying Church

Book of Acts Chapter 12

In today’s lesson we will see what happens as Satan loses one battle after another in trying to stop the Church.

The persecution of the Church began immediately after Pentecost. Christ Jesus had been persecuted and He had said all of His followers would be persecuted.

There is no doubt that we can expect persecution from false religion because Satan tries to hide the truth of God from all false religion!

Most all mankind, if not all, are seeking a god in their lives.

Most of mankind has moral values and they realize that plants cannot have moral values and though animals can show signs of affection and a degree of learning they also do not have moral values.

If man is then the highest level of life then most people believe that there must have been a Creator, a God!

The others just reject the truth!

Satan has taken advantage of these thoughts in all of mankind and uses all his power to try to stop the truth of God.

In Jerusalem the persecution of the Church began with the religious leaders who instilled a hatred of Christianity into most all Jews. They had failed and now the Church had expanded outside Samaria and was making it’s way to the uttermost parts of this world.

But now another enemy comes on the scene. Government officials had been used by these religious leaders to aid in this persecution but now an evil ruling government took it own it’s own to try to stop the spread of the Christian Church.

All during this period of persecution it seems that the Apostles had been exempt but that was about to change.

If we believe in “types” then we should be aware that these things are happening before our eyes even in America and in a great part of the world.

We have one truth that we can place our faith in and these are the words of Jesus Our Lord:

Mat 16:18  And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; [and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it].

And God also says:

Isa 54:17  [No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper]; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD.

This the truth of the Bible.

The “strength” of the Church and the “Power” of the Church comes through “Prayer” and we can see this again today. We have a God that listens to His people!

Let’s begin:

*****Act 12:1  Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church.

This Herod was Herod Agrippa 1. He was the grandson of Herod the Great who was ruler when Jesus was born in Bethlehem and had murdered all the babies up to two years old.

Herod the Great had even murdered Agrippa’s own father Aristobulus. It was this Agrippa’s sister, Herodias who had married within the family to his and her uncle Herod Antipas who had murdered John the Baptist.

And it was the son of this Herod, Agrippa II and his sister Bernice, who also later witnessed the trial of Paul before Festus, before Paul was sent to Rome. He also had another sister named Drusilla who was married to Felix who had kept Paul in prison in Caesarea for so long a time.

Herod Agrippa I would do everything he could to make himself popular with the Jews to help him maintain his influence in Rome.

The Pharisees had a special admiration for this man so he decided to do away with the leaders of the Church.

*****Act 12:2  And he killed James the brother of John with the sword.

James became the second recorded martyr, after Stephen, in the New Testament and the first of the Apostles to die for preaching the Word of God.

This James was the older brother of the Apostle John and we already know he preached vigorously and could stir up a commotion with his boldness.

Mar 3:17  And James the son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James; and he surnamed them Boanerges, which is, The sons of thunder:

James was beheaded which was one of the four capitol punishments of the Jews and considered to be the most shameful and the most disgraceful. This beheading was usually reserved for deceivers and all the Apostles were considered deceivers by the Jews.

Jesus had told this James that he indeed would suffer from the same cup as He!

Mar 10:38  But Jesus said unto them, Ye know not what ye ask: can ye drink of the cup that I drink of? and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?
Mar 10:39  And they said unto him, We can. And Jesus said unto them, Ye shall indeed drink of the cup that I drink of; and with the baptism that I am baptized withal shall ye be baptized:

*****Act 12:3  And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also. (Then were the days of unleavened bread.)
Act 12:4  And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people.

This was all the encouragement that this Herod needed to proceed in murdering all the Apostles! If the murdering of James made them happy then surely by killing Peter would delight them even more. We can see that this King Herod fed off this feeling of power over the people.

God permitted the killing of James and God permitted the arrest of Peter. They placed Peter place under heavy guard but Herod knew he needed to wait until after the festival of unleavened bread was complete before he killed Peter.

The last time Peter had been arrested he had miraculously escaped, so this time 16 soldiers were assigned to watch Peter around the clock with two soldiers being chained to him at all times. There was no way for Peter to escape this time, or so they thought.

Of course this observance of “Easter” was a day that the Christian church observed, as the Jews still observed it as “Passover”.

We could ask ourselves why James had to die and not Peter, but all we can say is that it is still God’s plan and it is He that sits on the throne!

It is the throne of Heaven that is in control and not any throne that is on this Earth, just as we will witness one day soon when the Anti-Christ tries to sit on the throne of Jesus.

*****Act 12:5  Peter therefore was kept in prison: [but prayer was made without ceasing] of the church unto God [for him].
 
We must never under estimate the “power” of the praying church! Notice, it was not time to have just a general prayer in the church. It was time to have a specific prayer for the Apostle Peter, that he would be released and be able to continue in God’s work.

We will see that there is an obvious relationship between the prayer for Peter’s release from prison and the angel’s releasing him.

This prayer was probably not made in a single gathering place because of fear after James was killed but they gathered in homes and in little groups, each group praying earnestly and from the heart and without ceasing.

This prayer was specifically for Peter!

*****Act 12:6  And when Herod would have brought him forth, the same night Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains: and the keepers before the door kept the prison.

We can see that there was no way for Peter to escape by any, so called, normal means.

But we can also see that Peter was asleep. We will see that the Apostle Peter was sleeping so soundly that the angel had to awaken him by punching on him and lifting him up.

In spite of his circumstances and knowing he was to executed on the following morning, Peter had the peace of a man who knows that Heaven is his home and he was about to go there. This is the peace of God that we all should have.

The Bible says:

Psa 121:7  The LORD shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul.
Psa 121:8  The LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.

And God tells each of us these words:

Psa 127:2  It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: [for so he giveth his beloved sleep].

God tells us that it is foolish to worry about our circumstances. We should be resting for the work ahead.

Remember, Peter had also been promised by Jesus, that he would live to be an old man:

Joh 21:18  Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: [but when thou shalt be old], thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not.

Now we might not know how old that would be but Peter was not that old at this time!

*****Act 12:7  And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands.

What are some of the things that angels do?

1.) They minister to God the Father.

2.) They ministered to Jesus Christ, God the Son.

3.) They minister to every believer:

a.) They can offer physical protection:

Psa 91:11  For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.

b.) They can help provide a need in times of peril as they did to Elijah:

1Ki 19:5  And as he lay and slept under a juniper tree, behold, then an angel touched him, and said unto him, Arise and eat.
1Ki 19:6  And he looked, and, behold, there was a cake baken on the coals, and a cruse of water at his head. And he did eat and drink, and laid him down again.

c.) They can offer encouragement as they did to Paul:

Act 27:23  For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve,
Act 27:24  Saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar: and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee.

d.) They can give us direction as they did to Philip:

Act 8:26  And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert.

And as they had to Cornelius about Peter:

Act 10:3  He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius.

e.) Angels may one day carry us home to Heaven:

Luk 16:22  And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and [was carried by the angels] into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried;

f.) And in this lesson we see they assist in answered prayer!

But Angels will one day also minister to all unbelievers!

Mat 13:41  The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity;
Mat 13:42  [And shall cast them into a furnace of fire]: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

In order for Peter to be saved, from this peril, he had to do what this angel told him to do!

*****Act 12:8  And the angel said unto him, Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals. [And so he did]. And he saith unto him, Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me.

Even in the middle of a miracle, we are expected to be civil and do the things that we can do. Peter needed to dress himself and put on his own shoes because it was time to get out of jail.

We are to do the things God has given us power to do and God will do the things that we are powerless to do!

And then we are to obey “the one” that God sends!

*****Act 12:9  And he went out, and followed him; and wist not that it was true which was done by the angel; but thought he saw a vision.

Peter felt like he was having a dream and that dream came with a vision.

His chains had just fallen off.

The soldiers were not aware of anything that was happening.

Locked cells and gates were just opening up.

Unbelievable things were happening that could not be explained so Peter felt that they must not be real.

*****Act 12:10  When they were past the first and the second ward, they came unto the iron gate that leadeth unto the city; which opened to them of his own accord: and they went out, and passed on through one street; and forthwith the angel departed from him.

These two wards were places inside the prison where guards were stationed and that iron gate was the entrance, or in Peter’s case, the exit from that prison where he had been kept.

Prisons were not outside the city walls at this time!

These gates just opened on their own. They did not have to open for the angel, so they were opening for Peter’s escape.

This angel did not leave Peter until Peter knew which way he could go to escape and it was at this time that Peter realized he had been saved from death!

*****Act 12:11  And when Peter was come to himself, he said, Now I know of a surety, that the Lord hath sent his angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod, and from all the expectation of the people of the Jews.

Peter knew he had been delivered from the hand of Herod and from the Jewish leaders.

Peter was no longer confused!

Peter knew that his own people the Jews had expected him to be murdered just as James had been.

BUT, even the government could not stop what God had in store for Peter.

AND,  the “power of prayer” is a force that is also unstoppable. These are lessons that we all seem to have forgotten.

The Bible says:

Psa 41:1  Blessed is he that considereth the poor: the LORD will deliver him in time of trouble.
Psa 41:2  The LORD will preserve him, and keep him alive; and he shall be blessed upon the earth: [and thou wilt not deliver him unto the will of his enemies].

*****Act 12:12  And when he had considered the thing, he came to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark; where many were gathered together praying.

This probably a Mary we have not yet met, and more probably, a sister to Barnabas we have just recently met.

When Peter had gained control of his senses, he realized that his brothers and sisters may be gathered together and most probably in a place familiar with them all.

Peter knew this place and this family very well and had led Mark to the Lord:

1Pe 5:13  The church that is at Babylon, elected together with you, saluteth you; [and so doth Marcus my son].

This was most likely the same upper room where they had been praying on the day of Pentecost.

The same room where they had observed the Lord’s Supper with the Lord.

It is very possible that Mark and even Barnabas had been in that house with them both of these times.

*****Act 12:13  And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a damsel came to hearken, named Rhoda.
Act 12:14  And when she knew Peter’s voice, she opened not the gate for gladness, but ran in, and told how Peter stood before the gate.

It is most probable that while this church, that met in Mary’s house was still praying, the answer to their prayer had appeared at the door!

Rhoda was so overwhelmed that she neglected to open the door, though she recognized the voice of Peter.

Peter had to keep knocking while the church could not believe their prayer had been answered.

*****Act 12:15  And they said unto her, Thou art mad. But she constantly affirmed that it was even so. Then said they, It is his angel.
Act 12:16  But Peter continued knocking: and when they had opened the door, and saw him, they were astonished. 

They had been praying earnestly but they had no faith that their prayer would be answered.

This a great lesson for us all!

There are indeed guardian angels assigned to each believer:

Psa 34:7  The angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them.

These people knew that Peter was not to be executed until the Passover or after it, so they were not referring to this as Peter’s spirit or the ghost of Peter.

And this could not ave been an angel or he could have walked right on in that house.

The lesson we learn here is that though they believed in fervent prayer, they had their doubts that God would answer such a prayer.

The Bible teaches us:

Mar 9:24  And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, [Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief].

When we doubt that our prayers will be answered then most times they will not!

As a child of God the Father, He has given us the “power” to come directly to His throne at any hour and with any need.

We are wasting our time and His time if we do not believe that Our Father can do the impossible, as this simple illustration we are given in this passage!

Remember Herod had murdered James, the brother of John.

He had intended to do the same to Peter.

The early church was driven to it’s knees and God, not only answered their prayer and released Peter, but God began to turn the tide against this Herod and these Jews.

More than just saving Peter happened that day because of prayer!

The Bible says:

Jas 5:16  Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. [The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much].

In other words there is endless power in the fervent prayer of “faith”!

*****Act 12:17  But he, beckoning unto them with the hand to hold their peace, declared unto them how the Lord
had brought him out of the prison. And he said, Go shew these things unto James, and to the brethren. And he
departed, and went into another place.

The Apostle James was already dead, so this James was the half brother of Jesus, and even at this time this James was taking more responsibility in the church at Jerusalem and this James was also the writer used of the Holy Ghost to write the Book of James!

Peter disappears for a period of time at least until after the time of Herod’s death.

We will see very little of Peter throughout the remaining chapters but we will begin to see a whole lot of the Apostle Paul.

We know that Peter gathered his wife and went on the road preaching the gospel:

1Co 9:5  Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord, [and Cephas]?

In fact Peter is on the short list of some that preached to the church of Corinth after it was established:

1Co 1:12  Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; [and I of Cephas]; and I of Christ.

The Bible does not give us any evidence that the Apostle Peter ever visited Rome, and in fact, if Peter had establish a church in Rome then the Apostle Paul would not have had his yearning to go to Rome:

There is proof of this:

Rom 15:20  Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, [lest I should build upon another man’s foundation]:

The Bible encourages us to be in earnest prayer for those Christians locked up for preaching the “Gospel” and to have enough faith that God will use these people to grow the church.

Heb 13:3  Remember them that are in bonds, [as bound with them]; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.

Prayer can change lives and it is vastly important that we realize the power of prayer!

Herod who was the ruling government was shaken up by what happened!

The military was shaken up and blamed and at least 16 soldiers who then lost their lives!

Herod commanded a great search be made, but Peter could not be found!

Herod decided it would be best if he left Judea and he went back to Caesarea but he could not hide from God and in a short time his own life was ended because he did not give God the glory!

Questions?

Let’s Pray!

The Progress Of The Gospel

The Progress Of The Gospel

Book of Acts Chapters 10-11

Before the Book of Acts turns it’s attention to the Apostle Paul, we get to see the Apostle Peter again.

God has clearly revealed the direction the early church was to take!

Act 1:8  But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

There is no power in any house of God without “Born Again”, “Holy Ghost Filled” believers!

There is no power in the child of God without the Holy Ghost who indwells each believer!

We will see the Apostle Peter complete three things in this study.

Peter will show his God-Given power to heal the sick.

Peter will show us his God-Given power to raise the dead.

Peter will shows us his God-Given power to lead the lost to the Lord, so they could be saved by the “Grace” of God.

So what is God’s greatest miracle?

First none of things theses happened without the power of God.

Everyone that is sick, will again get sick.

Those that were raised from the dead in Bible times had to die again.

Then the greatest miracle must be Salvation!

Salvation will lead us to a place where there will be no sickness and there will be no death but only a place of eternal life!

Let’s begin:

*****Act 10:1  There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band,

We should not miss the fact that Peter was on his own missionary journey.

Act 9:32  And it came to pass, as Peter passed throughout all quarters, he came down also to the saints which dwelt at Lydda.

Peter had traveled from Jerusalem to Lydda. As one would travel to the city of Joppa a city on the Mediterranean coast some 30 miles of Jerusalem they would first pass through Emmaus, 7 miles from Jerusalem and then on to Lydda which was 9 miles from Joppa.

While in Lydda Peter had healed a man named Aeneas who had been so sick that he could not get out of his bed for 8 years. That’s like going to Hospice care and healing someone who could then go back home.

Many in Lydda, which were mostly Jews came to know Jesus Christ as their Savior.

This same area is known as Sharon and the phrase “the rose of Sharon” comes from this area of Israel. Of course we know that the true “rose of Sharon” is Jesus Christ our Lord just as He is the “Lily of our valley”!

While Peter was in Lydda, he and his ministry was known in Joppa, he was called to Joppa for an emergency. Peter found a grand old lady of Joppa called Dorcas which means “gazelle” but her real name was Tabitha.

This grand lady of the city of Joppa was raised from the dead:

Act 9:40  But Peter put them all forth, and kneeled down, and prayed; and turning him to the body said, Tabitha, arise. And she opened her eyes: and when she saw Peter, she sat up.

Peter then stayed in Joppa for a period of time in a house of a man named Simon, who was a tanner. Not many Jews would have stayed with a tanner because a tanner had to deal with dead animals which made him unclean in the eyes of the Jew.

Peter was in this place as our lesson unfolds today.

Caesarea was also located on the Mediterranean Sea and was about 70 miles from Jerusalem. This city was built by Herod the Great in honor of Caesar Augustus.

This city was used as the capitol city and the seat of civil government of Rome while they ruled Judaea. Cornelius was an actual Roman Centurion and we can tell by the phrase “the Italian Band”.

Roman citizens and Roman governors would be protected by Roman soldiers collected out of Italy. A Centurion would normally command 100 soldiers.

*****Act 10:2  A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway.

Cornelius was truly a man who had forsaken Roman idolatry and the false religion in which he had been raised as a child. He had come to fear the only true God, who is the God of Israel. Cornelius had even brought up his family in the fear of the God of Israel.

Cornelius gave charitably to the Jews, and Cornelius prayed to God “alway”, which means he prayed continuously.

In the following verses we can see that Cornelius was praying for a closer walk with God!

*****Act 10:3  He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius.
Act 10:4  And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God.

Don’t you just love the fact that God and all His angels in Heaven know your name. You know if Cornelius lived in America today, he would have pass as a Christian and he would be persecuted by the masses for the way he lived.

He was a military officer, a man of influence, and the foundation of his home. 

God had made Himself known to him  but he had never heard the “Gospel” of Jesus Christ!

Rom 1:19  Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.
Rom 1:20  For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

There are so many that live in our world today in this same position waiting on someone to come by and tell them about the Lord Jesus Christ and His Gospel.

It is believed that this event took place 10 years after Pentecost. We can only know that God has His own plan and it is His plan that works.

But what we see is that when the time came the Holy Spirit began His work on Cornelius and He responded knowing He was meeting the Lord.

In the sense of the Law, Cornelius had been offering a sacrifice that was well pleasing unto God, an odor of sweet smell.

His prayers and his sincerity had won the ear of God!

“But”,  All men shall be accountable to God by Jesus Christ.

He is the only Judge who can Justify each believer!

It is those that believe in His name that can rest assured that there will be no further condemnation!

*****Act 10:5  And now send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter:
Act 10:6  He lodgeth with one Simon a tanner, whose house is by the sea side: he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do.

Another great thing about our father in Heaven is that, He always knows exactly where we are located at all times. Peter was doing a work in Joppa.

BUT,  this was Peter’s training ground and he had not yet realized it.

It was 30 miles from Caesarea to Joppa and those messengers started that same evening. The business of a tanner would not be hard to find because of the smell and would always be by a large source of water.

The main thing we can see in Cornelius is that he knew his religious devotion was not enough to save him!

Salvation cannot ever be of works!

Those that are satisfied with their good character will still not get into Heaven because they have no concept of their own sin and of God’s “Grace”!

AND, Cornelius needed someone to tell him these things!

*****Act 10:11  And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending unto him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth:
Act 10:12  Wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air.
Act 10:13  And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat.

Before Peter could lead the Gentiles to the Lord, he needed a little more training. God had to prepare the already Apostle Peter for this work.

The message of the Gospel and God’s “Grace” is the same and will never change but as we carry God’s message to the lost we must have a better understanding of them.!

What we will see in this passage is that most of the barriers to us being true witnesses for the Lord, are within our own selves.

The Apostle Peter had the right message!

He was at the right time and the right place!

BUT,  Peter had lived the life of an orthodox Jew all his life and the Law of Moses was a great wall between the Jew and the Gentiles!

We know that this wall was removed at the cross!

Eph 2:11  Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands;
Eph 2:12  That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:
Eph 2:13  But now in Christ Jesus [ye who sometimes were far off] are made nigh by the blood of Christ.

God had declared that there was no difference between the Jew and the Gentile:

Rom 3:22  Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:
Rom 3:23  For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

Rom 10:12  For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.
Rom 10:13  For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Notice God knows exactly what it will take to reach each of us in any situation!

Peter was hungry, so God used food to teach Peter a great spiritual lesson.

Peter would also get a first hand lesson on what Jesus had taught him earlier:

Mar 7:15  There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man.

*****Act 10:14  But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean.

The first thing we should see in this verse is that if Christ Jesus is truly Our Lord then the answer “no” cannot exist!

When we say “No” to The Lord then we are not recognizing Him as Our Lord!

This is a contradiction in words!

Jesus teaches us all this truth:

Luk 6:46  And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?

It is a fact that food can cause us many problems but the food we eat CANNOT change our relationship with Our Lord!

After these things were over, Peter was still wondering what had just taken place but as we see God’s timing is always perfect and those messengers from Cornelius had just arrived.

*****Act 10:34  Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:

That voice that Peter had heard said “What God has cleansed, thou call not thou common” and this was repeated 3 times.

As far back as King Jehoshaphat in the Old Testament, we can find the phrase “nor respect of persons” referring to the Lord.

And the exact truth is:

Rom 2:11  For there is no respect of persons with God.

Every person on the face of this Earth stands at the same level before the justice of God and there are no exceptions!

We are all in need of the salvation that can only come through Jesus Christ!

All mankind have the same Creator, and all men need the same Savior, this is the Word of God that is given to us all or to “whosoever” accepts the truth of the Word of God!

Joh 3:36  He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

That wrath will come to it’s entirety at the Great White Throne Of Judgment!

*****Act 10:35  But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.

Before Christ, the Gentile nations were “aliens” from the commonwealth of Israel.

Before Christ, the Gentile nations were “strangers” from the covenant promises to Israel.

Before Christ, the Gentile nations had no hope, and were without God in this world.

Before Christ, there was the Law, but it is Jesus Christ that brought the “Grace” of the Almighty God to every creature on this Earth!

From the very first day of Adam, Our God has required “faith” and after “faith” comes then the “Grace” of God can be shown by Christ through the preaching of the “Gospel”!

God does not honor works as a means of salvation!

But God does honor works that come after faith in those that fear Him! He is the true God of Creation, and  the true God of the Bible!

Cornelius had understood the preaching of John the Baptist according to verse 37:

Joh 1:8  He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.
Joh 1:9  That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.

We will see many other times in the Book of Acts that the preaching of John the Baptist had reached many places outside of Jerusalem.

Yet salvation can still only come through Jesus Christ as we will see in our lesson!

*****Act 10:38  How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.

Peter begins by preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Peter begins by preaching the facts!

You see it took a great power and a great victory to break Satan’s tyranny over the bodies mankind.

Luk 13:16  And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, [whom Satan hath bound], lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day?

It took great power and a great victory to break Satan’s tyranny over the souls of mankind.

2Ti 2:26  And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.

This is the greatest evidence of the truth of the Gospel and the fulfillment of Old Testament prophesy:

Isa 49:25  But thus saith the LORD, Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible shall be delivered: for I will contend with him that contendeth with thee, and I will save thy children.

Isa 54:17  No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD.

*****Act 10:39  And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree:
Act 10:40  Him God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly;

Jesus had been crucified before the entire world and these things were not hid from the public nor from the Roman army. It was the Jewish leaders that had tried the Lord and it was Rome who had crucified Him.

This was not superstitious reverence but “witnessed”, and “historical” facts!

It was the Apostles and the followers of  Christ who were “eye witnesses” to the resurrection and the days that followed Jesus until He ascended into Heaven, which they also wirnessed.

And there had been many other infallible proofs given to them.

And many prophecies fulfilled:

Hos 6:1  Come, and let us return unto the LORD: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up.
Hos 6:2  After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, [and we shall live in his sight].

*****Act 10:43  To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.

Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Micah, Zechariah, and Malachi are just a few of the prophesies we are familiar with but John wrote in the Book of Revelation that Jesus was the Spirit of Prophecy.

Peter said this is who Jesus is. Jesus Christ is the Messiah, the Anointed One sent from Heaven!

*****Act 10:44  While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.

Just as soon as these that heard Peter, believed, and the Holy Ghost interrupted this meeting:

Peter later explained it like this, he said:

Act 11:15  And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning.

Just as the Holy Ghost had fell on those 120 in that upper room on the day of Pentecost, the Holy Ghost fell on this meeting with Cornelius.

Peter was not able to finish his sermon this day, enough was said, because salvation comes to those that believe in the death, the burial, and the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The early church now had Jews, Samaritan, and Gentiles and it was time to go to the uttermost part of the earth.

The key to these things is for every “Born Again” believer to reproduce himself through another lost soul and to produce fruit!

*****Act 10:45  And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.

These are the Jews that were with Peter that day.

It is hard for us to realize the great barrier that existed between the Jew and the Gentile that day but we must realize that war and foreign domination can cause hate. It was the Jews that had brought forth the Word of God and they simply could not believe that Gentiles could be saved. They were enemies to the Jew and certainly, they believed that no Gentile deserved to know their God.

Peter went to where ever God sent him and he preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ to “whosoever”. This was his job and it it God who calls those to Himself who will be saved.

Gal 3:26  For ye are all the children of God [by faith in Christ Jesus].
Gal 3:27  For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
Gal 3:28  There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.
Gal 3:29  And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

After salvation comes baptism and after baptism comes the work of telling others about Jesus!

Questions?

Let’s Pray!

The Persecutor Becomes The Proclaimer

The Persecutor Becomes The Proclaimer

Book of Acts Chapter 9

Who was the Apostle Paul?

Who was the apostle to the Gentiles?

We will begin to find out these things today.

God had begun His Church in Jerusalem. God had laid the foundation for world wide evangelism but the Church had remained in Jerusalem and grown at a fast pace.

God had told His Church these words:

Act 1:8  But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

The Church had grown in Jerusalem and Judaea. Philip had taken the “Gospel” to Samaria.

It was now time for the Church to grow “unto the uttermost part of the earth”.

God had already sent witnesses to the known world from those that were witnesses on the day of Pentecost:

Act 2:5  And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.

But it was now time for “the Church to send” out the Missionaries, the Evangelist, and the Preachers.

Saul the “persecutor” became Paul the “proclaimer”!

God continues to work out “His plan” to bring the “Gospel” to the entire world!

It is only when we see life as God sees it that we can get an accurate picture of life, of living, and of eternity!

Lets begin:

*****Act 9:1  And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest,
Act 9:2  And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.

Saul of Tarsus was a very zealous man who actually thought he was doing God a service by trying to put a stop to Christianity.

The Apostle Paul later gave this testimony of himself:

Act 26:9  I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.
Act 26:10  Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them.

The Apostle Paul later wrote to Timothy:

1Ti 1:12  And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry;
1Ti 1:13  Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, [because I did it ignorantly in unbelief].

Saul had set at the feet of Gamaliel a great teacher:

Act 22:3  I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day.

But even the great Gamaliel did not know God spiritually and could not teach this to Saul.

These old teachers taught that the Messiah could only come when everyone completely obeyed the Law as given by Moses and added to by the Pharisees.

The Messiah could never have come under these conditions because it was impossible for anyone to keep all 613 of those laws.

Saul was spiritually blind:

2Co 3:13  And not as Moses, which put a vail over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished:
2Co 3:14  But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ. 

The Nation of Israel is still in this state of spiritual blindness until this day!

They still stumble over the Cross as even Saul did at this time:

1Co 1:23  But we preach Christ crucified, [unto the Jews a stumblingblock], and unto the Greeks foolishness;
1Co 1:24  But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.

The persecution of the Church at Jerusalem had driven the Church underground and many had been scattered. The religious leaders in Jerusalem were enthused as they thought Christianity was coming to an end in Jerusalem but Saul wanted to go beyond the borders of Jerusalem and even Judaea.

Like many of today, Saul hated Jesus Christ!

Even in foreign lands the High Priests and the Sanhedrin Court were still recognized as the spiritual rulers and certain things of Judaism were allowed by Rome when it came to religious practices of the nations under Roman rule.

Damascus is one of the world’s oldest cities and was first mentioned in the Bible in the time of Abraham:

Gen 14:15  And he divided himself against them, he and his servants, by night, and smote them, and pursued them unto Hobah, which is on the left hand of Damascus.

There are many suffering in Damascus today as it is the capitol of Syria and war is consuming Syria at this time.

But in Saul’s day many Jews lived in Syria.

*****Act 9:3  And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven:

Saul (Paul) never forgot these things that happened to him this day on the road to Damascus.

In chapter 26 Paul says that it was midday or noon time.

In chapter 22 Paul says it was about noon time.

So when the Sun was at it’s highest in the sky and at it’s brightest, a light even brighter than the Sun shined round about Paul.

The Apostle Peter uses this instance in one of His epistles:

2Pe 1:19  We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, [and the day star arise in your hearts]:

Jesus uses these things in the Book of Revelation:

Rev 22:16  I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and [the bright and morning star].

Jesus Christ is the true Light that comes into this spiritually dark world.

John the Baptist said of Jesus:

Joh 1:8  He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of “that Light”. {Referring to the Lamb of God}

Jesus said of Himself:

Joh 8:12  Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: [he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the “light of life”].

Here again we can see that only Christ Jesus is the “Light of Life”!

*****Act 9:4  And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?

Suddenly Saul found himself on the ground. “Every knee will bow to Our Lord”. A personal meeting with Jesus Christ will humble us all.

Everyone with Saul fell to the earth but only Paul could understand the words that were spoken:

Act 26:14  And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.

With the emphasis on the Hebrew language it may have been that these others with Saul may not have known the Hebrew language as Aramaic, Greek and Latin were the dominant languages of that day.

BUT, When God repeats a name such as in these verses it always means that a message of special importance will follow!

He did this with Abraham (Gen 2:11).

He did this with Moses. (Exo 3:4)

He did this with Samuel. (1 Sam 3:10)

He did this with Absalom. (2 Sam 18:33)

He did this with Peter. (Luke 22:31)

He even did this with the city of Jerusalem. (Mat 23:37)

Paul knew he had to respond, because there is no place to hide when Christ Jesus shows Himself!

*****Act 9:5  And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.

It is easy to see that Our Lord described Paul as a stubborn animal. We are all stubborn when we reject the truth of the “Gospel”!

These pricks were pointed objects that were placed in the harnesses of animals that hurt them when they rebelled against that harness.

Jesus was telling Paul, “what injury or what physical harm have I caused you?”

This tells us that the the Lord through the Holy Spirit had already been working on Saul.

Not many of us come to know the Lord on our first calling. Thank God He is the God of the second chance!

Saul had seen many of his friends and his own family come to know Jesus before him:

Paul later wrote:

Rom 16:7  Salute Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen, and my fellowprisoners, who are of note among the apostles, “who also were in Christ before me”.

And above all Jesus makes it “very plain” that when His Church, The Body Of Christ, suffers then He also suffers along with them.

Our Lord will always identify Himself with His believers!

*****Act 9:6  And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.

No doubt Paul came under conviction and this conviction woke him up to great guilt for what he was doing to the followers of Jesus.

Now, Saul had actually seen the risen Christ and instantly, he became a believer!

1Co 15:8  And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.

When any of us reach this point our next question should be the same as Paul:

“Lord, what wilt thou have me do?”

Isaiah put it this way:

Isa 6:8  Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? [Then said I, Here am I; send me].

The Apostle Paul would have a similar response as Isaiah!

*****Act 9:7  And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man.
Act 9:8  And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus.

Saul was not traveling alone this day on the Damascus road. These other men had seen a great light but they had not understood the Words of Jesus.

Act 22:9  And they that were with me saw indeed the light, and were afraid; but they heard not the voice of him that spake to me.

Those men that were with Paul could not get words to come out of their mouths, they were speechless. What they had witnessed, they were in amazement of! They were bewildered by what they were witnessing!

Saul learned that Jesus was indeed alive.

Saul learned that he had to repent, something that was almost impossible for a Pharisee to do.

Saul learned that he was in danger of God’s Judgment!

Saul learned that he was a lost sinner in need of Salvation.

Saul learned that all of a sudden his personal values were meaningless.

Because, Saul had now been arrested by Jesus Christ:

Php 3:12  Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for [which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus].

Saul had to loose his religion, before he could accept his unrighteousness before the Lord Jesus Christ!

No other Christian up till this time, had, had this kind of conversion experience but at the end of the Church Age most all the nation of Israel will have a similar experience as this one of Saul:

Zec 12:10  And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: [and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced], and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.
Zec 12:11  In that day shall there be a great mourning in Jerusalem, as the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the valley of Megiddon.

This experience had left Saul temporarily blind and he was led by the hand on to Damascus!

God had to thoroughly humbled Saul and he would never be the same!

And at this same time ,God was preparing a Christian man named Ananias.

*****Act 9:17  And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.

Ananias despite everything he had heard about Saul, believed what the Holy Spirit had laid on his heart. He went to Saul and graciously accepted Saul as a brother in Christ.

Despite his great education at the feet of Gamaliel, Saul was just now only a “babe in Christ”.

Saul was converted to Paul on the Damascus road and was baptized by the Holy Spirit at that time because this is what the Bible teaches and what Paul would later teach. There was at this time a need of the “filling” of the Holy Spirit which took place immediately when Paul received “his sight”.

Remember the Jews “require a sign”.

Paul received his “physical” sight at the same time he received his “Spiritual” sight submitting himself fully to the Lord.

Saul of Tarsus became Brother Saul!

*****Act 9:18  And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized.

It was only after these things that Saul was baptized. Again we see that “water baptism” had nothing to do with Saul’s salvation!

And, Like the other Apostles, Paul received his Apostleship from the Lord Himself and we can also see that there was no such thing as “apostolic succession” as taught by some other religions.

*****Act 9:19  And when he had received meat, he was strengthened. Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus.

It had been 3 days since Saul had eaten or drank anything and he had also been blind for those same 3 days.

Saul got to know God’s disciples and how loving and forgiving they truly were!

Luke uses the phrase “certain days” in this verse. This word can mean “some days” with the disciples that were at Damascus.

What Paul tells us, explains this time period better:

Gal 1:15  But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace,
Gal 1:16  To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood:
Gal 1:17  Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; [but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus].
Gal 1:18  Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days.

This visit to Arabia is the place where the Lord Himself taught the Apostle Paul just as He had taught the other Apostles.

*****Act 9:20  And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God.

Paul never forgot this period in his life and repeated it over and over again in his epistles:

Gal 1:1  [Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ], and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;)

The Apostle Paul knew for sure that Jesus Christ was the Messiah sent of God and Paul was even more zealous to preach this truth than he had been in persecution of the Church!

We may not know exactly how long Paul was in Arabia but we do know that it was 3 years before Paul returned to Jerusalem.

*****Act 9:21  But all that heard him were amazed, and said; Is not this he that destroyed them which called on this name in Jerusalem, and came hither for that intent, that he might bring them bound unto the chief priests?

The reputation of Saul had proceeded him into Damascus but this city of Damascus saw a different Saul than they had been told.

The dramatic change in Saul’s life was a source of wonder to the Jews who had fled to Damascus partly because of him.

And, this was the place that God first sent Paul to begin his ministry.

*****Act 9:22  But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ.

Saul was a very intelligent man and highly educated and as a Pharisee he was well learned in the Old Testament scriptures. When the Lord opened his eyes to the truth in those scriptures Paul said that the Lord had revealed to him the mysteries of the Bible.

1Co 4:1  Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, [and stewards of the mysteries of God].

Paul also went on to say that as stewards, or overseers of God’s Word, (Preachers) then he needed to be found faithful.

1Co 4:2  Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.

This is true for everyone called of God, especially God’s ministers, to be faithful in preaching the truth of the Word of God.

We know that there is a great falling away from the truth of God in our day. That’s why the Church needs to make a full return to the “Apostles Doctrine”.

Maybe the world would look upon Christianity again in wonder and amazement and not in anger.

The truth will still make us free today!

*****Act 9:23  And after that many days were fulfilled, the Jews took counsel to kill him:

Those many days probably refer to that period of time Paul spent in Arabia.

These same Jews had been anticipating Paul’s arrival in Damascus and they knew the purpose of his coming was to arrest the Christians who were seen as creating problems for Judaism.

But when Paul came into the synagogues with this message of Jesus the Messiah, Jesus the Son of God, this only made matters worse for them.

These Jews could no longer win by arguing God’s Word because the truth was easily seen in the scriptures once Jesus could be seen throughout them all.

The part of Saul’s reputation of being him being a zealot meant the only way to silence him would be his death.

*****Act 9:24  But their laying await was known of Saul. And they watched the gates day and night to kill him.

Damascus was a walled city like most the old cities of the Bible. So there were gates in and out of the city. Paul explains to us later that these Jews had enough pull in Damascus to get aid from the ruling Gentile authorities.

2Co 11:32  In Damascus the governor under Aretas the king kept the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desirous to apprehend me:

They knew if Paul was apprehended or even if he made it through those gaits they would kill him.

But God always makes a way for His disciples. God had already said why He had called Paul:

Act 9:15  But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:
Act 9:16  For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.

*****Act 9:25  Then the disciples took him by night, and let him down by the wall in a basket.

Just as we had studied on the city of Jericho, there were houses built on the city walls with windows that allowed them to look out upon the country side.

Paul said:

2Co 11:33  And through a window in a basket was I let down by the wall, and escaped his hands.

God would not even allow the ruling government to detain His preacher man!

There have been many excavations in and around Damascus and one of those discoveries includes the remains of “the street called Straight”.

It is a truth that more than 84 facts of the Book of Acts have been verified archaeologically.

The writings of Luke and the acts of Paul are the truth of the Early Church and the Apostle Paul was truly the Apostle to the Gentiles as we will learn from most of the remaining Book of Acts.

There are also many other great things we have not covered in this chapter. Please take a look on your own time.

Questions?

Let’s Pray?

The Product Of Persecution

The Product Of Persecution

Book of Acts Chapter 8

With the death of Stephen, persecution increased for the church in Jerusalem. The religious rulers of Israel wanted to totally eliminate Christianity!

So what was the product of this persecution?

The Word of God began it’s journey to the uttermost parts of this world!

No matter how things appear to us, it is God who who sits in control of this earth and the things that happen on this earth.

We should never forget this verse:

Rom 8:28  And we know that “all things” work together for good to them that love God, [to them who are the called according to his purpose].

The “Gospel” of Jesus Christ is much, much, more than an idea or some new religion that can be stopped!

The “Gospel” is the Power Of God!

Rom 1:16  For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: [for “it is the power of God unto salvation”] to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

The “Gospel” of Jesus Christ is the “Doctrine of Christianity” and those that believe and have faith in the “promises” that God makes to each believer shall be saved.

You see Satan is “forced” to remove his hold on those that believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.

2Ti 2:24  And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,
2Ti 2:25  In meekness instructing those that “oppose themselves”; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the “acknowledging of the truth”;
2Ti 2:26  And that they may “recover themselves” out of the snare of the devil, [who are taken captive by him at his will].

Let’s begin:

*****Act 8:1  And Saul was consenting unto his death. [And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad] throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles.

The Church at Jerusalem had grown large by this time. It began with those 120 and in addition to those 3000 early converts we know of at Peters sermon we just recently studied over 5000 more were added and women and children were not even mentioned.

They were called a great multitude of believers who were in one heart and one soul.

It is said that they multiplied greatly “But” they were all staying in Jerusalem!

What had God commanded?

Act 1:8  But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

They had not even started to do this. So, we can see that God allowed some things to happen. We will soon see that they indeed began to scatter and they first stayed close again which was Samaria.

We can see that God’s “will” will be done!

We can be willing participants or unwilling participants but God will see that His Word is fulfilled!

A church that is willing to send and support missionaries to wherever God sends them may grow and remain large enough to provide that support!

BUT, a church that is not willing and refuses to support those that are called of God and the Men, God has chosen, has little purpose for remaining in great numbers and if they will not even work in their local community there is little need in that church existing.

We can see what this leads to:

Rev 3:14  And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;
Rev 3:15  I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
Rev 3:16  So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.
Rev 3:17  [Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked]:

And we know that this is the direction that the church is headed in our day!

It is more efficient for the church and more Christ honoring, for members to be scattered and form new churches in other areas where they are more needed!

But is was not the right time for the Apostles to be scattered!

Here again we can see that God preferred the Apostles to stay in Jerusalem and protect the flock at this time.

The Bible teaches us:

1Pe 5:2  Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;
1Pe 5:3  Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, [but being ensamples to the flock].

*****Act 8:2  And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him.

Lamentation is an expression of sorrow, and is usually accompanied with cries of grief. We should have this expression every time a man of God is called home and Stephen had fulfilled his purpose set forth of God and “only his body” went into the ground awaiting the resurrection or what we call the “Rapture of the Church”.

2Co 5:8  We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.

The soul of Stephen had departed out of this world. The interval between death and the resurrection, is a state of absence from the body, during which time the soul exists in a separate state “with the Lord” and the body in a state of inactivity and “sleep” waiting on the resurrection when “both will be reunited together again” but in a glorified body as that of the Lord.

1Th 4:13  But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are “asleep”, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.
1Th 4:14  For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, [even so them also which “sleep” in Jesus “will God bring with him”].

*****Act 8:3  As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison.

Saul was a young man full of zeal about his religion:

Php 3:6  Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.

Gal 1:13  For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that “beyond measure” I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it:
Gal 1:14  And profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.

Saul went into every dwelling where it was reported that a Christian lived and into every house where they gathered and physically dragged these believers out into the streets and then into the prisons.

It can be said that “making havoc” would be like treating these believers as “the filth of the world” especially of Jerusalem.

*****Act 8:4  Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.

And what were the results of this persecution?

It would still be wrong to believe that God caused this persecution but it could be said that God allowed this persecution to take place.

Our God is a righteous and a God who is also Holy!

AND, These believers that were scattered abroad went preaching the Word of God!

The Greek word “diasperio” used for the English word “scattered” means to “sow throughout”.

These believers of the early Church in Jerusalem were “God’s spiritual seed” and “persecution” was used of God to “plant this seed in new soil” so it could bear fruit!

It is in the best interest of every house of God to be sure to teach the entire truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ which should also include all the Old Testament.

Because every child of God must be “rooted and grounded” in the entire truth of God’s Word!

Col 2:6  As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him:
Col 2:7  “Rooted” and built up in him, and “stablished” in the faith, as ye have been taught, “abounding” therein with thanksgiving.

*****Act 8:5  Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them.

Philip’s glad reception in Samaria is proof of all these truths!

Most of these Samaritans, [with no disrespect], were a half-breed people, a mixture of Jew and Gentile. This was brought about many years earlier when the Assyrians had captured the ten tribes of the northern kingdom of Israel.

In 732 BC many of these of Israel were deported into foreign lands and many Gentiles were imported who then inter-married with the Jews that were left behind.

These Samaritans openly opposed the Jews!

It is interesting to note that Israel, gained possession of Jerusalem and most of the old remnant of Samaria during the Six Day War of 1967, which at that time the nation of Jordan “had claimed but were not a part of”.

The nation of Jordan was never the owner of these lands as they belonged to “Israel”.

It should also be noted that Jordan, no longer had any power of this region which we now call the “West Bank”, but they ceded that land “that they never owned but just claimed” to the Palestinian Liberation Organization or the PLO. This happened at two times in 1988 part A and 1994 part B.

Jordan had no authority to do these things and the PLO had and has no right to claim these lands!

The true owners, “Israel” had regained their land in 1967!

Let’s continue:

Philip was one the seven chosen men and what we now call a Deacon but after the death of Stephen and this persecution, he fled to Samaria probably in fear of his own life.

Here Philip preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That word “Christ” means In Greek, “The Anointed One or “The Messiah”.

It seems even many of the Church of today reject that Jesus is the “Christ” or Jesus is the “Messiah”, God in the flesh!

The “lost” cannot be saved if they reject this truth!

*****Act 8:6  And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did.

When God calls someone to go to a specific place of ministry, God will also soften the hearts of those in that place He is sending that person. We will see this over and over again in our study of the Book of Acts.

We can also see that God had given Philip some of those powers that only the Apostles had. All these powers and gifts of these sort, disappeared at the death of the Apostles and only God Himself uses these powers today and most of them go unnoticed.

Salvation did not then nor will it ever come from a miracle or a wonder!

Salvation can only come from the heart of that once lost person!

*****Act 8:7  For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed.
Act 8:8  And there was great joy in that city.

Nobody can ever be saved simply because of some miracle!

These people paid more attention to the Word of God that Philip was preaching than they did the miracles that came about through him!

When Philip mentioned that he had left Jerusalem “because the hatred showed to him”, he was probably received with open arms in Samaria and his message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ brought great joy to these people.

Maybe not all of them had forgotten that day Jesus had stropped by and converted that woman at Jacob’s well.

Joh 4:7  There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink.

While the church in Jerusalem was suffering misery because of persecution, Samaria was having great joy!

*****Act 8:26  And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert.

We have skipped many verses to stay with the theme of this lesson but that does not mean they are not very important.

Peter and John “had been sent” to confirm Philip’s work.

This would be the first steps in removing the walls of separation between the Jew and the Samaritan!

We see that Peter and John had been sent as messengers of the Gospel and not in any function as a ruler.

Not one Apostle was regarded or elevated above any of the other Apostles!

And by this time of this verse, Peter and John had returned to Jerusalem and shared, with enthusiasm, the good news that God also would save those that were lost in Samaria.

The Bible says that the truth is:

Act 2:21  And it shall come to pass, that “whosoever” shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

But while revival was going on in Samaria, Philip was called of God for a more important task.

There was a single individual on his way home that was under conviction by the Word of God and needed to be shown how to make application of God’s Word.

We must realize that no angel has ever experienced God’s “Grace” therefore, they can never bear witness of what it takes to be “Saved”!

1Pe 1:12  Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; [which things the angels desire to look into].

The angels desire to know the salvation that “Grace” provides and also the feeling of the “indwelling” of the Spirit but they will never know these things on a personal level.

But they do have great joy for everyone of God’s creation that does when they see the pleasure on God’s face.

Luk 15:7  I say unto you, that likewise [joy shall be in heaven] over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.

Gaza was the southern most city “of Israel” and a route between Syria and Egypt. This road was well traveled by visitors to Jerusalem.

*****Act 8:27  And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship,
Act 8:28  Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet.

As we witness for the Lord we should also realize that God will direct us to the right person at the exact right time.

This eunuch was a man of great authority and that word “Ethiopia” is given to us to tell us that this was a black man.

This is one of the places where God shows us that the Gospel is for “whosoever” and through this man the “Gospel” would be spread to this area of the Gentile world as well as all others.

That word “Whosoever” means exactly what it says!

Not only was this man black but being a eunuch for whatever reason, which could have been his own choice but probably not, he could have “never” been accepted into Judaism and though he was allowed to worship in Jerusalem, he would never have been accepted into the family of God “by the standards of the Law”.

AND, it would be hard to question a man’s love of God who had traveled more than 200 miles alone to worship Him.

In “type” this man represents all people who are religious, and read the Bible, and seek the truth “but do not know the saving faith in Jesus Christ”.

Philip had been among the first to go to Samaria and now he was of the first of Jerusalem to witness to the outside world!

*****Act 8:29  Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot.

It had been an angel of the Lord who had directed Philip to this location in Gaza but now the Holy Spirit was giving Him direction to lead this man to Jesus.

Joh 15:26  But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, [he shall testify of me]:

It is the Holy Spirit that leads every believer to where God sends!
It is the Gospel of Jesus Christ that is to be preached upon arrival to that place!
It is the Holy Spirit of God that brings conviction to that one that hears the Word of God!
It is “faith” in God’s Word that brings Salvation!

The Word of God is already in this chariot with this man and he is reading from the Old Testament book of Isaiah. “There was no New Testament at this time!”

*****Act 8:30  And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest
thou what thou readest?
Act 8:31  And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him.

This Ethiopian was reading the Word of God out loud and God had already prepared this man’s heart to receive a Christian witness and God had specifically sent Philip!

When we obey the leading of the Holy Spirit we can be sure that God has gone on before us to prepare the way!

This man was reading this passage:

Isa 53:7  He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the
slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.
Isa 53:8  He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.

*****Act 8:35  Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.

All the Old Testament scriptures relate to Jesus one way or another!

The Bible says of our Lord:

Heb 10:7  Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God.

This Book of God had been written in Heaven long before it was given to men by the Holy Spirit!

Psa 119:89 For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven.

Again:

1Pe 1:18  Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers;
1Pe 1:19  But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:
1Pe 1:20  [Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world], but was manifest in these last times for you,

Christ Jesus came into this world specifically to do the will of God!

And what is the will of God?

Joh 3:17  For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world [through him] “might be saved”.

Isaiah 53 describes our Lord as the willing Sacrifice for all sinners even to the point of “loosing all His human rights”!

And it takes the Holy Spirit to open our minds to this truth!

*****Act 8:36  And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?
Act 8:37  And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.

This verse clearly shows that baptism is to take place only after the “saving faith” of the believer.

It is not enough for a lost person to desire salvation!

Everyone must understand God’s plan of salvation!

AND, It must come from the heart!

Jesus said:

Mat 13:23  But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, [and understandeth it]; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.

Jesus Christ is the “fulfillment” of the prophesies of the Bible!

And then:

Rom 10:17  So then faith cometh by hearing, and “hearing by the word of God”.

And then:

Rom 10:9  That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God
hath raised him from the dead, “thou shalt be saved”.
Rom 10:10  For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

*****Act 8:38  And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and “they went down both into the water”, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.

It is obvious that these verses refer to a “complete immersion” into the water used for this baptism!

If we recall the time of Noah we know that the world was repopulated by his three sons, Ham, Shem and Japheth.

God has now reached out to the descendants of Shem which is the Jews.

God has now reached out to the descendants of Ham, this Ethiopian and those with him.

God in our next chapters God will reach out to the descendants of Japheth, the Gentiles, through the Apostle Peter and then the Apostle Paul.

ALL, These things began to happen because of the persecution of the early Church!

Questions?

Let’s Pray!

The Preaching Of A Deacon

The Preaching Of A Deacon

Book of Acts Chapters 6-7

The word “deacon” from the Greek word “diakonos” means “minister” or “servant”.

Jesus said:

“whosoever will be great among you let him be your minister”

Again Jesus said:

“If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all and servant of all”

Jesus said these that choose to serve can be my deacons.

The Church has adopted the office of “Deacon” and this office originates from the passage we will study today. It was the “deacon” that allowed the Apostles to devote their time to “prayer” and “the ministry” that the Lord Jesus had given to them.

We should see that the office of “Deacon” is to be inferior to and assisting to the Pastor, the Elder of a Church. It is the function of the Pastor, the Elder, to preach and to teach the congregation and the function of the deacon to assist to and to see that the material needs of the congregation are cared for.

Another thing we should see is that the Church does not tell the Pastor what to do and the Pastor does not tell the Church what to do they must both work together to find the will of God for everyone BUT the Pastor must be the leader of that local assembly.

The qualifications of the “deacon” are given in 1Timothy:

1Ti 3:8  Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre;
1Ti 3:9  Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience.
1Ti 3:10  And “let these also first be proved”; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless.
1Ti 3:11  Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things.
1Ti 3:12  Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.
1Ti 3:13  For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.

The Church as the “Body Of Christ” is a living organism and compared in scripture with the human body BUT the head of the Church must always remain “Jesus Christ”!

It is the Pastor, the Elder that is to feed the flock until the Chief Shepherd reappears.

1Pe 5:1  The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed:
1Pe 5:2  Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;
1Pe 5:3  Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.
1Pe 5:4  And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.

God is a God of order so there should never be changes in God’s Church nor God’s Word!

Oh, and when we see those words “not  given to much wine” it means that these men have been proved to be in “absolute denial of the use of wine”, just as the Elder!

There is no place for alcoholic beverage in the House of God and this includes wine!

Pro 23:29  Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes?
Pro 23:30  They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine.
Pro 23:31  [Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright].
Pro 23:32  At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder.

If we are not even to look upon wine, then we surely are not to drink of it!

Let’s begin:

*****Act 6:1  And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration.

We might ask ourselves when were “those days”?

The last verse in Chapter 5 tells us the answer:

Act 5:42  And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.

It is the preaching of Jesus Christ that had allowed the Church to grow!

We know that the first church had grown from 120 when 3000 were added and now 5000 more were added and we know that more were added daily.

The church had been at one time, all in one accord but there had been some defection from this. Ananias and Sapphira had tried to deceive the Church and this was handled by the Holy Spirit, God Himself.

Now we see the Church experiencing growing pains!

What is murmuring? Murmuring is complaining. Murmuring is grumbling. Murmuring is sinful.

In Chapter 4 we found that some of these local Jews had sold their possessions and had given the proceeds to the Apostles to distribute to all those that had need:

Act 4:34  Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold
them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold,
Act 4:35  And laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.

But as always we find that there were some that were being neglected and not always purposely.

These Grecians were not Greeks nor Gentiles but rather Jews who had been raised outside of Palestine and spoke the Greek language.

These Hebrews were Jews of Palestine and they held themselves superior to these foreign Jews.

This murmuring did not come from among these widows but because of them!

It was probably because the Hebrew followers that had been assigned to distribute to the needy, and these widows from outside of Jerusalem could very well have been overlooked.

So we see the early church was not free of hypocrites and they were not always clear of feuds and contentions.

This is how Satan gets into the Church to try to gain a foothold!

The Apostles wisely began a process to deal with these things.

We should see that when the Church faces a serious problem it is a time to come together and not to grow apart.

The Pastor and the members must seek solutions.

It is not time to divide as this only allows Satan to win!

We must regularly examine the ministries of our Churches to see if they are according to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and meeting the needs in our lives and every members life.

*****Act 6:2  Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we
should leave the word of God, and serve tables.
Act 6:3  Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.
Act 6:4  But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word. 

The Apostles accepted that they were to blame. They had not only tried to be obedient to the Word of God and to meet the spiritual needs but they had tried to meet the day by day physical needs of the flock.

They realized that they could not do both!

They could not allow the preaching of the Word of God and the needed ministry of prayer to suffer or the Church would suffer!

The words “ministration” and “serve” are where we get the word “deacon”. The men that are chosen at this time are not called deacons at this time but the office of “deacon” came from this activity of the early church.

Every Church needs qualified leaders to handle some of the things of the Church so the Pastors can devote more of their time to the study and the presenting of God’s Word and to prayer.

These seven that were chosen did also engage themselves in spiritual and worldly needs of the members.

The Church was instructed to search out these that met certain qualifications and then it was the Apostles that appointed them and gave them direction.

This is basically the same approach we use here at Gethsemane!

*****Act 6:5  And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch:

We should notice that all seven of these men had Greek names. This indicates that they would serve the Hellenist of the early Church or those that came from places other than Jerusalem which had been neglected.

One man Nicolas was a proselyte and was probably the only Gentile among these seven and there was probably a particular reason that he was chosen.

A proselyte was a Gentile who had been converted to Judaism and now Nicolas was a Born Again Christian.

Of these seven only Stephen and Philip are mentioned elsewhere in scripture but this does not mean these others did not serve their purpose.

Stephen was destined to become the first Christian martyr unless we include John the Baptist and it is “OK” to include him as he certainly knew who his Savior was!

We also will find that Philip became a great and powerful Evangelist and “tradition” says that the other five did also.

*****Act 6:6  Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them.

Again we can see that any problem in the Church can be solved when the congregation can come together!

The next thing we should see is that there is no great mystery in the “laying on of the hands”!

This the first time that the “laying on of the hands” was used in the early church.

There is “no great transfer of spiritual power” through the “laying on of hands” this was a “symbolic” gesture only!

In fact it was more “a symbolic sign of prayer” that God would provide these men with the necessary gifts they would need to perform these duties.

These men had already been filled with the Holy Ghost when they were saved as noted in [verse 3].

So what is this meaning?

In the Book of Leviticus, the sinner would place his hand on the animal to be sacrificed. This meant that this animal was to be sacrificed in their place.

When these Apostles put their hands on the heads of these that would be deacons it meant that these men would be partners with them in the ministry of the Church.

This method of ordination is still used in most churches today and most Pastors go through this ordination.

It meant that these men had been set aside for this office of the early Church!

This was a social service within the assembly in Jerusalem.

This church tried to meet the needs of it’s own members and every house of God should use this as an example.
 
*****Act 6:7  And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.

I believe we can see that there were still many sincere and godly priests in Jerusalem at this time and by witnessing that the veil had been rent, and the conversion of Nicodemus, the lame man, and many other signs and wonders and they would be well aware of the teachings of Jesus.

With the truth of the resurrection of Christ Jesus they began to understand the Word of God they had been so zealous for.

These were once the true descendants of Levi but now had turned to the Lord.

It could be said that it was the preaching of Stephen, as we will find out in verse 14, that caused more an more of these Jewish priest to convert from Judaism to Christianity. If so, then we can also see how this caused such turmoil with Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin court.

These actions by the early church allowed the Word of God to increase and the Church to grow.

Church growth cannot and should not always be measured by numbers, this Church in Jerusalem was also growing “Spiritually”!

It is sad that the world does not see this spirit of harmony in our places of worship today and to be honest there is much to much turmoil even in our Baptist Churches to the point where many are ashamed to call them selves Baptist.

I consider myself “a Christian first” and then I attend this Baptist Church here at Gethsemane because I believe the “Apostle’s Doctrine” is followed here. If that changes then I will seek one that teaches the “Apostle’s Doctrine” in some other place and could even be some other denomination.

I love our church here and we must strive to always be in harmony and for the most part we are.

Being “obedient to the faith” means “faith in the work of Jesus Christ Our Savior”!

Php 1:27  Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or
else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the
faith of the gospel;
Php 1:28  And in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God.

*****Act 6:8  And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people.

Stephen is the first preacher/teacher who was not an apostle whose work is mentioned.

Stephen not only did the work of a servant but he sought diligently to lead people to Christ Jesus. We can see that God truly did give Stephen some powers.

God used Stephen to bear witness to the religious leaders of Israel and it is after this time of Stephen that the “gospel” began to spread to the Samaritans.

*****Act 6:9  Then there arose certain of the synagogue, which is called the synagogue of the Libertines, and Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and of Asia, disputing with Stephen.

These Libertines were “freedmen” who were formerly slaves of Rome and had been freed by their masters.

All of these groups were Jewish immigrants to Jerusalem from other lands.

It is said in research that there were a great number of synagogues in Jerusalem that were for the use of foreign Jews who were visiting.

The Cyrenians were from upper Libya.

The Alexandrians of Egypt probably made up the largest group of these foreign Jews.

Those of Cilicia in Asia Minor would include Saul of Tarsus and those from Asia would be of Asia Minor near the Aegean Sea.

All these were very legalistic and very zealous of the Mosaic traditions, especially involving the Temple worship!

*****Act 6:10  And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake.

None of these including Saul, could match or resist Stephen’s wisdom and power!

Jesus had promised this:

Luk 21:15  For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist.

These groups could only see one alternative, they knew they would have to destroy Stephen!

*****Act 6:11  Then they suborned men, which said, We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses, and against God.

Most of these Jews were wealthy and they had no problem using their wealth to bribe some false witnesses.

That word “suborned” actually means  to employ  type of  “secret agent” to take one of their place, and to instigate or secretly instruct him on what to say in a court of law.

And we just thought that secret agents were a modern thing.

*****Act 6:12  And they stirred up the people, and the elders, and the scribes, and came upon him, and caught
him, and brought him to the council,
Act 6:13  And set up false witnesses, which said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law:

This is similar to the way the Jewish leaders had treated Jesus.

These Jews were jealous over their law and did not want to believe that Christ Jesus had come to fulfill those laws!

They were extremely proud of the Temple that Herod had restored and refused to believe that God would allow it to be destroyed.

This verse is not part of our lesson today but let’s look anyhow:

Act 7:42  [Then God turned, and gave them up to worship] the host of heaven; as it is written in the book of the prophets, O ye house of Israel, have ye offered to me slain beasts and sacrifices by the space of forty years in the wilderness?

These Jews along with the world we live in now and certainly including America do not believe that God will give them up to worship as they please but they are wrong!

America is trying to remove the one true God from everything and from everywhere, trying to boot Him out of this nation!

This verse says that God will just allow a people such as these to worship as they wish.

When this happens Satan takes control and evil abounds throughout the land. We see this happening before our very eyes just as it happened in Israel:

Amo 5:27  Therefore will I cause you to go into captivity beyond Damascus, saith the LORD, whose name is The God of hosts.

and it is happening in America and everywhere where Christ Jesus is rejected:

Rom 1:24  Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves:
Rom 1:25  Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

and we know that God has a purpose for everything He does:

Rom 9:11  (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;)

And we also have no right to question anything that God does or has done or what He allows to be done:

Rom 9:20  Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?
Rom 9:21  Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?
Rom 9:22  What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:

We must only believe:

Rom 8:28  And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

Jesus preached that it was His body that is the Temple of God, and these Jews had indeed destroyed that Temple!

These Jews were not about to allow Jesus into their false religious beliefs!

Jesus had also warned them that their physical Temple would also be destroyed and that happened in just a few short years in 70 AD.

As I have already pointed out, the enemies of Jesus Christ will continue to attempt to undermine the Christian faith, by using distortions of the Word of God.

They cannot use facts because all true facts of Scripture, all true science and all true history supports biblical Christianity!

*****Act 6:14  For we have heard him say, that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs which Moses delivered us.

This enemy of the Church came upon Stephen suddenly and arrested Him while he was preaching.

They took Stephen before the same court that had tried Jesus.

They took him before the same court that had tried to stop Peter and John.

*****Act 6:15  And all that sat in the council, looking stedfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel.

They saw something marvelous in his face. This man came closer to being an angel than any man before him.

It was not even necessary for Stephen to speak because the glow of his face told everyone on this council that this was a true servant of God!

These Jews knew all about the shining face of Moses. Stephen was not against Moses because he was like Moses and God was pointing that out to them!

*****Act 7:54  When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth.

Stephen had just reviewed the entire history of Israel along with the contributions made by the honored patriarchs.

Stephen had proved with their own scriptures that the Jewish nation was guilty of worse sins than those they had accused him of committing.

They had not understood their spiritual roots.

They had rejected the prophets sent from God.

They had disobeyed their own laws and made up some new laws that they honored even more than God’s laws.

They were stubbornly resisting their God and His truth!

There was a reason that Jesus had come at this time:

Gal 4:4  But when “the fulness of the time” was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,

I believe the answer is also given to us:

Eph 1:10  That “in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ”, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:
Eph 1:11  In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:
Eph 1:12  That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.

God is gathering “in one” all things of Jesus Christ.

This is the time we live in now and is known as the “Church Age” and it will soon be coming to an end and God will again deal with the Jews!

When these Jews heard these things they were cut to the heart!

These upper class Jews of Israel became a hungry pack of wolves and Stephen knew it meant his death!

*****Act 7:55  But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God,

Since God is a spirit then there can be no actual “right hand of God”!

This phrase indicates The Place Of Prominence and The Place Of Honor!

The FACT that Jesus is at the right hand of God teaches us that His saving work is finished but it does not mean He is not still working on our behalf!

Every born again child of God needs to take note here!

Our Lord Jesus stood up just to receive His child Stephen into Heaven.

Jesus is waiting on us all with open arms and He stands up to receive all His children especially those that have took their stand on His Gospel.

This world may not want God’s children but when our work is done on this Earth, we have a Father in Heaven who is tickled to death that we are coming home!

*****Act 7:56  And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.

Jesus had used this phrase “Son of man” at least 80 times but this is the first time one of His disciples used this title.

Jesus had told this same mockery of a trial where they could find Him:

Mat 26:63  But Jesus held his peace. And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living
God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God.
Mat 26:64  Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.

Stephen said, “I see Him”, He is right where He said He would be.

Normally Jesus is often presented as sitting at the right hand of God acting as our “Intercessor” and our “Advocate”.

Normally a defence counsel remains seated in the presence of “The Judge”, rising only to make an objection when His client comes under sever attack.

Stephen said “I see my Lord standing” and “I am going on home”!

How long will He stand?

Act 2:35  Until I make thy foes thy footstool.

1Co 15:28  And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.

*****Act 7:57  Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord,

This pack of angry wolves could stand it no more they became what they were:

Jesus had described them earlier!

Joh 8:43  Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word.
Joh 8:44  Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.
Joh 8:45  And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not.
Joh 8:46  Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me?
Joh 8:47  He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.

*****Act 7:58  And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul.

Saul and Stephen meet for the only time they would be together. They were enemies and stood on opposite sides of the cross at this time.

This gives us an idea of just how far Saul had to come but we also know Saul never forgot this day.

Act 22:19  And I said, Lord, they know that I imprisoned and beat in every synagogue them that believed on thee:
Act 22:20  And when the blood of thy martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by, and consenting unto his death, and kept the raiment of them that slew him.

*****Act 7:59  And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.

John the Baptist had died for preaching the truth. It was God the Father that had sent John.

The Lord Jesus Christ had died because He is the truth. It was God the Son sent to save us.

Now Stephen died for preaching the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. It was God the Holy Ghost who had filled him with His Spirit.

Through this act against the Church the “Gospel” would now spread next to Samaria and then throughout the world.

*****Act 7:60  And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, [lay not this sin to their charge]. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

Stephen fell asleep in peace and in grace while still loving the sinner but not the sin!

When a Christian dies they fall asleep:

1Th 4:13  But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.

That old unsaved flesh sleeps while the spirit goes on to be with the Lord:

2Co 5:6  Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord:
2Co 5:7  (For we walk by faith, not by sight:)
2Co 5:8  We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.

Heb 12:22  But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,
Heb 12:23  To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,

When Jesus returns He will bring back those spirits of those that are asleep to be reunited in glory:

1Th 4:14  For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, [even so them also which sleep in Jesus “will God bring with him”].
1Th 4:15  For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
1Th 4:16  For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
1Th 4:17  Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

When our loved ones that know the Lord die we do not weep in hopelessness for we know we shall meet them again when we die or when the Lord returns.

We need to realize that when the “Gospel” is preached powerful forces are at work on each one that hears it.

The Book of Acts will now turn its attention to Saul of Tarsus and the Gospel extending to the Gentiles.

If we believe in prayer and we must, then the Apostle Paul was the result of the prayer of Stephen!

Questions?

Let’s Pray

The Prescription For A Pure Church

The Prescription For A Pure Church

Book of Acts Chapter 5

Before we begin we found at the end of chapter 4 these words written about Barnabas.

Act 4:36 And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus,
Act 4:37 Having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.

We will meet Barnabas many times as we continue our study of the Book of
Acts as he was one of the saints of the early church. We can see that Barnabas gave himself totally into the hands of the Lord.

Some will say that a Levite could not own land but that is not entirely true. God told Jeremiah to buy a piece of land and it was done according to the Law.

Jer 32:11 So I took the evidence of the purchase, both that which was sealed according to the law and custom, and that which was open:

So, Barnabas had made a generous contribution to the early church and no doubt there was much talk of it.

And, Barnabas had a clear understanding of the words of Jesus:

Mat 19:29 And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, o children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.

This act of Barnabas was deliberate and voluntary. One evidence of this early “Spirit Filled” church was the way they sacrificed and shared with one another.

We can see that giving was a blessing and not a burden!

So today we get to see a lesson in “hypocrisy”.

The Lord Jesus Christ personally used the word “hypocrites” 17 times in the Gospels.

And, The Lord Jesus pronounced “severe judgment” on the hypocrite including the “7 woes”!

So let’s begin:

*****Act 5:1 But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession,
Act 5:2 And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.

We should be aware that it is not hypocrisy to set high goals for ourselves even though we may never reach them.

Failure to reach a “Spiritual Goal” does not make us hypocrites!

It Is The “Deliberate” Deception That Is Hypocrisy!

A hypocrite is a “pretender”!

Every “actor” plays the hypocrite!

When we try to be more spiritual than we really are we are hypocrites!

The name Ananias means “God is gracious”. He learned that God was not only gracious but God is first “Holy”.

The name Sapphira means “beautiful” but in her heart Sapphira was ugly as sin and full of it.

I believe we can see that these two intended to get the same admiration that had been given to Barnabas.

We know of many things that are an abomination to the Lord and a “hypocrite” full of pride is one also one of them:

Pro 16:5 Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD: though hand join in hand, he shall not be unpunished.

*****Act 5:3 But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart [to lie to the Holy Ghost], and to keep back part of the price of the land?

The sin of Ananias and Sapphira was not greed. They did give a substantial gift to the Church. Their sin was “Pride” that came because of “Covetousness”!

They desired the praise of others in the Church!

They lied in order to gain prestige in the Church!

And they had committed this sin against the Body of Christ, God’s Church!

This may not seem such a crime that required death but we must remember that the punishment came from God and not from the Apostle Peter!

God simply would not allow “hypocrisy” to gain a foot hold in the early Church!

This is not the first time we see this from Our God, when He has begun a new period of salvation history.

Remember Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron who died for presenting “false fire” in the Tabernacle.

Remember Achan who took of the accursed thing when Israel first entered the Promised Land.

What we see in these two people is the working of Satan trying to hinder the early Church!

Satan had failed to stop the Church from the outside and he would now begin his attack on the inside of the Church.

Satan knows our weaknesses and for this reason God told us all to wear His Armor:

Eph 6:11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

*****Act 5:4 Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? [thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God].

There are too many people of the church today that deny that the Holy Spirit is God. We have proof in these verses that The Holy Spirit and God are synonymous because they are the same!

Satan will always attack with his lies!

The Church is God’s Temple in which He dwells!

Satan wants to move in but he cannot move into a Holy Ghost filled Church.

A Holy Ghost filled Church will preach the true Gospel and follow the Apostle’s Doctrine.

1Ti 3:15 But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God “which is the church of the living God, [the pillar and ground of the truth]”.

God will judge His people and that judgment will begin with His Church!

Ananias and Sapphira had it in their own power to know right from wrong and they chose to be unrighteous!

*****Act 5:5 And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things.
Act 5:6 And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him.

We should not get confused, this was not church discipline.

This was the Judgment of God!

Heb 10:30 For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people.
Heb 10:31 [It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God].

To be quiet honest, I believe this happens today more often than we think.

We are to judge our own actions by the Word of God!

1Co 11:31 For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.

When we knowingly refuse to judge our own actions then we place ourselves in the hands of the Holy and Almighty God!

We sometimes bring God down to our level or put God in a box, thinking we can release Him at will.

But God is God and It is He that sits on His Throne of this universe!

2Co 7:1 Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, [let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness “in the fear of God”].

God does not need our permission to act upon His Own Word!

Verse 6 again shows us that at death that Jewish person was wrapped in linen cloth and spices:

Joh 19:40 Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury.

*****Act 5:7 And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in.
Act 5:8 And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much? And she said, Yea, for so much.

We can be sure that Satan always keeps his servants in the dark of sin and it’s consequences!

But, God always gives His servants the truth:

Joh 8:32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall “make” you free.

Sapphira may have come into the Temple expecting her husband to be exalted but what she found out was that none of us can defy God, none of us can dare God to act on His Word and not suffer for it!

Mat 4:7 Jesus said unto him, It is written again, “Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God”.

Their sin was not in robbing God of some money!

Their sin was lying to God and robbing Him of His Glory!

They were not required to sell their land!

And having sold that land it was not required that they give any of it to the Church!

It was their “lust for recognition” that brought on this terrible sin and the results of this sin!

Jas 1:15 Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.
Jas 1:16 Do not err, my beloved brethren.

*****Act 5:9 Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out.
Act 5:10 Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband.

We need to realize that God would not allow a lie such as these two were committing to exist in the early Church.

God expected “Holiness” to reign in His Church. These things have not changed as God still expects His Church to be Holy!

1Pe 1:15 But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;
1Pe 1:16 Because it is written, [Be ye holy; for I am holy].

We must realize that there is still sin that brings death to the believer:

1Jn 5:16 If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. “There is a sin unto death”: I do not say that he shall pray for it.
1Jn 5:17 All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death.

This kind of sin was not allowed to exist in the early church!

The act of “giving” is the will of God!

Act 20:35 I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, [It is more blessed to give than to receive].

God requires absolute honesty in our relationship with Him and Jesus spoke harsh words about “hypocrites”!

Every hypocrite casts a dark shadow on the work of the Body of Christ wherever God’s people are located!

So what were the results of this incident?

*****Act 5:11 And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things.

Again we see the word “Church” this is the second time we see it in this Book of Acts.

The Greek word “ecclesia” used here for “Church” is used 117 times in the New Testament.

Up until this incident the early church had all things in common. We can see that sin takes this away!

Great fear came on all the Church and many have been saved who witnessed the “Power of God”.

There is the great “Power” of the Holy Spirit to form the Church.

There is the great “Grace” of God to keep His Church.

There is now the great “Fear” of God to maintain the Church and this was brought on when sin entered the Church.

The Bible says:

Heb 12:28 Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:
Heb 12:29 [For our God is a consuming fire].

*****Act 5:12 And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; (and they were all with one accord in Solomon’s porch.

It is very important for us to realize that the office of “Apostle” was limited to the eleven that remained after Judas died and the Apostle Paul.

The Apostle Paul’s situation was unique as he said himself, he was untimely born:

1Co 15:8 And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.
1Co 15:9 For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.

The Bible also states that the Church must be built on upon the foundation of the Apostles and the Prophets but Jesus Christ Is The Chief Cornerstone!

Eph 2:18 For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.
Eph 2:19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
Eph 2:20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
Eph 2:21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:
Eph 2:22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.

We now have the complete written Word of God which contains the “Apostle’s Doctrine” given to them by Jesus Christ and led by the Holy Spirit in the believer.

Therefore the office of the Apostle has ceased.

It is these 12 men who were given great powers and authority and these powers also have ceased and not given to any other men!

To be an Apostle, a man had to have seen the risen Christ!

During the time of the early Church the wonders performed by these Apostles were the fulfillment of the Lord’s promise to them!

It is now in the power of the pastors, the teachers and the evangelist to build on to the Church but only if they use the “Apostle’s Doctrine”.

The most important thing today is not miracles but whether the message we hear is the true Word of God!

*****Act 5:13 And of the rest durst no man join himself to them: but the people magnified them.
Act 5:14 And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.)

We can see that no more hypocrites tried to enter the Church at this time and it was the Apostles that were magnified.

We can see that true believers were added because all the unbelievers kept their distance in the “fear of God”!

Today the world has lost this fear of God and this in itself is a sign of the end times!

*****Act 5:15 Insomuch that they brought forth the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that at the least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them.
Act 5:16 There came also a multitude out of the cities round about unto Jerusalem, bringing sick folks, and them which were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed every one.

We can see that people would crowd these Apostles as they walked down the streets and even had the superstitious belief that was healing in the “shadow” of the Apostle Peter!

The Bible does not say anyone was healed by lying in Peter’s shadow these people only supposed it might!

Verse 16 does not say that these that were healed were healed by faith but only that they were all healed.

Modern day “so called” faith healers are never able to heal never heal all that come to them or they could empty out the hospitals.

The gift of healing by the Apostles did not require some super faith by the receiver!

We can also see that some people were sick and some people were vexed with evil spirits.

These were two different groups of people!

None of these people went without a cure. This confirmed the Gospel preached by the Apostles and it irritated and provoked the enemies of God!

The Sadducees led the persecution of the early Church!

AND, Here is how John the Baptist described this ultra religious group:

Mat 3:7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?

*****Act 5:41 And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name.
Act 5:42 And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.

The purpose of this lesson is to show us that God takes “hypocrisy” seriously!

Jesus said we must worship in spirit and in truth:

Joh 4:23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.
Joh 4:24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

These Jewish religious leaders along with the governmental leaders of Israel had decided to kill all these Apostles to stop the early Church but God had a better plan.

God used Gamaliel a well respected Pharisee to give this evil council the truth.

Act 5:38 And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought:
Act 5:39 But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.

We live today in a world that refuses to deal with disagreements on the basis of principle and truth. When understanding fails people usually resort to violence!

We can see that the Apostles did what was required of the Lord, “They Rejoiced”!

They were beaten and warned by the government of that day and by false religion but yet they still rejoiced!

Their ministry went on without ceasing!

This opposition of men meant the approval of God!

When we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ we accept the fact that we will suffer in His Name!

We simply cannot cease to teach and preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ Our Lord!

God will simply not allow His Word to stop until He is ready!

To follow in the foot steps of the Apostles is to be obedient to God’s Word!

Act 2:42 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

We are not to go about arguing religion or condemning the establish religions of this world, we are simply to tell the people about Jesus Christ!

2Co 4:5 For we preach not ourselves,[but Christ Jesus the Lord]; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake.

And that message is:

Joh 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

Pride is the gateway to sin. Pride will lead to lies as we saw today where pride can also cost us our physical lives.

Spiritual matters are matters of life and death and we must be honest with ourselves and God at all times!

Questions?

Let’s Pray!

The Praying Of The Persecuted Church

The Praying Of The Persecuted Church

Book of Acts 4:15-37

What does the word “Prayer” mean?

If we reduce prayer to it’s most fundamental element then prayer is “talking to God” on a personal level!

Prayer is all forms of communication with the God of Heaven!

There are basically five categories of prayer:

Praise, petition, supplication, imprecation and intercession.

Today, for the most part, we will see the power of a “petition” in prayer and prayer that offers “praise”.

Every prayer should begin with “praising” Our Father in Heaven!

“Praise” is honoring and glorifying Our Creator and Our Maker!

A “petition” prayer is a formal request of Our Father in Heaven and it cannot be made in a general, or vague or a careless manner!

This prayer is begging God to do what only He can do!

Jas 5:16  Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. “The effectual fervent prayer “of a righteous man” availeth much”.

The first need for “answered” prayer is for God’s people to be doing what is right.

The Bible is very specific here:

Psa 66:18  If I regard iniquity in my heart, “the Lord will not hear me”:

Unconfessed sin still stop a prayer before it can begin!

Let’s begin:

*****Act 4:15  But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves,
Act 4:16  Saying, What shall we do to these men? for that indeed a notable miracle hath been done by them is manifest to all them that dwell in Jerusalem; and we cannot deny it.

We can see that these that sat in council that day were not moved by the preaching of Peter. They were only in a dilemma!

They could not deny the miracle of the healing of that once lame man because, that once crippled and once lame man was standing before them with these Apostles.

They could not explain how simple fishermen from Galilee could perform such a miracle whose only fame was that they had been with Jesus of Nazareth.

It is important for us to keep these things in context:

This miracle was not proof of the “Resurrection” of Jesus!

This miracle was not proof that Peter’s message was even true!

Even Satan can perform miracles:

2Th 2:9  Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,
2Th 2:10  And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.

And false prophets can also perform wonders:

Deu 13:1  If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder,
Deu 13:2  And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them;

The truth of Peter’s message is that  The Lord Jesus Christ is “ALIVE”!

That Jesus was working in “His Church” through the “Power” of the Holy Spirit!

Peter preached from the Old Testament to show the truth of the “New Testament Gospel” to these that were Jews.

BUT, Miracles Are Not A Substitute For The Word Of God!

This council of the Sanhedrin court were not seeking the truth, They Were Seeking A Way To Avoid The Truth!

Sounds a whole lot like our courts of today!

They had no interest in the truth of the evidence “that was in their presence” this day!

It had been some of these same men that had tried to trap Jesus in His words!

We can see the proof that “a miracle”, in itself, “cannot bring conviction” to the lost!

It is only by the “Power” of the Holy Spirit that conviction can come to those that are lost!

The problem was not of their mind, the problem was in their heart!

The Bible says:

Jer 17:9  The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

*****Act 4:17  But that it spread no further among the people, let us straitly threaten them, that they speak henceforth to no man in this name.
Act 4:18  And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.

They now came to the conclusion that like all false doctrine that had come before this, that this was a new fad and would die a natural death in a short period of time.

They Were Very Wrong!

This religious group forbade the preaching of the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

AND, The entire religious world is trying to do this same thing today!

Satan has been trying to silence God’s people ever since the time of Adam and Eve!

Sadly even today many of us have become “silent” Christians and even our own governments are being caught up  and swayed by these things of false religion!

We know that this is a sign of the end-times because in the Book of Revelation we find a Religious Babylon and also Secular Babylon.

Rev 14:8  And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon “is fallen”, “is fallen”, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.

1.) We have the apostate Church, the “Harlot”.

2.) We have the spiritual Sodom, “The Unholy Worldly Alliance”.

This council did not want the Gospel Message to spread!

BUT, Satan’s attempts to silence the Church only leads to a stronger witness of the Lord!

When the world is trying to silence the truth of the Gospel, this only lends to the truth of God’s Word!

*****Act 4:19  But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye.

Who or what should we obey?

Peter said judge this your self!

After all these men did claim Our Creator as their own God. These men had placed themselves above the Word of God and had even made their own laws and added them to the Word of God.

When “we are sure” that we have a “clear” understanding of the teaching of God’s Word then we “may” one day have to defy our own governments BUT we are “always” suppose to deny the teaching of every false religion!

God has given us the Great Commandment:

Act 1:8  But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

This commandment must not cannot be denied!

We can see this throughout the Bible:

Exo 1:17  But the midwives feared God, and “did not as the king of Egypt commanded them”, but saved the men children alive.

It is always wrong to murder anyone and that includes babies!

On the average 3700 babies are aborted in America every day.

Heb 11:23  By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of his parents, because they saw he was a proper child; “and they were not afraid of the king’s commandment”.

Moses’s parents also knew this truth!

Dan 1:8  But Daniel purposed in his heart “that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank”: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.

It is always wrong to eat food that has been offered to Idols!

Dan 3:17  If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king.
Dan 3:18  But if not, be it known unto thee, “O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up”.

In other words O king, “do what you have got to do, we are not going to give in to you”!

There are many biblical principles that we must adhere to rather than what our governments write into some laws!

Peter, John and every other believer are under the orders of God to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ until the end of our lives or the Rapture of the Church or whichever comes first!

We must remain in good conscience toward God no matter the suffering!

1Pe 2:19  For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully.

*****Act 4:20  For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.

The Bible teaches us:

Heb 2:3  [How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation]; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him;

Jesus teaches us all, that a righteous protest against injustice will always bring sacrifice and suffering but we cannot and should not, conduct a “holy war” just because of our frustrations!

*****Act 4:23  And being let go, they went to their own company, and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said unto them.

Peter and John when they were released did not go somewhere and hide. They went back to where the Body of Christ was located. They immediately assembled together and reported their good news.

*****Act 4:24  And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is:
Act 4:25  Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things?

The greatest concentration of “power” in Jerusalem that day was in this “prayer meeting” with the New Church.

Peter and John had come in from their first battle with Satan and the Body of Christ was meeting to over come that enemy of the Church and all our battles need to always begin with prayer!

These first Christians firmly believed in a personal “omnipotent” Creator, who had now become man in the person of Jesus Christ.

It is Jesus Christ who has been rejected by the religious leaders and by the government of Israel and by the World!

There was no doubt in anyone’s mind that God our Creator had made all things according to His written word!

And there was no doubt that this same Creator had come down from “His place in Heaven” and taken on the “body of a human” just for the purpose of saving His creation!

The early Church was glad to suffer persecution for His name’s sake!

BUT, it seems most Christians today are silent and tend to hide from persecution.

The early Church gave praise for the opportunity to preach the Gospel “at all costs”!

Today, it seems that many of the Church question our Creator and His “written record” of our creation in the Book of Genesis.

We cannot be saved unless we believe “with all our heart” that Christ Jesus is also Our Creator!

This reference to the “heathen” which means the “Gentiles” was meant to apply to Herod, and Pilate and the other Gentiles who persecuted Christ Jesus.

The term “Heathen” denotes the “nations” that are not of the Jews, and “rage” denotes an assembly such as an unruly “mob”.

This reference to the “people” refers to the Jewish mob, the Jewish religious leaders and the Jewish government who were also guilty of the same crime.

This a picture of the many nations that plan to unite in rebellion against God that we see today as we get nearer the end of the Church Age!

The Apostle Paul best describes the phrase “vain things”.

Rom 1:21  Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; [but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened].

All these Jews had said that they knew God but they did nor know Him at all because they did not believe His Word.

This Is The First Act Of Knowing Him!

Paul also added:

Rom 1:22  Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,

Our own worldly wisdom will always make us foolish when compared to the Word of God!

The Bible adds:

Heb 10:31  It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

Though the world we live in has lost it’s fear of God all that does is make them all truly “foolish”!

*****Act 4:26  The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ.

Today as we live in America there is a thing called the United Nations who are counseling together to seek a humanistic world government and departing from the Word of God.

We can see the outcome of these things in the Book of Revelation:

Rev 16:14  For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, [to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty].

For the Apostle Peter to make reference to [Psalm 2] indicates that he knew that the secular world would not accept the Church of the Living God!

The early Church felt the urgency to pray about these things yet the Church in our day does not have that same urgency and is not as strong as it could be!

Most of us Christians are just too comfortable in our walk with God. Shame, Shame, Shame on us all!

*****Act 4:27  For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together,
Act 4:28  For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.

Though the world gathers against the Body of Christ, the fact remains that it is God who is in control!

That phrase “determined before” is the same in the Greek as “predestined”!

God has told us that these things will happen.

AND, There is nothing that we humans can do to catch God off guard!

We have the complete Word of God and praise the Lord we are on “The Winning Side”!

AND, We should have a clear understanding the more we are active servants of the Lord, the more spiteful will be the agents of Satan!

The Bible teaches us:

Pro 19:21  There are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the LORD, that shall stand.

*****Act 4:29  And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: [and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word],
Act 4:30  By stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done “by the name of thy holy child Jesus”.

This the prayer that was  made.

They did not pray for the persecution to cease.

They prayed for the power to speak the Word of God with even more boldness!

They did not pray for an easy Christian life.

They prayed for the courage to endure all persecution!

These are some of the things that we need to do today in order to get back the strength that the early Church had!

The early church clearly understood that God had a plan for all His believing children!

And they all were in one accord and knew “the work of the Church” is to glorify The Lord Jesus Christ.

For without Him we are “nothing”!

*****Act 4:31  And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.

Now we can see a second time the early church was filled with the Holy Ghost.

The filling of the Holy Spirit is not a once in a lifetime event!

The filling of the Holy Spirit must be often, even daily and comes through “earnest prayer”!

We can see that there was no “languages” or “tongues” involved with this filling but only the “Power To Speak Boldly”!

AND,  also for a joyful and godly Christian life.

What is the will of God?

Eph 5:17  Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding “what the will of the Lord is”.
Eph 5:18  And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;
Eph 5:19  Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and “spiritual songs”, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;
Eph 5:20  Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;
Eph 5:21  Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.

The filling of the Holy Spirit is necessary for our maturity in the Word of God!

We cannot walk the Christian walk without the Holy Spirit!

The filling of the Holy Spirit is essential for every child of God to be that useful and that available servant to the Lord!

The Bible “does not” command the believer to be indwelt or sealed with the Holy Spirit because this is the “gift” of God!

The Bible “does” command each believer “to be continually filled with the Holy Spirit” in order to to be of use to Our Lord!

In order for this to take place then we must not “grieve” the Holy Spirit!

Eph 4:30  And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.

When we “grieve the Holy Spirit we can also quench the Holy Spirit!

1Th 5:19  Quench not the Spirit.

We can quench the Holy Spirit when we despise the  preaching of God’s Word!

How do we grieve the Holy Spirit?

Eph 4:31  Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:

How do we not grieve the Holy Spirit?

Eph 4:32  And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

*****Act 4:32  And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.

According to the Bible the “Heart” is the center of spiritual activity and controls all the actions of the human life.

The “heart” is the seat of our “conscience”!

The “soul”  can be said to be that life breath that is given by God!  It is the “soul” that retains the knowledge of God in every individual and it is the “soul” that is saved by the acceptance of Jesus Christ as Our Savior!

That word “common” simply means “ordinary”. Some believers were “well to do” but most “became poor” because of the circumstances caused by the unbelieving Jews.

The early Church considered their personal possessions  as just “common goods” which could easily be given up.

This was not an early example of socialism!

This was not an early example of communism!

These things were “entirely voluntary”!

These things were not planned!

Nor were these things enforced nor caused by the Church!

They only gave their possessions “as were needed” and were “very” willing to do this.

We of the Church should always be willing to share “as the needs” of our Brothers and Sisters arise!

BUT, this does not mean we are to turn over all our possessions to the Church leaders.

God does not command more than the “Tithe” and all other things are “free will” offerings.

It is that “free will” offering that gains God’s Blessings, not the “Tithe”!

To neglect the “Tithe” is to ROB GOD!

*****Act 4:33  And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.

Even the Apostles needed to be continually filled with the Holy Spirit but they had one thing we do not have today.

They had that personal, eyewitness, knowledge and irrefutable evidence that Jesus Christ had certainly raised from the dead!

This is the crowning proof of Christianity!

Only God Himself can defeat death!

Jesus had demonstrated that He was and is God when He walked out of the grave!

It is this knowledge that gave boldness to Peter, And Paul, And John and all the Apostles!

It is this same knowledge that gives every believer the right into God’s Heaven!

Jesus said to doubting Thomas:

Joh 20:27  Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.
Joh 20:28  And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.
Joh 20:29  Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: [blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed].

Questions?

Let’s Pray!

Persecution In A Hostile World

The Persecution Of A Hostile World

Book of Acts Chapter 4: 1-14

Many people always ask why do we suffer from persecution and we really should have only one answer even though there may be some other reasons.

Jesus teaches us these words:

Mat 10:22  And “ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake”: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.

It is a fact that most all true Christians do good in this world we live in “But” even that good that is done is looked upon as evil in most of the world today.

Even in this latest tragic hurricane in our north our own president put down the good of the churches and asked people to work through the Red Cross. The Red Cross does a good work for the most part but they cannot put people on the ground as quick and as efficient as the local church.

BUT, It is a fact that any demonstration of the power of God makes this lost world uneasy!

The preaching of Peter had caused many lost souls to come to know the salvation of the Lord Jesus Christ.

But this same preaching that had brought many to salvation had inflamed the priestly authorities of Judaism in Israel.

The Sadducee were the ruling party at that time and they absolutely rejected resurrection in any form and especially any resurrection of a Messiah.

It is also a fact that this world’s religions reject the truth of God coming to Earth in the form of a human.

Most all religions believe that any Messiah will be some resurrected human from the past.

So, They could not allow the disciples of Jesus Christ to go unpunished.

Remember what Jesus had said:

Mat 10:34  Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: “I came not to send peace, but a sword”.
Mat 10:35  For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.
Mat 10:36  And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.

Of course that sword is the Living Word of God!

At this time the high priest and his followers were answerable to the Roman authorities for anything that even sounded like a disturbance.

Any gathering of people that might suddenly erupt into a riot or a revolution could take away their limited power and prestige given to them by Rome!

Their answer to this problem was to try to stop the preaching of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ!

As we left off last week the Temple Police and the religious leaders were just about to lay their hands on Peter and John.

Let’s continue where we left off!

*****Act 4:1  And as they spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them,
Act 4:2  Being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead.

It should be very obvious to us all that it was not only a ruling government that led to the persecution of the Lord Jesus but it was the religious rulers of that day. These were the enemies of Jesus Christ when he walked on this earth and these were the enemies of the apostles as the early church began to grow and then we can add on to that the ruling governments.

These authorities tried in every way to stop the spread of the Christian faith just as they still do today!

Many lost souls were being saved by the preaching of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ!

The church could have been stopped dead in its tracks if the world could only have produced the dead body of Christ.

We can be sure that they made great effort in trying to find the body of Jesus.

They could not find the “physical” body of Christ so they took steps to eliminate the “spiritual” body of Christ!

Rom 12:5  So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.

Eph 5:30  For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.

1Co 12:27  Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.

These apostles had witnessed the Lord Jesus ascending into Heaven. They had spent 40 days walking and talking with the resurrected Lord.

They knew for a fact that no one would be able to find the body of Christ because it was not on this earth!

This gave them the boldness to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ AND This was also one of those infallible proofs that Luke writes to us about.

This enemy would surely have produced that body of Jesus if it were possible for them to do so.

Christianity would have never even got started!

The apostle Paul put it this way:

1Co 15:14  And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.

1Co 15:16  For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised:
1Co 15:17  And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.

If you believe that Jesus did not raise from the dead, then you are still on the threshhold of hell if you are still alive and everyone that has gone before you is in Hell already!

*****Act 4:3  And they laid hands on them, and put them in hold unto the next day: for it was now eventide.

Peter and John were placed in jail that day for simply preaching the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ!

It had only been 3 hours since God had used Peter in the healing of that lame man and had preached a sermon that would cause these to accept the Lord Jesus Christ as their personal Savior!

Peter and John and entered the Temple in time for the three o’clock prayer time and it was now evening time probably six o’clock.

*****Act 4:4  Howbeit many of them which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand.

If anyone that calls himself a preacher needs an outline for a sermon they need to take advantage of this one preached by the apostle Peter.  At least 5000 souls were saved that day. These were true converts.

These were Jews who had recognized that the fulfillment of Judaism is in fact, Christianity.

*****Act 4:5  And it came to pass on the morrow, that their rulers, and elders, and scribes,
Act 4:6  And Annas the high priest, and Caiaphas, and John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the kindred of the high priest, were gathered together at Jerusalem.

We see this time that there was no midnight court for these Apostles and this is because of those 5000 new Christians and “one miracle receiving man” who had spent 40 years being lame.

You know it is just as great a miracle for even one lost soul to be adopted into the family of God.

This court was essentially composed of the family of the High Priest. The Jewish religious system had become so corrupt that the offices were passed from one relative to another without regard or the Word of God.

None of these men were not descendents of the tribe of Levi.

In fact history tells us that Annas was deposed from the High Priesthood by Rome and he was not about to allow that to happen to those of his family! Caiaphas his son-in-law was next appointed High Priest and at least five of Annas’s sons held the office of High Priest at one time or another.

In 1994 near a hidden valley in Jerusalem the stone burial ossuary of Caiaphas was actually found in the tomb of Annas.

These were real people and at a real-time at this time of the apostles and the beginning of the early church and not some made up story by these apostles!

*****Act 4:7  And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, By what power, or by what name, [have ye done this]?

The first thing we should notice here is that these religious leaders had acknowledged this as a miracle even though they tried to make it seem a minor thing at this time! (this thing)

The second thing we should notice is that these religious leaders had acknowledged that this miracle was done by Peter and John, the Apostles of Jesus Christ! (ye or you people)

In other words, “who do you think you people are to come into the Temple with this stuff”

The view of Judaism at that time was that all illnesses and afflictions were caused by demons!

In their view it would take an exorcism to remove those demons and this could only be accomplished by qualified spiritual leaders or else by a follower of the devil as we know that Jesus had been accused of.

Mat 12:24  But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils.

This Sanhedrin council realized that these two Apostles were only fishermen and could certainly not have any such power.

*****Act 4:8  Then Peter, “filled with the Holy Ghost”, said unto them, [Ye rulers of the people], and [elders of Israel],

The power of regeneration can come only by the Holy Spirit and only through the Lord Jesus Christ:

Rom 8:2  For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.

Joh 6:63  It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.

To question the work of the Holy Spirit through Jesus Christ is “Blasphemy” and this riled the Holy Spirit within Peter!

And Christ Jesus fulfilled one of His promises to His Apostles which was:

Mat 10:19  But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak.
Mat 10:20  For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.

We must realize the more we go about the work of God, the more spiteful will be the servants of Satan!

If we take our stand on the Word of God, the Holy Spirit will empower us!

Notice the eloquence of Peter at this time that is shown to the national leaders of Israel. This shows the wisdom of God that is given to the Christian!

*****Act 4:9  If we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole;
Act 4:10  Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole.

Keep in mind that Peter and John were only fishermen and not educated and trained lawyers.

The Word of God teaches us:

Gal 5:25  If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
Gal 5:26  Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.

And also:

Eph 6:13  Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, [to stand].

Peter’s first emphasis was that they were being questioned “for a good deed”.

Peter and John had done nothing bad, nothing evil nor anything immoral and it was not a Sabbath’s Day.

They had been used by the Holy Spirit to bring life to a man that had been lame for 40 years. This man had been a beggar all his life and to God’s glory he had been preserved until this very day of his healing.

There can be no doubt that in those 40 years these same elders and the same rulers had seen this man many times and had probably provided an “alms” to him.

Peter then said if you want to know by what means this good deed was done then let it be known to you all and to all the people of Israel that it was by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth.

There can be no doubt that these words pierced the heart of these non-believers.

They had thought that they were finished with the prophet from Nazareth but now these fishermen were telling everybody that Jesus of Nazareth was still alive.

Since the Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection of the dead then Peter’s statement was almost a declaration of war to them.

Peter made it known that it was these religious leaders and these elders of Israel that had caused Jesus to be crucified, but it was God who had raised him from the dead!

It was that same power of resurrection that had brought new life to this lame man!

*****Act 4:11  This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner.

Here again we see that Peter knew that Christianity is the fulfillment of Judaism and not some new religion but this is still rejected by the practicing Jew!

We should also remember that this same Peter had once been so fearful in his life that he had denied Christ Jesus three times.

It had taken a major transformation which was the fact that Peter knew beyond any question that Jesus had triumphed over death and had now energized him by His indwelling spirit.

Peter quoted the same Scripture that Jesus had earlier:

Psa 118:22  The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner.
Psa 118:23  This is the LORD’S doing; it is marvellous in our eyes.

This “image of the stone” was not new to these men who were experts in the Old Testament scriptures. They knew that the “rock” was a symbol of God.

Deu 32:4  He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.

The Sadducees used only the five books of Moses but the Pharisees used most all the Old Testament of that time.

We know that the Jews still stumble over this “Rock”!

Rom 9:32  Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone;
Rom 9:33  As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.

This is the stumbling stone that God has laid at the feet of the Jew and also at the feet of the world.

You see for Jesus was not just any Stone, “He is the Corner Stone of the Church” just as He is also the Savior of the Church and This World!

*****Act 4:12  Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

This is one of the clearest statements that can be found anywhere in the Bible that sets forth the only way of salvation!

Only Christ Jesus can save!

It is Christ Jesus that created and sustains all things!

Col 1:16  For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
Col 1:17  And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

Jesus had made this very plain Himself!

Joh 14:6  Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

We can see that these Apostles “clearly believed” the gospel of Jesus Christ!

We know that this truth may be offensive to non-Christians but we must continually and consistently make it clear in our witness to them in an act of love for them.

For without Christ Jesus we are lost and bound for an eternal Hell!

*****Act 4:13  Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.

Many, if not all of these same men on this council had been at the  false trial of Jesus. Remember this day of Peter and John was probably not much than two months since Jesus was crucified.

They had seen the witness of Jesus and sitting before them this day they were seeing men that resembled the Lord Jesus Christ in many ways including their boldness!

Being with Jesus will yield a greater wisdom and courage than this world offers!

There are many things the Holy Spirit provides to every believer:

Isa 11:2  And the “spirit of the LORD” shall rest upon him, “the spirit of wisdom” and “understanding”, “the spirit of counsel” and “might”, “the spirit of knowledge” and “of the fear of the LORD”;

We that believe, can live happier and more productive lives with the knowledge of Jesus than we could have ever lived with any great wealth of this world or with the education that this world provides.

These men that were accusing these Apostles of Jesus Christ were of the most educated and certainly of the most wealthy in Israel.

But they had been silenced by God’s people!

Suddenly the accused had become the accuser!

Php 4:13  I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

It should be to all of us “our goal” for people to see Jesus in us!

These religious rulers of Israel had thought that they had gotten rid of Jesus but they could see Jesus in these Apostles and in all who believed with all their heart!

Jesus said:

Mat 5:16  Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

*****Act 4:14  And beholding the man which was healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it.

All this time they could see this once lame man standing with Peter and John with personal knowledge that they had witnessed a miracle!

All arguments are silenced when there is a direct evidence of the power of the Gospel!

What Peter’s speech could not do the witness of this once lame man accomplished!

All this time this council had not been seeking the truth.

They were seeking a way to avoid the truth! No matter what God does in this world we live in, some people simply will not learn or accept!

What they did think is if they just left thing alone, Christianity would soon pass away from the scene but it did not because the truth “is always the truth”.

Christianity exploded from this day onward!

The name of Jesus was in the minds of everyone in Israel and would be scattered around the world by persecution!

This world can only do what God allows it to do to God’s people!

And what God allows will further prove His Word is True!

Questions?

Then let us pray with them!

Amen

Proclaiming The Risen Christ

The Proclamation Of The Risen Christ

Text: Book of Acts 3:1-26

Our focus: Acts 3:1-8, 11-16, 18-21

We have just witnessed the first birthday of the Church Age and we will learn as we study the Book of Acts the function of the Church.

The Church is the tool of God to reach the lost and to hold back the evil of this world we live in!

1.) The church is to provide proper instruction:

Act 2:42  And they continued stedfastly “in the apostles’ doctrine” and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

2.) There should be proper “fellowship”:

Act 16:34  And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, “believing in God with all his house”.

3.) There must be proper “Worship”:

Joh 4:23  But the hour cometh, and now is, “when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth”: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.

4.) There must be proper “Service”:

Act 5:42  And daily in the temple, and in every house, “they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ”.

Act 8:4  Therefore they that were scattered abroad “went every where preaching the word”.

The power to do all these things comes from the Power of the Holy Spirit!

Let’s begin:

*****Act 3:1  Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour.

We can see that the Apostles and the Jewish converts to Christianity, continued in the regular practices of the Jewish religion.

It was common practice for the Jews to pray 3 times a day, at the third, the sixth, and the ninth hours.

We should clearly understand that the Church is the fulfillment of the Jewish religion “and not some new religion”.

In fact Christianity is not a religion at all, “it is just the truth” of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ!

BUT, The Church is not and never will be a new Israel. These are two separate fulfillments of prophesy!

We have just seen in the Book of Ruth a “type” of Christ and His “Gentile Bride” which is the Church!

These are some of the things that were promised when the Messiah came and that Messiah is Jesus Christ! The word “Christ” is Greek for “Messiah” or “The Anointed One”!

The Bible tells us:

1Jn 2:22  Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is “the Christ”? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.

If Jesus the Messiah, the Anointed One, the Christ, cannot be accepted for what He is, “God in the flesh”, then you are not a believer and therefore not saved!

This is the stumbling block of Christianity to the world!

Any man can be good some of the time but only God can be perfect!

Heb 5:9  And “being made perfect”, he became the author of “eternal salvation” unto all them that obey him;

*****Act 3:2  And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple;
Act 3:3  Who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple asked an alms.

We have in this verse a man who has been lame from the day he was born and he was 40 years old at this time. We can see that he had someone who cared enough about him to bring him to a place where it was possible for him to get enough money to eat on.

At this time this was the welfare system of Israel.

Peter and John are often found together in Scripture:

They were in a fishing business together.

They prepared the last Passover before Jesus was crucified.

They ran to the tomb of Jesus together on that first Easter morning.

They were the first to minister to the Samaritans who were hated by the Jews.

They were now both filled with the Holy Spirit and working together to build God’s Church!

That gate called Beautiful was probably the gate that led from the court of the Gentiles to the court of the women. A gate that Herod had added when he was rebuilding the Temple and had it hand made of Corinthian Brass.

An “alms” would be anything given for the poor. We now call it “Charity”!

*****Act 3:4  And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us.
Act 3:5  And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them.

Most of these beggars would not be focused on those going in and out of the Temple. They would hang their heads down because most of them were embarrassed for what they had to do to survive.

Being disabled is not satisfying at all!

Being disabled seems to take away from any purpose of life!

But this lamed one obeyed Peter when he was told to look at him and John. This man was expecting some money but he was about to get something much more valuable.

There should be no doubt that this beggar was not the only one at this gate of the Temple that day. It should be noticed that Holy Spirit led Peter to this particular beggar for a reason.

*****Act 3:6  Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.

Miracles did not happen at random in the scriptures. Miracles occurred in three major periods:

In the days of Moses and Joshua.

In the days of Elijah and Elisha.

In the days of Jesus and His Apostles and there were very few outside this scope of time.

Miracles were always given to authenticate a message!

God enabled certain of His messengers to perform unusual miracles to substantiate a new message they were about to give!

When the Bible was completed in the form we have today, a completed work of God, then there is no need for miracles of this type.

I believe God still does miracles everyday but we have to to be paying attention to see them.

It’s a miracle every time someone is saved.

It’s a miracle every time someone is healed from a major sickness and there are still many that happen today but we have the entire message God has given to us and it does not need to be authenticated by miracles!

Jesus gave the Apostles and maybe a few more the gift of miracles but these ceased when the last Apostle, John died.

There is no truth to Apostolic powers in our day. All work is done by the Holy Spirit in the name of Jesus Christ.

God still does miracles but He does not still do them through a person.

AND, It can also be said that the church is so rich in “silver and gold” today that the church has forgotten about the Power of the Holy Ghost.

*****Act 3:7  And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.

If we pay attention we can see a “type” of sinner being saved.

This man was born lame:

And everyone on this planet is unable to walk to please the Lord. When Adam “fell” he passed his lameness to all his descendants

Rom 5:12  Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

This man was very poor:

We as sinners are bankrupt before God. The wages of sin are only death!

Luk 7:41  There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty.
Luk 7:42  And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most?

Salvation was immediate for this once lame man:

Eph 2:8  For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
Eph 2:9  Not of works, lest any man should boast.

The evidence of salvation was evident to those around him that knew him!

*****Act 3:8  And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God.

Now that this man could stand, he also took a stand on the Lord!

Eph 6:13  Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, “to stand”.

*****Act 3:9  And all the people saw him walking and praising God:
Act 3:10  And they knew that it was he which sat for alms at the Beautiful gate of the temple: and they were filled with wonder and amazement at that which had happened unto him.
Act 3:11  And as the lame man which was healed held Peter and John, all the people ran together unto them in the porch that is called Solomon’s, greatly wondering.

Now we see the purpose of the miracle!

This entire audience is made up of Jews. Jesus had said:

Act 1:8  But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

Jesus had told His disciples to begin in Jerusalem and God was gathering a large audience to hear His message to be preached by Peter.

Prophecy had said:

Isa 35:5  Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped.
Isa 35:6  [Then shall the lame man leap as an hart], and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert.

And Jesus said:

Mat 11:5  The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.
Mat 11:6  And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.

*****Act 3:12  And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, “Ye men of Israel”, why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk?

We know that at this time the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ was presented only to Israel. Jesus had told the Apostles to begin in Jerusalem.

Jerusalem had rejected Jesus and after His Death, Burial, and Resurrection, they would now hear the Gospel to see if they would now believe.

The fact that the Gospel “will come to where we live” is proof of the Love of God!

Peter is very clear, that this miracle was not done by any power that he had.

The New Testament had not been written at this time and Peter was about to take the Old Testament and show them the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

*****Act 3:13  The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go.

Peter was now not some dumb fisherman but he was mighty in the Word of God. Peter laid the groundwork for his sermon by associating Jesus with the God of Israel, the same God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Again Christianity is not some new religion but it is the fulfillment of Judaism. It was the same God who made a covenant with Israel who then also rejected the Son of God!

It was some of these very same Jews that had delivered Jesus to Pilate.

It was some of these very same Jews that had denied Jesus as their King.

Pilate had truly put some effort in trying to release Jesus!

Mat 27:24  When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it.

Then all of Israel made this foolish statement:

Mat 27:25  Then answered all the people, and said, “His blood be on us, and on our children”.

Israel has surely suffered because of this statement!

But God has not abandoned them as some think!

*****Act 3:14  But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you;
Act 3:15  And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses.

It was some of these very same Jews that had received the guilty Barabbas in exchange for the sinless and guiltless Son of God named Jesus.

For the remainder of his days the Apostle Peter will never preach another sermon where he will not mention the “Resurrection of Jesus Christ”!

Peter here says he and John were witnesses to these things and there were some in this very audience who were also witnesses to these things.

*****Act 3:16  And his name through faith in his name hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.

In His Name:

It is the names of Our Savior that also describe Him to us!

His Son Jesus, The Holy One, The Just One, The Prince of Life, His Christ, The LORD, The Prophet, The WORD, The Light, The Lamb of God.

He is Shiloh!

He is the Rose of Sharon!

His name is Wonderful!

He is the Mighty Counselor!

He is the Mighty God!

He is the Everlasting Father!

He is the Prince of Peace!

And He is the King of Kings!

He is the Lord Jesus Christ the true Messiah!

And He is Our Precious Savior!

And He is the Fulfillment of “All” the Old Testament Prophecy about the Anointed One of God!

*****Act 3:17  And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers.
Act 3:18  [But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled].

There are many things that we do through ignorance and do not totally understand the results that come from them.

Even Jesus said forgive them for they knew not what they were doing!

We will never understand all the plan of God, but we know God has a plan and he wants us to be involved in his plan and not have a plan of our own, which is a greater sin!

All the things that were fulfilled by the Lord Jesus Christ were told about in the same Old Testament that all these people had access to.

The apostle Paul put it this way:

1Ti 1:13  Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, [because I did it ignorantly in unbelief].

To be a unbeliever does not give anyone an  excuse but an unbeliever cannot know the will of God!

An unbeliever relies on the laws of man and if the laws of man do not match up with the Word of God then they are ignorant of God’s law.

It is our job to tell everyone “who cross our paths” the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

There is not one single book of the Old Testament that does not point to the Messiah!

It may be said that Israel’s situation was something like that of the “man slayer” who killed his neighbor without prior malicious intent and fled to the nearest city of refuge.

*****Act 3:19  Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, [when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord];

These Jews and the World of today need to realize that when they fight against Jesus they are fighting against the God of the Bible.

The resurrection of Christ Jesus was conclusive proof that He was approved of God!

The present power of Jesus was shown by His healing of this lame man.

The rejection of Jesus is an act of ignorance and God was ready, willing and waiting to forgive them of this sin.

To “repent” is a complete changing of the mind and is reflected in the heart!

To be “converted” is the physical act of turning from sin and Satan and then unto God!

It is this act that that will cause your sins to be blotted out in God’s book of records!

Isa 44:22  I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins: return unto me; [for I have redeemed thee].

Salvation is only on an individual level but Peter was preaching for the national repentance of Israel.

Jesus Christ had suffered brutally and died on the cross but there will be a time in the future when He will return as King and King of Kings.

This will be the time of His refreshing And the time of His presence again in this world!

*****Act 3:20  And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you:

These are the things that God had shown by the mouth of all His prophets.

This is the message that God was giving to “whosoever” would listen and repent.

And Jesus will come again a Second Time!

Peter was saying this day that, “now is the time to turn and repent”. Peter’s message was that the Lord can return any day and the day of judgment was not the time that they could repent.

Psa 69:28  Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and “not be written with the righteous”.

On the day of judgment or the day of death, every soul will be blotted out the book of the living “but it will be too late to be written in the book the righteous”.

It will be too late!

Today then is surely the day to turn to the Lord!

This is the same message we need to hear today!

*****Act 3:21  Whom the heaven must receive [until the times of restitution of all things], which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.

The last day of the Church Age all the Saints that are still alive will be taken up into Heaven.

All the souls that are in Heaven will be reunited in a “glorified body” along with those saints.

1Th 4:14  For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
1Th 4:15  For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
1Th 4:16  For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
1Th 4:17  Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

There will then be a seven-year tribulation period proven by the Book of Daniel.

Dan 9:24  Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.
Dan 9:25  Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.
Dan 9:26  And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.
Dan 9:27  And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.

This period of seven years will be divided into parts of three and a half years apiece.

This last period is known as the Great Tribulation is also known as the time of Jacob’s trouble:

Jer 30:7  Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: “it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble”; [but he shall be saved out of it].

The Apostle Paul wrote:

Rom 11:25  For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.
Rom 11:26  And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:
Rom 11:27  For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.

It is at the end of this time that God will restore all things for 1000 years:

Amo 9:11  In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old:

This is the message of Peter to the Jews and this is the message to the Church today.

These things will not change!

The truth is the truth whether there are any believers!

Questions?

Let’s Pray!