The Bible Companion Series

Christianity in Action

The Acts of the Apostles

A Bible-Believing Study Guide - Instructor’s Edition

 

 

 

 

 

By Craig A. Ledbetter.

Bible Baptist Church of Ballincollig

Post: 29 Westcourt Heights

Ballincollig, Cork, Ireland

(021) 4871234

(c) 1996-1998 Craig Ledbetter

 

Any portion, including the whole of this text may be reproduced without the permission of the author, as long as credit is given for its source (Romans 13:7)!


 


The Acts of the Apostles

Study Introduction

 

I.      Preliminary Information

 

A.    The Title of the Book - The Acts of the Apostles

 

1.     Describes An Action Account - Not primarily doctrinal in nature, but a record of the lives of real people who lived out what they believed, under real circumstances.

2.     Describes An Historical Account - Actual names and places of verifiable facts. Not like Joseph Smith's "Book of Mormon" with is non-historical!!! This Book in type will match the character of the Book of Joshua, which too is an historical account of God's people possessing their inheritance.

3.     Describes An Incomplete Account - The book is written in the Present Tense. In other words, these acts are on-going in the lives of Christians today! Christianity did not end at the close of the 28th chapter! Christianity continues to spread, and build upon the foundation laid here in this Book (Eph 2:19-22)

 

B.    The Author: Luke (Luke 1:1; Acts 1:10)

 

1.     The ultimate Author is God (2 Tim 2:15)

2.     As far as the human “secretary” was, compare Scripture with Scripture Acts 1:1,2 with Luke 1:1,2.

2.     Luke, the beloved physician (Col 4:14), was a Jew, not a Gentile as many believe. Reason: because Romans 3:2 states that the “oracles of God” (Scriptures) are given to the Jews, and NO Gentile is used to write any Jewish Scripture!

 

C.    The Date of Its Writing: About 60 A.D.

 

1.     Acts 28 records that the Apostle Paul was not dead at the completion of the Book of the Acts, so it has to be dated before his death which was in 65 AD

2.     It is well known that Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 AD, and the Acts does not record that either, so it was written before that event as well.

 

D.    The Intended Audience -

 

1.     O Theophilus! Lover of God! The Bible has always been written primarily for God's people, and not for the atheist or agnostic! It is written from the standpoint of the believer with few exceptions which are directed at the skeptic. Did you ever notice that the Bible never attempts to prove the existence of God?

2.     Did you notice that Luke is not attempting to re-write, or update his former treatise, but rather continuing on in its account of God's hand in their lives. Luke’s first treatise was written under the inspiration of God (2 Tim 3:16). Luke knew that no one could improve God's inspiration!

 

E.     Its Importance and Significance

 

1.     The Book of Acts puts “feet” to faith. God’s truth changes a life (2 Cor 5:17), not just a mind, or even just a heart, and Acts shows how the lives of people all over the world were changed by the preaching of the gospel. Acts is the result of the Gospel!

2.     The Book of Acts records what it took the apostles and early disciples to lay the foundation for the rest of us to get saved.

3.     It places in the hand of the Christian a verifiable record of the events and truths of Christianity so that they may know with “certainty” (Luke 1:4) that it is of God, and God alone!

 

F.     The Theme - always Jesus Christ (1:1; Acts 28:31)

 

1.     The Book of Luke covered the life of Jesus Christ, His "passion," and his resurrection.

2.     The Book of Acts will cover the life that Jesus Christ lives through his disciples until His return for them in the clouds!

 

G.    Its Placement in the Bible

 

1.     Acts is a continuation of a former treatise (in-depth discourse) - The Gospel According to Luke.

2.     Acts provides a practical connection with the doctrinal Books that follow it. The doctrinal Books (Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Galatians, etc.), are principles, and statements that need lives attached to them before they can be transferred to another life.

 

II.    Our Approach to the Study of the Bible

 

A.    We take the Bible as primarily literal and authoritative (John 17:17)

B.    We prefer to study the Bible in an outline form - identifying the various subjects and conclusions made by the Book on a chapter by chapter basis - studying it bit by bit (Isa 28:10).

C.    We believe the King James Bible in its entirety, and waste no time attempting to find errors or mistakes in it - rather we wish to live it!

 

III.   Some Practical Information

 

A.    A Simple Outline of Acts - This Book is divided up in several ways:

 

1.     By Nationalities (Romans 1:16)

 

a.     To the Jew First (Acts 1-12)

b.     And to the Greek (Acts 13-28)

 

2.     By Geographical Region (Acts 1:8)

 

a.     In Jerusalem Acts (1-7)

b.     Judaea (Acts 8)

c.     Samaria (Acts 8)

d.     Uttermost Parts of the earth (Acts 9-28)

 

4.     By Personalities

 

a.     Acts of the Apostles

b.     Acts of their Disciples

c.     Acts of the Holy Spirit

d.     Acts of the world - its religions, philosophers, etc.

 

3.     By a General Sequence of Events - This is how we will study through the Book

 

B.    Some Things to know about when studying this Book

 

1.     This Book is An Action Book - Christianity is not just a “faith” but the living of that faith, out in the open, not in a closet!

2.     A Transitional Book

 

1.     Just like Salvation involves a transition from darkness into His marvelous light (2 Pet 2:9), so the Book of Acts records the transition of world history from dark religion, to the marvelous light of Bible Christianity.

2.     There are three "transitional" Books in the New Testament:

 

a.     Matthew- Transition from the Old Testament to the New

b.     Acts - Transition from an emphasis being placed upon the Jews, to the Gentiles

c.     Hebrews- Transition from the present, to the "last days"

 

3.     Every major heresy comes from people referring to obscure passages in one of these three Books, and building subsequent doctrines on them.

 

C.    Some of the subjects this Book will deal with:

 

1.        Once a person is saved, what to expect next

2.        The empowerment and mobilization of the New Testament church for a greater purpose than just their enjoyment!

3.        The various methods of soul-winning

4.        The extent of soul-winning - World Wide Evangelism

5.        How the New Testament church functions in the world

6.        The simplicity of New Testament worship!

7.        Salvation by the grace of God through faith alone

8.        The following heresies and confusions will be dealt with:

 

a.     Calvinism - The belief that a person is “elected” (pre-chosen) to salvation, or “elected” to damnation by God.

b.     Penticostalism/Charismaticism - The belief that ALL the spiritual gifts are for today; the belief that a person can lose their salvation

c.     Lordship Salvation - that a person is not really saved unless they have everything under control at the point of salvation - basically the belief in sinless perfection AT salvation

d.     Baptismal Regeneration - the belief that baptism is a part of a person’s salvation

e.     Judaism - Legalism - the belief that every Christian must keep the “Law” in order to really be a true Christian, and keep saved

f.      And a few more!

 

IV.   Conclusion

 


The Acts of the Apostles

Chapter One

The Church Commissioned

 

Focus Verse: Acts 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.” Acts 1:8

 

I.      Chapter Introduction

 

  1. Christianity started with Jesus Christ. But just existing as Christians without a purpose, without motivation, without power is only empty!
  2. Christ’s death, burial and resurrection had been the event that split history into two, and propelled a few ignorant fishermen and carpenters into a hostile world to bring it to God. That is the record of Acts. As Christians, we are to follow their examples, obtain the necessary courage, and seek to carry out the tasks that our Lord gave us to do - all through the power of the Holy Spirit!
  3. Acts Chapter 1 is divided up as follows:

 

1.        The Person of Jesus Christ (1:1-5)

2.        The Priorities of the Christian (1:6-8)

3.        The Promise of Christ’s Return (1:9-11)

4.        The Patience Required (1:12-14)

5.        The Preparation to Serve - Mobilization (1:15-26)

 

II.    Study Outline of Acts Chapter 1

 

A.      The Person of Jesus Christ- Past, present and future ministry (1:1-5)

 

When Luke begins this Book, he immediately connects it with his previous Book, the Gospel According to Luke and then covers the entire life, death, burial, resurrection, showing, and ascension of Jesus Christ - all in four verses. For the rest of the Book, he follows the lives of Christ's disciples in the continuing saga called "Christianity". Truly, "the saga continues!"

 

1.        It is addressed to a specific Reader - Theophilus!

 

O Theophilus! Lover of God! As we have already stated, the Bible has always been written primarily for God's people, and not for the atheist or agnostic! It is written from the standpoint of the believer with few exceptions which are directed at the skeptic. Whoever Theophilus was, this Book definitely was not only intended for him, but for all who would know how live the Christian life in today’s world! It is written from the viewpoint of an eyewitness (Acts 16:10).

 

2.        The theme is Jesus Christ from start to finish (see Acts 1:1 and then 28:31)

 

The Book of Acts will cover the life that Jesus Christ lives through his disciples until His return for them in the clouds!

 

1.        The subjects dealt with by Jesus before his ascension (1:2-5):

 

a.        The phrase "through the Holy Ghost" (1:2). A key phrase of Acts! A unique statement telling you that after Jesus ascended to heaven, He spake by means of the Holy Ghost to His Apostles, giving them instructions, and informs us of the means by which Jesus continues to both "do and teach" even up until today! The same means of inspiration (2 Tim 3:16).

b.       The resurrection, and its "infallible proofs" (1:3)

 

1)       Jesus is seen for forty days (Sunday He resurrects in the March or April time frame, and then ascends Thursday, 40 days later in late April or May sometime) by over 500 witnesses (1 Cor 15:6)

2)       The fact of an empty tomb and grave clothes (Mt 28; John 20:3-9)

3)       The fact that eleven men ate and lived with Him for those forty days (Luke 24:38-44)

4)       The fact that those eleven men actually "HANDLED" Him (I John 1:1; John 20:28)

5)       The fact of the transformed lives of the eleven apostles, and of all who trust a living Saviour (2 Cor 5:17).

 

c.        The kingdom of God (1:3; Matt 6:33; Rom 14:17)

 

This one subject is about the most important thing that a Bible Believer could settle in his or her mind - what the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Heaven are. Suffice it to say here that Jesus is NOT discussing of things pertaining to the Kingdom of Heaven (millennium) because it is some two thousand years away, but rather a form of life that the body of Christ is to live out until the millennium. What is the millennium? It is the earthly visible reign of Jesus Christ on this earth for 1000 years (the Kingdom of Heaven), following the rapture and the seven year tribulation (Rev 19).

 

d.       The promise of the Father (1:4,5; Luke 24:49)

 

1)       A Baptism (1:5), immersion - One of seven in Scripture

2)       An Empowerment (1:8), becoming "endued with power" (Luke 24:49) that comes from the Holy Spirit (John 14:16) - Comforter, Guide, Teacher, Helper.

3)       A Filling (2:2,4; 4:8,31) - of the heart and spirit of a Christian with the power and drive, and strength needed

4)       Responsibility - As a new body, the body of Christ, the Church is not to “relish” this gift, but use it for souls, and for the living of the Christian life (Cf Philp 2:5-8). All that Jesus did in His life and ministry, He did through the power of the Holy Ghost (John 3:34), not in the power of His deity! All so that He could show how WE can live

 

B.       The Priorities of the Christian (1:6-8)

 

1.        The Jew's primary desire - the restoration of "the kingdom". People are always interested in a physical kingdom - empire where THEY have it made! This literal kingdom is promised (it makes up half of the old Testament promises), but is not our concern right now! Not the right timing.

2.        Christians can get to where they are only looking forward to heaven and therefore do nothing here and now for God (Jude 25)!

3.        Jesus' main desire was for them to get the power that they needed (from the Holy Spirit) to do the work that He was leaving them here on the earth to do! The fulfilling of the great commission (Matt 28:19-20) - invade enemy territory by presenting the truth about heaven, hell, salvation, and the human heart. Note the difference expressed between God's power to know the end from the beginning, and then Christ's declaration that Christians will have power also - power to do God's work in His stead here on earth as ambassadors (2 Cor 5:20). Jesus wanted:

 

a.        For the Christian to be empowered (Eph 5:18) - they already had received the Holy Ghost by faith (John 20:22) and been sealed (Eph 1:13) with Him at salvation.

b.       For the Christian to be a witness - having experienced something that he or she can attest, testify as being true (1:8)

c.        And be a witness throughout the world - starting right where they were - Jerusalem and going until Christ returns!

 

C.       The Promise of Christ’s Return (1:9-11)

 

1.        The ascension of Jesus Christ - This is the third RAPTURE in Scripture (see Gen 5:21-24; 2 Kings 2:11 for the earlier two)

2.        The heavenly visitors - Angels

 

a.        These show up at Christ' birth (Luke 2 at His descension), and then here at his ascension.

b.       Their gentle prod - get moving because He is coming back! This is not the last time that you see Him. The imminence of the return of Jesus was preached and believed by the Apostle Paul (1Thes 4:16,17)!

c.        The information given here concerning the Second coming:

 

1)       Christ's return will be clouded to the view of the world

2)       Jesus will come down out of heaven

3)       He will come unexpectedly

4)       Angels will participate somehow

5)       The very same Jesus that left this planet, will return! No one will be taking His place (like a counterfeit “christ”)!

6)       Jesus will arrive back here to this very spot - Mt Olivet!

 

D.      The Patience Now Required (1:12-14) To wait, and serve, and look

 

1.        The situation - the Captain has left them on their own with one instruction - go to Jerusalem and wait there until you get power! It is now Friday in probably early May, and about 120 disciples are gathered together in an upper room. The significance of this upper room- it is probably the one they had the last supper in

2.        Note the names of the disciples and then those who were with the disciples - other women, Mary the mother of Jesus, and Jesus' brethren (i.e., actual half-brothers and sisters!). No Judas Iscariot mentioned though! What happened to him? Hanged himself.

3.        This is where modern Christianity fails miserably - they hate waiting on God (Ps 27:14; Jam 5:7,8), serving (Col 3:23,24), and looking for Christ’s return (Tit 2:13). They get bored too easily.

 

E.       The Preparation to Serve - Mobilization (1:15-22) They have to overcome several problems:

 

1.        The problem with priorities. After the resurrection of Christ, there were over 500  disciples (1 Cor 15:6). But only 120 are at the prayer meeting, waiting for the “promise of the Father” (the arrival of the Holy Spirit). Christians have a hard time with priorities (see Demas in  2 Tim 4:10) and faithfulness to them (1 Cor 4:2).

2.        Let’s identify some of the priorities that both they and we need:

 

a.        To be sure of our salvation - there is no greater priority!

b.       To be in one accord - unity around the Scriptures (Acts 2:42)

c.        To love one another (John 13:34)

d.       To get the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8)

e.        To be a witness (Acts 1:8) - by clear word and clean life

f.         To be ready for Christ’s return (Acts 1:11)

 

3.        The problem with personnel. Peter has been going over the pages of his Bible and he has thought about the importance of the number 12, and that something has been left undone by God - the filling of that 12th apostleship, and so Peter figures they need to fill Judas’ place. Jesus said the labourers were few (Matt 9:36-38)

4.        So Peter takes the initiative - there is a danger here. Don’t act until God tells you to act. Learn to wait on the Holy Spirit to direct you. And act on your current instructions. We definitely need initiative, but God-led initiative - obedience to Scriptures

5.        Reviews Judas’ life (1:16-19)

 

a.        He was a true apostle - with miracles and gifts (Matt 10:1,2)

b.       Yet he was a devil (John 6:70) that had to commit suicide by hanging himself on the edge of a cliff (Matt 27:5)

c.        His body fell into the very field that the Pharisees purchased with the money Judas had sold Jesus out for (Matt 27:6-8)

d.       Judas left a big vacancy - a “bishoprick” (1:20) or managerial position - shepherd, overseer - not religious hierarchy (Ac 20:28; 1 Pet 2:25; 5:2-4)

 

6.        CONJECTURE - Peter possibly wrongly applies the timing - too early to fill the vacancy - will be filled by another man (1 Cor 15:8) which turned out to be Paul

7.        Let’s find out what it takes to be an Apostle - an empowered messenger commissioned by Christ (note the signs, 2 Cor 12:12):

 

a.        Had to be hand picked by Jesus Himself (John 6:70)

b.       Had to be empowered to be an apostle - was not just a name (Mt 10:1,2)

c.        Had to establish Christianity (Eph 2:19,20) throughout world

d.       Had to have been faithful throughout the ministry of Christ - from John’s baptism through Christ’s resurrection (Cf 1 Ti 1:12,13). NO ONE after Acts 12 could meet that criteria.

 

8.        They chose a replacement (1:23-26) Only two people met the qualifications. To “cast lots” means to put the two names in a basket and draw out one. It turned out to be Matthias.


The Acts of the Apostles

Chapter Two

The Church Empowered

Focus Verse: Acts 2:4

 

And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

 

I.      Study Introduction

 

A.    The New Testament Christians have now been mobilized (chapter 1), and primed by the command of their Captain, are only waiting for the signal that they have can commence the battle (Eph 6:12).

B.    The signal finally came, on the day of Pentecost, exactly 50 days after the death of the Passover Lamb - right on schedule!

C.    From that moment on, Christians have relied on the empowerment of the Holy Spirit in their lives to do the work that Christ has called for us to do (John 15:4,5; Eph 5:18)

D.    This chapter sets the start of the “Christian Era.” Christ had brought to a close the era of the Law (John 1:17). The coming of the Holy Spirit brought in the Christian Era, or “dispensation of Grace” (2:21).

 

II.    Study Outline

 

A.    The Empowerment of the Church (2:1-4)

 

1.     What Pentecost was to the Jew

 

a.     The Pentecost Feast (Lev 23:15-21) - one of seven:

 

a.     The Passover Feast - Calvary

b.     The Feast of Unleavened Bread - Calvary

c.     The Feast of the First Fruits - The Resurrection

d.     The Feast of Pentecost - feast of seven weeks - Pentecost

e.     The Feast of the Trumpets - Rapture and Second coming

f.      The Feast of the Atonement - The tribulation

g.     The Feast of Tabernacles - Millennium

 

b.     Pente-cost means ‘50’ and represents a feast occurring 50 days after the Passover.

c.     It coincides with remembering and celebrating the giving of the Law at mount Sinai (Ex 19:1). Notice how that in the New Testament, it will become a celebration of the giving of GRACE (John 1:17).

d.     It celebrated the birthday of the nation of Israel (Ex 19:5)

e.     Great signs and wonders announced its arrival (Ex 19:16,18)

f.      Some 3,000 people died at that time (Ex 32:28)

 

2.     Pentecost’s Importance to the Church

 

a.     At the Passover (Matt 27) Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, was humiliated, degraded, and put to a criminal’s death. But at Pentecost, Jesus is highly glorified!

b.     It celebrates the official birthday of “the New Testament Church” (Cf “the church in the wilderness” Acts 7:38)

c.     Great signs and wonders marked its arrival (Act 2:2,3,17-20)

d.     3,000 souls got SAVED (Acts 2:41)

 

3.     The particulars of Pentecost

 

a.     These Christians were still in unity, and waiting for the arrival of the promise of the Father - expecting the fulfillment (2:1). It is not right, or "normal" in God's eyes for Christians to be apart, and busy doing their own things in life, but they MUST set aside the time to faithfully be together (Heb 10:25)!

b.     The sound of  the “rushing mighty wind” filled the house (2:2). This event has only happened ONCE.

c.     The appearance of “cloven (divided) tongues” (like the word “cleave” or “cut in half”) that looked like fire (2:3). Each person individually received the ability to speak. This event has only happened ONCE. This is not a baptism of “fire” (Cf Matt 3:11). This is the arrival of something that looks like it is on fire because it came from heaven (Cf rev 1:13-15).

d.     The filling of the Holy Ghost caused them to begin to speak with “other tongues” (2:4) a supernatural sign gift. Somebody is going to start talking differently now. Turns out to be in ALL the main different languages of the world! Remember how that God had to “DIVIDE” the languages back at the tower of Babel in Gen 11? Well, God now overcomes that “confusion” with a special ability for His people to be able to speak ANY language needed so that the Gospel (good news) of Jesus Christ could be heard and UNDERSTOOD by all!!! Look at 2:4 where they are given “cloven tongues” and begin to speak in “OTHER tongues!” What could be clearer? Tongues are languages (2:8; 1 Cor 14:21)!

 

B.    The Experience of Pentecost (2:5-13)

 

1.     Every Jew in town heard of what was going on in that little upper room (2:5-7), and how it had spilled out into the streets - the sound of wind coming out of the sky and entering into a house couldn’t be contained (like a helicopter dropping out of the sky and onto the roof of a house). Not a secret meeting.

2.     These were Jews that had traveled from every nation to Jerusalem for this feast - remembrance of the birth of Israel!

3.     All of the people heard these few men speaking in so many different languages. Very confounding/confusing.

4.     The disciples are doubted to have the ability to know so many languages - people could tell they sounded like Galilaeans because of their accent. This tells you that probably, only the ones from GALILEE were speaking in tongues- the 12 Apostles (1:11)

5.     These disciples spoke with "other," not "unknown" tongues to fifteen represented countries and ethnic regions. These were Jews and proselytes that were part of the "dispersion" that came back to Jerusalem every year to worship (see the “Ethiopian” eunuch doing this same thing a couple of years later in Acts 8:26-28).

 

a.     The Parthians, Medes, Elamites, Arabians, and the people from Mesopotamia were Jews from the Far East that were part of the dispersion of 2 Kings 17.

b.     The Judeans are the local people that lived in southern Israel

c.     The Capadocians, people of Pontus, Asians; Phrygians, and Pamphylians all come from areas of the Northern dispersion.

d.     The Egyptians, and Lybians were from Africa - the South

e.     The Roman, and Cretian proselytes represented the Jewish dispersion to the West and Northwest of Israel.

 

6.     These are said to represent "every nation under heaven." This definitely is only a partial list of the nations represented.

7.     The areas listed form a complete circle around the Mediterranean, with the center being Judæa (see Figure 1).

8.     These were the directions that the good news of Christ would be first carried by these people as they believed, and then returned “home.” Jesus had commanded the Christianbs to go to the “uttermost parts of the earth” (Acts 1:8; Matt 28:19; Mark 16:15) and here the uttermost had come to them!

 

9.     Everybody heard the "wonderful WORKS of God" (at the cross) in their own language! God had gone the extra mile! He could have made all listen in Hebrew or Greek, but God inspired the translation process so that His word could be HEARD (Rom 10:17) and easily understood by the whole world!!!

 

Two important things to notice:

 

a.     The whole world needed to hear the news of Jesus Christ!

b.     But most importantly, the Jews needed to be convinced that they really had crucified the Messiah - that they had missed Him. So God gave them one more “sign” - tongues.

 

10.   Those who doubted came up with illogical conclusions.

 

a.     Some said this was “crazy” (this event has no meaning).

b.     Others thought they were drunk with “new wine,” which is only a derogatory statement. Like saying they were dippy because of only drinking buttermilk. The world just brands things that they don't understand as crazy, or immature. That’s how they treat most of history and the Bible

 

Note: Concerning wine. New wine is grape juice, fresh out of the press (Prov 3:9,10), having no alcohol content - it is this kind of wine that Jesus drank (Matt 26:29). The other kind of wine is referred to as “mixed” wine (Prov 23:29-30, not just grape juice, but mixed now with alcohol), and is usually associated with drinking “strong drink” (high alcohol content).

 


C.    The Explanation of Peter (2:14-21) Peter's First Revival

 

1.     His Audience - “Ye men of Judæa and everyone dwelling in Jerusalem” - Dealing directly with the Jews here.

2.     His Rebuke (2:15). The people really believed that these “disciples” of Jesus were wimps, and that really had gotten drunk on new wine! But thinking that they were drunk at the third hour of the day (9AM) was just showing their gullibility. Principle: Learn to have something to say to show just how ignorant people really are about Christianity (Cf 1 Pet 3:15)

3.     His Message.  This is the beginning of the fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy of the “Last Days” (Joel 2:28-32)

 

a.     The Last Days - the days leading up to Christ’s return which is the “Day of the Lord

 

1)     Peter knows that tongues is only the beginning

2)     There is much more to come - only the “firstfruits” of the Spirit (Rom 8:23)

3)     Peter thought that the rest of the prophecy is about to be fulfilled (Cf Matt 3:1,2; 4:17). But it is up to the Jews!

 

POINT: Only the outpouring was fulfilled. The remainder of the prophecy is still yet to be fulfilled. Peter did not understand that God’s timing can span thousands of years (Luke 4:14-20 & Isa 61:1,2, Gen 3:15 & Rom 16:28)

 

b.     The pouring out of God’s Spirit - on ALL flesh. This event was identified by the sound of wind, the cloven tongues, and by the various world languages being spoken miraculously.

 

POINT: Yet, the Jews did not as a nation get saved like they are supposed to (Ro 11:26) - it was the wrong time. So, not even this point is completely fulfilled, yet.

 

c.     Every JEW prophesying and seeing visions and dreams (2:17,18). Not for everybody. “upon your sons... daughters... my servants

d.     Wonders and signs from the heavens (2:19,20) - telling us that these events are associated with the Tribulation (Mt 24:21,29,30)

e.     The Day of the Lord is coming (2:20). The day of Christ’s return. Peter knew the tribulation was next on God’s schedule (Joel 2), so he is readying everyone for its approach

f.      The time of salvation is NOW (2:21; Ro 10:13; 2 Cor 5:20; 6:1,2). The means of salvation is no longer associated with the Temple, ceremony, the Law, and the death of a lamb - but with calling on the once crucified Lamb to save you!

 

D.    The Exhortation to the Jews (2:22-40) - His Application

 

1.     Hear the words of the Scripture (Cf 7:57,58) as preached!

2.     Recognize who Jesus is (2:22)

 

a.     He was a real person - with a name, an address (Nazareth). Jesus had to be all man to effectively live out the perfect life and pay for our sins (Heb 2:9-12)

b.     He was a supernatural person - proven by God by miracles and signs right before their very eyes - Messiah, anointed One of God, appointed to do what only He could do

c.     He was God’s answer to our sin - delivered by the determinate council (God figured out the only way to pay for sin and still remain holy)

 

3.     Realize that it was YOU who crucified the Messiah (2:23)

 

a.     You can’t blame the Roman soldiers

b.     You can’t blame the religious leaders

c.     You can’t blame it on God either. He did not force people to sin, nor did he fix it so that people HAD to get saved, or HAD to be lost (election and predestination). God holds PEOPLE responsible for their actions (Dt 30:19)

d.     You can only blame yourselves. You rejected the only hope for eternity (Mt 27:22-25). Just accept the responsibility! God brought Christ here, and then you PEOPLE killed Him!

e.     Realize our sins brought Jesus here to begin with, and it was our sins that killed Him on the cross (John 1:29; 10:17,18)

f.      Realize also that if Jesus had been born in the 20th century, then He would have been rejected just the same!!!

 

4.     Accept the resurrection as final proof (2:24) of His Messiahship

 

a.     Nobody had to go in to the tomb and raise up Jesus

b.     Nobody had to roll away the stone for Jesus to get out

c.     Jesus laid down His own life, and then He got up again!

d.     All as proof that He is GOD in the flesh (Matt 1:23; 1 Tim 3:16; Heb 1:8)

e.     And all so that He could remove the pains of death (2:24). Jesus endured the pains of death (wages of our sin), so that we could be free of them!

 

5.     Look to the prophecies about all this (2:25-36). David spoke of Christ’s eternal life that could not end - Even when Jesus’ body was dead, Jesus lived on (Eph 4:8-10). David knew that the Messiah would be glad to take our place and give us hope (2:26).

 

a.     Jesus had to go to hell in our place (2:25-30)

 

1)     His Spirit went back to the Father (Lk 23:46; Eccl 3:21)

2)     Christ’s body went to the tomb (Luke 24:1-4)

3)     Christ’s soul went to hell to dump our sins there (Heb 9:28; 1 Pet 2:24), and then He ends up in paradise (Abraham’s bosom, Lk 16:19-26) for the remaining 3 days and nights where He did some preaching (1 Pet 3:19). Notice that it was Christ’s SOUL that was our offering for sin (Isa 53:10) on the cross!

 

b.     David knew that where he was going, one day, the Messiah would come and get him. This was only for those who believed God before the resurrection (Christ had to be the first one who resurrected, never to die again, 1Cor 15:20)

c.     David died, and his body was still in the grave (2:29-31). So, evidently, David’s body did not get resurrected in Mt 27:50-54, so it is yet to be. But many O.T. saints did resurrect! So the reference is to the fact that David was not talking about himself, but about the Messiah. So, David was a prophet (2:30,31), and much of the Psalms are about Jesus!

d.     Peter witnessed Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection (2:32).

e.     Peter then points out that the Promise of the Holy Ghost is just “icing on the cake” as proof that all this is going on just like the Scriptures had predicted (2:33)!

f.      David is not the one who has ascended bodily to heaven yet, only the Messiah could do that (2:34,35)

g.     Therefore, let everyone know that Jesus is Lord and Christ - the Promised One (2:36), and that everyone must repent!

 

6.     Allow the Gospel message to do the work (2:37-40)

 

a.     The gospel pricks the heart - cuts (Heb 4:12)

b.     The gospel requires a response - “What shall we do?”

 

1)     Believe - must accept it as true, and right

2)     Repent - must see yourself as wicked and wrong

3)     Be baptized- must openly confess Christ (John 12:42,43)

4)     Everyone - no exception - all need to repent (1 Pet 3:9)

5)     All for the remission of sins - forgiveness

 

a)     Believe and repent to obtain remission

b)    Be baptized because of remission

 

6)     All so that you too can receive the gift of the Holy Ghost - every believer was promised the gift. Not dealing with tongues, but with the gift OF the Holy Ghost Himself!

 

c.     You are simply believing God’s promise of salvation made to all who will respond to God’s call to be saved (2:39)

d.     The gospel provokes us to care about eternal things - to save ourselves  from this ungodly generation (2:40)!

 

E.     The Environment (Culture) of Jewish Christianity (2:41-47) The Believer's New Life is:

 

1.     Evidenced by joy (2:41; In spite of 2:37. Cf 16:31-34; 1Thes 1:6)

2.     Faith is followed by Baptism. Baptism is the test of a person’s commitment. Presentation of a person’s death to the old life, and new life in Christ (Rom 6:1-6)

3.     Christians join themselves unto a local church (2:41). No Christian is to be alone, and “independent!” All are to link-up with other Christians who are determined to live for Christ - no “comfortable” Christianity wanted by God! Not a DIY type of “church” either, but one wanting to follow the apostle’s doctrine!

4.     Continues steadfastly (unchanging commitment) in (2:42):

 

a.     The apostles doctrine (Cf Eph 2:19,20) - the New Testament before it was written.

b.     Fellowship with other believers (their primary friends) - no longer having friendship with the world (James 4:4)

c.     Breaking of bread (The Lord's Supper)

d.     Prayers (loved to spend time worshipping, adoring, interceding, to their God and Saviour Jesus (1 Tim 2:1)

 

5.     They all had a balanced fear (2:43). Had a right view of God, and feared Him, even though saved by Him (Prov 8:13, 9:10)

6.     Their new culture was evidenced by miracles (2:43)

 

a.     In the first century, there were special signs and miracles to convince the Jews that God was with the Christians (Mark 16:17-20). The miracles were mainly associated with the Apostles (2:43; 3:6,7; 4:33; 9:40; 14:3; 19:11; 2 Cor 12:12). Others were Stephen (6:8) and Philip (8:6).

b.     Today, the supernatural is focused on spiritual needs, and greater miracles than the physical (ie, marriages being salvaged, souls being saved, etc). We still desperately need real miracles (James 5:13-20)! And God still does them best!

 

7.     They ministered to each other's needs (2:44,45)

 

a.     Had all things common - met each other’s needs (Phil 2:4)

b.     Sold possessions so that they could meet each other's need. When money ran out, possessions were worth less than people. the Christian’s sacrificed for each other (John 15:13)

c.     This is not communism. Communism is FORCED upon people. This is completely voluntary, and in response to need

d.     This attitude is because they were staying ready for Christ’s return - busy soul-winning, preaching, praying, trusting God! Not worried about real estate, or tomorrow.

e.     Christians need to live like Jesus is coming back today, but plan like he is not coming back for 1,000 years.

 

8.     The Christian culture is identified by UNITY (2:46; 1:14; 2:1) - In one accord. Unity under the authority of the word of God.

9.     Still connected with the Jewish Temple (2:46; waiting on the second coming of Christ, 1:11). They later abandon the Temple for house churches when they realise it is irrelevant at this time

10.   They had preaching and worship services from house to house (2:46; Ro 16:3-5; Act 8:3; Col 4:15). Enjoyed preaching and teaching more than TV (1 Cor 1:18)!

11.   As a group, they had favour with ALL the people (2:47) - the people knew that the Christians had been changed for the better!

 

a.     With each other (Rom 12:10)

b.     With the world - The Christian life is one that is called to holiness (1 Pet 1:14-16) Trustworthy, honest, clean, humble

 

12.   New Testament Christianity grew DAILY (2:47). People were getting saved, and were being added to the local church, as they yielded to God’s direction in their lives.

 

III.   Conclusion and Study Questions


The Acts of the Apostles

Chapter Three

Christianity Meets The Need

Focus Verse: Acts 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.”

 

I.      Study Introduction

 

A.    The attitude of Bible Christianity has been from its inception: meet the real need. Biblical Christianity cares about feeding and clothing people, but worries more about the eternal destiny of this world, than its comfort level, and its lifespan! Real Christians see the soul more than the skin colour, the sickness, the pain, and the troubles of life - we see the future, and the opportunity that God has given us to meet this world’s greatest need - Christ!

B.    Acts chapter three shows Christianity meeting the need, and setting the pattern. yes miracles can and do happen, but the miracle of salvation is the focus! See Mark 2:1-5

 

II.    Study Outline

 

A.    Background

 

1.     People tend to focus upon what they don't seem to have ‑i.e., beautiful homes, being debt free (which you ought to be), healthy kids, secure job, etc.

2.     Enter two men ‑ two of the most confident men that you would ever meet ‑ Peter, and John in Acts 3. From these two men here in this chapter, I want to dwell on the things primarily that you and I have as Christians to show you that in spite of whatever you may think that you don't have, you have all you need in order to be used of God!

3.     We know what these two men did NOT have:

 

a.     An education ‑ these were fishermen (Acts 4:13)

b.     Plenty of money ‑ note 3:6. Isn't that something how God's people normally have this lack (see 2 Cor 8:2), and spend more time complaining to God about it!

 

It is not that these things are not desirable, nor that these are wrong to have. It does however get in the way of those who "don't have an education, or plenty of money" when it comes time for them to believe that God can use them!

 


B.    The Riches of New Testament Christianity (Rev 2:8,9; 3:1-11)

 

A.    The Treasure of Fellowship (3:1) "Peter and John went up together" Christians need each other, and miss out when they put “buddies” and girl-friends ahead of Christians! Christians too easily forsake the assembling of themselves, which is Church, and the supporting of one another! These Christians may not have had much else, but they had fellowship:

 

1.     Aquila and Priscilla (Acts 18:2,18,26)

2.     Paul and Barnabas - Paul and Silas - Paul and Timothy (Paul was rarely alone). Christians were always in groups

3.     Jesus and His twelve

4.     Adam and Eve - not good that he was alone

5.     Based upon commitment to each other and to a higher goal than just fellowship (Act 2:41-47)

 

Now, there are times to be alone (John the Baptist in the wilderness before his ministry, Jesus in the wilderness for 40 days, Elijah, David tending sheep, etc), but we need each other!

 

B.    Prayer (3:1) "at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour" Peter and John had Biblically prioritized their time with the important things always getting done ‑ like prayer here! They loved to walk with their Lord in prayer, and through His word! Loved to be together in a place that focused on prayer and preaching - church

C.    An Opportunity (3:2,3) "And a certain man, lame..." This is probably the most important of the things that we as Christians have: an opportunity to witness for Jesus! Don't pass up the opportunities that God gives you! For example, when someone curses, or, asks "What's the good word," etc. A mature Christian is always looking out for God given opportunities to be a witness of His saving grace (1 Pet 3:15)! This beggar was over 40 years old, lame from birth (4:22)

D.    A Name (3:4-7) "but such as I have give I thee: In the NAME of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk"

 

1.     It is not what you know that gets you into Heaven - it is WHO you know

2.     This name, Jesus, is the only authority we have to ask something of God (John 14:13)

3.     It saves the sinner's soul (Rom 10:13)!

4.     It is our authority to preach and meet as a church (Mt 18:20; Lk 24:47)

5.     It is what we preach (Acts 8:35)!

6.     It enabled the first century Christians to establish Christianity, and the bible as authentic (Mk 16:17)

7.     It is the focus of everything the Christian does (Col 3:17)

8.     Better than a Credit Card, American Express Card because it has no limit (Phil 4:19), and has no expiration date!

9.     If you only had this name, and nothing else, then you are rich (Rom 8:17)

 

Note that this miracle was accomplished all in the name of Jesus Christ! Faith in that name (4:16)! These boys were just doing "what they could" and leaving the miracle up to God! See Jonah - just did what God told him to do (preached about Him, and His coming judgment), and look at the results! Peter gave him a name that would answer all his soul's needs!

 

1.     The lame man leaps up (immediately his feet and ankles receive strength)

2.     He walks with Peter and John INTO the temple - very mindful of WHO just did the miracle

3.     Keeps leaping -up (can’t get over it) and grabbing Peter, John

4.     Praises God for that precious Name that works!

5.     Draws everybody’s attention to him, filling their hearts with amazement, and causing them to come and check him out!

 

This lame man is a great picture of a sinner’s salvation:

 

Lame from his mother’s womb

-

Sinner from conception

Carried to the temple

-

Dependant upon others to get him to God

Carried daily

-

Needed someone to take him to Christ every day!

Looked to religion for help

-

 

Expected that material things would meet his need

-

 

Commanded to hear Peter’s words

-

Needed to hear the Gospel (not just see it in your life)

Had faith in the name of Jesus

-

Trusted Christ (Eph 1:9-12)

Leaped up - instant healing

-

Instant salvation

Rejoiced and enjoyed being made whole

-

Brings joy and satisfaction in being made spiritually whole!

Was different from then on

-

The Christian is different

 

E.     A Message (3:12-26) They had something to say! "And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people..." One thing about Peter, he was always ready to give an answer of the hope that lieth in him! He had a message ready, in season, and out of season! If we are saved, we do too

 


C.    The Message of New Testament Christianity (3:12-26)

 

1.     Declare People’s Condition (3:12-18) - get people “lost”

 

a.     People naturally misunderstand God (3:12-13)

 

1)     Think that people have special powers - either they are from God, or from the devil

2)     Think that Jesus was just a man - yet everything He did was to prove that He was God come in the flesh

 

b.     People are responsible for the murder of an innocent Man (3:13-15) - Religious people at that!

 

1)     YE delivered Christ to Pilate who wanted to let Him go

2)     YE denied Jesus a fair trial, and denied His work for you

3)     YE desired a murderer to be granted freedom

4)     YE did away with the Prince of LIFE - at least you THOUGHT that you did - Jesus got back up, and we stand here as proof that Jesus lives!

 

c.     People really don’t know better (3:16-18) - Are ignorant

 

1)     Ignorant of  the name of Jesus (3:16,6; Phil 2:9-11)

2)     Ignorant of the work of faith (3:16)- works thru and thru

3)     Ignorant of the Scriptures which foretold it all (3:17,18)

 

2.     Present the Necessary Conversion (3:19-26) - show them the only hope - how to be “found” - saved!

 

a.     Conversion requires repentance (3:19)

b.     Conversion releases you from the punishment for your sins - “blots out” means to cover over the sin-record with blood!

c.     Conversion redirects attention to a Biblical view of the future (3:20-24)

 

1)     The soon return of the Lord. Peter believed it was soon here, Paul believed it (1 Thes 4:14-17), John looked forward to it (Rev 22:20)

2)     The establishment of His literal kingdom on this earth - the millennium where Jesus reigns as King of kings (Rev 19:11-16; 20:2-7; Isa 9:6,7) Kingdom of heaven.

3)     All according to the prophecies of the great lawgiver to the Jews, Moses, as well as ALL the prophets in the Old Testament - they ALL spoke of Christ:

 

a)     His coming as God two times! Both are recorded!

b)    His suffering - to the last detail is described

c)     His reign - the glory and power

 

d.     Conversion realises that we are ones the Bible was written to (3:25,26), and the ones that Christ wants to save and bless! God has personally written His word to individuals, and expect personal responses (Cf the parable of the great supper in Luke 14:16-24)

 

III.   Conclusion and Study Question

 


The Acts of the Apostles

Chapter Four

How To Stand-Up For Christ

Focus Verse: Acts 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.”

 

I.      Study Introduction

 

A.    Trouble goes with Christianity (John 16:33). We are going against the flow (Matt 7:13,14) like peanut butter butter goes with jam!

B.    The Christian who only wants a free-ride is in for a rude-awakening

C.    But the trouble is not bad. It is what God uses to get the glory as we yield to His grace and power through it all!

 

II.    Study Outline

 

A.    How to Grieve Satan's Crowd (4:1,2)

 

1.     Deal directly with people - carry your gospel out into the streets! The world really doesn’t care what we believe, and what we do inside a church-building. What they worry about is us living it!

2.     Teach and preach - actually explain the truth, and make it clear to people, compelling the lost to come to Christ. Don’t let people go on in their darkness! Find a way to wake them up!!!

3.     Convince people that Jesus really is God (because of the resurrection), and that all He said was true! That will upset the evolutionists, the humanists, and the religionists!

 

B.    How To Deal With Governmental and Cultural Persecution (4:3-22). Remember to expect it (John 15:20,21)

 

1.     The leaders of opposition (4:1,2,5,6)

 

a.     Priests - the class of religious leaders that mediated between people and God. These offered the sacrifices of the people.

b.     Temple captain - people who made their living off of their religion (Cf 19:21-27)

c.     Sadducees - the political leaders - didn’t believe in God. Just used their religion for power - a religious aristocracy!

 

2.     The methods of opposition (4:3,7,16-18,21)

 

a.     Confinement (4:3) Scare tactics

b.     Interrogation (4:7) - belittling, and examining them in court

c.     Enact laws and regulations against free-speech (4:16-18)

d.     Threaten to do worse (4:21)

 


3.     The results of opposition (4:4-14)

 

a.     Thousands more were encouraged to trust Christ - He was worth it (4:4

b.     The Christians became bolder (4:8-12)

c.     the Christians became more dependent upon Christ (4:13)

d.     Even the opposition will not be able to withstand the truth (4:14; Luke 21:12-17). Christianity has always forced the world to change. Don’t allow it to force you to change!

 

4.     The response to opposition (4:8-12, 18-22)

 

a.     Be open and honest about what you are doing

b.     Turn the situation around to the issue of their sins

c.     Make Jesus Christ THE only answer

d.     Tell them they MUST BE SAVED! (Cf John 3:3,7)

e.     Remind them that God is to be obeyed above any and all others (4:19)

f.      Explain that you are only talking about what you have experienced, and know for a fact (4:20)

g.     Remember that God is not going to let you down (4:21-22)!

 

Note: This man’s infirmity was longer than any on record - Jesus healed a man of 38 years infirmity in Jihn 5:5.

 

C.    How to Have A Good Church Service (4:23-37)

 

1.     Make Christians and church "your own company" (4:23)

2.     Praise and honor the God you serve (4:23-

 

a.     Have a unified burden as a church for prayer, and dependence upon God - “in one accord” ought to be our goal

b.     Give testimony of God's hand in your life - take notes

c.     Remember that you are in good company - ie, David, Jesus (4:25-27)

d.     Beg Him for continued boldness in face of threatenings (4:27)

e.     Be surrendered to fitting in God’s plan - instead of making your own (4:28). God had before, already determined that Christ would have to die, and Christ accepted. So should we!

f.      Request continued proof of His hand through your lives

 

1)     Boldness to preach and witness

2)     Miracles to prove - healing, miracles, signs and wonders

 

3.     Expect answers to your prayers (4:31; Mark 11:22-24)

 

a.     Earthquake - the hand of God

b.     Filling with the Holy Ghost - continued empowerment

c.     Speak the word of God (not tongues) with boldness

 

4.     Be busy in the work of the Lord (4:32-33; 1 Cor 15:58)

 

a.     Maintain unity - by growing in God’s word

b.     De-emphasize possessions - yearn more for God’s presence

c.     Give witness of the resurrection - the primary proof that Jesus is the only way is the fact that He alone rose again!

d.     Have great grace with each other - focus on the real enemy! This is the greatest need right here - how much grace? GREAT! Put up with things - rather love and enjoy the things of God. The way to get grace is by humility (Ja 4:6)

 

5.     Take care of one another (4:34-37) - the fruit of grace is giving!

 

a.     Financially (4:34,35; 2:44-45) - This was not mandatory, but voluntary - a Christian family member who wont help out is worthless!

 

1)     Dedicate what you possess back to God- make Him Lord

2)     Allow God to do what He wants with your life & money

3)     Meet the need - tens of thousands of new baby Christians kicked-out of their homes, now needed to be housed and fed. People sold extra houses and lands

 

a)     We need to be very careful here - care for people in need, not allow them to be lazy (Cf 1Ti 5:3-6).

b)    We need to be unified as a church - care financially for those who have lost jobs for the Gospel

c)     Look out for ways to help each other out as if each were literal brothers or sisters! Kill the pride, and forget about class-systems! Be a family!

d)    Allow the pastor (like the apostles) to distribute the help (4:35) - set up a means of

 

b.     Emotionally (4:36,37)

 

1)     Barnabas was a great consoler, the best of friends to all! He was an exhorter (11:22-24; 14:21,22). He got people excited about living for God, and giving for souls! An exhorter advises, warns, cautions, stirs up Christians!

2)     Barnabas was a great leader - didn’t wait for someone else to do things, but took the lead himself! People need encouragement to follow and serve God- so we should work to become good examples

3)     The spiritual Christians need to take the lead (Gal 6:1)

4)     The younger Christians are to be humble enough to yield to preaching, & instruction (Pr 13:1; 9:8; Eccl 7:5)

 

III.   Conclusion and Study Questions

 


The Acts of the Apostles

Chapter Five

Staying True!

Focus Verse: Acts 5:11

 

“And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things.”

 

I.      Study Introduction

 

A.    The OT parallel to the Book of Acts is Joshua. At this point, Acts 5 matches the instruction of Joshua 7.

B.    Dealing with the sin unto death (1 John 5:16,17) - Six instances:

 

1.     Flippant attitude towards the Lord’s supper (1 Cor 11:28-30)

2.     Direct disobedience to God’s command - as with Moses (Num 20:8) that ended up ruining the presentation of a figure of Christ!

3.     Direct disobedience to a clear command of God - as with Jonah

4.     Murmuring and complaining to God about His care - as with Israel in the wilderness - caused them to disregard His instructions and plan - they rebelled, and it cost them dearly!

5.     Taking what belongs to God as Achan and his family did in Joshua 7

6.     Putting on a religious show of hypocrasy as a Christian - as with Ananias and Sapphira here in Acts 5

 

C.    The principle is that it only takes one person who does not want to follow God, to hurt the whole body of believers. One person with bitterness, with anger, with sin in their heart, with rebellion can stop God’s blessings - that is what happens in Acts 5

D.    The challenge is for all of us to stay true to purity and to God’s word!

 

II.    Study Outline - Staying True!

 

A.    Sin in the Camp (5:1-11)

 

1.     The Deceit of Ananias and Sapphira (5:1-2)

 

a.     They wanted the kind of acclaim that Barnabas was getting for his generosity

b.     They used the sale of their property as a means to ACT like they were more sacrificial than they really were - put on a big show of “spirituality”- it is wrong to act spiritual. Be real

c.     They agreed together that it would not hurt anyone (5:2). Our sin hurts more people than we know!

d.     They yielded to Satan’s pull toward his plan. They were not demon-possessed, but sin-filled instead of Spirit-filled (Eph 5:18). Peter one time had trouble with this (Matt 16:21-23), as did James and John (Luke 9:54,55)

 

2.     The Death of Ananias and Sapphira (5:3-10)

 

a.     It was not wrong to own property - the best thing

b.     Peter had the gift of “discernment”

c.     Peter also had the responsibility to keep the church pure by revealing sin in their midst - Peter did not “kill” Ananias. God did!

d.     Peter pointed out that Ananias had not lied to people, but to God - specifically, to the Holy Ghost (5:4) - Deity of the Holy Ghost - proof of the Trinity!

e.     The truth was used to slay Ananias - the word of God is a sword (Heb 4:12) and pricked the intention of Ananias’ heart

f.      Produced great fear (5:5) - it is right to fear the consequences of sin - as a Christian, or unsaved!

 

1)     The consequences of sin in the unsaved: hell!

2)     The consequences of sin in the saved: chastisement (Heb 12:5-8), and it could lead to early death, and to lose of rewards in heaven!

 

g.     This is the first death in Christianity (like the children of Israel having to die in the wilderness due to disobedience)

h.     The Lord next has Peter identify whether Sapphira was an innocent party, or an accomplice. She was an accomplice (5:7-10), and she dies as well. Two types of sins:

 

1)     Commission - doing something wrong

2)     Omission - not doing something right - neglegence

 

3.     The importance of Ananias and Sapphira (5:11) - to make Christians realise that HIS church is supposed to be PURE, and TRUE and REAL - not deceitful, and money-oriented!

 

B.    Signs and Wonders (5:12-16)

 

1.     The meaning of Signs and Wonders: special miracles that “signify” that something miraculous is going on - to make people “wonder” about important things instead of remaining numb. Signs and wonders included:

 

a.     Healing, raising the dead, giving sight

b.     Speaking in tongues

c.     Prophesying - telling the future

d.     Withholding rain for 3 1/2 years (Elijah) in judgment

e.     The sun darkened, and moon turned into blood (Act 2:19,20)

 

2.     The Purpose of Signs and Wonders

 

a.     To prove that Jesus was God (Acts 2:22)

b.     To back up the word of God (Mark 16:20)

c.     To show that God was with the Christians now in Acts 2, like as He had been with the Jews in Exodus (Dt 6:22)

d.     To mark changes in God’s dealings with mankind (Act 2:19)

e.     To deceive people and get them against God (Rev 16:14)

 

3.     The Producers of Signs and Wonders

 

a.     God Himself - The Lord Jesus (Acts 2:22)

b.     Prophets - Moses and Aaron (Ex 7:3), and the prophets

c.     Apostles - By the hands of the apostles (Acts 2:43; 4:33; 5:12; 14:3,4; 19:11; Ro 15:19; 2 Cor 12:12). They got this personally from the Lord Jesus (Mt 10:1,2).

d.     Deacons - By the first deacons (Acts 6:8; 8:5-7) - they were given this power by the apostles (Acts 6:5,6)

e.     The Anti-christ (Mt 24:24; Rev 13:11-15), and his “ministers” (Ex 7:10-12)

 

4.     The Proofs of True Signs and Wonders

 

a.     They worked every time - with and without faith by the recipient (Acts 5:16; 28:7,8).

b.     They worked until the end of the apostolic age (2 Tim 4:20; 1 Cor 13:8)

c.     They never contradicted the word of God - always were subject to verification (1 John 4:1)

 

5.     The Problem with Signs and Wonders

 

a.     An adulterous people look for them - not true seekers of Christ (Mt 12:38-41), but of more sources of power!

b.     The devil can easily counterfeit most of them (Ex 8:16-18)

c.     The Lord will allow signs and wonders to confound the rebellious (2Thes 2:8-12), and test the Christian (Dt 13:1-5).

d.     Miracles are to be subject to the word of God (Isa 8:18-20). If they aren’t valid, then the magician is to be stoned (Dt 13)

e.     People are only to believe the word - not miracles (John 4:48). The miracles were to get people to believe the word (Mk 16:20)!

 

6.     The Place of Signs and Wonders - in the Past, and in the Future

 

a.     Primarily in Israel

b.     To the Jews throughout the world - to get them back to God

c.     To some of the Gentiles - but not as a general rule. Paul was restrained in using miracles outside Israel (Cf 1Cor 1:22-24)

d.     Were finished at the completion of the Bible (1 Cor 13:8-10)

e.     They will occur again in the Tribulation (manna from heaven feeding the Jews; water from the rock; earthquakes, sun being turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, etc). These miracles will once again be directed at the Jews!

 

7.     The Proper Results of Signs and Wonders - The apostles demonstrated authority over laying the foundation of the church

 

a.     Produced unity in the church - already had it

b.     Seriousness about being a part of the New Testament church

c.     People getting saved - consistent focus!

d.     People getting healed (5:16) - every one! Everybody was ready for the coming of the kingdom of Heaven- Millennium

 

C.    Staying Faithful (5:17-42) Consistent Christianity

 

1.     The assault on the Apostles (5:17,18) - this is the natural result of revivals (4:31; 13:44,45)

2.     God’s deliverance - miraculous (5:19). Doesn’t always have to deliver, but delights to!

3.     The Angel’s command (5:20)

 

a.     Go (Mt 28:18-20; Mk 16:15)

b.     Stand (Eph 6:13,14)

c.     Speak - not just living the Gospel, but preaching it

d.     Speak ALL the words of this life (2 Tim 4:1,2)

 

4.     The Apostle’s Resolve (5:21) - to obey - even though at great risk

5.     The Council’s Humiliation (5:21-26) - they are not in control!

6.     The “Nice” Approach (5:26-28; Rom 8:31)

7.     The Clear Goals of the Apostles (5:28-32) - not to heal everyone

 

a.     To obey God, over man - in everything (Prov 3:5,6; Ex 1:22)

b.     To fill Jerusalem (any area) with the doctrine (truth) of Christ - not satisfied with 11, 120, 500, 3000, 5000,!

c.     To convince sinners of their responsibility for the murder of the innocent blood of Christ

d.     To call people to repentance & forgiveness of sins by Christ

 

8.     The Effect of the preaching of the word of God (5:33-42)

 

a.     Cuts deep down into the sinner’s heart (Heb 4:12)

b.     Causes people to want to kill the messenger (Mt 21:33-39) and stop the message. Religion is the source of all killing (Rev 18:24) throughout history! Without Christ, religion is only the love of money!

c.     Causes people to think (5:34-39)

 

1)     Gamaliel was a Bible-believer, not a Bible-doer (Ja 1:22) - teacher of the Pentateuch supposed to know truth

2)     He reasons that human endeavors will always ultimately fail, because they require perfect leadership. As with:

 

a)     Theudas - a false prophet

b)    Judas of Galilee - rogue leader of a tax rebellion

 

3)     He points out the God’s endeavors cannot be stopped, because He never dies

4)     He wants to let the Christians go, because if Christianity is of man, then it will fail because its leader is dead. But if it is of God, then they had better be careful to not be found fighting God - guilt is showing up here!

 

d.     Causes joy in life of the Christian (5:40,41; 1Cor 1:18,23,24)

 

1)     Preaching and living godly will always produce persecution (2Tim 3:12). Should it ruin our attitude? No

2)     They were in good company - with all the other men and women of God throughout history, including Jesus

3)     It was all for the Lord anyway (Col 1:23)

4)     No matter what we lose - the Lord will make it up (Mk 10:28-30)

 

e.     Encourages Christians to just keep on going for the Lord, and being faithful doing what God tells them to do (5:42)!

 

1)     Taught daily out in public - in the Temple - like church

2)     Taught daily in every house - personal discipleship!

3)     Taught Jesus Christ to Jews who already knew the O.T.

 

III.   Conclusion and Study Questions

 

 


The Acts of the Apostles

Chapter Six

Delegating the Work

Focus Verse: Acts 6:3

 

I.      Study Introduction

 

A.    No one person can do all the work involved in the church ministry. God designed Christianity like a family, with more than just a few helping out. In God’s family, everyone pulls their weight, and more. There is not to be welfare, with the majority reaping the benefits of the work of the few! There needs to be delegation - the appointment of helpers, fellowlabourers, fellowservant. Not power-hungry leaders!

B.    In chapter six, God allows the church to experience some major “growing pains” in order to prepare them for greater growth, and for a further outreach than just Jerusalem!

 

II.    Study Outline - Delegating the Work (Acts 6:1-15)

 

A.    Reaching the Limit (6:1-2)

 

1.     With over 15,000 new Christians, the 12 apostles were well beyond their abilities in trying to minister the word of God to people. They had become overwhelmed by handling all the donations, coordination of housing and feeding the widows. It was getting to where they had no time to teach the Scriptures. People who depended upon the Christians for food were being left out and were going hungry! They had no other source of help

2.     Definitely the primary work of the Apostles was to teach the Scriptures (6:2; Eph 4:20,21), and to pray (get ability to teach)

3.     But some others had to take over handling the ministration of food, and other help. There were too many “takers” and so few “givers” in the congregation. Leads to murmuring (Cf Ex 15:24; 16:2,8; 17:3), and to big trouble - there needed to be a balance!

4.     Called delegation, commission, ambassador. Examples:

 

a.     Moses and his 70 elders (Ex 18:13-24)

b.     Jesus and His 12 apostles (Mt 10:5-10)

c.     Jesus and His 70 disciples (Luke 10:1-3)

d.     Jesus and all of Christianity (Mt 28:19,20; 2 Cor 5:20)

c.     The Pastor, and his Teachers (Eph 4:11,12)

 


B.    Delegating Pastoral Responsibilities (6:3-6)

 

1.     The inventory among the local Christians (6:3) - don’t bring-in someone from outside. Look “among ourselves” for:

 

These are the four qualifications of Godly servanthood:

 

a.     Men of honesty - their character is well known

b.     Spiritual men, full of the Holy Spirit  - obedient to God (Acts 5:32) - doers of the word, and not hearers only (Jam 1:22)

c.     Wise men (having wisdom; experienced). Not novices or people playing games

d.     Servants - who will accept assignments and serve, instead of always trying to lead! These men become known as “deacons” which simply means “servants” (1 Tim 3:8,10).

 

All of us ought to have the desire to be these kind of Christians!

 

2.     Resolve to keep things proper (6:4; 1Cor 14:40) - maintaining the priority tasks - the Apostles would give themselves to labouring in prayer, and in the word (1 Tim 5:17; 2 Tim 3:15)

3.     Seven men are chosen (6:5)

 

a.     Stephen - his name means “crown”. He is well known for his faith in Christ, and being filled with the Holy Spirit. He is the primary person in Acts 7. He then gets stoned by the religious rulers!

b.     Philip - not the Apostle by this name. He is the primary person of Acts 8 (with Samaritans getting saved, and then the eunuch). Becomes known as the “evangelist” (8:5; 21:8)

c.     Procorus - his name means “leader of the choir

d.     Nicanor - his name means “conqueror” - soul-winner

e.     Timon - his name means “honourable

f.      Parmenas - his name means “faithful

g.     Nicolas - his name means “a conqueror of the people.” He had first converted to Judaism, then to Christianity - and he was still fervent - many lose fervency after a few mistakes.

 

4.     Notice how they were chosen. Was it “unconditional election by God?” By dictate from the apostles? Was it anarchy (people fighting to be picked)? No. It was by congressional choice - the choice of the congregation (both OT and NT truth). This is the basis of democracy - people chose within the limits of law.

5.     Authorising the servants (6:6). The laying on of hands had no miraculous power - just authorisation to serve in the name of the Lord with the backing of the church (as with Joshua; Num 27:18). This is where maverick, and rogue Christians have the problem: ie, working under someone (Luke 7:6-9). This is why the modern church makes God sick - there are very few servants!

6.     Some Areas of Service in a local church:

 

a.     Sunday School teaching, and class helpers

b.     Puppeteers

c.     Mailing Birthday Cards, and Visitor letters

d.     Book table - organising and handling books, tracts, videos

e.     Tea table - purchasing, organising the table, washing cups

f.      The Pastor’s visitation partner(s)

g.     Weekly Bible Club leader

h.     Discipler - teaches someone through the discipleship course

i.      Crèche worker on Sunday evenings

 

C.    Reaping a Greater Harvest (6:7)

 

1.     Satan’s attempt to split the church had been defeated by adapting to meet the need of the Grecian believers. Principle: don’t only look after your own life (Philp 2:4). In other words, meet people’s needs!

2.     Christianity was back in action. Things were as they should be.

 

a.     People were sharing the work-load. More involvement.

b.     The word of God spread out as the apostles now spent more time on getting it out.

c.     The number of people getting saved also increased

d.     Those who had been opposed to Christ the most (the priests), were surrendering to the truth - Satan was losing ground!

 

D.    Stephen Stands on His Own (6:8-15) He enters into battle!

 

1.     Stephen’s miracles (6:8)

 

a.     We are in the apostolic age of the church

b.     The apostles have extended powers to these deacons

c.     The deacons not only served tables, but preached the Gospel

d.     Wonders and miracles will always be associated with those full of faith, and power. Not by the laying on of hands, but by the closeness of the walk with the Lord!

 

2.     Stephen’s menace (6:9-15). Five synagogues take on Stephen

 

a.     The synagogue was the Jewish “church” - meant “assembly”.

b.     Here was a synagogue of “worshippers” who “disputed” (debated) with Stephen about the Scriptures! If people would just do this today!

c.     They were not able to win against his wisdom (depth) and spirit (attitude; confidence, correctness).

d.     So, when you can’t win with facts, you use lies (6:11-13)

 

1)     The “religious” crowd believes the end justifies the means, so they bribe some professional liars to stir up the crowd who were listening to Stephen preach.

2)     They worked on people’s emotions - said that Stephen was attacking Moses and God (ie, Mary, and the saints).

3)     Brought Stephen before “the council” (this council is working overtime putting these guys on trials!

4)     False witnesses take center stage - reject the truth, so they promote liars! Jesus was accused by false witnesses.

 

3.     Stephen’s message (6:14).

 

a.     The second coming of Christ was imminent- at any moment! Jesus was coming back, and they could die at His return - not talking about something way off in distant future! Not looking for signs either - signs already fulfilled enough!

b.     Jesus, (not a nuclear bomb) will Himself destroy this Temple, and place (2 Thes 1:7-9). The Temple will be “occupied” by a false christ - the abomination of desolation!

c.     The “customs” of the Jews will be changed - this was a big cut because the Jews treasured their “customs” (Mk 7:9). They already had been as far as a Christian was concerned:

 

1)     No more lambs to be slaughtered

2)     No more priesthood - every believer is now a priest

3)     No more Sabbaths, religious cerimonies - now it is the first day of the week (Sunday) that has the memorial!

 

d.     That Jesus changes lives - Stephen’s face was not full of fear, or hatred, but of joy, and confidence - like an angel (6:15)! This was the greatest part of Stephen’s message!

 

III.   Conclusion and Study Questions

 

 


The Acts of the Apostles

Chapter Seven

Learning the Lessons of History

 

Focus Verse: Acts 7:51

 

I.      Study Introduction

 

A.    The Bible stands alone in its ability to teach people how to understand its contents! Nobody has to write a book “about” the Bible - really! People are supposed to be Bible readers! The Bible is its own interpreter, and explains itself better than any theologian or scholar!

B.    Here in Acts 7, God reviews history, and shows us some great truths that maybe we miss when we go through the Bible! What you are about to see is how God presents truth

 

1.     He uses preachers - not great educators or teachers

2.     He teaches history - HIS-story

3.     There is one thing that we learn from history - and that is, as a general rule, people never learn from history!

4.     Those who do not learn the lessons of history, are destined to repeat them! Israel going around in the wilderness for 40 years...

 

C.    God’s preachers throughout the Bible spend a lot of time going back over history, and showing God’s hand. History is usually the most boring subject taught in school - but only because people believe there is no meaning to history - no God behind the scenes. But when you see the Author of history at work behind the scenes, it comes alive

D.    Stephen, a servant of the church in Jerusalem is about to be used of God to teach some highly educated ignoramuses some Bible history - and it would do us all some great good to sit in on the “class!”

 

II.    Background

 

A.    Remember, Stephen has been caught, and brought before a religious council for preaching on the street some “heretical” things (6:13-15):

 

1.     The second coming of Christ was imminent- at any moment!

2.     Jesus, (not a nuclear bomb) will Himself destroy the Temple!

3.     The “customs” of the Jews will be changed!

4.     That Jesus changes lives! Not the catechism class!

 

B.    The high priests asks Stephen to begin his defense (7:1)

C.    Notice that Stephen wastes no time defending his actions, but takes up the challenge of preaching the gospel, and defending Christ’s desire to save a bunch of religious sinners headed for hell!

 


III.   Study Outline - Learning the Lessons of History

 

A.    God’s Work Throughout History

 

1.     History begins with GOD, not with man (7:2)

2.     Stephen focuses on Jewish history to make it relate to the Jews

3.     Stephen reminds them of God’s hand in the life of Abraham (7:2-7)

 

a.     Started while he was in Mesopotamia - unsaved, surrounded by an ungodly society

b.     God calls Abraham to leave everything: home, family, religion, plans

c.     God challenges Abraham to follow Him to a land he had never seen before - real faith

d.     Abraham obeys, and arrives in Canaan - the promised land

e.     But Abraham is not GIVEN anything yet (7:5) only promises

 

1)     The land

2)     Children (Abraham has no child yet)

3)     Bondage and struggle - part of the promise

4)     Redemption - the Passover - freedom

 

f.      The covenant of circumcision (7:8) - God made a promise to Abraham and to his children forever that was identified by the act of circumcision - a mark of ownership (Christians also are owned; 1 Cor 6:19,20)

 

4.     Stephen reminds them of God’s hand in the lives of Isaac, Jacob, and the twelve patriarchs (7:8)

5.     Stephen reminds them of God’s hand being with Joseph (7:9-16)

 

a.     God was with him when he was sold into slavery (7:9)

b.     God was with him when he was delivered from all his afflictions (7:10)

c.     God was with him when Joseph was made governor (7:10)

d.     God was with him, using Joseph to prepare for all of his family to come to Egypt according to God’s plan (7:11-15)

 

1)     Used Joseph’s affliction for good (Gen 50:20; Rom 8:28)

2)     God uses trouble to get sinners to repent

3)     God uses trouble to get Christians back right

4)     God used WW2 to get the Jews back into Palestine

5)     God is doing stuff in your life as well to get you right - I would give in early, and not resist Him!

 

e.     75 souls were saved from starvation, and were prepared for God’s next phases of history - a continual building upon the past (7:14-16):

 

1)     The birth of a mighty nation IN Egypt (2 million people)

2)     The development of the need of that nation for God - only developes when under bondage

3)     Their blood redemption - at Passover

 

6.     God’s hand was with Jacob’s children - known as the children of Israel (7:17-27) - Israel was Jacob’s new name

 

a.     The time of the promise (Gen 15:13-16) drew near (7:17-18)

b.     God allowed persecution to begin in order to prepare the hearts of Israel to rely on the Passover Lamb!

 

1)     A king who knew not Joseph - not ignorance, but no interest in knowing a Jew! Mind control. Same with TV, education, politicians - don’t want to know!

2)     Slavery of the people - Will control

3)     Systematic murdering of male children - birth control

 

b.     The persecution also helped Israel to “want” to leave!

c.     God provided a deliverer - Moses (7:19-27) -always does!

 

1)     Miraculous protection at birth (7:19,20)

2)     Taken into Pharaoh’s house - in spite of Pharaoh’s death sentence (7:21)

3)     He learned all the world’s wisdom and knowledge (7:21,22) and became mighty in words and deeds (7:22)

4)     But he sensed something was wrong

 

a)     Something was wrong with how own people - Jews

b)    His heart was not right (7:23) - felt out of place

c)     All the education and money and power in the world wont fix the heart!

 

5)     He takes action - gets ahead of God (7:23-26) and fails!

6)     He is totally misunderstood by the Jews (7:27)

 

The Jews complain, “WHO MADE THEE TO BE A JUDGE AND A RULER OVER US?” (7:27) - This is Stephen’s focus!!!

 

This is where humanity begins to always resist and reject God’s hand in their lives - always consider it a bother!

 

B.    Man’s Failure Throughout History (7:25-30) Illustrated by Moses

 

1.     Moses got ahead of God’s timetable - three responses to God

 

a.     Man seems to either get ahead of God - usually happens at a young age, and produces disillusionment

b.     We resist God as He attempts to work in a person’s life we find ourselves always kicking and screaming (Ps 78:40-42)

c.     We totally reject God - never listening to God at all!

 

2.     Moses supposed people would understand his intentions (7:25)

3.     Moses supposed that God would work everything out - which He will, but you are not to tempt God or force God’s hand (Mt 4:6,7)

4.     Moses feared man (Pharaoh) more than he feared God (7:29)

5.     Moses shut out God for 40 years (7:30) - out of bitterness, and disappointment - he let 40 years go wasted because of his own attitude (he supposed that things should have been different - we all think this same thing)! This is a great sin!

 

C.    God’s Plan All Through History Has Been to Save (7:30-50)

 

1.     He tried to Save Israel through Moses (7:30-36)

 

a.     God always goes looking for us - calling us back (7:31; Gen 3:7-10). We can’t get back, so God comes to us!

b.     God never changed (7:32,33) - things happen that seem like set-backs, but God can’t change, and His plans don’t change

c.     God cares and is well aware of the events in our lives (7:34; Heb 4:14-16)

d.     God can use anyone (who allows God to transform them; Rom 12:1,2):

 

a.     A murderer here - Moses - if he would get saved - trust the Lord instead of his own intelligence, and abilities

b.     A liar - Abraham - if he would just learn his lesson

c.     A brawler - Peter - if he would just devote all his energy to serving his risen Lord!

 

e.     God uses some people (7:34,35; like Moses here) simply because He knows that it will require faith on the part of the Jews to follow him (stammering, unsure, not quite polished).

f.      God’s work in history is always evident by the miraculous - God likes to make it plain that He is behind things, and not just “chance” (7:36)

 

1)     Signs and wonders started with Moses to Israel - Jewish

2)     Signs and wonders are for confirmation of God’s word

3)     True signs and wonders are unquestionable

 

2.     Moses prophesied of a coming Prophet like himself that people are to hear, and follow (7:37-44; Dt 18:15,18,19)

 

a.     This Person would be Prophet like Moses - He would speak the words of God, and of things to come (John 1:21,25; 6:14)

b.     This Prophet would be “of your brethren” (Jewish)

c.     This Prophet would deal directly with the Jews (Mt 15:24; 10:5,6)

d.     This Prophet would have a Church like Moses did (7:38)

 

1)     A church is an assembled group. It means “an assembly that has been called together” - specifically, “called OUT of the world, and INTO an assembly” (Heb 10:25)

2)     An Old Testament church was an assembled group of Bible believers - they formed synagogues. The Jews were called OUT of Egypt, and assembled first in the wilderness, and then later, as a nation in Canaan

3)     A New Testament church is an assembled group of Bible believers - they formed churches. The Christians are called OUT of the world, and assemble “in the wilderness” right now (non-impressive buildings sometimes), but later they will assemble in HEAVEN (Heb 12:22,23)

 

e.     This Prophet would deliver lively oracles - Scriptures - N.T. just as Moses delivered to Israel the Old Testament.

f.      This Prophet would NOT be followed by everyone, just as Moses was not followed by all the Jews (7:39-44)

 

1)     The Jews preferred to set up their own religion - same with all peoples - they worshipped “Egypt” (the world)

2)     They didn’t like a leader who was not predictable

3)     The people preferred only pleasure (2 Tim 3:1-4)

4)     God fixed it so that the people didn’t just dabble a bit in false religions, but went “all the way!” (7:41-44) - Idolatry is like a landslide, continuously getting worse!

5)     Jewish idolatry (7:41-44):

 

a)     First they worshipped a golden cow - holy cow!

b)    It is only after God has offered the truth, and been rejected that God turns (repents) and leaves them alone (7:42)! The worst place to be is without God!

c)     They were not satisfied, and so worshipped all the “host of heaven” (astrology, Stonehenge, Newgrange, spiritism, beings from outer space, modern evolutionary astronomy) - Dt 4:19; Jer 7:18

d)    This was all during the Israelite’s trek through the wilderness for 40 years! Still going on today!

e)     They carried in their hearts the tabernacle of the sun-god Moloch - Ammonite demon that required people to burn their children in human sacrifice!

f)     They worshipped a star related to a Babylonian god named Rempham - an obscure god - a passing fad!

 

6)     And God fixed it so that they “reaped” just what they sowed (Gal 6:9) - they ended up captives, carried away into Babylon for 70 years!

7)     Even though they had the tabernacle of witness all along

 

3.     The Tabernacle (7:45-50).

 

a.     Built by Moses under God’s instructions (Ex 25-40)

b.     It was to be a “witness” (it testified to the people of God’s presence among them - reminded them)

c.     It was to be the place that all sacrifices were brought; all tithes; and all worship was to be held.

d.     It had the following components:

 

1)     An Outer Court - anybody could enter

 

a)     An Altar of Sacrifice

b)    A Brass Washtub - Brazen Laver (lavatory)

 

2)     An Inner Court - Only the priests could enter

 

a)     A seven-branched Candlestick

b)    A Table with twelve “shewbreads” (loaves of bread)

c)     An Altar of Incense

 

3)     A Holy of Holies - only the high priest, once a year could enter

 

a)     The “Ark” (box) of the covenant

b)    The covering “mercyseat” - covered by Cherubs

 

e.     This was no ordinary “tent - it matched the pattern of the true tabernacle in heaven (Heb 8:5; 2 Cor 12:2)

f.      Carried by Joshua (Jesus) into Canaan

g.     King David wanted to make God a permanent testimony of His power and presence in Jerusalem - a Temple (7:45,46).

h.     But David’s son, Solomon was to be the builder (7:47).

i.      All the while God kept reminding Israel that God really doesn’t live in Temples (7:48-50)

j.      But Israel wanted to build it anyway

 

D.    But Man Through it all does nothing but “Resist” God (7:51-53)

 

1.     People are “stiffnecked” - stubborn, unrepentant (7:51; Ex 32:9)!

2.     People are “uncircumcised” in heart and ears - untransformed, unchanged (Rom 2:28,29)

3.     People are consistent - always resisting (7:51)

4.     Notice it is the Holy Ghost that has been at work (7:51)

5.     All the prophets were persecuted and hated by the Jews!

6.     The Jews even killed the very prophets who foretold of the coming Just One (the Messiah)

7.     Just like they murdered and betrayed the Messiah Himself (7:52)

8.     All in the face of receiving God’s word, and not living it (7:53)

 

IV.   Stephen’s Altar-Call

 

A.    They were cut to the heart - not just an intellectual exchange

B.    They were only full of anger - either make people glad, or mad!

C.    But Stephen remained full of the Holy Ghost - never lost his temper

 

1.     He saw the glory of God - Moses saw this; David saw this

2.     He saw Jesus there next to God the Father

 

D.    So the crowd stones Stephen - the first martyr of Jesus Christ

 

1.     Note the “unity of spirit” - wrong spirit

2.     Note the rejection of his “words” - Stephen fought with Scripture, and the people resisted! He did not fight with swords and guns!

3.     Note the carefulness of the crowd - must have “witnesses” to verify the people’s actions that day (7:58)

4.     This turns out to be the influencing of the greatest Christian to ever live - Saul of Tarsus (7:58)!

 

E.     Up to the very last, Stephen’s heart is broken for his people (7:59,60)

 

1.     His whole focus was continually on the Lord

2.     He trusted to the end in the Lord to “receive his spirit”

3.     He wished that Israel would not reap anymore for their sins!

4.     A Christian’s death is only a falling asleep

 

V.    Conclusion and Study Questions

 

 


The Acts of the Apostles

Chapter Eight

The Church Expanding

 

Focus Verse: Acts 8:4

 

Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where

preaching the word.”

 

I.      Study Introduction

 

A.    Up until chapter 8, Christianity has remained only in Jerusalem, even though Jesus said in Acts 1:8 to go “to the uttermost part of the earth

B.    When the Christians would not do what God needed them to do, it showed that they needed some “correction” which came in the form of persecution. They were no stranger to persecution - it was just that, now it was getting rough, and instead of the by-product of the troubles causing the new Christians to give-up on Christ and God’s word, it transformed them into a fluid army of able soldiers of the cross, taking the Gospel that had transformed them to the world Christ called them to go to! They were finally in motion!

C.    Chapter 8 outlines why a church grows, and how it all happens!

 

II.    Study Outline - Acts Chapter Eight - The Church Expanding

 

A.    NT Christianity Expands By Preaching (2:4,11; 7:54)

 

1.     Preaching is fueled by the following ingredients

 

a.     Prayer - much prayer (10 days of it in the upper room)

b.     Surrender to obedience to God’s will (James 1:22)

c.     The power of the Holy Spirit (Eph 5:18)

d.     Faithfulness to the message (2 Cor 2:17)

 

2.     Bible preaching focuses on the following topics:

 

a.     The Fulfillment of Scripture (2:15,16) - prophecy, lives transformed, demonstration that God is involved in life!

b.     The Lessons of Scripture

 

1)     Life is short (2:20)

2)     People are wicked to the core (2:22; 3:13-15; 7:51,52)

 

c.     The Work of Scripture

 

1)     It humbles (Isa 66:1,2)

2)     It saves (1 Peter 1:23)

3)     It comforts and encourages (Rom 15:4; 1 Thes 4:18)

4)     It defeats (Eph 6:17; Matt 4:4; Rev 19:11,15)

 

d.     The Author of Scripture (1 Cor 1:18,23)

 

1)     He has the answer - to everything we go through.

 

a)     Salvation - get sin taken cared-of (Acts 2:21; 4:12)

b)    Service - get busy growing and serving your Lord like you used to serve the devil and yourself!

c)     Sanctification - stay clean - work at it, don’t take a break!

 

All of life’s problems are related to our handling of those three areas!

 

2)     He cares enough to give us the answer - all in Christ (1 Cor 1:30; Philp 1:21; Gal 2:20)

 

3.     Bible Preaching results in the following things

 

a.     A decision being made, for or against Christ - glad or mad!

b.     A softening or a hardening of the heart

c.     A life being lived more for Christ, or for the devil!

 

There is no such thing as a middle, neutral ground!

 

B.    NT Christianity Expands in Response to Persecution (8:1-4)

 

1.     Satan hates God and anything related to God (2 Thes 2:3,4)

 

a.     Satan hates you, and looks forward to people dying (8:1; 1 Pet 5:8; Mt 7:15; John 8:44; Gen 3:3-7; Mk 5:5)

b.     If Satan cannot kill you, then he will try and suppress you

c.     If he cannot suppress you, then he will attempt to invalidate you - make you incapable of doing anything for God

 

2.     Satan loves religion - it takes the glory away from God!

 

a.     Religion is what man DOES for God (Gal 1:13; James 1:27)

b.     Salvation is what God DID for sinful man (Eph 2:8,9)

 

3.     Satan uses people’s dedication to religion, and tradition to try and stamp out a Christian’s dedication to the living God (John 16:2). This turns out to be a time of GREAT persecution (8:1)

4.     But God’s people are not normal anymore (Acts 5:35-37)

 

a.     New Testament Christianity does not die when scattered - they multiply! When they hang around in one location, they die - stagnation. Get caught up in themselves (Rev 3:14-17)

b.     When Christians stagnate, God allows troubles and persecutions to arise to get us going again (Ps 119:67,71,75)

 

5.     So, here comes trouble - Saul of Tarsus (8:1)

 

a.     He is the major focus of Acts from chapter 13 on

b.     He was a Pharisee, of the tribe of Benjamin (Philp 3:5)

c.     He personally persecuted “the Church” at Jerusalem (8:1,3) - these are Christians who simply loved Jesus above all else!

 

1)     Made havock of the body of believers - ruin, wasted, devastation (or at least tried to) of the people’s lives

2)     Broke into people’s homes - like Gestapo; inquisition

3)     Dragging (hauling) men and women to prison and leaving them there to die - all in the “name of God”

4)     He personally hurt and beat people (Ac 22:19; 1Ti 1:13)

5)     He forced people to blaspheme Jesus’ name (Act 26:11)

6)     He even went to foreign cities to persecute (Acts 26:11)

 

6.     And yet, notice the effect (Acts 8:1,4) - The world is reached

 

a.     Christians were scattered into areas that needed the Gospel - God was more concerned about the lost, than the comfort of the saved (Lk 15:3-5) - He pushed them into the next regions

b.     The word was PREACHED - they couldn’t help it (Jer 20:9)

c.     The word was preached everywhere and churches sprang up!

 

C.    NT Christianity Expands by Phenomenon (8:5-8) - Miracles

 

1.     The Miracle of Preaching

 

a.     That someone would declare Christ to this world - all new cults form on the basis of Biblical dedication to Christ

b.     That someone would gladly be identified as a fool for Christ (1 Cor 1:21-23; 2 Cor 4:5) - their identify is lost in Christ’s!

c.     That someone would preach only the Bible (Act 8:4; 20:27)

 

2.     The Miracle of Reaching Different Cultures - The Gospel is not bound by cultures - it over-rules culture (i.e., it judges all cultures by going beyond cultural differences, and shows what is right in God’s sight, and what is wrong; i.e., 1 Cor 11:14,15)

 

a.     A Jew preaching the good news to Samaritans

b.     A white man preaching to a black man and being heard

c.     A black man preaching to an Asian man and being heard

d.     An Irish person witnessing to an Englishman

e.     A Gentile preaching to a Jew and being heard

All because God crossed-over and became man to reach man!

 

3.     The Miracle of Conversions (8:6-8) - Greatest Miracle!

 

a.     People hearing, and loving the Gospel - instead of rejecting

b.     People obeying and living the Gospel - gave heed (Ro 6:17)

c.     Lives transformed - Satan’s dominion rejected (Ro 6:18)

d.     Health restored - many people’s illnesses are due to a lifetime of worry, and confusion, and deceit

e.     Real Joy apparent in the lives of people again!

 

4.     The Miracle of Proofs that all this is of God

 

a.     Philip did miracles like the Apostles - he never failed

b.     The miracles backed up what Philip preached - just as Jesus did (John 10:37,38) - The outstanding miracles were for the Apostles, and for the first deacons until the Bible was completed (Mk 16:20). But miracles are also for today!

c.     Types of miracles performed:

 

1)     Removal of “unclean spirits”

 

a)     Spiritual demons that are unclean - they defile, ruin

b)    They control, and blind people

c)     They can be overpowered by the truth (John 8:32) and by faith in the Son of God (John 8:36)

d)    Engage a person head on (Act 26:18; 2Ti 2:24-26)

 

2)     Healing of impossible diseases - crippling palsies

 

D.    NT Christianity Expands by Perception (8:9-24) - Discernment

 

1.     Introduction

 

a.     Not everyone who says that they are “saved,” is (Mt 7:21,22)

b.     There are tares sown in among the wheat (Mt 13:24-40)

c.     Satan works not only from the outside, but from the inside

 

2.     Simon the Sorcerer (8:9-11) - this where the term “Simony” came from - purchasing religious positions and powers!

 

a.     A sorcerer - used magical trickery (witchcraft) to deceive

b.     A channelor - attempted to prove that “he” was what God used to do great miracles - all “through” him

c.     Stuck on himself - very proud, as the devil (Isa 14:12-14)

d.     A charismatic (gifted) leader - people gladly followed him

e.     Primarily used sorceries (healings, magic) toward his own end - emphasised the “proof” of his claims, so that all the Samaritans of the area would look to him for revelation

 

3.     Philip’s effect on the Samaritans (8:12,13)

 

a.     Total conversion - they dropped Simon, and believed Philip:

 

1)     Philip never focused on himself

2)     He preached about the kingdom of God - salvation

3)     He preached about Jesus Christ as the only answer!

4)     He challenged everyone to repent of their religion, get baptized, and follow only Christ - which they gladly did!

5)     He miracles were “different” - they were long lasting, and focused on eternity, and holiness - not excitement

 

b.     Total defeat for Simon - he couldn’t beat them, so he joined!

 

4.     Simon’s “fruit” from his life was wrong (8:13-18; Mt 7:16)

 

a.     Simon sees the Apostles give the seal of the Holy Ghost

b.     Simon is used to doing “miracles” and wants that ability

c.     His real problem was no repentance (Acts 20:21) - Jesus was just another “power” to connect with and get in-tune with

 

5.     Peter sees through Simon’s “innocent request” (8:19-23)

 

a.     We need to see the wolves - discernment (Acts 20:21)

b.     John the Baptist had this discernment (Mt 3:1,2,5-8)

c.     Maintains clear lines of distinction, and purity (1 Pet 2:9)

 

6.     Simon learns to fear God first, and then trust and love Him (8:24)

 

a.     If repentance is hard for you, then something is wrong

b.     Maintain a soft heart towards God (Pr 13:1; 15:31; 2Ti 4:2)

c.     Examine yourself & develop real Christian fruit (2Cor 13:5)

 

E.     Christianity Expands by Personal Work (8:25-40) Soul-Winning

 

1.     Personal Work is Everybody’s work (8:25)

 

a.     The majority of work that it takes to build and establish a local group of believers into a church is NOT done by the leaders, but by the BODY itself (Cf 8:1,4)!

b.     A church that is built by the labours of the “few” is like a human body that is only operating with one hand, and an eye - classified as “invalid,” “sick,” and “crippled.”

 

2.     Personal Work is Spirit-led work (8:26)

 

a.     It is spiritual work - not looking to “feed the world” even though that is important - more interested in the starving souls (Amos 8:11)

b.     Philip is already working at this (8:4,5) already in motion.

c.     Philip is listening for guidance instructions (Zech 4:6) - He is “tuned-in” (Ps 46:10) to the spirit (Eph 5:18)

 

3.     Personal Work is obedience driven (8:27) not convenience driven

 

a.     There is no debate in Philip’s mind whether he would obey!

b.     There is NO faith without obedience (Rom 10:17; Jam 1:22)

c.     Every Christian must learn to desire to find out what God wants done through their lives, and then do it (Rom 12:1,2)

 

4.     Personal Work is always rewarded (8:27,28)

 

a.     God will always lead you to sinners - they are everywhere!

b.     God places key people in your path - people that can and will affect others

c.     God brought Philip to meet a very special man

 

1)     He is an Ethiopian - black central African

2)     He is an Eunuch - treasurer under queen Candace

3)     A seeker of the true God

 

a)     He had previously changed from idolatry to Judaism - a proselyte

b)    He was a believer in the Bible- bought his own copy

 

5.     Personal Work is Real work (8:29-38)

 

a.     You have to proceed to (get to) the person - he “ran”

b.     You have to perceive (find) a “point of contact” - a common issue that the other person understands and relates to:

 

1)     The Eunuch had lots of misconceptions about the Bible

2)     God can use anything - current events, troubles, etc.

3)     Philip uses the man’s need for “interpretation”

 

c.     You have to pressure the person to face the Scriptures

d.     You have to prod the person to use his brain (8:34)

e.     You have to present the Gospel from the Scriptures (8:35)!

 

1)     All scripture portions point to Christ (Acts 10:43)

2.     You ought to be able to take any Scripture and point out Christ in them:

 

a)     In Isa 53 Jesus is the suffering servant

b)    In Gen 3 Jesus is the promised seed of the woman

c)     In Exod 12 Jesus is the Passover Lamb of God

d)    In Song of Solomon, Jesus is the Lily of the valley

 

f.      You have to patiently instruct people until they grasp the truth of the Gospel (2 Tim 2:24,25) - Instruct people about:

 

1)     The requirements of God for perfection

2)     The inability of any human to meet them

3)     Christ’s life, death, burial and resurrection

4)     Repentance, and faith only in Christ (20:21)

5)     Commitment, and baptism

 

g.     You have to probe people’s depth of understanding and conviction (8:37)

h.     You then have the privilege of seeing a new birth, and what a joy it is to see them seal their faith in Christ with their baptism (8:38)!

 

5.     Personal Work is Exciting work (8:39,40) - You never tire of it

 

a.     The Eunuch went away rejoicing - there is always JOY with salvation - both in heaven (Lk 15:10), in the heart of the soul just saved, and in the soul-winner (John 4:31-34)!

b.     Philip found strength to keep going

c.     God had more “appointments” for Philip ahead - Caesarea

 

III.   Conclusion and Study Questions


The Acts of the Apostles

Chapter Nine

The Conversion of Saul

 

Focus Verse: Acts 9:20

 

And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God.

 

I.      Study Introduction

 

A.    We now turn our attention to watch how God deals with the heart of a religious fanatic, who is set only on the destruction of New Testament Christianity. His name is Saul of Tarsus.

B.    As you will see, once Saul realises that He has been fighting against the Lord of both the Old and New Testaments, he quickly repents, ands devotes his energies to saving souls instead of torturing them!

 

II.    Background - Acts has so far presented the following events:

 

Chapter:

1.     The Church was Commissioned

2.     The Church was Empowered

3.     Christianity Reaches out and Meets The Need - not elitist

4.     The Church Learned How To Stand-Up For Christ - face persecution

5.     The Church Learned to Stay True when under attack & in temptation

6.     The Church Began to Delegate the Work - involvement

7.     Christians Focused on Presenting the Lessons of Biblical History

8.     The Church Expanding - How It Grows

 

a.     NT Christianity Expands By Preaching

b.     NT Christianity Expands by the Right Response to Persecution

c.     NT Christianity Expands by Phenomenon - Miracles

d.     NT Christianity Expands by Right Perception - Discernment

e.     Christianity Expands by Personal Work - Soul-Winning

 

9.     We now turn to examine this young man named Saul, and watch as the Lord Jesus is working him over until he either goes crazy, or surrenders to Christ. This same process is going on all over this world!

 


III.   Study Outline

 

A.    Saul’s Conversion (9:1-31)

 

1.     Occurs to a most unlikely person (9:1) Saul of Tarsus

 

a.     Super educated (Acts 22:3)

 

1)     Of Tarsus - very powerful family in very important city

2)     Educated at the feet of Gamalial - prominent teacher

3)     Able to fluently speak at least 5 languages (Hebrew, Greek, Arabic, Iconium, Latin, etc.).

 

b.     Super-dedicated - zealous, enthusiastic, fanatical

 

1)     A Jew - already very religious; very devout

2)     A Pharisee - not just a Jew, but a leader of the Jewish religion - like a Bishop would be in the Catholic Church

3)     Single-focused: all he talked about (“breathing out threatenings”), thought about, worked for, was the extermination of this “cult” and heresy (Acts 24:14)!

 

c.     Super ignorant - willful ignorance (1 Tim 1:12,13)

d.     Super sinful (1 Tim 1:15)

 

2.     Occurs at a most unlikely time - as he sought to destroy Biblical Christianity (9:1,2) - He was not the least “curious” - not looking

 

a.     He was expanding his realm of control - legally

b.     He was coordinating a religious inquisition - in God’s name

c.     He was forcing people’s submission to a central power - Jerusalem, and the council at Jerusalem (not to the Scriptures)

 

3.     Occurs in a most unlikely manner (9:3-9; 26:12-19)

 

a.     A blinding light from heaven - brighter than the sun

b.     A voice from heaven speaking directly to him

c.     A sneaking suspicion - the work of the Holy Spirit to convince people that God’s word is true (Mk 16:19,20)

d.     A revelation from God (Gal 1:11,12,16)

 

1)     That you are fighting God - not another religion, with all your good works, and ignorant zealousness for God

2)     That you are lost

3)     That Jesus is who He claimed to be - God in the flesh!

 

There is a distinct danger in thinking that this is how anyone normally gets saved - Paul was the exception.

 

e.     A fear of God - “astonished and trembling”

f.      A complete surrender (9:6)

 

1)     Didn’t run; hide; or shun the work of the Holy Spirit

2)     Dealt directly with the One putting the pressure on him - spake right back - the first prayer in his life that made it to heaven!

3)     Gave in to God’s way of doing things - even though it didn’t fit the way Saul had thought God should work (the same ideas ruined the Israelites in the wilderness)

4)     Requires simple obedience - one step at a time. Salvation is simply obeying the gospel (John 3:3; Ro 6:17; 10:16; 2 Thes 1:8; 1 Pet 4:17). Jesus did not explain all the details of what was happening, nor of what was going to happen to him, but just to follow His word.

5)     Produced humiliation - blind now; helpless, just waiting; and alone (the other men did not hear the instructions)

6)     Produced the right kind of hunger - for God more than any food or fellowship from anyone else!

 

4.     Involves using the most unlikely people (9:10-14) - a soul winner

 

a.     God chose to use Ananias - a “nobody” - not an apostle

b.     God chose to use someone who had doubts, but was willing to follow orders

c.     God has this “nobody” deal with Saul (who was a VIP)!

d.     Oh that God would be allowed to use all of us (Jam 5:20)

 

5.     Initiates the most incredible of plans (9:15,16)

 

a.     God launches the greatest Christian life ever lived

b.     Produces the greatest impact this world has yet to see

 

1)     Both on the world then - through preaching and setting up churches all over the then-known world (Acts 17:6)!

2)     And throughout all time - by preaching the Scriptures!

 

c.     Pays the greatest cost - it is not going to be easy - there will be great suffering (Cf Rom 1:14; Acts 20:26)

 

1)     The Christian got eternal life at great cost

2)     The Christian lives his life for Christ at great cost (Philp 1:29; 2 Tim 3:12; 2 Cor 11:23-29)

3)     The Christian looks forward to an eternal pay-back (Rom 8:16-18)

 

6.     Begins in the most humble of ways (9:17-20)

 

a.     As a brother, with other nobodies - no longer “Dr.” Saul, or “Professor” or even “Mr.” Saul - just brother (Cf Mt 23:8)

b.     As being in the dark - not knowing it all - starting empty! Ananias knew about Saul, and what God was doing - humiliating for you to not be able to tell people what you know!

c.     As being dependent upon other Christians. God made Saul have to wait for Ananias to show up before he got his eyesight back, and the assurance of his salvation (8:17,18).

d.     Saul had to publicly declare by baptism that he no longer was Jewish, but Christian - he was a follower of Jesus Christ!

e.     Saul at first had to humbly sit and learn about Christ second-hand from the other disciples, because when Jesus had been around, Saul had been too proud to sit and listen for himself.

f.      Saul starts right off making a fool out of himself (1 Cor 1:18,21) by going back to his old neighbourhood and preaching! Saul did not try and sit next to the Apostles - he went to where the sinners were!

 

7.     Confounds both Jews (unbelievers), and Christians (9:20-26)

 

a.     To Confound means to frustrate, embarrass, confuse.

b.     Saul confused people about their own beliefs - to get them to see that they had missed Jesus! Bring shame to them!

c.     Saul did this by preaching - not sharing, or pleading!

d.     Saul confused people about assumptions - they thought Saul would never convert! What a testimony his life made!

e.     Saul got people mad enough to want to kill him (John 15:20), so much so that he had to leave Damascus in a basket over a wall (9:23-26).

f.      Saul then comes to Jerusalem, and thinks he will be welcomed with open arms, but is rejected by the Christians.

 

1)     Question: Didn’t all the Christians have the gift of discernment? Should they have been able to tell?

2)     Question: Why did Saul have to run? Wasn’t Jesus greater than the enemies of the cross?

 

g.     No amount of confusion or disagreement could discourage Saul - he was “on a roll” and only grew with the pressure!

 

8.     Develops into Great Relationships (9:27-30)

 

a.     Because of people who are willing to take risks - Barnabas. His name means consolation, comfort, encourager. We miss so much when we wont take a risk for others!

b.     Because of Saul’s testimony (9:27) of salvation

 

1)     He had a changed life (9:27) - had fruit!

2)     He had proven himself to be faithful & consistent (9:28)

 

c.     Because Saul went ahead and served God in spite of how he was treated by other Christians, and not caring whether the Apostles accepted him or not - Saul was serving God (9:29)!

d.     Because Saul was content to serve anywhere - he didn’t have to be in Jerusalem for him to feel important (9:30).

 

9.     Produced Godly results - good fruits (9:31)

 

a.     The Churches had rest for a while. Rest from persecution, but NOT rest from soul-winning! With the head man behind the persecution converted, the churches could go about their ministry free and basically unhindered (1 Tim 2:1,2).

b.     Christians were edified: strengthened in the word - taught.

c.     Christians learned not to fear any person, but only the Lord!

d.     Christians learned that you can find comfort in the Holy Ghost - they realised that everything Christ said would happen, did, and that they were all the stronger for it!

e.     People kept getting saved!

 

B.    Peter’s Continuing Ministry (9:32-43) - Last saw him in Chapter 5

 

1.     His Miracle at Lydda and Saron (9:32-35)

 

a.     Lydda is a town about 30 miles NW of Jerusalem in an area called Saron (Sharon)

b.     Peter is going systematically throughout all the regions of Israel, preaching and healing so that Jews get saved

c.     Peter meets Christians in Lydda - called “saints” while on earth - all Christians are saints - “holy ones” - better live it!

d.     Peter heals Aeneas

 

1)     An unsaved Jew

2)     Diseased with the palsy - a paralysis

3)     Bed-ridden for the past eight years

4)     Healed instantly by Peter without Aeneas’s faith

5)     Causes the entire city to turn to Christ - just as in Acts 2

 

2.     His Miracle at Joppa (9:36-43)

 

a.     At the request of some people in Joppa, Peter leaves Lydda and heads 30 miles further NW to this important coastal town of Joppa - the same city where Jonah ran to find a ship away from God’s will

b.     He comes to Joppa to specifically heal Tabitha - Known as Dorcas (her name means: a young deer)

 

1)     A saved Jew

2)     A hard-working Christian (Eph 2:8-10; Jam 2:17) like Martha (Luke 10:41)

3)     The Christians in Joppa sent for Peter - Why? No other Christian there was able to heal Tabitha - only Peter  had that kind of a gift (as an Apostle)

4)     Peter heals without Tabitha’s faith

5)     Results in many Jews getting saved (9:42)

 

c.     Peter stays in Joppa for a break (9:43)

 

3.     The Difference Between Peter’s and Paul’s Ministry:

 

Peter

Paul

Primarily to the Jew (Gal 2:9)

Primarily to the Gentile

Ministers mainly in Israel

Ministers mainly outside Israel

Emphasises Signs, Wonders and Miracles in reaching the Jews

Emphasises Preaching (1 Cor 2:1-5) to win all peoples

Does some work with Gentiles - Cornelius (Acts 10)

Does some work with the Jews (Acts 19:1-20)

Heads Southeast to Babylon (1Pe 5:13)

Heads Northwest to Rome (Act 28:14)

 

IV.   Conclusion and Study Questions

 

 


The Acts of the Apostles

Chapter Ten

Cornelius Meets Christ

 

Focus Verse: Acts 10:15

 

And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.

 

I.      Study Introduction

 

A.    Ever wonder how the “heathen” find out about Christ - we learn it by the experience of a man named Cornelius

B.    Ever wonder "what" Christians are supposed to preach? We learn from Peter’s encounter with Cornelius!

 

II.    Study Outline - Cornelius Meets Christ - Acts 10

 

A.    The Sinner’s Search (Acts 10:1-33; Jer 29:13)

 

1.     The Search for God Starts From Within (10:1,2) - Most people are waiting on an external event to get them interested in eternity, but something has to happen on the inside - a hunger!

 

a.     We meet a certain man

 

1)     Named Cornelius

2)     A Centurion in the Roman army - 100 men under him. There are 4 centurions mentioned in the Bible, and they are ALL men of integrity and good character (Mt 8:10; Acts 27:43; Mk 15:39; and here).

3)     Of the Italian band - portion of the army that was made up of Italians - others were made up of other nations

 

b.     Cornelius is a searching man

 

1)     He is devout - had his whole house interested in God - in subjection - and following him!

2)     He fears God - not just knowing about God!

3)     He gave much money to his local Jewish synagogue

4)     He prays always - had great faith AND works!

5)     But not saved (Cf 11:13,14) - Like Roman Catholics:

 

a)     Roman, and Italian

b)    Devout, and God fearing

c)     Looking for, and receiving visions from angels

d)    Quick to bow down to and worship Peter (10:25,26)


2.     The Search for God is Aided By God (10:3-8)

 

a.     When a man goes seeking for the truth, God will make sure that he finds it (Ro 2:7,8; Pr 8:17; Jer 29:13). He may not like what he finds, but it’ll be placed in front of them!

b.     Cornelius has a vision from God - still a time of visions

 

1)     At 3pm in the evening an angel appears

2)     Talks to Cornelius, and gives him clear instructions

3)     Cornelius calls the angel ‘Lord’ - had visions before

4)     Supposed to send for a specific person - Simon Peter

5)     Told exactly where to send for him (no phone-book) in Joppa 30 miles south of Cesarea

 

c.     Notice that God worked on the hearts of all peoples - not just the Jews. Balaam was a Gentile prophet (Num 22-24). Jethro was a Gentile priest of God (Ex 18)

 

3.     The Search for God is Hindered by Religion - misconceptions, and other “baggage” (10:9-18)

 

a.     Sometimes by the seeker. People stop themselves from obtaining what they seek most for (forgiveness, and heaven) by pride, self-righteousness, and their own form of religion (2Tim 3:1-5). Cornelius here seeks visions and worships men

b.     Sometimes by the Christian. May have so much spiritual baggage from their past that they do nothing for God in the present! Bitterness, prejudice, busy-ness, and denominational vision (seeing the Bible through what they have been taught).

 

1)     Peter is locked into the Jewish mind-set of racial superiority. Thinking only the Jews are worthy of the truth, or that only the Jews would be able to receive the truth - very Calvinistic (like saying only the elect can receive it).

2)     God uses the cleansing of unclean meats to teach that God can cleanse anything.

3)     To be common or unclean meant “dirty,” or “filthy”

 

a)     When Christ died, the ceremonial laws and “ordinances” were blotted out (Col 2:13-18). Dietary laws can no longer affect your relationship with God

b)    The Civil and Moral laws were retained - eternal!

c)     But, diet can affect your ability to serve God - eating unclean food hurts your health (ie, pork, shellfish)

d)    Don’t worry about eating ham, just don’t eat too much of it (1 Tim 4:1-5). And wash your hands. Not very spiritual, but good sense!

 

4.     The Search for God is Completed by Christians (10:19-33)

 

a.     God has revealed Himself through three things: Creation itself (Ps 19; Rom 1), His Son (John 1), and the Bible.

b.     But He uses Christians to do the following (Acts 26:16-18):

 

1)     Re-direct people’s attention to God’s “signals” and directions (to open their eyes)

2)     Engage them in reasonable debate and consideration of the Scriptures (Acts 17:2; 24:25) - to open their minds!

3)     Compel people to make a decision (turn them from sin)

 

c.     When Christian’s fail to do their job, the Christians are held responsible (Cf Acts 18:6; 20:26; Ezek 3:18-21)

d.     So now, Peter is called into action - “go and preach” (Acts 1:8), not to just the Jews, but to all peoples - doubt nothing!

e.     And off Peter goes - simply obedient, even though not fully understanding! When you go with a Bible under your arm, and a learning spirit (not a show-off), you will go far!

f.      Peter hears just how worthy this man is for him to come, and how that Cornelius was WARNED of God (10:22), and that Cornelius had to hear the word of a Jewish Apostle (John 4:22) in order to get saved. He had to have an authority!

g.     Cornelius was waiting for Peter to arrive (10:24). He had called together everyone possible so that they ALL could hear the truth and be saved (Cf Rahab, Josh 2:12-21; 6:25; and Lot, Gen 19:12-14). We should do as much!

h.     Peter gets an unwelcome welcome - Cornelius bows and WORSHIPS him (10:25,26)! God hates this, as does Peter!

i.      Peter explains that this meeting is at the hand of God - not a normal occurrence due to Israel’s separation from the Gentiles by God. Allows Peter to show that a lot of things have changed because of the cross!

j.      Asks Cornelius to explain what he is looking for (10:29) - it is best to allow the person to express their spiritual needs. Guide them into an understanding of their hunger without telling what to ask of you! Watch the Holy Spirit work!

k.     Cornelius goes back over the events of the past few days, but he focuses on the event about to happen - he is anxious to hear what God will have Peter to say! This is how people need to be with the Bible - anxious to hear what God has to say through it!

 


B.    The Soul-Winner’s Message (Acts 10:34-48)

 

·         The soul-winner’s message can be summed-up in a 217 word sermon preached by an uneducated fisherman to an army captain in Acts 10! What we will be dealing with here are three things:

 

a.     A Mission Field - Cornelius' household

b.     A Missionary/Soul-Winner - Simon Peter

c.     A Message preached to the first Gentile to hear about Jesus

 

·         Peter has just arrived at the house of Cornelius and proclaims 7 things - these are the same seven things that each one of us need to be able to present to people. The Gospel message proclaims:

 

1.     Salvation is Extended to ALL (10:34,35)  "whosoever"

 

a.     God is no respecter of persons! Only impressed with Jesus!

b.     What every person really needs is only the fear of God

c.     A person must desire to repent from sin, and to do right!

d.     A person must come on God's terms as given in the Bible

 

2.     Christ is Our Example to Follow (10:36-38) - This is WHO we preach! What we just read summed up the life of Jesus!

 

a.     As Peter said in 2 Pet 1:16, we are not following “cunningly devised fables,” but the God/Man, Jesus Christ!

b.     Our goal is not to present "philosophy", but a Person!

c.     Our Living Example - not a doctrine, movement, or fantasy. Aren't you glad He is real (Cf 1 John 1:1,2):

 

1)     He gives peace (36) - the world cannot give (John 14:27)

2)     He brings power (38) "more than conquerors" (Ro 8:37)

3)     His life is our pattern (38) - that of doing good (real "good," not fake)

4)     His works brought preservation - Healed and put things back together and made them last! Not just a feeling

 

3.     The Death, Burial, and Resurrection is the Greatest Event in History (10:39-41) This is WHAT we preach!

 

a.     The world focuses its calendar on the Birth of Christ (AD) - the Christian on the other hand focuses his calendar on the crucifixion, burial, and resurrection! All eternity hung on those events, including your salvation!

b.     This becomes the meaning of the Gospel - the preaching of not only the death of Jesus, but the burial, and the RESURRECTION (1 Cor 15:3,4)! Make all three part of it!

 


4.     The Great Commission is Still in Effect (10:42; Matt 28:19,20)

 

a.     We are commanded to be a witness, and PREACH this Gospel to the whole world! This commission has not gone away!  It is what brought this church full of believers into existence!

b.     The Great Commission demonstrates this world is STILL important to God, and worth sacrificing for, so they might hear!

 

5.     Judgment Day is Coming (10:42) - This is WHY we preach!

 

a.     We must keep eternity in view - not get caught-up in things of this world, but in the place Jesus has prepared for us (heaven)!

b.     All will be held accountable (you can’t live any way you want):

 

1)     Unsaved at the great white throne judgment (Rev 20:11)

2)     Saved at the Judgment Seat of Christ (2 Cor 5:10)

 

c.     It is not "WHAT" you know that counts, but rather "WHO" you know!  I know Jesus Christ personally!!!

 

6.     Jesus Christ is Everything You Have Been Waiting For (10:43a)

 

a.     All the prophets pointed to Christ - point everyone either to the Lamb (His first coming), or the Lion (His second coming)

b.     All of your needs point to Jesus - He alone is the fulfillment of those needs - Lonely, health failing, hungry?

c.     Don't look for another (Mohammed, Moroni, Matraya, Bhudda), you cannot find a better answer than Jesus!

 

7.     Salvation is Only Obtained by Faith in Jesus Name (10:43b)

 

a.     It is not a "religious" issue - Cornelius was religious (10:2)

b.     It is not a matter of "sincerity" - He was sincere. Jesus said NOT that ye must be "sincere," but rather "ye MUST be born again!"

c.     It is not an issue of good works verses bad works (10:2) - but WHO do you know personally that according to the Bible can get you into heaven?

d.     Requires Child-Like Faith, on God's Terms

e.     The result is "the remission (taking away) of sins" - Complete forgiveness!

III.   Conclusion

 

A.    Just as Cornelius would have died and gone to Hell if he had not heard this message, so too will all the religious people of Ireland! They need soul-winners with a message!

B.    How about you?  Religious?  Or are you "born again" because you received the Son of God as your substitute just as Cornelius did?

C.    Have you heard this message? Have you received Jesus Christ as your personal savior? If you are saved, are you being like Peter and telling the Missionary Message at all who will hear? Let's be like Peter!

 

IV.   Study Questions


The Acts of the Apostles

Chapter Eleven

The First “Christians

 

Focus Verse: Acts 11:26

 

And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.

 

I.      Study Introduction

 

A.    Just because a person is saved, does not make them a Christian these days. It used to be so, but in these modern times, people turn to Jesus for only the “fire insurance” but not a whole new life. They want “fellowship” but not “followship” or “servanthood.”

B.    To be a Christian means to be “Christ-like” in all our actions, thoughts, aspirations, and emotions. Therefore, there are very few true “Christians” today. Only a lot of religious people who pout on a show, but have very little “life” that is like Christ.

C.    Chapter Eleven of Acts helps clear-up what it takes to be a Christian.

 

II.    Chapter Review

 

One       The Church Commissioned - The Ascension of Jesus

Two      The Church Empowered - The Day of Pentecost

Three    Christianity Meets The Need - The Invalid Man Healed

Four      How To Stand-Up For Christ - Handling Persecution

Five      Staying True! In Spite of Sin in Christian’s Lives

Six         Delegating the Work - Choosing Deacons

Seven   Learning the Lessons of History - Stephen’s Attack on Religion

Eight     The Church Expanding - Saul Begins His Persecution

Nine      The Conversion of Saul - Saul on the Road to Damascus

Ten       Cornelius Meets Christ - Peter Tells Cornelius About Christ

 

III.   Study Outline - The First “Christians” (Acts 11)

 

A.    To Be A Christian Means More than Being a Jew - The Bad News For Jewish Christianity (Acts 11:1-18)

 

1.     Everyone hears of Peter’s fellowship with “Gentiles” (11:1) - News spreads fast about Cornelius (a Gentile) getting saved

2.     The Problems this caused (11:2,3) - not only had Peter misconceptions about the Gospel plan, but so did most of the Jewish Christians in Judæa - there was a lot of explaining and teaching to do in order to mature the Jewish Christians

 

a.     Up until this time, salvation seemed to be exclusive only to the Jews - they had the Bible, the priesthood, the Saviour, etc

b.     One of the authorities in the church at Jerusalem (the apostle Peter) was “defecting” from the accepted way of doing things – the traditions!

c.     The Old Testament Ceremonial Laws (circumcision) were still dominating people’s view of grace (Gal 2:11-16; 3:2,3)

d.     Traditions were also still very dominate (of forbidding to eat with the Gentiles) to the point of closed minds to God’s word

 

3.     Peter presents his case - lays out the evidence (11:4-17) He reviews everything from start to finish - he has nothing to hide

 

a.     During his prayer time, Peter (11:4-10):

 

1)     Had a vision of a sheet descending full of unclean animals as defined by the Ceremonial aspect of the OT Law

2)     Heard a voice from heaven commanding him to eat

3)     He immediately refused - he is quick to be steadfast!

4)     God rebukes Peter three times on the basis that when God cleanses something, it is then truly clean - no longer sinful - this applies to two things:

 

a)     If unclean foods can be cleansed by Christ’s blood

b)    Then, unclean peoples (Gentiles) can be cleansed!

 

b.     Peter then went with a group of Gentiles seeking him to come meet a man named Cornelius (11:11-17):

 

1)     Cornelius reviews his recent extraordinary events

2)     Peter preaches a very short message of only 217 words

3)     The whole house simply believed the words preached

4)     The Holy Ghost then fell upon them and gave them the very same gift of tongues that He did to the Jews. This then shows the secondary purpose of tongues

 

a)     As a sign to unbelieving Jews that Christianity is of God, just as much as the Exodus from Egypt was (both start with signs)

b)    As a sign to believing Jews that the Gentiles are to be allowed “in” on God’s salvation equally!

 

5)     John the Baptist said this was what to expect

6)     Peter realised that he could not over-rule God - had simply misunderstood God’s ways (Ps 95:10)!

 

4.     The Jewish Christians surrender (11:18) - the Gospel then is no longer exclusive to one nationality (Jewish), but is universal!

 

B.    To Be a Christian Means Reproducing Ourselves - The Birth of the Church at Antioch (Acts 11:19-26)

 

We usually limit our Christianity to ourselves, our enjoyment, and our own desires - but what about God’s desires? To be truly Christian, we must crucify OUR desires, and launch-out into this world, and “become fruitful and multiply.” To be human means no less!

 

1.     Persecution and Scattering means Opportunity, not Ruin (11:19)

 

a.     At first, there was the church at Jerusalem - made up of Jews

b.     But the persecution was driving these Jewish Christians all over the region, and new churches were sprouting up, but still only consisting of Jewish believers

c.     So, instead of destroying Christianity, persecution and scattering only multiplied the number of believers - howbeit, only Jewish ones. Let’s always make sure that we have the same determination: to build this church, and to multiply!

 

2.     Mistakes in our ministry are not always bad (11:20,21)

 

a.     Some of the Jewish Christians “accidentally” preached to the Gentile Grecians, who then got saved - just like Cornelius

b.     God was behind their “mistake” - some things to learn:

 

1)     God will use anything to get His will done - His will is that the world would hear and get saved (Mk 16:15)

2)     No matter how you may “ruin” a situation, God can make it turn out right - if you will permit Him

3)     It is best to allow God to use your concerted efforts instead of your rebellious hindrances

 

c.     The Gentiles, as well as the Jews had to turn away from their religion (whatever it would be), and turn ONLY to the Lord

 

3.     Discern the Hand of the Lord - the will and work of God (11:22)

 

a.     Heard the whole story- did not react to gossip and innuendo

b.     Sent someone (Barnabas) to personally verify:

 

1)     If the salvations matched what the Scriptures demanded

2)     If there were any changed lives - would anyone be able to verify that YOU and I are Christians!?

 

4.     Encourage and help other churches to grow (11:23-26) - even if they are not what you expected, nor are what you want!

 

a.     Barnabas looked to see if God’s grace was in these people’s lives - not miracles, tongues, etc.

b.     Barnabas loved to see God saving the Gentiles - what is YOUR love?

c.     Barnabas exhorted - preached to the congregation (14:22):

 

1)     They must cleave (cling) unto the Lord - totally depend - no “on again, off again” Christianity

2)     They must make it a priority - purpose of heart - no matter what troubles may lie ahead!

 

d.     Barnabas lived what he asked the Antioch Christians to do:

 

1)     Everyone came to know him as a good man

2)     They knew him to be full of the Holy Ghost (Acts 6:5)

3)     And full of faith - confidence, dependence upon Christ

4)     And a soul-winner - much more people got saved!

 

e.     Barnabas used the situation to develop a young Christian in the ministry (hands on experience) - Saul of Tarsus (11:25)

 

5.     The Results of living like Christ (11:26)

 

a.     Opportunities - for new disciples to grow around you

b.     Spiritual Hunger - people start to see what Christ was all about instead of just what “Church” is all about

c.     Being called Christians - the highest commendation, even when spoken in disgust! Notice:

 

1)     Nowhere in the Bible is anyone called a Jehovah’s Witness, a Mormon, a Catholic, or a Protestant

2)     The term Christian is an earned commendation for disciples (Mt 9:9; 16:24), not for free-loaders, and feel-gooders

 

C.    To Be A Christian Means Not Forgetting Our Roots - The Burden of Christians for Judæa (Acts 11:27-30)

 

1.     The work of the Holy Spirit shifts from Jerusalem only to Antioch - some of the prophets (Eph 4:11) come up to Antioch

2.     Agabus (a leading prophet) makes a prophecy that a great famine would affect the whole known world

3.     Instead of everyone worrying only about themselves, they determine to send “relief” unto the brethren back in Judæa

 

a.     Took up a special offering - above the normal tithes. God says learn to meet other needs, and your needs will be met

b.     According to their ability - not mandatory - an act of love and respect - the Christians in Jerusalem had brought them the Gospel in the first place (11:19; Ro 15:25-27; 1Cor 9:11)

c.     Sent the money by Barnabas and Saul- they were trustworthy

d.     Placed the money into the hands of the pastors of churches in Judæa to distribute to the people - no Govt handouts

 

4.     Never forget some things

 

a.     Your Jewish connections:

 

1)     The Bible is a Jewish Book

2)     Salvation is Jewish, not Catholic (John 4:24)

3)     Jesus is a Jew - not European, African or American

4)     Every Gentile who gets saved, gets grafted into Abraham’s descendancy (Rom 11) - adopted into a royal line

 

b.     Your Responsibilities as a Christian

 

1)     To bless and support Israel. God blesses those who bless Israel, and curses those who curse them (Gen 12:1-3) - as seen throughout history (Egypt, Babylon, England)

2)     To pray for Israel. Christians are commanded to pray for peace in Jerusalem (the city of peace; Ps 137:5; 122:6)

3)     Thank the one who gave you the Gospel!

 

IV.   Conclusion

 

V.    Study Questions

 


The Acts of the Apostles

Chapter Twelve

The Church Learns to Pray

 

Focus Verse: Acts 12:5

 

Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him.

 

I.      Study Introduction

 

A.    Christianity must learn to live more by prayer and dependence upon GOD than upon apostles, prophets, and miracles!

B.    Every religion has its faith-healers, and charismatic prophets, but Christianity has Christ! It is a lazy person who just “expects” God to “take care” of the situations that arise in their lives, instead of learning to pray, and humble themselves, and mean business with God!

 

II.    Chapter Review

 

One       The Church Commissioned - The Ascension of Jesus

Two      The Church Empowered - The Day of Pentecost

Three    Christianity Meets The Need - The Invalid Man Healed

Four      How To Stand-Up For Christ - Handling Persecution

Five      Staying True! In Spite of Sin in Christian’s Lives

Six         Delegating the Work - Choosing Deacons

Seven   Learning the Lessons of History - Stephen’s Attack on Religion

Eight     The Church Expanding - Saul Begins His Persecution

Nine      The Conversion of Saul - Saul on the Road to Damascus

Ten       Cornelius Meets Christ - Peter Tells Cornelius About Christ

Eleven  The First Christians - The Birth of the Church at Antioch

 

III.   Study Outline - The Church Learns to Pray (Acts 12)

 

A.    The Death of the Apostle James (12:1-3)

 

1.     Background Information:

 

a.     Who is Herod? A Roman-puppet king over the area all around Israel. The name “Herod” was like the title “Caesar.” This is the same Herod who had John the Baptist beheaded, and mocked Jesus at His crucifixion (Luke 23:11,12)

b.     Who is this James? He is part of the trio of apostles named together as Peter, JAMES, and John. A fisherman with great faith and fervour for the Lord. He wrote the epistle “James”

 

2.     The Reasons for James’ death - Why would God allow it?

 

a.     The church needed to live more by prayer and dependence upon GOD than upon the apostles, and miracles!

b.     The Roman government wanted the Jewish leaders back under their control - scratched each other’s back (see 24:27)

c.     Herod wanted to get the Christian’s attention, so he picked an important leader to kill - to strike fear in them (Mt 10:28)

 

3.     The Lessons from James’ Death

 

a.     No Christian is Invincible. We do not have power over troubles - we are not invincible! Your life is in God’s hands! As long as God has a purpose for us, and we are willing to fulfill that purpose, that is when we are unstoppable.

b.     Don’t expect fair treatment. There was no trial - just a brutal stabbing. If there had been a trial he would have been beheaded. Religions love to get governments to do their “dirty-work” (ie, murder, torture) like the Jews had Rome kill Christ, and now James, and like Rome did in the dark ages!

c.     No replacement is made! Judas is replaced because he never was a true apostle - he was a devil incarnate (John 6:70)

d.     No riots break out. Christians do not riot when mis-treated.

 

B.    The Deliverance of the Apostle Peter (12:3-19)

 

1.     His Capture (12:3-5)

 

a.     Massive police operation - 16 elite soldiers swiftly apprehend Peter and place him straight into prison

b.     Four soldiers (quaternion) are on constant guard at any one time - two were chained directly to Peter - Herod did not want Peter getting away like he had before in Acts 5:17-20.

 

2.     The Holydays (12:3,4) - can’t interrupt the festivities!

 

a.     The Jews had their Feast of Unleavened Bread (Passover)

b.     The Romans had EASTER - Eggs, orgies, fertility worship

 

3.     Peter’s Deliverance - it was not an escape (12:5-11)

 

a.     Because of prayer - made without ceasing by the whole church in Jerusalem (30,000 people praying for one person)

b.     Because of peace in Peter’s heart - he had a rest that allowed him to sleep, even though he knew he faced death in the morning. Did not stay up all night praying for deliverance.

c.     Because of God’s will (James 4:13-15) - it was God’s will that James should die, and that Peter should stay alive.

 

1)     God sent the angel of the Lord

 

a)     Broke off Peter’s chains

b)    Put Peter’s guards to sleep all throughout the prison

c)     Opened every locked door

d)    Commanded Peter to just follow him out!

 

2)     Peter realised this was no dream - it was unexpected! Peter did not have “great” faith, just a great God!

 

4.     Peter’s Report to the Christians (12:12-17)

 

a.     As he thought about all these events, he passed Mary’s house (not Mary the mother of Jesus) - son’s name is John Mark

b.     He saw the lights on (at 5am), and knew they were praying for him - had been praying all night, and for the past 7 days

c.     As Peter knocks to get in, Rhoda hears him, and is too excited to go and open the gate (she too is surprised God answered their prayers).

d.     Absolutely nobody believers her, nor in the power of prayer - they all think it is just a spirit! It was the same when Jesus rose from the dead (Luke 24:9-12)!

 

Note: It is possible to pray about something for so long that you lose the goal, and get locked into the motions of the prayer instead of the fellowship, and dependence upon God.

 

e.     Peter quiets them down telling them to get the news to James, the pastor of the church at Jerusalem, and to all the brethren who were still gathered praying (12:17). Peter then heads out of town until chapter 15.

 

5.     What about the Guards? (12:18,19)

 

a.     They were dead men - “no small stir!” Herod has them questioned, and then executes them!

b.     Herod is therefore humiliated in front of the Jews whom he was showing off to. Kings hate to be humiliated - rely on perceptions!

c.     So Herod goes to Caesarea (90 miles north)

 

C.    The Demise of King Herod (12:20-23) The Price of Pride

 

1.     Here in northern Israel, things seemed to go a little better for him

 

a.     Herod controls a group of middle-eastern countries (Israel, and Samaria) under Roman rule. Rules them like a dictator.

b.     He has succeeded in breaking the rebellion of the Tyre and Sidon region by an embargo.

c.     The people of Tyre and Sidon befriend Blastus hoping to soften Herod’s anger - they want peace - under his control

d.     Herod then has won control of the region

 

2.     So Herod makes a show of his authority (12:21,22)

 

a.     Shows-off by making an “oration” - believes in himself!

b.     The people play along with him and feed his ego calling him “a god” - they are desperate for him to think they love him - forced love that is!

 

3.     But God makes a fool out of him (12:23)

 

a.     God wont let leadership get away with sin - even though they may be unsaved, or seem like they are untouchable (Luke 12:46-48; remember Rom 13:1-5)

b.     Herod already knew enough about God and especially Christ.

c.     Herod pays a high price - total humiliation, and death (Rom 6:23; Luke 14:11)

 

D.    The Development of the Work (12:24,25)

 

1.     God’s word and work goes on - the only time it stops is when God’s people think world events are more important than God’s events.

2.     Barnabas and Saul have been in Jerusalem with all the relief funds, and have finished working there, and now head back to Antioch to continue to work and build there - they were anchored to the church of Antioch - loved it, and missed it when away.

 

IV.   Conclusion

 

V.    Study Questions

 


The Acts of the Apostles

Chapter Thirteen

God's Call To Service

 

Focus Verse: Acts 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.

 

I.      Study Introduction

 

A.    Have you ever wondered how God intended twelve unlearned fishermen to reach this world with the Gospel of Christ?

B.    Have you ever wondered how God calls a person to serve Him, or how they come to know God’s plan for their life - which He has for us all!

C.    Chapter 13 is a big transition, from Jerusalem, to Antioch - from the emphasis on Jew, to the Gentile, from ministering to the Christian, to reaching the lost!

 

II.    Chapter Review

 

One       The Church Commissioned - The Ascension of Jesus

Two      The Church Empowered - The Day of Pentecost

Three    Christianity Meets The Need - The Invalid Man Healed

Four      How To Stand-Up For Christ - Handling Persecution

Five      Staying True! In Spite of Sin in Christian’s Lives

Six         Delegating the Work - Choosing Deacons

Seven   Learning the Lessons of History - Stephen’s Attack on Religion

Eight     The Church Expanding - Saul Begins His Persecution

Nine      The Conversion of Saul - Saul on the Road to Damascus

Ten       Cornelius Meets Christ - Peter Tells Cornelius About Christ

Eleven  The First Christians - The Birth of the Church at Antioch

Twelve The Church Learns to Pray - Peter escapes death due to prayer

 

III.   Study Outline - God’s Call to Service (Acts 13)

 

A.    The Call (Acts 13:1,2)

 

1.     Who is called?

 

a.     Not Peter - he is being bypassed.

 

1)     Only heard from once more in Acts 15:7

2)     800 million people put the emphasis on Peter, yet outside of Jesus, the emphasis in the N.T. is on the Paul!

3)     Peter wrote two books - Paul wrote 14!

 

b.     Note two important names:

 

1)     Barnabas (starts off always first), and Saul (always last)

2)     Slowly this ordering changes: from Barnabas and Saul, to: Saul and Barnabas, and ultimately, just Paul!

3)     Principle: to be used of God, be willing to be last in order to be made first!

 

2.     What does it take to be “called” for use by God? Elected, chosen

 

a.     Be part of a N.T. Bible believing local church - be involved

 

1)     In preaching - presenting the Gospel anyway you can!

2)     In teaching - discipling, and Sunday School

 

b.     Be a minister unto the Lord - whole purpose of being saved

 

1)     Minister to God’s needs, desires, wants ahead of all!

2)     Most churches today are SOCIAL gatherings, catering to the self-esteem of all its members, instead of to God!

 

c.     Spend time fasting

 

1)     Both an O.T. and N.T. practice (Matt 6:16)

2)     Jesus expects us to fast until He returns (Mt 9:15)

3)     Demonstrates that you mean business with God - serious

4)     Not dealing with “dieting” but sacrificing the normal attention that we give to our bodies, and give it all to the Lord as a time of prayer and searching God’s heart.

 

d.     Spend time listening to the “still small voice” of the Holy Spirit - Get “in-tune” (spiritual discernment) - be available!

 

1)     Humans are like a TV, just on the wrong channel

2)     Practice letting the Lord speak to your heart when you pray - let Him “impress” you in your decisions, instead of peer-pressure

 

3.     Who does the calling?

 

a.     Not man-called: self-motivated, or Mammy-directed

b.     Only the Holy Spirit calls (directs) the Christian

c.     How does the Holy Spirit work?

 

1)     Makes His will clear to the whole church - unity - God does not usually work with “Lone Rangers”

2)     By simply giving an order: Send out Barnabas and Saul to do what I want them to do! Expects us to obey

 

B.    The Commissioning (Acts 13:3)

 

1.     Notice the church’s response to God’s will:

 

a.     They fasted again, and prayed more - tested the spirits as commanded in 1 John 4:1. Satan can impress Christians to do things (2 Cor 11:13,14). Wanted to fully understand what God wanted them to do - all of this was new to them!

c.     They laid hands on Barnabas and Saul

 

1)     Recognition of God’s will - agreement with God - unity

2)     Transfer of authority and responsibility to them - they will operate as representatives of Christ (2 Cor 5:18-20), as well as of that church.

3)     Commitment to financially support and back them as they go - not just sending them away on their own - this is a unified effort - they were part of the church at Antioch - the entire church was responsible for helping them do this extension of its work - as a body reaching out. Called Missions (1 Cor 9:1-11) - making the Gospel free costs - how does a church do this?

 

a)     By building a strong church here that is financially sound - this is not just a fellowship! It is a base of operations to fulfill God’s command of reaching the lost, region by reagion!

b)    By soul-winning here - in our Jerusalem

c)     By reaching out throughout Ireland with the Gospel

d)    By supporting families that are going to other lands

e)     By sending out God called families of our own to the farthest regions

 

d.     Sent them away - Didn’t linger, or hold on to them. Time to get busy for God (Rom 12:11; Eph 5:16)!

 

2.     Notice what’s missing in all this:

 

a.     No authorisation from Jerusalem - they were self-sufficient

b.     No disagreements among the church members

c.     No sending them off to Bible colleges and Seminaries - because they were being fully trained at Antioch - a local church ought to be geared to training, not to fellowship

 


C.    The Commencement (Acts 13:4-52) - The “First Missionary Journey

Paul’s First Missionary Journey (Acts 13)

 

1.     Their direction- from East to West! From Antioch, to Cyprus.

2.     Their calling - to preach the word (13:5)! Not sing, heal the sick, send humanitarian aid, etc. Secondary.

3.     Their first confrontation - with two men (13:6-12):

 

a.     Bar-jesus shows up first - the devil is always up early

 

1)     A sorcerer - into drugs, witchcraft - demon possessed

2)     A Jew - the Jews will plague Saul for the rest of his life

3)     A false prophet - fortune teller, astrologer

4)     Had a stage name - known as Elymas - the “wise one”

5)     He works hard to hinder people from getting saved

 

b.     Sergius Paulus

 

1)     A prudent man - careful, thoughtful, wise

2)     An educated man - a man of position in the government

3)     A hoodwinked man - followed Bar-jesus (like intelligent people following Scientology, horoscopes, etc)

4)     A seeking man - wanted to hear what Barnabas and Saul had to say - evidently heard about these street-preachers

 

c.     Elymas withstood them - hindered their ability to deal directly with Sergius by disagreeing, and interrupting.

 

1)     Common practice of the devil’s crowd (2 Tim 4:15; 3:8; 1 Thes 2:14-16; Matt 23:13)

2)     Same with the cults - can’t handle true debate

3)     Elymas attempts to change God’s grace into works

 

d.     Saul (Jewish) here becomes Paul (Latin, meaning ‘little one’) - something happens to Saul - no longer held back by his past - he is now dealing with Gentiles, and able to just simply preach Christ as a nobody!

e.     Provides evidence of apostolic authority to speak about God

 

1)     He rebukes Bar-jesus (Cf John 8:44), and blinds him. Paul dealt with the “source” of Sergius’ blindness - a religious faker that was of the devil! Did not side-step identifying false religions!

2)     Is filled with the Spirit to preach - not speak in tongues, but rebuke, reprove, correct and instruct (2 Tim 4:2)!

 

f.      But the confrontation has taken its toll - John Mark goes home (Acts 13:13). Spiritual battles can wear people out emotionally, and physically - must wear the whole armour of God (Eph 6:10-18). John Mark will recover soon though. He will go on and be used to God to pen the Gospel of Mark!

 

4.     The starting of churches in Galatia (13:13-52)

 

a.     Started with Jews - start with those that have a background with the Bible - people need clear understanding of the Law and sin to get them to understand Grace and salvation.

b.     Began to just PREACH - there is no other way to start!

 

1)     A 700 word sermon - of exhortation, an urging.

2)     Paul uses Stephen’s method of preaching - Stephen had been Saul’s first preacher (Cf Acts 7:58; 8:1)!

 

a)     A review of history (13:16-25)

 

-       Start back with Egypt - we were in bondage to sin

-       Reminds them that God delivered us - salvation

-       God’s patience in the wilderness - growth

-       The defeat of our enemies - our spiritual warfare

-       The Promised Land - Victorious Life over enemies

-       The Judges - wishy-washy in commitment to God

-       The Kings - God provided leadership for us

-       David - God found a man only hungering for God

-       From David (not anyone else) did God promise to bring a Saviour, a Messiah, Jesus!

-       John the Baptist proved Jesus was the Messiah

 

b)    Directed the Gospel to the Jews first (13:26-38)

 

-       The Jews in Jerusalem did not know their Bible

-       Yet they fulfilled the prophecies to the letter

-       They condemned and murdered the Messiah!

-       But God raised Christ back to life - as promised

-       We are His witnesses that He is alive, and wants to save sinners - glad tidings - the Gospel

-       What you need are the sure mercies of David - eternal life - the forgiveness of sins, that can not be obtained by keeping the Law

 

c)     Gives an invitation (13:39-41) - invites people to repent, and make a public declaration of their commitment to Christ - not just “give your life to Jesus

 

-       Believe! Turn to Christ, and cling only to Him!

-       Or beware! The Saviour will be your Judge!

 

c.     Revival breaks out (13:42-44)  - the whole city comes out!

d.     Resistance also broke-out (13:45) - resistance is from ENVY

 

1)     Made a killer out of Cain (Gen 4:2-8)

2)     Turned Lucifer into Satan (Isa 14:12-14)

3)     Caused the Jews to crucify Christ (Mt 27:16-18)

 

e.     Paul rebukes the unbelieving Jews, and heads out by faith deeper into the Gentiles - will end up doing this three times.

f.      Onto the next city - with joy (13:51,52) - there is a whole lot more ground to cover (Mark 16:15)!

 

III.   Conclusion

 

IV.   Study Questions

 


The Acts of the Apostles

Chapter Fourteen

Suffering While Serving

Focus Verse: 2 Cor 4:17

 

I.      Study Introduction

 

A.    To do God’s will, whatever it may be for a Christian, will always be in direct opposition to the general flow of normal humanity (2 Tim 3:12)

B.    The Christian, who has turned to Christ as both Saviour and Lord, has really surrendered their life to follow Christ, no matter where that may lead (to the highest mountain top, or deepest valley), and how hard the way. We usually allow extreme devoutness for only a few, and yet ours is to be a total love affair with the One who truly loved us, and gave His all so that we, and all the world could live.

C.    In the life of the Christian, when we serve that great Giver, we rarely experience rewards that the world offers its heroes, but rather struggle and suffer through each attempt to honour Him. That is because we are in enemy territory right now, and march to a different drum - that of heaven!

 

II.    Study Outline - Suffering While Serving (Acts 14)

 

A.    Completing the First Missionary Journey (Acts 14:1-20)

 

1.     At Iconium (14:1-5)

 

a.     They head right into the synagogue - why?

 

1)     Commanded to go to the Jew first (Rom 1:16)

2)     If they had preached first to the Gentiles, the synagogue would have been closed to them, and they would have no chance of reaching them at all! Had to do this in right order

 

b.     A great multitude believed on Christ - believed the word!

c.     A great persecution also began

 

1)     Normally Jews and Gentile don’t mix - but when they both have a common enemy (Jesus was becoming more popular and followed more than the Gentile idols, and than the Jewish Rabbis), they end up unified, ecumenical - united together AGAINST the gospel!

2)     EX: of Herod and Pilate became friends when they unified against their enemy Jesus, the King (Luke 23:12)!

 

d.     The testimony of the miracles (14:3):

 

1)     Done by the hands of the apostles (not by every Christian)

2)     Done to testify the truth of the word of God

3)     Always in presence of unbelieving Jews (14:2; 1Cor 1:22)

 

e.     The city became “divided” - and it was of God. Not all walls are bad - don’t tear down all walls!

 

1)     Gospel preaching divides like a sword (Heb 4:12)

2)     Jesus Himself divides peoples (Luke 12:51-53)

3)     The Christian’s job is not to reconcile people to each other (demonic), but reconciling them to GOD (2 Cor 5:20)!

4)     You better have some walls in your life, and around family

 

f.      How preaching divides:

 

1)     Preaching clearly identifies God’s absolute line of sin and righteousness - it is not up to the individual!

2)     Preaching removes distinction between peoples, nations, and races - all have sinned (Rom 3:23)!

3)     It rejects all forms of idolatry - no goodness in mankind!

 

g.     Biblical preaching can become dangerous work

 

1)     With all the people getting saved, and lives truly getting right with God, there was only envy and hatred, and scheming by the religious crowd to attempt to assassinate Paul and Barnabas - what they called “the trouble-makers

2)     Paul and Barnabas fled the city - there does come a time to run (Cf Eccl 3)

3)     But they never fled the work - went to the next town! Jesus said wipe the dust off the feet and go on (Mt 10:14)! And they went on, and preached the Gospel - couldn’t help it!

 

2.     At Lystra (14:6-20)

 

a.     Preaching as usual - that was their main focus always!

b.     But the devil throws a few new “punches” this time!

 

1)     Paul’s miracles get him into trouble - not just the message

 

a)     Paul heals to authenticate himself and the words he was speaking - not trusting the work of the Holy Spirit here

b)    Note the discernment of the man’s “faith to be healed

c)     Compare this with the “faith healers” and their failures: usually blame the failures on the sick not having “enough” faith

d)    Compare with Mark 6:5,6. Unbelief hinders God’s work

e)     Here, Paul commands the man to stand-up, instead of believe the Gospel. This is important, because the Gospel message is to be-lieve, not be-healed!

f)     The people just get more confused

 

-       Believe the “gods” have come down from the stars

-       Believe they must worship “humanoids” - like in Star Trek, Star Wars, etc.

 

g)    Paul and Barnabas quickly react by stopping the worship, and attempting the clarify the MESSAGE, not the MIRACLE! Pope John Paul II would never stop someone from worshipping him!

 

-       God’s vessels - Christians are only human, with similar passions

-       God’s command - Everyone must turn away from dead idols, and turn to the only living God who allows people to go this far in their life because of their ignorance, but commands all men everywhere to REPENT when they know better

-       God’s witness - In every country, every life, God has some sort of witness (the good in life, even the weather) telling people God is there, and that He cares, and that we need to be saved from our sins!

 

2)     Paul’s enemies don’t seem to die (14:19,20)

 

a)     One minute people worship you, but then the next minute, someone can spread an evil report about you, and they will turn on you (just like they did Christ)

b)    Paul gets mobbed, and stoned, and left for dead

c)     Paul gets up and heads back into the town of people that had just stoned him! Why? Only one explanation (2 Cor 12:1-6) - he is now a Spirit-filled, suicidal maniac because he has had a glimpse of heaven!

 

3.     At Derbe (14:19,20)

 

a.     Paul and Barnabas preach, teach all along the way

b.     Decide they have had enough excitement, and head back home

 

4.     Heading Home (14:20-25) - Back the way they had come.

 

a.     Through Lystra, Iconium, Antioch in Pisidia, Perga, and Attalia

b.     Confirming the souls - putting people to the test:

 

1)     Seeing if they have any fruits that demonstrate their faith

 

a)     Fruits to show seriousness at salvation (Mt 3:8)

b)    Fruits showing a changed life (2 Cor 5:17; Mt 7:20)

c)     Fruits that show you live by faith (Jam 2:17,18)

 

2)     Allow them to prove their love for God - not just talk about loving God - seeing if they are consistent, and growing - going to church, in their Bible’s, witnessing, serving!

 

c.     Exhorting (challenging) the Christians:

 

1)     To continue in “the faith” (Cf Jude 1:6) - it will not always be easy (2Ti 4:1-4). Not just faith, but in the “narrow way”

2)     To endure hardness (2 Tim 2:3; 3:12)

 

d.     Ordaining elders/pastors - putting people “in charge” - responsible for the spiritual well-being of the Christians (Heb 13:17)

 

1)     Men were encouraged to seek God’s will about becoming pastors, and taking God’s calling seriously, and beginning to follow God’s call by faith! Studying under their pastor.

2)     The Christians had nice “fellowships,” but they needed to take up the responsibility of having a pastor - someone they submitted to, and ministered to, as he ministered to them.

 

e.     They prayed and fasted with these Christians - their burdens became Paul’s and Barnabas’ - a true Christian community

 

1)     True test of Christianity is whether we stay together (fellowship), pray together, and bond together as a body

2)     We are far too hesitant to lower our shields - be a family

 

f.      They commended (gave-up) them to the guidance and protection of the Lord - they could not lean on Paul and Barnabas forever. Like when parents let go of their children when they leave for college, marriage, and their own life - pass back to God’s care

 

B.    Back Home at Antioch (14:26,27) - A Furlough

 

1.     It had been 2 1/2 years since they had left in Acts 13

2.     Time for a reflection and evaluation - see if they have learned anything, and if they can influence more people to go!

3.     Held a “Missions Conference” among the Christians at Antioch

 

a.     Rehearsed all that God had done through them - glorified God

b.     Announced that the door to reaching the Gentiles was wide open (remember, people had problems with this for years and years).

c.     Never talked about their hardships, but just that people were getting saved right and left - that was their only focus - not the pain, and struggles, and defeats!

d.     Developed the pattern that is our model to follow in winning people to Christ the world over

 

1)     Get sent out by a strong, Bible believing local church with a world vision - they will financially support you

2)     Focus the effort on the key cities of each area

3)     Preach the word - miracles and the like were only secondary, unless you were among Jews

4)     Plant local churches everywhere you go- don’t “just” preach

5)     Return home, and report to the Christians who have supported you and prayed for you through it all! And get refreshed, and prepared to go out again!

 

III.   Conclusion

IV.   Study Questions


 

The Acts of the Apostles

Chapter Fifteen

Settling New Testament Salvation

 

Focus Verse: Romans 3:28

 

I.      Study Introduction

 

A.    When God wants something done, Satan always wants to stop it! The only way to stop the work of soul-winning was to confuse Christians about the message, so they would stop presenting the Gospel - always ends up confusing the Grace of God with the Works of religion.

B.    In Acts 15, some highly educated Bible “teachers” show up at church, attempting to persuade the Christians from preaching the message that JESUS saves, and to start preaching that Jesus PLUS circumcision saves

C.    This “teaching” caused great confusion and concern, and needed to be dealt with, because it is the very foundation for how a sinner is saved, and why a Christian is saved!

 

II.    Chapter Review

 

One       The Church Commissioned - The Ascension of Jesus

Two      The Church Empowered - The Day of Pentecost

Three    Christianity Meets The Need - The Invalid Man Healed

Four      How To Stand-Up For Christ - Handling Persecution

Five      Staying True! In Spite of Sin in Christian’s Lives

Six         Delegating the Work - Choosing Deacons

Seven   Learning the Lessons of History - Stephen’s Attack on Religion

Eight     The Church Expanding - Saul Begins His Persecution

Nine      The Conversion of Saul - Saul on the Road to Damascus

Ten       Cornelius Meets Christ - Peter Tells Cornelius About Christ

Eleven  The First Christians - The Birth of the Church at Antioch

Twelve The Church Learns to Pray - Peter escapes death due to prayer

Thirteen   God’s Call to Service - Calls Paul and Barnabas to evangelise

Fourteen  Suffering while Serving - Doing God’s will is going to be hard

 

III.   Study Outline - Settling New Testament Salvation (Acts 15)

 

A.    The Dissension (15:1-3)

 

1.     False teachers arrived in Antioch teaching that a man had to be circumcised to be saved - this is “another Gospel” (Gal 1:6-9)

 

a.     Roman Catholic: you must “keep the sacraments” to be saved

b.     Mormon: you must follow the teachings of Joseph Smith

c.     Seventh Day Adventist: you must keep the Sabbath to be saved

d.     Pentecostal: you must have the initial evidence of the Spirit - be able to speak in tongues

e.     Jehovah’s Witness: you must “endure to the end” to be saved

 

There is always someone trying to add to your salvation, by commanding you to DO something more than just trust Christ!

 

2.     Proves that there are only two “religions” in the world:

 

WORKS

GRACE

All Religions teach that a man has to "DO" something in order to be saved. They never “know” whether they are saved or not.

Bible teaches that it is only what CHRIST did on the cross (grace) that completely saves - “DONE” - all we do is receive its effect by faith.

 

 

 

3.     Why do false teachers show up?

 

a.     Always will - Satan is always looking for “new converts” so to confuse them, and to make them incapable of winning souls!

b.     The key is to have strong defenses - clear, simple preaching of the gospel from the Bible only (2 Cor 11:3), and personal study for yourself (2 Tim 2:15).

 

B.    Doctrinal Convictions Are Established

 

1.     What are Convictions? Something that you know for sure is right, and is worth defending. Examples:

 

a.     Life is of the highest value - abortion is wrong, as is euthanasia

b.     Hell is just as real as heaven

c.     The family unit must be maintained and protected at all costs

d.     The Bible is the very word of God - does not just “contain” them

 

2.     Controversy is not always wrong. Paul and Barnabas attack the false teachings - unity was not more important than doctrinal purity!

3.     An answer, based upon Final Authority, is called for! This issue cannot be overlooked - it is the very reason for the coming of Christ, for the existence of Christianity on this planet, etc! Must settle it!

 


C.    The Discussion (15:4-19)

 

1.     The Contention - the two teachings (WORKS, and GRACE) cannot be merged, or adapted - one has to be right, and the other wrong!

2.     The Convention - NOT "Council" as in Trent, and Vatican.

 

a.     Peter speaks first

b.     Paul and Barnabas speak

c.     James settles the question with the final authority - the Scriptures (15:13-19)

 

D.    The Decision (15:20-41)

 

1.     Gentile Christians should refrain (NOT do the following things):

 

a.     From eating meats (foods) offered to idols (Lev 17:7) - stay clear of idolatry, and anything associated with it!

b.     From fornication (Lev 18) - live clean in your heart, and life - this is THE greatest testimony to the lost (Jew or Gentile) - that of a transformed life (Rom 12:1,2). A Jew knows the holiness of God, and expects it of anyone worshipping the same God.

c.     From eating blood - not dealing with transfusion (Lev 17:10) - just leave the blood of an animal alone - no fooling with it

d.     From eating things killed by other animals, i.e. strangled (Lev 17:15) - don’t disregard healthy eating

e.     All for the Jews sake (15:21) - Gentile Christians are claiming that the very same God of the Jews has brought them the salvation and eternal life that had been offered to the Jews - they then need to not “offend” the Jews, making them think they are superior - don’t get trapped into thinking like the Jews.

 

NOTE: To “offend” means to hinder, block someone from getting saved (1Cor 8:7-13). The Christian is not free to live as they please!

 

f.      Notice what’s missing: No mention of keeping the Sabbath, and no mention of this enabling a person to BE saved, or to STAY saved - just to do well, and so that OTHERS get saved!

 

2.        They return to Antioch with letters (epistles) explaining these instructions (15:22-35), telling them to:

 

a.        Beware of false teachers - not teaching New Testament doctrine!

b.       Listen to chosen men - not self-styled mavericks

c.        The Holy Spirit will confirm what this epistle says. Always does

 

Everyone listens, and rejoices for the freedom in Christ to do right, not to do religion! Got encouraged because of unity and preaching!

 


3.     Paul and Barnabas renew their missionary work (15:36-41)

 

a.        Only this time, they split up - Over personality differences

 

1)       Had the right motive - to go strengthen ALL new Christians

2)       Had the right volunteers - extra helpers this time

3)       But Paul was wary of John Mark’s commitment - didn’t want to give him another chance - did not have much grace with other Christians yet - Christianity at this time was like being in a war: no time for wimps!

4)       Developed into “contention” - an argument - the best Christians get into arguments - because they have convictions (firm beliefs about things)

 

b.       Barnabas takes John Mark again - always a risk taker - Amen!

c.        Paul takes Silas - a strong Christian (15:22)

 

Notice that God designed the Christian life to be one of serving along side a companion - not usually alone

 

d.       God used this disagreement to multiply the number of workers - troubles, and hurdles, are usually intended by God to get us to stretch further than we think we can go, and to force us to get out of our comfort zones and reach more people with the Gospel

 

IV.   Conclusion and Application

 

V.    Study Questions

 


The Acts of the Apostles

Chapter 16

The Second Missionary Journey

 

Focus Verse: 1 Peter 2:19,20

 

I.      Introduction

 

A.    Currently Studying the book of the Acts of the Apostles.

B.    The importance of understanding that Acts is a transitional book:

 

1.     The emphasis is changing in Acts from being placed upon the Jews to being placed upon the Gentiles.

2.     These changes make a perfect breeding ground for doctrinal heresy since things are in a state of "change."

3.     An example of this was seen in Chapter 15 with Jews trying to teach that a man had to become a Jew and keep the Law to be saved.

 

II.    Lesson - The Second Missionary Journey

 

A.    The Return to the Mission Field (15:40,41) It is now Paul and Silas without Barnabas.

 

1.     Headed back to the churches they had started - missed them, and wanted to make sure they were growing, and spreading out!

2.     They head what direction? North-by-northwest. Special direction.

 

B.    The Recruiting of Timotheus, (Timothy) (16:1-5; 2 Tim 1:5)

 

1.     Timothy was a disciple with a godly mother and grandmother.

2.     But Timothy was a half-breed in the minds of the Jews.

3.        He had a very good reputation:

 

a.                    All Christians thought well of him - what a testimony!

b.                   Had unfeigned or real faith - not faked

c.                    Had set out to do right from his youth - instead of living like the devil, and then trying to get right later!

 

4.     Paul chooses Timothy - Like Elijah chose Elisha

5.        It cost Timothy to serve God:

 

a.        He had to be circumcised - not for his own salvation, but for that of the Jews. What are you willing to do so others can be saved?

b.       Had to work UNDER somebody - didn’t start at the top! Had to put up with Paul, so that he could learn from, and serve with, all for God’s glory, and many soul’s salvation! Play second fiddle!

 


6.        First Task - Deliver the letter from Jerusalem (16:4,5)

 

a.        Guidelines (decrees) on HOW to ACT in front of the Jews

b.       Because they understood the New Testament is all about “others,” and since they easily yielded, the churches grew daily!

 

C.    Recognizing God's Will and Direction (vss 6-8; Eph 5:17)

 

1.        You must be in motion, i.e., you must already be in God's will as best you know how. Not in BIG ways, but just faithful in small things!

 

a.                    Obeying the clear commands that you know showed be lived: in the Bible, praying, tithing, in church, soul-winning

b.                   Open to God giving you further instructions as you go - learning

 

2.        You must be seeking God's will - asking for it, and accepting it!

3.        You must be willing to "try the doors" - of opportunity - pray and ask GOD to open doors, and to CLOSE them if He thinks best!

4.        You must be sensitive (able to sense God’s indications) - don’t always be like a tank ramming through closed doors!

5.        You must seek a “vision” from God. Not a “pizza” vision, but rather a “God-given” desire - a heart pain to do something for God!

6.        SUMMARY: God’s will is impressed upon the Christian who is searching for it by constantly seeking to serve, and is willing to do whatever God wants them to - there will be great joy, and peace when you discover God’s will, and then there will be miraculous events that propel you forward into the center of God’s will!

 

D.    Receiving the "Macedonian Call" (vss 9-13)

 

1.     Again, they head West right into Europe

2.        The vision asked specifically for "help." The Gospel HELPS:

 

a.        By turning people back to God, Bible, sanity - salvation

b.       By cleaning up lives, homes, cities - sanctification

c.        By focusing our attention on glorifying God - serving

 

3.        And away they go immediately. No procrastination here - headed out to “preach the gospel” (an urgent task)!

4.        Luke joins Paul and Silas here - from here on, people start crowding around Paul, and Paul starts duplicating himself in the lives of others

5.     They go right to Phillipi, the chief city of Macedonia in Greece.

 


E.     The Salvation of Lydia - The First European Convert (vss 14,15)

 

1.     She worshipped God - Like Cornelius (Acts 10:1,2) - but not saved. The women there gathered together regularly to PRAY, not gossip. Women used to know the urgency of prayer groups, and dependence upon God, even though not Christian - there is something inside that craves to walk again with our Creator.

2.     She probably had been praying for help (16:9) - like Cornelius did in Acts 10:4. Help in understanding God, the Bible, salvation, etc.

3.     Paul preached the gospel to all the women there. Did not treate them as already saved, but told them about Christ - they had to examine themselves and see if what they believed was what the Bible said!

4.        Then the Lord opened (unlocked) her heart.

 

a.                    Satan closes the heart and keeps it blind (2Cor 4:3,4; Act 26:18) - unable to see God’s light, nor see a way out of bondage to sin

b.                   A person must seek by a surrendered heart to have God show them the way out - Danger: Satan uses this to just keep people going further into bondage

c.                    It is God who opens (unlocks) the heart

 

5.        Lydia believes the gospel, and THEN, and only then was baptized.

 

a.        Not sprinkled - immersed!

b.       Her household also believed and were baptized - issue: Covenant Theology (reformed theology of the Protestants) takes this verse and makes it so that if an adult becomes a Christian, then all the family is to be baptized to ensure that THEY become Christians as well - makes no senses at all! Belief then baptism in every case (Acts 2:41; 8:34)

 

F.     Satan is Never far Behind (vss 16-21)

 

1.        When they started to pray - trouble shows up - always the same

2.        Here comes a "damsel of divination." (fortune teller)

 

a.     A Prophetess (Profitess - captialism: making money off of religion, like Christmas)

b.     Demon-possessed

c.     Spoke the truth about Paul and Silas - mocking, and making the Gospel a “side show”

 

3.        Paul picks up on what Satan is trying to do and stops it cold! Why?

 

a.        Everyone knew the woman was of the devil

b.       People would have thought the two were alike - ecumenism

c.        People would have concluded that all gods were the same - no better than their current god (like Pharaoh’s magicians duplicating everything that Moses and Aaron did)

d.       Paul did not need the devil’s help to get people to believe - and neither do we!!! Interdenominational cooperation is not of God - makes people comfortable where they are at spiritually instead of telling them to repent, and get right (1 Tim 1:3; 2 Tim 2:2)

 

4.        When you kick the Devil out of control, religion becomes very unprofitable to the world. Religion can make no more money on people, nor can the distillers, nor the pornographers, etc!

 

a.        Causes intense hatred by religionists - they become killers

b.       Causes Christians to be persecuted instead of the real trouble makers - you would think that people would thank Christianity!

 

a)       Teachers of evolution, and social engineering are tolerated

b)       Liquor sellers are tolerated - because they pay large taxes!

c)       Drug dealers are tolerated - especially when they start paying taxes

d)       Rock singers are tolerated

e)       But Christians are hated and shoved away!

 

G.    Suffering Wrongfully (vss 22-25; 1 Pet 2:19,20)

 

1.        They were publicly humiliated - stripped

2.        They were publicly beaten

3.        They were thrown into prison

4.        They were placed in stocks - to make it see that these guys were so dangerous that they had to be locked-down so they could not get out - maximum-security prison!

 

H.    Supernatural Soul-winning (vss 26-34)

 

1.        Soul-winning starts "at midnight" for Paul and Silas. They prayed and sang the entire time they were in jail

 

a.                    Easy to sing on the mountaintop, or during the day

b.                   Job talks about the songs in the night (Job 35:10)

c.                    Paul and Silas sing LOUD and CLEAR - so everyone could hear the message of the songs - NOT the MELODY! The melody, rhythm, beat, or swing of a song never won a soul!

 

2.        Now, God can step in - He has been invited - people have been prepared for His arrival (as John the Baptist prepared hearts and lives for the arrival of Jesus; Mt 3:1-3)

]

a.                    Earthquake

b.                   Doors open up

c.                    Everyone just sits, and it quiet, and calm

 

3.        The Jailer goes crazy with fear - fear of death! Fear is a great motivator to Christ (Jude 21-23)!

a.                    Fears the earthquake killing him

b.                   Fears the loosed prisoners killing him

c.                    Fears his boss literally killing him for letting the prisoners free

d.                   Fears something else happening - out of his control

 

4.        Paul speaks first - “Do thyself no harm!” Paul cared not for his own life (it was in the hands of Jesus)! But he cared for the life of those who would be lost for eternity in hell. Suicide, drugs, etc., are things that harm people beyond the physical- if they die they end up in hell!

5.        The Jailer asks the greatest question: “What must ___ do to be ______?” He had heard about SALVATION! Not Christianity, or about church, or about theology, but about heaven, and hell, and forgiveness, and Jesus the SAVIOUR!

6.        The greatest answer (I’m glad Paul was there and not a JW, or Mormon, or a Catholic priest):

 

a.        Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ - already of a repentant heart

b.       And thou shalt be saved - no ifs, ands, or buts! Eternity settled!

c.        And thy house - It won’t just affect you, it will affect everyone you touch, and is dear to you! That is how Christianity works!

 

7.        The Jailer brings home all these prisoners, and Paul and Silas preaches to them all, including all of the Jailer’s household - they all get saved, and THEN get baptized - there was great rejoicing!

 

I.                                 Spiritual Obstinacy (vss 35-40) - A time for Paul to be stubborn

 

1.        Now it is Paul’s turn to have some fun

 

a.        Paul is a Roman citizen who has been publicly beaten and judged without a trial

b.       Paul could have brought all the magistrates to ruin - could have gotten even with them. They wanted everything to be low-key now, and for Paul and Silas to leave quietly

 

2.        But Paul is interested in SOULS - interested in THEM doing some fearing, and thinking. Not interested in his rights, but in reminding them that they must do right - Paul’s life was in God’s hand!

3.        So, Paul just makes the magistrates sweat a little, and then come to them - it is humiliating now for the magistrates

4.        Paul, and Silas head back to spend some time with Lydia, and the Christian church that was developing at her house!

 

V.    Conclusion - What We Learned From Acts 16

 

A.    Understanding God's Will

B.    Satan Never Gives Up

C.    Be Ready To Suffer Wrongfully

D.    Be A Supernatural Soul-winner - Always, in All Situations!

 

VI.   Study Questions


The Acts of the Apostles

Chapter 17

Searching The Scriptures

 

Memory Verse: 2 Timothy 2:15 (See also 3:15,16)

 

I.      Introduction

 

A.    Currently Studying the book of the Acts of the Apostles.

B.    This is a verse-by-verse study with the following presuppositions:

 

1.     The Bible (what you hold in you hand, the King James Bible) IS the word of God from cover to cover preserved WITHOUT ERROR.

2.     That no Scripture is of any private interpretation:

 

a.     No one can dictate to you what something "means."

b.     If a thing is "so" (i.e., true), then it is "so" by its virtue of being clearly "so." In other words, it can be proven in a court of law any time. None of this "I have a vision from the Lord" stuff!

c.     You are told not to believe everyone, but to "check 'em out."

d.     You therefore are responsible for finding the "truth" and living by it.

 

3.     Welcome therefore to a Bible Believing Church!

 

C.    So far we have covered:

 

1      The Church Commissioned - The Ascension of Jesus

2      The Church Empowered - The Day of Pentecost

3      Christianity Meets The Need - The Invalid Man Healed

4      How To Stand-Up For Christ - Handling Persecution

5      Staying True! In Spite of Sin in Christian’s Lives

6      Delegating the Work - Choosing Deacons

7      Learning the Lessons of History - Stephen’s Attack on Religion

8      The Church Expanding - Saul Begins His Persecution

9      The Conversion of Saul - Saul on the Road to Damascus

10    Cornelius Meets Christ - Peter Tells Cornelius About Christ

11    The First Christians - The Birth of the Church at Antioch

12    The Church Learns to Pray - Peter escapes death due to prayer

13    God’s Call to Service - Calls Paul and Barnabas to evangelise

14    Suffering while Serving - Doing God’s will is going to be hard

15    Settling New Testament Salvation

16    The Second Missionary Journey

 

Paul’s Second Gospel Journey - Europe!


IV.   Lesson - Acts 17

 

  1. The Trouble With Thessalonians (17:1-9)

 

1.        Paul, Silas, and Timothy leave Philippi and head into a city called Thessalonica

2.        They head straight for the synagogue - place of Jewish worship.

3.        Paul reasons with the Jews - draws conclusions, proves, uses their heads as he “opens” (unlocks) and “alleges” (challenges) their minds

 

a.        Based upon the written Scriptures (not signs and wonders).

b.       Proving that Christ (Messiah) must suffer (Isa 53) first before He can reign. The Jews overlooked the need for a Saviour.

c.        Proving He must have risen from the dead (Daniel 9:25,26).

d.       Proving that Jesus is the Christ!

 

4.        Only a few Jews end up getting saved. Why?

 

a.        The Thessalonians did not check out what Paul said in the Scriptures - they only sat and listened, but did not search!

b.       So few people get saved today because they have neither the desire, nor the energy to check things out- information overload!

 

5.        But a lot of Gentiles get saved - usually do - they love the truth!

6.        Yet, comes the trouble - Unbelieving Jews

 

a.        Driven by envy - a problem (Pr 27:4; Mt 27:18; Acts 7:9; 13:45)

b.       The unbelieving Jews set the city in an riot against the Gospel

c.        Time to move on - sometimes, it is not possible to reach a group of people, and you may have to just move on - very sad!

 

7.        Notice the testimony that these few Christians had - “These that have turned the world upside down!” They weren’t ruining it, they were making it back right-side up again!

8.        Notice that it was not an event over in China, or somewhere, far off, but it had come to their town! Oh, may it come to Blarney, and Mallow, and Cork, and Dublin, and every town and village!!!

 

  1. The Treasure at Berea (vss 10-14)

 

1.        Straight to the synagogue again! They are not ones to give up easily!

2.        These were more “noble” than those at Thessalonica because:

 

a.        They had a “readiness of mind.” Eager, hungry, willingness, open-mind - not numb of mind!

b.       They “searched the Scriptures.” They KNEW them already, but needed some prodding, to get them to put 2 and 2 together! Get people to know more and more ABOUT this Book, and God guarantees that more and more people will get saved!

c.        They searched the scriptures “DAILY!” Paul taught them everyday he could (Cf Lk 22:53; Acts 2:46,47; 5:42; 16:5)

 

3.        This time MANY believed! Our attitude towards the BOOK always makes the difference!

4.        But look who's coming! Those unbelieving Jews - religious zealots!

5.        Time to move on again. That’s Ok - there’s more fish (Mt 4:19)

 

  1. The "Tough One" - Athens (vss 14-34)

 

1.        Paul’s spirit is “stirred” within him - because of the idolatry!

2.        Athens was the headquarters for:

 

a.        Western Philosophy (see Colossians 2:8)

b.       Science (see 1 Timothy 6:20)

c.        Worship of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle - they taught that man evolved from animals - that we could bring about a “golden age” through education, and reform - that science was the search for god! They are still searching (SETI, NASA, ESA, etc)

d.       Epicurians - “pleasure is the highest good"

e.        Stoicks - "truth is the highest good - but truth is undefinable!"

 

3.        Paul goes first to the Jews - where he can build on some foundation!

4.        Then, out to the market - basically, Paul goes anywhere there was someone who would listen.

5.        Paul is invited to "speak" at Mars’ Hill. He is not hiding his actions! Preaches the “Mars’ Hill Address,” or “Just-in-case Religion

 

a.        Paul prepares his audience - i.e., gets them lost. Doesn’t joke with them, “relate” to them, or encourage them! He judges them by God’s Book (1 Cor 1:23)! The cross judges us all!

 

1)       They are superstitious in ALL things. All highly educated people are superstitious!

2)       They are ignorant when it comes to worship - Blind leaders of the blind - made allowances that maybe you missed Him!

3)       They are idolatrous - can’t make up their mind! Education makes people idolaters! They end up worshipping “Man,” themselves, their achievements, their progress, potential, etc

4)       They are unstable - always having to have something NEW!

 

b.       Paul magnifies God - i.e., points them in the right direction. He even uses some of their own well known poets to show it is not “something new” he was preaching!

 

1)       God is the Creator of:

 

a)       This planet and the entire universe they worshipped.

b)       All things on this planet.

c)       All life - all humans have the SAME blood!

d)       You! (No room for evolution)

 

2)       God is outside of His creation - this universe is IN Him!

3)       God cannot be compared - made into idols!

4)       God made you the way you are (did away with all psychiatrists), where you are with all the troubles you may have so that you would seek Him and find Him, and so be saved by Him! That does away with all the professional mental health people in one clean shot! You are where you are because that is where God wants you, and it really is best!

 

c.        Paul offers an invitation for everyone listening to repent!

 

1)       Calls all men to repent, because judgement day is coming!

2)       Declares that Jesus will be the Judge. Not Mary, or Joseph Smith, or Allah, or ANYONE else!

3)       Cries out for people to seek the Lord while He may be found

 

6.        The Results (17:34)

 

a.        "Slim pickings" here at Athens. Why? (See 1 Corinthians 1:26)

 

1)       Rejection and ridicule - “some mocked” (17:32)

2)       Postponement and indecision - “we will hear thee again” - they never did!

3)       Acceptance - “some believed” (17:34)!

 

b.       Nevertheless, the preaching of the word always bears fruit.

 

V.    Conclusion - A Review of the Principles:

 

  1. Getting a person to deal with Scripture is the soul-winners primary goal when dealing with people.
  2. A Christian should "search the Scriptures daily" in order to know what is right and wrong.
  3. Every Christian's goal should be to have a testimony of "turning the world upside-down!!!"
  4. Learn how to deal with different people in different ways - know who you are witnessing to.
  5. Ask God for boldness like Paul had when witnessing.

 

IV.   Study Questions


The Acts of the Apostles

Chapter 18

Spiritual Overdrive

 

Focus Verse: Romans 10:1

 

I.      Introduction

 

A.    By way of review:

 

1.     Author - Luke

2.     Date Written - 63 AD

3.     Theme - The acts of the Holy Spirit through the apostles in confirming the word of God, and the spread of Christianity following the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

4.     Type of book - Historical Account: not primarily a Doctrinal book.

5.     Doctrinally - A Transitional book - covers the emphasis being moved from primarily upon the Jews, to now primarily upon the Gentiles.

 

B.    So far we have covered 17 power-packed chapters in Acts!

 

II.    Lesson - "Spiritual Overdrive"

 

A.    A New Missionary Team (18:1-4)

 

1.     Entering the city of Corinth

 

a.     Here is an immoral, pagan, sin-sewer of a town.

b.     Yet, much more receptive to the Gospel than the "great intellectual" city of Athens.

 

PRINCIPLE: Where sin abounds, grace "doth more abound."

 

c.     Worshipped the goddess "Aphrodite" (Venus)

 

2.     A New Team - Paul, Aquila, and Pricilla (18:2-4). Timothy, Silas, and Luke come and go as they are sent out by Paul for specific tasks

 

a.     Their "trade" - tent-makers. They were not lazy or leeches

b.     Their goal - Same old goal of getting out the Gospel:

 

1)     To the Jews first

2)     Then to the Gentiles

 

3.     Success At Corinth (18:4)

 

a.     This Church becomes the most "gifted" Church (Cf 1 Cor 12).

a.        Yet, this Church becomes also the most CARNAL Church (the theme of the epistles of I and 2 Corinthians).

b.       Principle: All the blessings in the world, only SPOIL people!

 

B.    Paul's Renewed Burden (18:5-23)

 

1.     Seeing Silas and Timothy return just does something to Paul (18:5). He gets encouraged to go a little further, and do a little more! Christians can either discourage you, or encourage you - lets all exhort one another (Heb 10:24,25)!

2.     The Four Levels of Commitment to God's Will for your life (18:5):

 

a.     Being “stirred in the spirit” (17:16)- challenged to do something

b.     Being "pressed in the spirit" (18:5) - constrained to do something NOW, not putting it off!

c.     Being "purposed in the spirit" (19:21) - confident of what to do!

d.     Being "bound in the spirit" (20:22) - compelled - Never turning back! It leads Paul to being "bound in chains" as we shall see.

 

APPLICATIONS:

 

a.     In Dating and Marriage

b.     In friendships

c.     In being a member of a church

 

3.     The Jews "opposing themselves" reveals the principle that when a person rejects the Gospel, he really is turning away the best thing that could ever happen to him! They were not opposing Paul, or even God - they were fighting themselves!

4.     Paul "turns to the Gentiles" AGAIN!!! (18:6)

 

a.     Second time out of three (Acts 13:46; 18:6; 28:28)

b.     Claims that he is currently "debt-free" from his responsibility (Acts 20:20,21; 26,27).

 

PRINCIPLE: ALL Christians have a responsibility to warn the wicked of their sins (Ez 3:17-21). If we fail in our task, we will have to give an account for it at the Judgement Seat of Christ (2 Cor 5:9-11; Rom 14:10-12) and our hands will be covered with the blood of those we did not warn that we were responsible for!

 

Who we are responsible for?

 

1)     Obviously our families (As with Lot, Gen. 19:14)

2)     Obviously those we work with - daily contact with them.

3)     Obviously our neighbours (Mt 22:37-39).

4)     Obviously those whom we can go out and find (Lk 14:23)!

 

c.     Paul says that he will now turn to only the Gentiles, but he knows that he can't keep this promise (Rom 9:1-3; 10:1,2).

 

PRINCIPLE: Real love for someone (as Paul has for the Jews here) cannot be broken, no matter how they treat you.

 

5.     In Corinth, Justus (a Gentile) and Crispus (a very devout Jew - lived right next to the synagogue; 18:7,8) get saved! Notice how God takes notice of individual names!

6.     God personally encourages Paul (18:9-11)

 

a.        Looks like Paul was getting tired of not seeing the Jews saved, and was thinking about quitting. Have you ever been there?

b.       The Lord "cheers Paul on!" (vs 10) Resembles Jeremiah 20:7-9.

c.        Reminds Paul of ALL those who have gotten saved recently, not just the few Jews! Keep you eyes fixed on the BIG picture!

d.       God is trying to prepare Paul for what's up ahead - a battle.

 

PRINCIPLE: When things don't go the way we want, we get discouraged and think about quitting (See Jonah). Paul here wanted a better response from the Jews than he was getting!

 

7.     The insurrection - Satan "never gives up" (18:12-17).

 

a.     Gallio - a top-rate civil ruler! As fair and as impartial as a judge could get! Don’t you wish all judges were as fair?!

b.     Sosthenes gets saved (18:17; 1Cor 1:1)- the beating drove him to consider WHY he had gotten in so much trouble with the Jews

 

8.     Paul's Vow (vss 18-23) - He Cannot Give Up On His People

 

a.     Paul takes a "Nazarite" vow in vs 18 (Numbers 6). His reason for shaving his head is connected with his Jewish testimony to his own people. He was desperate to prove his sincerity!

b.     It takes him back to Jerusalem temporarily, and then to Antioch also briefly.

c.     Ultimately, this is going to take him back to Jerusalem in chapter 21 and pit him squarely against the Pharisees one more time. Paul goes into a sort of "Spiritual Overdrive". In other words, Paul wants to try once more what Stephen attempted to do in Acts 7 - see the Jewish nation saved from the "wrath to come":

 

1)     The Roman General Titus destroying Jerusalem in 70AD

2)     The Jewish dispersion for the next 1800 years

3)     The many holocausts (1300 Black Plague, 1940’s, etc.)

4)     The coming Tribulation - called “Jacob’s Trouble

 

d.     See also Acts 28:20 - for the hope of “Israel

e.        It leads to the "Third Missionary Journey"(19:1-21:15).

f.         Notice how Paul was focused on strengthening Christians (18:23) -  they need maintenance (preaching, teaching, prayer)

 


C.    The "Know-Not-All" Man - Apollos (vss 24-28)

 

1.     Background

 

a.     A Jew born in Alexandria Egypt - highly educated.

b.     Eloquent and mighty in the O.T. Scriptures. A rare combination indeed!

c.     Knew the "way of the Lord" up to the Baptism of John (Mt 3:11)

d.     Fervent in spirit - had a zeal that just wouldn’t stop!

e.     A bold teacher - not ashamed of the truth as he knew it!

f.      Unsaved! How do we know? Because he only believed as far as John the Baptist taught, but had not trusted in Jesus, the very One whom John preached about!

 

2.     Note the role that Aquila and Pricilla play: TEACHERS - See Hebrews 5:11-14

 

a.     They took him to Isaiah 52 and 53 and showed him Jesus (8:35)

b.     They then took him forward to the cross of Calvary!

c.     Apollos knew an awful lot, but was not a "know-it-all", and allowed a simple Bible-believing couple to teach him the things of God more perfectly! Thank God for teachable hearts!

 

3.     Apollos responds, and immediately dedicates his life to the work of the Gospel... PUBLICKLY - right out in public!!!

 

a.     None of this "Life-style Evangelism" - live it without preaching

b.     Apollos becomes a Street-Preaching, Bible-Toting, Hell-Raising, Barn-Storming, Shingle-Rattling, Leather-Lunged, Pulpit-Pounding, Soul-Saving, Devil-Hating, God-Loving, Fundamental, Independent, Missionary-Minded, Baptistic Preacher!

 

V.    Conclusion - Review of the Principles

 

A.    Don't be ashamed of the fact that "not many wise" get saved and committed to Biblical Christianity these days.

B.    When a person rejects the Gospel, he really is turning away the best thing that could ever happen to him!!!

C.    ALL Christians have a responsibility to warn the wicked of their sins (Ez 3:17-21). If we fail in our task, we will have to give an account for it at the Judgement Seat of Christ (2 Cor 5:9-11; Rom 14:10-12) and our hands will be covered with the blood of those we did not warn that we were responsible for!

D.    Real love for someone cannot be broken.

E.     When things don't go the way we want, we get discouraged and think about quitting instead of finding God's purpose and direction in the experience.

 

IV.   Study Questions


The Acts of the Apostles

Chapter 19

The Securing of Ephesus

 

Memory Verse: Titus 1:5

 

I.      Introduction

 

A.    The work of the Holy Spirit in this day and age involves a battle between the forces of God and Satan.

 

1.     In the Book of Acts, we are witnessing the battlegrounds where beachheads were landed and taken by God's soldiers.

2.     We will see today the fall of Ephesus to the Gospel by the establishment of the Ephesian church by the apostle Paul.

 

B.    Recently we have covered:

 

1.        Chapter 13 “God's Call to Service”

2.        Chapter 14 “Suffering While Serving”

3.        Chapter 15 “Settling New Testament Salvation”

4.        Chapter 16 “The Second Missionary Journey”

5.        Chapter 17 “Searching the Scriptures”

6.        Chapter 18 “Spiritual Overdrive”

 

II.    Background

 

At this point in Acts, we leave Apollos in Corinth and pick up Paul:

 

A.    He is starting his Third Missionary Journey (see 18:23)

B.    He is approaching the city of Ephesus

C.    He is alone again - shouldn’t be this way, but it is sometimes

 

III.   Lesson - "The Securing (Conquest) of Ephesus"

 

A.    Re-born and Re-baptized (19:1-7)

 

1.     Paul meets some “disciples” (19:1-4) of John the Baptist in this city of Ephesus some 700 miles away from Israel! The Bible, and its message has always been well-read throughout the world. The principle of “waves of influence” (O.T., John the Baptist, then N.T.)

2.     Paul says, "Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?"

 

a.        This chapter is a charismatic favourite!

b.       Notice that everybody "believes" something. It is WHAT you believe that matters

c.        According to the charismatic crowd, the following is true:

 

1)       A person can be "saved" but not have the "HOLYGHOST" (Cf Rom 8:9) - referred to as the second blessing

2)       You can receive the "HOLYGHOST," but you must have evidence of it

3)       The definitive evidence of the "HOLYGHOST" is speaking in tongues (what Scripture they use I do not know!)

4)       We will deal with more of this in a minute

 

3.     The disciples reply with "Who is this Holy Ghost?" The Holy Spirit is not clearly identified in the Old Testament (see Gen 1:2; Ps 51:11)

4.     Paul now attempts to find out just "what" these disciples believe:

 

a.     Questions their baptism! "Unto WHAT then were ye baptized?"

b.     They respond, “Unto John the Baptist's baptism

 

1)     A baptism of repentance (Mt 3:11)

2)     Preparing people’s hearts for the Messiah. Not sufficient in itself! It didn’t save anyone, just prepared them.

 

DOCTRINALLY: These men only knew and believed what John the Baptist taught - that the Messiah was coming very soon, and people had better get ready for Him. But John's baptism was not enough! Questioning them about the Holy Ghost helped them see their need for the Saviour!

 

EXAMPLE: God asking Adam "Where are you?" in Gen 3:9. God knew where Adam was, but the question was whether ADAM knew where he was?

 

5.     Paul re-baptizes the disciples (19:5) - not every disciple is saved!

 

a.     These disciples "gladly received" the good news about Jesus the promised Christ, and become "born-again", not just religious (i.e., following a man).

 

PRINCIPLE: They had no pride about what they believed when it was compared to the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross! They accepted that they were wrong, and that God was right! Oh, give us a nation of surrendered hearts!

 

b.     They were then "re-baptized"

 

1)     Their first baptism was just "getting wet" It did not count!

2)     Your baptism identifies what you believe, and who you are following (1 Cor 10:1) - Israel believed God was working through Moses, and that they were to follow him!

3)     So, who needs to be "re-baptized"?

 

a)     Anyone who believes that Jesus Christ was not sufficient to save you from sin and hell, but that a person must work his/her way to heaven!

b)    Anyone who was baptized as an infant without a full understanding of even "WHAT" they believe!

c)     Anyone who did not believe that Jesus is God in the flesh when they were baptized! Includes someone who denies the virgin birth, and total deity of Christ.

d)    Anyone who was not truly "born again" when they were baptized before.

 

PRINCIPLE: Baptism identifies you with what you believe just like a military uniform identifies a person with what branch of the military they are serving in (Rom 6:1-6)! Make sure you are truly born again, and correctly baptized!

 

False Baptisms:

 

a)       A baptism performed by yourself  - must be by a mature Christian, considered an elder or Pastor

b)       A baptism done in secret - must be public

c)       A baptism done as part of your salvation - not of works!

d)       A baptism done when you are a part of a church that denies the Bible in part or in whole, and therefore denies the Gospel in part or in whole

 

6.     God brings about a change in those disciples (19:6,7)

 

a.     Paul lays his hands upon them... Uh Oh! Here come them charismatics again!

 

1)     A supposed “proof text” for Healing meetings, miracles, signs and wonders, etc…

2)     "Place your hands upon the radio, or TV and FEEL the power of God as it..."

 

b.     The Holy Ghost comes upon them at the time of their salvation.

 

1)     They spoke in true tongues (See 1 Cor 14:22) - understood languages (as those spoken in Acts 2 and 10), not “unknown” gibberish! They SPOKE-UP (were not ashamed)

2)     They prophesied (began to witness) - told the future, “People are headed for hell”

3)     In other words, a change had taken place in their lives! These guys had been religiously waiting for the Messiah, but were now saved and on fire for the Lord!

 

PRINCIPLE: Salvation is "SOMEBODY MOVING INTO YOUR LIFE." Therefore, your life should change.

 

EXAMPLE: Marriage. Somebody "moves into your life" and "cleans it up" AMEN, and makes it better than before!!!

 


  1. The Revival at Ephesus (19:8-20)

 

1.        By way of background, revival starts with the consistent putting out of the Gospel, and Bible truth! Doesn’t come out of “thin air!”

 

a.        Paul goes to the Jew First (right to the synagogue in Ephesus) - tries to teach the Bible to them - they reject it. Notice the effort to persuade people (Cf 26:18) - there is urgency and striving

 

1)       People can either become soft, or hardened under the gospel

2)       These Jews ended up disgusted with it - their own choice

 

b.       Paul then goes to the Gentile (he rents out a school building to keep teaching the Bible)

 

1)       To dispute is to debate - challenge what people believed

2)       It is sad when no one wants to think - want it done for them

3)       Paul taught this Bible EVERYDAY for two years -

4)       From that little schoolroom went preachers, and missionaries that spread out into all of Asia minor! That is the normal result of believing this Book - action (1 Thes 1:5-8)!

 

2.        Revival always has miracles associated with it - maybe not these kind of miracles, but miracles nonetheless! These were special miracles by a special man with a special ministry (19:11,12; 9:15,16)

 

a.        God was doing the miracles through Paul, not every Christian!

b.       With the apostles, there almost was a “free-for-all” where just about anything they did would work (see Matt 10:1) - not today!

 

3.        Revival is always in opposition to the devil and his counterfeits (19:13-16):

 

a.        Vagabond Jews were outcasts, not accepted as Jews - weird, cults - the cults were expanding (as they are today)

b.       Exorcists are hypnotists that pretended to “free people from evil spirits.” Sometimes, they tap into some real power using different incantations, and medicines (drugs) - using names, sayings.

c.        These “exorcists” tried out the name of Jesus - they had been to one of Paul’s meetings, and instead of repenting and receiving Christ, they thought to just USE Him - still standard today - people only want to USE Jesus (fire escape, Genie service)!

d.       The head honcho of the group of vagabond Jews is named Sceva - he has seven sons who try out this new “formulae” first on a well known demon possessed man.

e.        To adjure you is to command. This is where charismatics got it!

f.         But it all backfires (19:15,16) - God teaches the entire city some things about devils, and about messing with them:

 

1)       The devils know Jesus - every demon knows and fears Jesus (James 2:19)

2)       The devils know Paul - what a great thing!

 

a)       Do the devils know YOUR name!

b)       Does YOUR prayer life shake heaven and hell?

c)       Heaven and hell knew all about Job - that’s what they talked about in Job 1 and 2

d)       Heaven and hell knew all about Simon Peter (Lk 22:31)

 

3)       Supernatural strength is associated with demon possession (Mk 5:1-4)

4)       These 7 sons had only been dabbling in exorcism - it would be like a couple of kids trying to take on Arnold Swartzenagger - Demons are very powerful

5)       Don’t mess with Oui-ja boards, Tarot cards, Fortune tellers, Horrorscopes, etc! You will only end up wounded, and more empty (19:16)!

 

4.        What is Revival?

 

a.        Coming alive after a long sleep, or even death - resurrection

b.       Examples include: Nineveh, Israel on the day of Pentecost and following weeks, and Ephesus here.

c.        It is when people who are spiritually dead, are quickened (come to life) by being truly saved by Almighty God’s grace (Eph 2:1)

d.       Revival can happen to just one individual, or to an entire community - it all just depends upon the number of people who have been prepared (ie, the harvest depends upon how much ground has been plowed).

 

5.        The Five Signs of Real Revival (19:17-20) - It comes when we have:

 

a.        The Fear of God! (19:17) - This is the most important key!!!

 

1)       Godly fear is healthy! The right kind of fea