2. STUDY - By : Luke (Doctor) to give us a scientific accurate account. Friend of Paul. Only writer in Bible who is not a Jew - Who is it about : Not the acts of all the apostles but only Peter and Paul. Better titled as "The acts of Jesus part 2" - They both have Jesus mother Mary, both miracles, remarkable parallel with the book of Luke - The best title should be the Acts of the HS - Story of Acts is God is still continuing His work even though Jesus has ascended - This is by putting His HS into men who can do the works of Jesus by this power
- Who is this book for? - Theophilius - When Paul was finally on trial, Luke wrote down for the Roman authorities a true account so that Paul will be acquitted - Luke is trying to assure the Romans that the Christian faith is not antagonistic towards them but it's the Jews who is against him - Theophilus, a man who love God (his name)
- Why should we read this book?
1. Enlightenment - Link bet the Gospel and the epistles - Beginning of the Christian Church
2. Encouragement 3. Emulation - God is giving the pattern of Church life we need
1. SCRIPTURES: Acts 1
2. STUDY - 10 days of quiet earnest prayer, totally believing and waiting for the HS - Ministry of Jesus continued and the Ministry of Judas continued (Summary of Chapter 1) - Jesus changed body but Judas was replaced
- Triplet - God is 3 persons in One. We have to understand that all 3 are at work in our lives - Illustration : House designed (creator Father), bought (owner Jesus), dwelt (tenant HS) by 3 different persons but One - Luke writing 2nd volume in Acts that Jesus biggest ministry was to do and teach. v1 - Jesus was able to do because of the HS. (For us same way too only through the HS)
- During those 6 weeks after his resurrection, he taught them more things before He was alive - He spoke of the Kingdom of God but most important proved that He's indeed alive by compelling evidences - It was necessary for Him to do that so that the disciples were very certain of the Gospel truth - Interesting to note that it's not enough to know that Jesus is alive. They needed the HS that started them preaching everywhere - And the promise of the Father was the HS and the promise first heard by John the baptist - John said you need more than just repentance and cleansing from sin through water baptism, you need the HS baptism that gives power - And John said that the One who Himself was baptised with the HS would be the One who would also baptised us with the HS - Jesus - Jesus said this baptism was going to come in a few days time - Now they had to wait for the HS. Waiting means actively seeking/praying for it to happen (Look at the 120 disciples)
- Kingdom, Power, Glory (v6-11)
KINGDOM - It talks about 2 great dimensions - the highest reach to Heaven and the farthest reach to man - A Christian must have these 2 dimensions and not be narrowed within his own little environment in his church - Jesus was teaching them about his big views - The disciples was asking for the kingdom of Israel as Jesus was teaching about the Kingdom of God - Disciples had a small view.
POWER - Jesus knew that they wanted power from Him to be free from the Roman Empire. Jesus instead going to give them another kind of power - Power to go to the uttermost part of the world to give others freedom through the power of the HS - To be my witness is to have power to convince people what we know of Christ - The pattern is the rippling movement of going out starting from Jerusalem to Samaria - (Till today, God is still waiting for us to do this - Missions)
GLORY - Glory they saw Jesus ascended AND the same way He will come back! - It was angelic moment again just like when it happened at His birth - Jesus was going home to His Father and He will come again - Hastening His returning has to do with how active we are doing Missions. (Matt 24) _____________________________________________________________________________________________
- 120 of disciples with 11 apostles went back to Jerusalem to pray and waited after the Ascension - Peter was the 1st Pastor (Feed my sheep, Peter) - 5 out of 11 apostles were Jesus' relatives - No other religion began with a bunch of women present including Mary as one of those who prayed and filled w HS - And Jesus brothers once thought He was mad, now testifying about Christ - 120 waited for the Holy Spirit
- Peter sorted out the replacement of Judas, not because he was dead - Judas had forfeited his right because of his betrayal of Jesus - Why must have 12? 1. Jesus was building a new people with 12 new men away from the 12 tribes of Judah 2. Peter was obeying the Scriptures to elect someone else to replace Judas (v20)
- How did they proceed to be guided with this election process? 1. Start asking the Lord what's His Will on this (Who can be the next apostle?) 2. Start looking in Scriptures any general principles of guidance (How do we choose the next apostle?) 3. Consult the Church (Bring it to discuss with the Church on the selection)
- They cast lots to decide whether it's Joseph Justus or Matthias to be the next apostle. - Strange deciding method. Or is it? Why cast lots? 1. Casting lots put the decision out of human hands 2. It's believed God is almighty and could control lots (OT practice) - Note: This is the last occasion we see lots cast. After HS fell, HS is our guidance. We pray and trust HS - Therefore being filled with the HS is so important!
- Here is a picture of a Church that had so much but hadn't enough - They've experienced so much and seen so much in Christ - But they are inside a room and not making so much influence outside - How do we get a Church to be turning the world inside out? To be filled with the HOLY SPIRIT!
1. SCRIPTURES : Acts 2:1-21
2. STUDY - When did the Church begin? Pentecost - 50th day after the Passover Feast. It was harvest festival, offering first fruit to God - Pentecost commemorated the giving of law to Moses. 3000 died - Now, this Pentecost, 3000 saved when God gave the Spirit
- AD29, it happened in the Temple Courts (Evidence?) - They were in a public place, 9am in morning in Feast Place - First prayer was at 9am in Temple Court - 3000 came to the 120. Not possible in the Upper Room
1. EXPERIENCE - Not a mystical experience. It was 9am in the morning a) What they heard - Within the building a GALE. You don't hear gales inside building usually b) What they saw - FIRE (God's power/purity/passion coming down on man) c) What they did - Mouth was affected (Tongue where the overflow came) - They were speaking a language they didn't know. God was bypassing their minds (Supernatural event - God using ordinary people) - They were using these languages to PRAISE GOD. Why? - To focus on praising Him by bypassing their minds - The heart of it - For the 1st time, God had full control of them when they were filled! - They had now met the 3rd person of the HS for the 1st time
2. EXCITEMENT The People who came to the Feast of Pentecost 1, Who were they? - Jews, those became Jews (Proselytes), and those who tried to keep the 10 commandments 2. Where they came from - They came from every direction. (Opp of Tower of Babel Experience) 3. What they thought out it all - Just curious. - Then they were surprised due to language spoken. - Then they were amazed because they were Galileans. - They were speaking abt God and they begin to sense the supernatural.
- Someone trying to explain it off with logical natural reason of being drunk. - How can a drunkard speak fluent language he never learned????!!!
3.EXPLANATION - Peter stood up to explain - He's now the Rock filled w the HS and explain the filling of the HS and the fulfillment of Scriptures - OT, HS only came upon few people and a period of time but now a Promise of HS on all - Peter explain Prophet Joel's prophecy. The last days begins with the HS outpouring to all and end w the returning of the Lord
1. SCRIPTURES: Acts 2:22-47
2. STUDY - What is the name of the Lord upon whom we should call to be saved? - JESUS - Peter was specific that it's Jesus of Nazareth (Place of Birth)
WHAT DO YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT CHRIST? 1. He lived, He performed supernatural miracles, His works were because God was with Him. v22 2. He died on the Cross. v23 - The Cross was a work of God for good and a work of man for evil. - Why did the Jews want Jesus dead? Because He said he was Christ (Messiah) and Lord (God) 3. God reversed the human verdict by raising Jesus from the dead. v24 - Peter quoted prophecy from King David that Jesus will be out from dead before the Jewish definition of death ( which is 4 days) 4. He is now back in Heaven - Jews couldn't produce the dead body of Jesus while the disciples couldn't produce the live body - Jews always believe that when Messiah came, the promise of Joel 2 that the HS will be poured out to all man will happen - Peter proved that it had happened at Pentecost so therefore Christ (Messiah) had come. v33 - Peter used Psalms 110 recounting King David seeing Jesus (Lord) seated in Heaven - Peter summed it all up that Jesus whom they crucified was indeed Christ and Lord v 36
- Those who heard was cut to the heart for they understood it's man's sin that crucified Jesus - The people wanted to know what to do for what they have done against Christ - Peter responded to them and said, "Repent and be baptised" - And the promise is that we'll be forgiven of our sins and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (We need to understand how much we need to be forgiven) - Thank God this forgiveness/gift are available for all generations those who would believe and respond. v39
5 Things those who believed did 1. Baptism 2. Listening to Teaching 3. Fellowship (Sharing of the same things together) 4. Breaking of Bread (Sitting around together as family) 5. Prayers
- Fear came upon all for signs were done through apostles. (Reverence) - They were happy church, glad and generous heart and grew every single day - And it's the Lord who grew it
1. SCRIPTURES : Acts 3
2. STUDY - Beggars will gather at the temple to get alms. (People will give as act of worship) Common sight - Lame man at Gate Beautiful not beautiful (Irony)
Observations of the Begger 1. Beggar had far more than what he asked for. 2. He was healed. This gives him the means to work. Better deal
Observation of the Apostles 1. Apostles got no human resources but got divine resources 2. Apostle use Jesus Name (Name carries power/authority) - Usually, we go to a living person for authority. Jesus is dead but still had tremendous authority
Observation of the Power - Here, healing is not magical/medical but miraculous that came by faith in Christ - Faith Healing here is in the Name of Jesus - This name must have power because of Jesus position which is the highest position
JESUS as recounted by Peter 1. His Passion - Jesus suffered 2. His Person - 250 names/titles given to Jesus - Peter gave 5 titles that meant a lot to the Jews a) Servant as prophesied in Isaiah 53 b) Holy and Righteousness One (Perfect) c) Prince of Life (One who open the way to eternal life) d) Christ - The Anointed One who is King e) Seed - Establish the root that is the Promise to Jews forefathers (ie: All OT leads to Jesus)
What's the purpose of Jesus' Mission? - His coming had to be 2 times 1) First He came to remove sin (give forgiveness) and gave the Holy Spirit 2) Second He will come back again to start the restoration of the heaven and earth The Christian is the one who looks back at the 1st coming and looks forward to the 2nd coming
- v22-23: Peter reminded the Jews that Jesus came for the Jews first as revealed by Moses
1. SCRIPTURES : Acts 4:1-31
2. STUDY - Doing something good in Jesus name will bring trouble. (Jesus talked abt this to the disciples) - But Jesus assured that the Holy Spirit will teach the disciples what to do/say in trouble - First time in history, Peter/John (Christian) being charged for being a Christian. Many thereafter
THE ARREST - WHY? 1. PEACE was disturbed. v2-3 - Peace disturbed because commotion created by demonstration of power - Routine and order was endangered - Today, Christians still viewed notoriously as peace disturbers
2. The priests encouraged this - Because their POWER was threatened. They were the official teachers, trained
3. The theologians - Sadducees - They didn't believe in anything supernatural, miracles, resurrection from dead - Peter/John disturbed their PREJUDICE against the supernatural. They didn't like it
- Interestingly, 5000 men came to Christ immediately after the arrest
THE TRIAL (v5-12) - Same identical court where Jesus had stood and identical judges who put him into death - History repeated - Annas/Caiaphas would ask the same questions and the same charge would be meted - The difference now is Peter/John had the Holy Spirit
- Peter didn't even defend himself. He began the offense. (Irony) - Within 90 words, he put the judges on the dock 1. "Is it a crime to help a helpless?" asked Peter. (Similar to Jesus' case). It's enough to throw charge out 2. "By whose name? It's Jesus! That's the real 'criminal not me!" said Peter. If he's dead, this healing would be impossible! But He's alive!
- Peter refereed his faith with a building illustration (Psa 118) , anchored on a Cornerstone (Jesus) - Peter's point : The Jews can't put Jesus into their religion. This stone doesn't fit in to their beliefs - Therefore the Jews rejected Him but doesn't mean Jesus was wrong. The Jews were. - This happens to all other religions cos Jesus just doesn't fit - Christianity is both inclusive and exclusive. (Everyone who calls upon Jesus saved, Only Jesus name counts) - Only Christianity can offer forgiveness. None other religions
- See the transformation of Peter: He's more concerned with their salvation than his safety - The reality of Jesus resurrection = Negative Evidence : Empty tomb. Positive Evidence : Transformed lives
OBSERVATION - The Judges recognized Peter/John as uneducated man who were with Jesus 1. Peter/John were at the trial of Jesus that night. (Peter denied, now boldly proclaim Him) 2. Peter/John were very well trained by Jesus. (Partly true - but it's the Holy Spirit power) 3. The healed (once lamed) man standing beside them. v14 (Healing Testimony - established Jesus power)
The judges went into private discussion.... - They could have repented and believed - But they created a new law to stop them from preaching and charge them based on this law if they did preach again. (How hardened the hearts were!) - Peter's response = Will not suppress the Truth and will not listen to the judges. Everyone will answer to God themselves
THE GATHERING AFTER THE ARREST/TRIAL - Peter/John reported now latest, it's against the law to do good in Jesus name and to preach. - What to do now? Believers response : Prayer! PRAYER CONTENT > Get a big view of God. That repels fear and worries from all bad situations in life > They then asked for 2 things in their prayer - Understandable that we'll asked for safety/vengeance when threatened... - But disciples asked for 1) boldness to continue preaching 2) God to continue performing miracles - Man's part to preach, God's part to touch/change lives - Dramatic answer to their prayer : God joined the prayer meeting. God shook the building 'by His Hand! - God affirmed His presence, power, and authority and everything is in God's control (In God's Hand) - God gave them another "Pentecost". Infilling of Holy Spirit. Result = Preach in boldness again!
Conclusion 1st round of opposition/persecution to the early church. They triumphed, the Church grew. And that's the pattern of Church Growth thereafter...
1. SCRIPTURES : Acts 4:32 - 5:16
2. STUDY - The 1st century Church was not a perfect Church. Had imperfect people that failed - The Church is ok to have increasing sinners (the sick) joined in, it's worrying that they are not getting better after they joined
- Dr Luke recounted a true pic of the early Church. Some good (Barnabas), some bad (Ananias/Sapphira)
OBSERVATION 1. Church in private life - The Church was GREAT - Great power demonstrated - Great Grace was upon apostles - Great gratitude produced, more generosity produced in the Church
THIS IS NOT COMMUNISM 1. They were of 1 heart (loving one another) 2. They were of 1 soul (with spiritual basis) 3. It was spontaneous (No one was forced) 4. Everyone wanted to do it. (No need to get rid of those against it) 5. The property was under no one else's control 6. It achieved something no communist state achieved
2. Barnabas in good light - Only 2 people in Bible ever call good man - Joseph of Arimathea, Joseph of Barnabas - Both had field/land and called good (ie: generous) - Barnabas said "What mine is His", for God's use - Why so much great need in the Church? Because many lost their jobs after becoming Christian
3. Ananias/Sapphira in bad light - BUT (v5) used to relate the bad side of the Church - The first time, the word Church was used. (The people that God called out to Him) - If Church is the family of God, whatever you do to the Church, you did to the Holy Spirit - A/S did the worse thing that Jesus condemned... Hypocrisy
- The sin wasn't to held the money back as they had liberty to do whatever with their money - Their sin was pride/compromise/wanting to look better than reality - What's so serious abt this sin? It's just like Achan of Ai, that will stain the integrity of the whole group and marred the testimony of the early church - Peter knew as revealed by the Holy Spirit that A/S lied - Why A/S died, not sure.... - The Church had far more to fear from corruption/hypocrisy within than opposition without - Serious examination of ourselves whether we are contributing to this in the Church - Great fear came. The right kind of fear kept the Church in order and from hypocrisy
3. Church in public life (v12-16) 6 phenomenon seen in the Early Church - Supernatural Church 1. Signs and wonders (The Gospel was visible) 2. Complete unity in the Church (In one accord) 3. Clear boundaries between believers and unbelievers (The Church was distinct) 4. Evangelism was effect among women just as among men 5. Sickness was healed 6. People with unclean spirit came to Church and were delivered - None of these 6 things can be done by natural human means but God was busy at work.
FINAL THOUGHT - Do I really want to belong to a Church like this? > Where sin/hypocrisy is exposed > Where unclean spirits come to disturb our services > That needy people are around
- The Holy Spirit are poured out in the last days until now. - The Early Church experience can still be experienced today - The problem is the Church may not want to embrace ALL of the "mess" and growth as experienced in the Early Church
- May the Early Church be the kind of Church we desire to be in...
1. SCRIPTURES : Acts 5:17-42
- Persecution was evident as revealed by Jesus to those who follow Him. Till today it's still the same - 2nd time the apostles thrown into prison for preaching Jesus
The apostles had 4 OPPORTUNITIES to escape persecution by ceasing to preach but they continue
1. THEY ALREADY BEEN WARNED - They would inevitably get into trouble because authorities were jealous that made them do evil things - The Sadducees, officially appointed authorities were jealous that apostles were stealing crowd away from them - Envy created the first murder (Cain and Abel)
- Angel got the 12 apostles out miraculously - Apostles could have grab the opportunity to run away but they went back preaching again - The preaching of the Gospel can't be stopped! - They cont preaching "LIFE" - a r/s with Christ
2. THEY COULD HAVE RUN AWAY - The prisons couldn't chain the apostles. The word of God is not bound - They went back to Temple to preach
3. THEY COULD HAVE INCITED THE CROWD THAT WILL CREATE VIOLENCE AND ESCAPE - The apostles had the crowd in the Temple with them to the point that captain and guards were afraid to be stoned - They could have incited violence and escaped but they did not and were brought back to the Court once again - They had been filled with remarkable boldness to keep preaching, not fearing for their lives (work of the HS)
- Now in Court, they were charged for defying court order to stop preaching and accusation of Court that Court killed Jesus - Apostles then stated a timeless principle - We must obey God rather than men - Fortunately, in most situations we can obey both God and men but we may have to do like the apostles one day - This is the fundamental heart of Christian living. Fearing God above man
4. THEY COULD HAVE RECANTED BEFORE THE COURTS AT THIS POINT BUT THEY DIDN'T - The Court of order is to have evidences of Jesus and the apostles provided them - This Jesus who was crucified, died and rose... The apostles were the witnesses and e HS - The Court was enraged and decided to kill the apostles - Point to note : Time and again, people could have recanted by saying repenting but have not.....
SUMMARY 1. They had been warned but they didn't stop preaching 2. They had been freed from prison but they didn't retreat 3. They had been arrested but they didn't resist even when they could and escape 4. They were accused of these crimes and they didn't recant so as to be freed
- All the apostles except John died a violent death under persecution for their fierce-less preaching ________________________________________________________________________________
- Gamaliel advised to leave the apostles alone for if it's from man it will die out as were seen in the precedence - What was his motive in saying this? Ans: He was afraid to take sides as he was afraid he might be wrong because he was a pharisee who believes in the resurrection - He was over-cautious and adopted the 'wait and see' attitude (Like many who heard e gospel but nvr decide) - He was a theological lecturer, Paul being his disciple. Revealing Gamaliel's teaching against the gospel - Gamaliel didn't want to make a decision for or against the apostles unlike Paul (Saul) who made the decision to madly persecute Christians who then was madly for the Gospel when he encountered Christ
- The apostles were beaten (40 lashes - 1) - 1st time Christians were persecuted for Jesus - Their response was rejoicing that they were counted worthy for His name - And they did not STOP teaching and preaching Jesus as the Messiah (Christ)
1. SCRIPTURES - Acts 6
- Because of Stephen, the wedge bet Jews and Gentiles was removed - 1st century Church began to grumble. Out of that grumble came the 1st division among Christians
Background - The Jews began to spread round the Mediterranean, Rome, etc... - They were known as the diaspora - the dispersed Jews - They lost the language of Hebrew in the process - Hellenists are the converts among the Jews who had returned to Judea after having lived abroad in the Greek world, and still spoke Greek and had adopted Greek cultural elements. - 2 kinds of Jews - Hebrews and Hellenists 1. Hebrews - Hebrew speaking Jews 2. Hellenists - Greek speaking Jews
- They also began to allow non Jews into the synagogue 3 lists found 1. Born Jews 2. Born Gentile but became Jews - Proselyte 3. God-Fearers - didn't become Jews, just on the fringe and just curious what the Jews believe
- Christianity grew by the thousands. Initially, every convert was a Jew - Then as Church grew, groups were formed based on these different categories - Cultural differences was first seen as integration was happening
- Widows were looked after. Different groups sat together. Then grumbling happens. - They were just as humans as today - They came to the apostles to complain - This grumble started something off that splits Christianity from Judaism (Good thing) - The apostles dealt with this problem swiftly because such division was serious (Grumble need not cause split if handled wisely)
4 PRINCIPLES IN ORGANIZATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
1. Principle of Suitable Management - They chose an organization that met the need - What is the need and how best can we best meet it
2. Principle of Separate Ministry - No church only has 1 ministry - No minister has all the giftings - The apostles recognized their core ministry duties/giftings - The apostles instructed the Church to share the ministry needs/burdens - Here's is the need, find the servant/deacon that can match that need
3. Principle of Saintly Man - You need man full of the HS even mundane things like laying tables - To serve tables, 3 characteristics laid out 1. In relation to others, they must be man of good reputation 2. In relation to God, they must be full of HS 3. In relation to themselves, they must be wise
4. Principle of Selective Method - Members, you find the man to meet the need, apostles will commission them - When we look at the 7 men, 2 very interesting thing we see 1. Everyone of them had a Greek name - Wasn't the Church then very wise? - If It was the Greek speaking widows who were in need, it's wise to select Greek speaking men to meet the need - So, raising up the same kind, to meet the needs of the same kind - Principle of matching people to their needs 2. One of this 7, 1 not born of the Jews but a proselyte - Nicola'us - We beginning to get a breakthrough. Christian Church breaking out into the Gentile world
Summary - If grumble dealt with wisely in love, Church will increase - When the Church shares it's growing needs properly through different ministries, Church will increase - When members are properly released into ministries by their giftings, Church will increase
Priest began to be converted - When priests are converted, what is he to do now? No need sacrifice. Must he resign from his job? - He would have to lose his job... - Stephen went round different synagogues and preach Christ to Greek-speaking Jews - He preached that Christ is the end of the law and He brings liberty from a work-based religion (Judaism) - The priests were not able to resist Stephen's wisdom and the HS. They resorted to accusation and lies (false witness) - The Jews were resistant because if Stephen was right, then the whole Jewish religion was obsolete and irrelevant - Once you got Christ, you don't need religion/law/Temple, you got everything you need cos you have e HS
STEPHEN - A man who saw the end of the law of Judaism and embrace true essence of Christianity that doesn't favor only the Jews but includes Gentile as well as long as anyone believe Christ and repent - When the Council was trialing Stephen, his face was like an angel (unearthly) - Maybe the Council saw a man who is about one foot in glory land, man who is going to die for Christ
1. SCRIPTURES : Acts 7
2. STUDY - First martyr recorded in the Bible - Stephen was martyred for blasphemy against the Temple and the Law (2 main pillars of Jewish Faith) - Stephen made a somewhat like a lecture of the history of the Jewish people (Maybe he's buying time?) - Actually, Stephen was giving a splendid presentation for his case
- Stephen was accusing the Jewish Court and attacking them for their understanding of their own religion
First Counter Accusation of Stephen - Stephen accused them that they were boxing God up. He was bigger than their Temple - Every time God spoke to His people, He spoke outside their holy land 1. He spoke to Abraham in Mesopotamia 2. He spoke to the Jews in Mt Sinai / Wilderness 3. He spoke to the Jews in the Tabernacle
And you think God is just in your little dwelling place here? God is bigger! He's everywhere In fact, every where God speaks IS holy land! You can't limit God! (Moses & Burning Bush) All the foundations of your religion was built outside this holy land by the way when God spoke to their forefathers and prophets - And God prefer to live in a mobile tent (Tabernacle) than a permanent building - God was on the move always - Fundamentally, religious concept is to put God in a fixed place and worship Him and say, "I've got Him where I want Him to be" - Whereas the real heart should be, "God has got me instead of I got Him..."
Second Counter Accusation of Stephen - They have the Law of Moses but they don't keep it (38-39) - They abandoned the worship of the God who gave the Law but worshiped calf and stars instead. (42-43) - Sadly, humanity still worship animals and stars today!
- Stephen retorted them for having the Law that revealed the true Righteous One Jesus whom they should worship but they killed Him instead - They always resist the HS. Why blaspheming of the HS is unforgivable? Cos there will be no one else to help them when they resist the One who was given as the final help to lead us to God - The Jews had everything that reveal to them of the Truth but they willfully rejected every single sign that lead them to the Truth
- Stephen experience a very close resemblance of the Master Jesus - Stephen was stoned to death - Stephen like His Lord Jesus prayed, "Lord Jesus receive my spirit" - He prayed a prayer that showed how Christ-like He was before he died, "Lord do not hold this sin against them" - Stephen in his 'crime' wouldn't be allowed to be buried but devout man like that of Joseph of Arimathea came to bury him
- A young man Saul, student of Gamaliel was watching - Saul a Pharisee of the pharisees, held on to the doctrine of the Sacred temple and the Law went persecuting Christians - He still couldn't see that he was wrong. He had no revelation of Christ yet. - The persecuted Christians fled to Judea/Samaria, a place where they would never have gone if not for the persecution - Irony, where persecution is, the Gospel spreads. The blood of the martyrs became the seed that spreads the Gospel - Stephen's martyrdom prepared Saul to be the trailblazer of the Gospel
1. SCRIPTURES : Acts 8
2. STUDY - The Gospel spread rapidly far and wide to even the outcast people - Samaritans - Gospel went to African people - Ethiopian Eunuch - When Jesus gave the disciples the charge to be witnesses, it was not a program but from persecution they 'accidentally' were spread everywhere starting to effect the plan of Jesus that the disciples will be witnesses from Jerusalem to Samaria - Saul (unbeliever) was used by God as the persecutor to effect the Gospel spread. (God can use anything for His purpose)
- vs 4 (layman lang) Every where the disciples went, they gossiped the Word - Samaritans and Jews hated each other due to ethnic problems - John the son of thunder wanted to call down fire to the Samaritans as they didn't welcome them - It's the same John who came back to lay hands on them to receive the HS
- When Samaritans see&hear the power of the Gospel, they got interested. (The Church must have this) - Simon (Magician) was introduced with BUT. Wonderful things from the Gospel marred by intro of this man - Simon was beaten by Philip in power. God's power is higher than black magic - The difference is that Philip was filled with the HS. HS gives the power for signs and wonders. - Simon 'believed' the Gospel by his encounter. But he was still carnal in his thinking desiring the HS for personal gain (v18-19) 1. He must have seen the wonderful manifestation work of the HS when Peter and John laid hands on the Samaritans. 2. He not only want the HS, he wanted this power to 'give' the HS so that people could come to him
- Simon had something in his heart that a believer should not have 1. He had a boasting heart 2. He had a bargaining heart If you truly come before Jesus, these are 2 things that will vanish in the course of following Christ If a man truly repented and come to Christ, he will not bargain with God to buy gifts from God if he understood grace - Note: Seen here that e Church can make mistake too to baptize someone who is not genuine in their repentance/belief - Simon was not truly repentant because even after Peter confronted him, he didn't repent himself but got Peter to pray for him. He was more concerned with his skin than his sin (Strong tradition mentioned this man Simon opposed the Church thereafter) - The English word simony is the act of paying to receive sacraments, including those for ordination to a holy office or other position in the hierarchy of a church - The attitude of simony is undesirable! We don't buy a service in Church. On the contrary, we give unto God because we have received so much from God freely
- The Samaritans repented, believed and got baptised but were not filled with HS yet so Peter/John were sent to them for this - Why HS not yet fallen on any of them? (v16). 3 Possible reasons 1. Only apostles has anointing for this ministry (Not true cos Ananias got Paul filled w HS) 2. Only certain believers had this special anointing. (May be true) 3. God didn't want the Samaritan Church to be divided from the Jewish Church. God wanted the unity
Desert in Gaza - Philip led to just ONE in a unthinkable remote place (desert). God is interested in ONE - A man (Eunuch) who wasn't allow to come near the Jewish God. He wasn't allow into the Temple - He traveled all the way seeking truth. He humbled himself even though he was a man of status - He read a portion of Isaiah. Heavy text, not easy to understand - Philip prompted by the HS to speak to Eunuch. Supernatural boldness needed. Ordinary little man speaking to a minister??? (Listen to the HS promptings!) - Philip was invited by the Eunuch to sit with him in the chariot, to explain Isaiah 53 to him (Invitation spells open door. Grab it!) - Philip started to preach Jesus to Eunuch. (Preaching doesn't only have to be from pulpit. We preach where there's open door. Be ready!) - And we preach and offer a Person Jesus, not program/religion/formula who can satisfy the needs of man
- Eunuch asked, "What is preventing me from being baptized?" - Significance of this question = Eunuch was blocked out from the Jewish religion. After explanation from Philip, he realized his chance is here - It doesn't matter that you are not a Jew, another race, minister, poor or rich... Anyone can come as they call on the Lord and believes. - This is the difference between Judaism and Christianity. Christianity is totally inclusive by faith
- Eunuch brought to the lowest of every sinners, humbled himself in full view of his servants and identified with Christ in his death/resurrection through water baptism. That's a response of committing to following Christ no matter what... (Many do not want to make such commitment for many fears... But following Christ is a public affair. We are not to hide. “You are the light of the world. A city that is set onahill cannot be hidden Matt 5:14 )
- Philip left and Eunuch saw him no more - Eunuch went back to Ethiopia with nothing but the knowledge of faith in Christ together with a response to water baptism - Why did the Eunuch come to Jerusalem? (Probable Explanation) > Queen of Sheba (Yemen) came to visit the great King Solomon > Sheba very close link to Ethiopia > Tradition says Solomon/Sheba had a illegitimate son and this lineage had something to do with Eunuch seeking his roots back to Jerusalem (Maybe???) > Eunuch came to Jerusalem to seek his roots and was rejected religiously but found the real Truth through Philip (1000years later to seek roots, 2000 years more later that established the Christian roots) > Interestingly, Ethiopia far more Christian today than many other African countries
Summary You never know what one man being saved by the Gospel can do. Be open and faithful preaching the Gospel even in the midst of a hard place like the desert of Gaza
1. SCRIPTURES : Acts 9
- The greatest enemy became the greatest friend of the Gospel - Paul - Most famous and important conversion. Half the NT written by Paul - Wrote Romans. (3rd chapter changed St Augustines, 5th Chapter changed Martin Luther, 8th Chapter changed John Wesley)
2 Things by way of warning 1. This is not a typical conversion (Not your usual encounter before you can become a Christian) - It doesn't matter whether your conversion is dramatic or ordinary. Important is that you met Christ
2. This is not a sudden conversion - Seems to be sudden by the encounter description
- Paul had everything except Christ. His life was a waste of time. Paul lamented that when he encountered Christ - He that has the Son of God has life. He who does not have the Son doesn't have life - He had education, culture. He was a Roman citizen = wealth/privilege/social status. He had a deep religion - Pharisee of Pharisees
- His Temperament : He was a man with ambition/drive/determination, a man that would go all the way to the top, a future great leader of Israel. 2 Dangers of such temperament 1. You are at the top. you are under no man 2. To reach your goal, you will be ruthless to achieve it (Like some world dictators)
- Paul was a religious dictator. He was determined to get to Heaven under his own righteousness - Why was he so anti-Christian? 2 Reasons of such fanatic cruelty 1) He saw Christianity could be a rival to his own religion - He realised what Jesus had said before. Christianity and his religion don't mix - His self-righteousness religion is fully against Christianity - a merit/credit based religion - Whereas Christianity is a religion of mercy that allows a person to call out to God for mercy because our self-righteousness is not good enough
2) He had a horrible suspicion that Christianity was right - Fighting against Christianity is better than being indifference to it. - If the Christians were right, everything he tried to do was all wrong, useless - Gamaliel once said that in Chapter 5 that the Christians might be right and if God is for them, then this religion would last.
What had caused Paul to begin to think that Christians might be right? Why is it possible he might be contemplating this for a while already? - Jesus was equating Paul's resistance to the Gospel to kicking the goads (prod). He's just hurting himself in the end. Acts 26:14 1. Let's go back to Paul's life. It's possible Paul had seen Jesus in the flesh as a young student 2. He had certainly seen the early disciples and their holy boldness 3. It was the death of Stephen and his argument in the Sanhedrin that 'enlightened' him. Paul was given Stephen's jacket to hold. He never seen a man die like that before. He's never seen such hope even in the face of death.
- Such determination of Saul to kill Christians that in the mid day sun he was racing ahead to Damascus - The significance was that he only encountered Jesus outside the Holy Land at Damascus - The application lesson is that we got to get out of our own religion/prejudice to encounter Jesus. Holding on to our own religion still blocks us - Let's look at his conversion > The bright light (like the atom bomb @ Hiroshima explosion) > Paul heard Jesus speak to him. It was a very personal conversation. (When we encounter Jesus, it's going to be personal. A voice speaking deep within and into our hearts) > Jesus asked Saul, "Why did you persecute me?" The most important emphasis of this question is not the "Why" but the word "Me" > Saul was flabbergasted because he thought, "Who is this 'me'?" He's not against God. All his life, he is pursuing God. - Many people are ok with pursuing God but not ok with Jesus is that God > Jesus replied "I AM (name of Yahweh) = JESUS" > Stephen was right. Jesus was God > Saul saw something else too. His attitude to Christians is his attitude to Christ > Saul at that moment realized that he was really attacking Jesus the son of God when he attacked the Christians > The greatest/worst sin is not to believe in Jesus after hearing the Good News. That's the worse thing you could have done
- Interestingly, after Jesus revealed himself to Saul, there wasn't a single rebuke - After, Jesus challenged him, He commanded him. (Jesus not going to do anything to him but want Saul to do everything for Him) - The mercy of Jesus and the majesty of Jesus drew Saul to Him - From then on Paul started his ministry always calling himself 2 things - an apostle cos he has been sent by Jesus and a slave (a bond servant - a man finally under somebody)
- Paul got up and he was blinded - Total contrast : Paul who was determined in the midday sun racing into Damascus was now like a child having to be helped into Damascus. - Paul was totally broken so that he came like a little child, dependent. - Paul sat there for 3 days without eating, thinking.....
- Why did God blind him? So to help him to see.... (Illumination) - Paul's revelation now : I"m been so blind but now I see who Jesus really was! - From then, Paul became the greatest missionary ever in history
- Invitation to Call You may have everything except Jesus. Actually you have nothing You may have only Jesus but nothing. Actually you have everything
1. SCRIPTURES : Acts 9:10-31
- More interesting in a testimony is what happens after what. That's the real test of conversion - Moving experience is not so as significant as where it moves you to
In looking at Testimony or God encounters, these questions are important Did it last? What difference does it make? What did it lead to?
- Paul's encounter did last 40years and make huge difference - We now have a man who could see nothing physically AND could see everything spiritually - Why Paul was blinded the only one blinded? Only one who have seen Jesus after Jesus ascended into glory. It was too bright
- Now he could see 1500 years of Judaism pointed to Jesus. Everything he knew about his religion pointed to Jesus
WHAT HAPPENED AFTER THE CONVERSION? - Paul could not live very long after his conversion without Christian friends. Ananias, Paul 1st Christian friend was sent - (We all need our Ananias) - God orchestrated the meeting of Ananias and Paul. God is sovereign in this.
- Ananias was doubtful of God's instruction. He was fearful and also bewildered why God would help this man who was against God - The Lord showed Ananias the reason. (God can give clarity) - The Lord assured Ananias that Paul is His now
- When Ananias came to Saul, His first address to him was "Brother". It shows Christian Family - The whole of Christianity is in this key word, "Brother" - Ananias came to help Saul with 3 steps 1. To get his sight back. (Dr Luke describing this miracle in medical terms. Scales fell...) 2. To be filled with the HS (that gave His source of power) 3. To be baptized in water (A sign of following the Lord seriously) Initial steps Ananias introduced Paul to
- After that, Paul straight away telling others about Jesus. Best phase because of the excitement - He confess Christ public in the most difficult place (Synagogue). The people were expecting him to come to preach against Christ - (The hardest place to preach usually is home ground) - The people were amazed by his courage that he proclaimed Christ in the most difficult place. - Paul a trained law Pharisee argued everyone out that Christ was the Messiah that the Jews were waiting for
- Confession of sins + Confessing our Savior (Christian Constant Activity)
- The people lost the mental argument. So resorted to physical violence. They wanted to kill him - Great Irony here: Paul supposed to march into Damascus humiliating Christians bringing them out in chains but now he had to be humbled by being lowered down in basket to escape by the very people whom he was going to humiliate. (What a breaking of spirit by God) NOTE: It was not time yet for him to die. He escaped...
BACK IN JERUSALEM - The hardest test for a new convert is that Christians do not readily accept them if they know their past - The Jewish believers were suspicious and afraid of Paul. Very difficult for them to accept and trust him - However, Barnabas accepted Paul with 2 good reasons 1. Paul has met the Lord 2. Now Paul was preaching for the Lord - Barnabas based on evidence seen accepted Paul. Barnabas was Paul 2nd Christian friend
- Paul went back preaching and disputed with the Hellenists - He is picking up from the work of Stephen, the man whom he persecuted in Acts 6! - It's thrilling to think that a while ago, Paul saw Stephen die and yet now continuing Stephen's work. (A real conversion) - Paul again was plotted to be killed by the Hellenists. His friends got him out of town, to Caesarea, then off to Tarsus
- Paul came back to Tarsus (His hometown) - Imagine, this bright man seen as the prodigy of Judaism with high hopes pinned on him to be the next big religious figure - He's coming back to Tarsus with nothing, career totally destroyed, potentially enemies to his own hometown people and with Jerusalem Jews hunting him down - He's coming back to Tarsus to continue preaching the Gospel to his own hometown. (What an uphill task to preach to your own 'family')
- SOOO, the church had peace through out Judea/Galilee/Samaria because the once enemy of Christ Paul had been marvelously converted and the fierce persecution by him stopped. - What a difference a real conversion make! The Church grew and was built up, probably by his testimony - There's no argument more powerful than a CHANGED life! - The Church was multiplied!
- Paul was still giving his testimony even 30 years later and before a King. - Now, he shared his same testimony to King Agrippa and said, "I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision" - That is the most moving part of his testimony. To not only experience a vision from God but to be OBEDIENT to this vision - God prepared Paul 14 years before he went to be the voice to the Gentile world
- Finally we see Paul 40 years later, still suffering for the Gospel and he was writing the letter in prison cell while waiting his impending execution - He wrote, "I have fought the good fight, I have not been disobedient to the heavenly vision" - What a man that we must appreciate for through him, we have God's vision for His New Testament Church.
1. SCRIPTURES : Acts 9:32-43 (From 2 believing Jews to a Gentile)
2. STUDY - Dr Luke went back to Peter here in Acts 9. He wanted to show that Peter was the first to go to the Gentile world with the Gospel - Had he done so, Christianity will not have gone to the Gentiles
Peter on a tour among Christian Jews (1st Pastor) - He was seeing now that his flock was fled and scattered (v32 went here and there among them all....) - He was trying to put the Church together again - He had to travel around to see the Christian Jews and he came to Lydda
- Found a man Aene'as who was bedridden for 8 years - Peter careful with his choice of words in the healing of this man 1. He establishes Jesus was the One who heals him 2. He said "Rise", giving the man a chance to exercise his faith in Jesus 3. He told the man to pack his bed so that this man will realize health will bring him to work
- Notice all residents of Lydda saw the man's healing and attention wasn't turned to Peter but on the Lord Jesus. - We must exalt Jesus that men may be drawn to Him _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Tabitha - Good woman, devoted her life to helping widows, helping them to make clothes, work 2 Things about her 1. Her good works doesn't make her a Christian. It's because she is a Christian therefore the good works 2. Good works doesn't mean you won't fall sick and die - The disciples sent for Peter in this moving scene of the widows crying, remember the good works of Tabitha - Peter alone with dead Tabitha and prayed to God (A familiar scene Peter would have recognized because he was in this situation with Jesus before) - Peter with supernatural faith raised the dead - Interestingly, only "many" believed in this work of miracle while in comparison to healing of Aeneas, all believed.. - Resurrecting the dead is a work not many will believe especially the resurrection of our Lord Jesus - But the day will come all will believe when we see the return of Jesus again when the trumpets sound
- In these 2 stories, Peter echoed the words Jesus used during His ministry - Rise! - Peter was just following what Jesus did - Jesus said before in the presence of Peter, "The works I do, you will do also" _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________
- Dr Luke recounted Peter in situations that tested his faith in Christ here : healing of paralytic, raising the dead. (Notice quite short paragraph) - But Dr Luke recounted in even greater length in Chapter 10 an even bigger testing of Peter's understanding of the Grace of God beyond healing/miracles. - That's overcoming his prejudice that the Gospel stays within the Jewish people - It's far harder to unlearn something that's wrong than to learn something that's right - Peter was taught all his life about the division between his religion and others, especially what's clean and what's common - Peter would have to unlearn that in order to bring the Gospel to the non-Jews
- Cornelius, a company sergeant major of 100 men who prayed constantly and was generous. He feared God (Legend:6000 men) - He never really had an answer from God even though he was seeking God. And he was shocked when God answered him - God called him personally by HIS NAME and told him a SPECIFIC thing. God can be very specific in answering us - Cornelius obeyed and responded immediately to God (That's should be our attitude - God fearing)
- Peter was up on the roof praying. Hungry and while waiting for something to eat, fell asleep... - Interesting note: Sometimes we dream of something that has somewhat to do with what happened in real life.
IN HIS DREAM > Peter saw a large sheet being let down (sail). (Must be the awning shade that shielded him from the mid-noon sun > He saw unclean food on the sheet. (He's with Simon the tanner who works with leather/unclean carcasses of animals. So Peter could be worried with unclean food)
- Now in this dream, God told him 'Rise and eat' (What an irony, Peter tell paralytic rise and walk. He was ministering. Now it's his turn to be ministered to) - Typical answer from Peter "I have never eaten anything unclean, I'll never eat...." (Eg: I'll never have my feet washed by Jesus. Now here again...) - Point : When God calls us to do something, don't be too quick to say never based on our own terms/prejudices/understanding...
- God had to tell Peter 3 times to do it. - Again, we see here Peter denying Christ of an instruction 3 times. (If God tells us to do something, don't disobey) - The 3 men sent by Cornelius arrived. Peter invited them into the house to be guests! Before the dream, Peter would have kept them out! - Peter broke the Law by visiting Cornelius a Gentile. (An obedience to his understanding of the dream) - Peter was greatly revered/worshiped by Cornelius but didn't point attention to himself - Cornelius was seeking the Truth through Peter whom Peter said he himself learned a truth about how God Himself sees the gentiles - Peter perceived and understood that God has no favorites. That started him to lay down his prejudice against non-Jews - That started his ministry of bringing the Gospel to the Gentile world
1. SCRIPTURES : Acts 10:34-11:18
2. STUDY - Peter concluded that God has no preference for any race as long as 2 conditions are fulfilled 1. FEAR God (Not only just believe in God) > This fear must be healthy > Fear motivates us to please God 2. Does what is RIGHT > It does matter how you live and do it right - These 2 conditions do not save people. But it provides a platform for God to work in the heart (God finds them acceptable) - That's where the Gospel begins to talk/minister to them to get them respond to be saved. But these conditions do not get them saved
- However, the man who fears God and does what is right
A) Has no PEACE. (That's why Peter came to preach a Gospel of Peace v 36) 1. He is never sure whether he's right enough 2. Even if he could live a straight life NOW doing right, he couldn't be let off from his conscience of his past wrong doing. (Forgiveness is needed) - That's why he needs Jesus to forgive sins
B) Has no POWER - Even, if a man knows he has to do what is right. He has no power to achieve it - That's why he needs the Holy Spirit for such empowerment
- So complete conversion requires Jesus AND the power of the Holy Spirit. - Some conversions are superficial and shallow because the people never fear God before they were converted
PETER'S SERMON - Peter preached to Cornelius that fearing God and doing what is right is not good enough - Perfect summary of the Gospel (Good News) of Jesus 3 levels about Jesus (v36-38) 1. Jesus of Nazareth (lived in a particular place and time) 2. Christ of Israel (final fulfillment of a Israel's dream) 3. Lord of all (Lord of every person - He's the One that judges the whole world)
- Peter preached facts about Jesus 1. Jesus didn't started his ministry till after baptized by the HS, then fought the devil for 3 years. He won every time - You won't understand the works of Christ unless you understand the presence of the Devil 2. Man charge Jesus that He was not worthy of what/who He said He was and He deserved to die - Jesus proved them wrong and exactly what he said happened, He even conquered death - If that's true, we must accept Jesus is God and what He said is all true
- Conclusion of Peter's message is that you come NOW to Jesus you will find peace, if not, you will be judged when you face Him when He returns. - That's the GOOD NEWS. Finding and getting peace when we can't get it ourselves no matter how good we are. - Cornelius needed to be forgiven of his sins by Jesus and empowered by the HS to do good as Jesus did
- While Peter was preaching, suddenly those Gentiles received the Holy Spirit, something that amazed the Jewish believers for the HS poured out even on the Gentiles - Note : The result of the HS falling upon them was they spoke in tongues and EXTOL God - The emphasis is that they extol God with their tongues. - Cos there are demonic tongues, tongues that does nothing toward God - But we see here tongues that were extolling (praising) God
- Cornelius and the other Gentiles went from fearing God to loving God in praising Him. - That's the work and the result of the HS. We can't praise God by just fearing Him. It has to come from a love and HS deposit that love - Until you find peace, you can't respond in joyous worship unto God. Fearing God with no peace from Jesus doesn't cross you over - Then the next thing to do as an expression of faith in identification with Christ's death and resurrection was baptism
4 things you need to become a real believer of Jesus 1. Repentance of your own known sins 2. Faith and Belief in Jesus 3. Water Baptism 4. Receive the Holy Spirit
- When Peter returned to Jerusalem, he got into trouble with the Jewish believers for associating himself with the Gentiles - Peter recounted his encounter to them and gave his reason for doing so. - Peter reiterated that it was God who did it. So the test of real fellowship is here. If God did it, there will be a unity of Spirit - Jerusalem Church members was receptive to Peter's reason and work and they glorified God. - At that moment, they were able to let go of their prejudice - They caught the vision that God embraces ALL who are willing to come to Jesus to receive peace (forgiveness from Jesus) and power (HS) - What a Good News it is!!!
1. SCRIPTURES : Acts 11:19 - 12:25
2. STUDY: - The Church spread rapidly but their outreach seemed to be very disorganized - The Gospel seemed to spread in a haphazard way but God is totally in control causing this to happen - It reached Antioch ANTIOCH - The 3rd largest city in Greek world, very immoral city. - Main religion - Worship of Diana (with temple prostitutes) - Interesting, the first time "Christian" was used here
- We never knew who started the Church in Antioch. These believers were not recorded. - They started to talk to Greeks who had no OT background and it worked just the same. Greeks believed in Christ - Jerusalem was worried about the outreach to the Greeks and sent Barnabas to Antioch to check it out - Greeks coming to the Lord who don't know their OT, it called for investigation - Barnabas (good, full of HS and faith) - the best man was chosen to do the investigation - Barnabas sought out Saul at Tarsus, brought him to Antioch and both of them discipled the Greek believers for a year - The Greek people don't know what to call the Greeks believers and so they were labelled 'Christian' (little Christ) because they profess Christ
- In those days, 2 sorts of teachers - teachers of the law (Barnabas) and the prophets (giver of direct word) - Agabus gave a word by the Spirit on the famine of the land - Farmers have been taking from the land and not letting the land rest - Nature rebelled against the greed of man and famine came - After listening to Agabus, Greek believers compelled by love and unity in the Spirit sent relief to believers in Judea through Barnabas and Saul - (A beautiful pic of the body of Christ seen here regardless of ethnicity) - The Church grew not by disciplined organization but by love, spreading spontaneously as the true Gospel was understood to accept all who believe
- Herod's grandfather slaughtered all the first born in an attempt to kill Jesus - His granduncle killed John the baptist to please a dancing girl - This Herod now was to please the Jews to keep His throne. - This dictator looked around for a minority group to load over them to show his superiority. - Perfect scenario : Saw the Christians, please the Jews, Kill the Christians (kill James, the first to die)
- James, who was the first to respond to Jesus in the call of discipleship signed the death sentence and died 4 years later - James was seldom focused but Peter usually in this passage. (But to be balanced, we must focus) - Sometimes God doesn't get his people out of trouble. Sometime he heals sometimes he just say "my grace is sufficient" - Why did God let James die and Peter live? Only God knows what he's doing. It is well - Peter was arrested to Herod's delight - He didn't execute Peter immediately because of the Passover and to please the Jews Herod didn't execute him - Peter was heavily guarded by 16 soldiers while waiting to be executed while the Church prayed for Peter - Note: Physical power (Chains) vs Spiritual Power (Prayer) - Prayer wins! - Peter woke up by angel's visitation and was miraculously freed (Ministry of angels is real)
FUNNY THING - Peter went to the prayer meeting from his miraculous escape - The believers couldn't believe that Peter's escape was possible despite they had prayed. (Mental blockage of an expectation of certain outcome) - Note: It happens to us many times in this faith issue - God is able to do exceedingly and abundantly. The blockage is on our side - When we pray, let's believe for an answer
- A great festival was held, celebrated throughout the whole of Rome in AD44 over the invasion of England - He put on royal robes and addressed the people. The people hailed him as a god - This man was eaten with worms and die. The last Herod in the whole line died - But the Word of God grew and multiplied. (Man doesn't stop God from moving. Kingdom of man doesn't stop Kingdom of God)
1. SCRIPTURES : Acts 13:1-12
2. STUDY - Background : Paul (Benjamite Jew who was pinpointed to be a Pharisee) was converted, learnt in the community of Christians and then the Church said to him to go to missions (It takes a process to ascertain that call and the Church commissioned it) - Saul who knew at the time of his conversion that he was to go to preach the Gospel as a missionary learnt to wait for God's timing when to go and it was through the Church's commissioning
- A city of Antioch, notorious for evil - Among the prophets/teachers, one who's name is Simeon is possibly Simon of Cyrene, the man who helped carry Jesus cross (Mark 15:21) - A mixture of different backgrounds in that Church of Antioch who were together, accepting each other's differences. - With such a diverse ethnic background, it's a Church that is missions-minded to start with
- There were 2 types of ministries at that Church - Prophet and Teacher (Church needs both) > Prophet : Someone who gives an immediately inspired spontaneous utterance for that situation and that situation alone > Teacher : Someone who takes the truth of God which are for all time/all places/all people and teaches it
- The denial of physical appetite stirs their spiritual appetite in fasting - Their giving up of food to seriously seek the Lord for this - Laying hands - signifies a part of us, to acknowledge we are a part of the whole body and laying hands brings a transference your commitment/love/unity
- Went to Cyprus (Believed to be where Barnabas came from) - Same like Paul when he was converted, he went to where he came from - Tarsus - It'll be hypocrisy if we don't start from where we came from when we received the Gospel
METHOD - They went in a group (2-2) - They went straight to preaching the Good news to get people saved - They went to find people who are 'nearest' to God (Synagogue first) - Start from where the most fruitful field is (those who believed in God but don't know Jesus)
- At Paphos, they found their way to the highest governor - Proconsul Paulus was sensible and intelligent, wanted to learn about the Gospel - Paulus had his 'soothsayers' (Jewish sorcerer/false prophet) who dissuaded him - What was wrong? This sorcerer brought up as a Jew, dabbled with the occult. - And he opposed Jesus. The occult and the truth is opposed to each other - Paul filled with the HS, performed his first miracle by turning this sorcerer blind - Paul did the same thing to Elymas the same thing Jesus did to him - That was an act of justice and also act of mercy > Elymas couldn't perform his soccery anymore because his sight was needed > When you shut a man up like this, he would have to do some hard thinking/searching/seeking - The result of this miracle of 'harm' was that the governor was on his knees and believed
- When Paul left Cyprus after the Roman's governor's conversion, Saul's name was changed to Paul and used from thereon - Why? Governor's name was Paul too. It was Paul's first big gentile convert - Paul's mindset could be > Saul was a 'bad' name, named after a bad Jewish King. What an embarrassment > Paul was a good name, named after a good gentile governor who believed Christ
- When the governor SAW, he believed. (People believe when they can see) v12 - Paul gave the governor an audio visual presentation of the Gospel by PREACHING & DEMONSTRATION - That's why you can't engage in missions without the HS
1. SCRIPTURES - Acts 13:13-41
THE PLACE THEY WENT v13-14
1. GOD LED PAUL/BARNABAS TO ANTIOCH - on missions with God - As the Father had send me (Jesus), so I send you. We are all missionaries, not just some 'called' ones - Paul landed on Asia minor (Turkey), and surprisingly began their ministry at synagogue at Antioch. - Why Antioch? Not along the coast, but inwards with mountains. Ans: Paul fell ill - Pamphylia low-lying area : No good for Paul as he fell ill (Malaria??) - No guarantee that even as you are serving the Lord, we would be spared from hardships - Sick Paul but tough kept going on. John Mark was weak. He left and return to Jerusalem - Paul's sickness brought him to Antioch actually. God used sickness to bring Paul to where He wanted him to be - Antioch is the gateway from Europe to Asia. Gospel can spread big time passing through Antioch (Strategic place) - (God does heal and will heal. But when we are sick, does God want to use our sickness as a tool for directing us to his missions work? Gal 4:13)
POINT : In a 'difficult' situation, is it God wants us there to be a missionary?
2. GOD LED PAUL/BARNABAS TO THE SYNAGOGUE - Why Synagogue. Cos 2 groups of people to start with. > Jews because Paul was a Jew (Start with people who are like you) > God-fearers (Seekers) v26 - (Find where are the seekers) - People are dissatisfied and seeking
THE MESSAGE THEY PREACHED v16-41 (HOW TO DO EVANGELISM!!!) - Theme : 21 times Paul talked about an active God at work
1. Israel (The Past) - Paul summarized history of Israel in 500 years from Egypt to promise land to the people of Israel a) Paul began with things that they are familiar with. He began at where they are b) Paul talked to them about God before Jesus c) Paul always began by saying what God had already done for them so that they can connect - God gave you Israel fertility (grew in no), liberty (set free from Egypt), maturity (dealt with their complaints and they grew), security (overthrew 7 nations), stability (gave judges to rule), sovereignty (gave them a king) - Now God is still not done giving/revealing all things to you Israel! - God gave so much but still not all. God gave a Savior Jesus - Tell people what God had done for people already (Paul mention Yahweh to Israel but very different to Gentiles) - Paul got them open to God but not yet reveal Jesus - Paul referred to John the prophet that taught a 'clean' start (repentance/baptism) and then introduce Jesus
2. Jesus (The Present) v23-38 - Paul only talked about 2 things about Jesus (not his birth) but He died and He rose
3. You (The Now-after) - Paul offered the positive and the negative - Paul gave both the consequences of believing and rejecting what he said (Both needed) - +ve: Forgiveness of sins & set free from power of sins Tell the negative. Why not? (Eg: Warn people to wear seat belt) - -ve: If you don't believe, you'll die (Reference to Hab 1:5)
THE DIVISION THEY CAUSED - Many Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul after that - Next Sabbath (a week later), the whole city came to hear the Word of God through them - When you preach Jesus, crowds come but the interest will subside after a while - Jews were jealous and the message was discredited - Throughout History till now, the Jews have been opposing Christianity just as Christians (eg: Crusaders did bad to them) - It's tragic that the opposition of Christianity always come from religious people - Finally, the Message was so rejected by the Jews that Paul and Barnabas moved on to somewhere else - The other side of the story : The Gentiles didn't have to adopt a new religion, they only need to believe/live in Christ - The Gentiles were now also chosen to be able to receive eternal life through faith in Christ - v52: The disciples were filled with joy/HS, something the law of Moses couldn't give
CONCLUSION If you can see the mission field now filled with disciples who are filled with joy/HS, you can say, "Mission Accomplished!". Your job is done and you continue again in another place with the Message of Christ!
1 SCRIPTURES : Acts 14
2. STUDY ICONIUM - Paul and Barnabas were slandered and threatened in Iconium but they stayed and continued... (Gift of boldness) - The double testimony is that as they minister about the Lord, the Lord ministered to them through signs/wonders. v3 - However, now there's a twist. v5: After knowing they will be stoned, they FLED to Lystra. (Knowing time not yet come for mission to be completed) - Sometimes, there's courage to decide to flee. We need wisdom from the Lord when to stay/leave
LYSTRA - Paul went down to Lystra after Iconium - Lystra idolatrous place - worship of Zeus and Hermes (Legend : 2 great trees standing outside temple of Zeus/Hermes Zeus/Hermes visited Lystra but no one gave attention to them except 2 peasants. Lystra was destroyed except the 2 peasants which became guardians and when they died, turned into 2 trees.) - People of Lystra saw Paul/Barnabas as Zeus/Hermes coming again. - People of Lystra attributed Paul/Barnabas power demonstration as act from their gods and wanted to worship them based on their knowledge of the legend
– Paul saw that the lame had the faith to be healed and called out his faith to pass. The lame jumped and walked (Faith is seen here) - Paul in his evangelistic strategy, started from what the Lycaonians already knew about God and brought them deeper into understanding God > To the Jews, Paul used their knowledge of God of their forefathers > To the Gentiles, he used what's familiar - the God of creation who gave us nature, food provision, happiness, etc... (God is already in your life but up till now, God has left people to go their own ways v16 (Free Will) but yet still caring/providing for them!) (Such is the Grace from God to reveal himself to mankind. How God must have loves us to know that we would do that to him)
- Paul's strategy is to hammer the point that not only this God would give you food/happiness but forgiveness and Savior - But crowd went wild and Paul couldn't continue...v19 - Paul was stoned till almost death (Paul recounted this experience later in his epistles. "Once, I was stoned. Very few people lived through that) - Paul came back to 'life' and walked back into Lystra bleeding/bruised/broken to continue the Message of Gospel - Paul sick, reached Antioch, kicked out, went Lystra got stoned and went to Derbe and many in Derbe believed... (Can you imagine!?!? What a man!")
- After one round of missionary journey, v21-22, Paul went back to the places he went to where the converts were to DISCIPLE them. - Our missions work not only to see their birth in Christ but their maturity in Christ, growing in their local churches. v23 WHAT DID PAUL DO WHEN HE WENT BACK TO THOSE CHURCHES? > Paul went back to the new Christians to strengthen them while giving them the reality of hardships as a disciple of Christ > Paul appointed elders to grow the local churches (Vital strategy for the Church : Mature will guide the immature)
- Finally, Paul came back to Antioch and told the church WHAT GOD HAD DONE (Not Christians/not me or she had done) so that God gets the all the glory v27 - Paul also said that the door of faith to the Gentiles had been opened. (Totally Gentile churches birthed in Antioch - meaning Christianity started to become a world faith/religion to the Gentile world) MISSION COMPLETED... Paul/Barnabas rested before God sent them off again...
1. SCRIPTURES : Acts 15:1-35
2. STUDY - Paul/Barnabas engaged in a fierce argument with their fellow Christians after the return of a triumph missionary trip - 2 groups of people here in this issue that involves theology 1. Activists - Let's keep off doctrine and not discuss theology. It just divides 2. Pioustist - Those who have no place/room for Christians to gather to discuss/settle issues and seek advice - But we got to realize such gathering is important
- Satan loves to see believers untangled in theological debates that distract from Kingdom work and be divided - Devil is behind this issue. > The more the Church is persecuted from outside, the stronger it gets > The devil knows and will stop the Church from inside. He adds things in the Church and changes it completely
- Paul realized this. He just expanded the spread of Gospel to the Gentile world on top of the Jewish world. Now he saw the opposition from the Devil - The devil didn't like that a bit. He wanted the Gospel be just limited to the Jews only - The Devil stirred some Jews to infuse culture into Christianity. Cultural practices into biblical practices. Such tactic dangerous - These Jews insisted that the Gentile believers must be circumcised to be saved (added culture patterns) - (This mistake is still made by Christians today by infusing their own culture/practices into Christianity)
- Paul saw that such a suggestion of circumcision will lead to the keeping of all the law eventually. It will destroy the Christian Gospel - The Gospel is a Gospel of works to be saved. - Once you make rules in order to be saved, you will kill the spiritual man - That's why Paul was determined to argue his way out to preserve the true Gospel
- Paul/Barnabas went all the way to Jerusalem to address this issue with the top leaders. v2 - How did they do it? Not a prayer meeting but a debate! To trash out the differences - It's God's way of strengthening the conviction of the Church through hearing different views
How did Paul present his case? 1. The Argument from experience - what the Spirit does. v7-12 2. The Argument of exposition - what the Scriptures says. v13-18 - When these 2 line up together, it brings certainty it's from God
1. The Argument from experience - what the Spirit does. v7-12 - Acts 10:44-46. - Peter in apostleship recounting his experience that before he even mentioned he's a Jew, HS already fell on the Gentiles and filled them - Reinforcing the fact of HS's unbiasness to all races/tribes/peoples - Paul argued not from what he did but what God did. (Argue from God's point not human point)
2. The Argument of exposition - what the Scriptures says. v13-18 - What we experienced in the HS must be verified/backed up by Scriptures - James said, "my bible backs up what Peter had experienced" Amos 9:11-12
THE DECISION AFTER THE DEBATE v19-21 - It seemed that neither side won. But didn't seem so. - It was a double decision. 2 parts to it as every church ought to have 1. Liberty 2. Love Both may point in different directions
1. To repudiate the false teaching to follow circumcision to be saved (Principle of liberty upheld) - It's wrong to say to adhere to any culture will be saved - Church called to be non-conformist to any practice to be saved except to be conformed to Christ - But the Gentiles believers were still told to abstained from certain practices that offended the Jewish believers - If something I do offend, then I will limit my liberty in view of love 2. Love - The meal table would surface cultural differences that may offend - Limit your freedom for the fellowship and love for each other
HAVING REACHED THE DECISION, HOW BEST TO COMMUNICATE IT - People should be informed by written and spoken word - Written to be fixed to avoid misunderstanding - Spoken brings a personal touch and for further clarification
- The result of dealing with doctrinal truth is a Church strengthened. v32-33
1. SCRIPTURES - Acts 15:36 - 16:15
2. STUDY - Paul was like a supreme 'plate juggler', running places to places building the different churches he planted - Paul was not only concerned for the birth of these churches but to see that they kept going in faith.
4 PRINCIPLES FOR MISSIONS 1. Principle of Mutual Compatibility - 2 arguments happened in Acts 15. Good doctrinal arguments in beginning but human partnership argument between Paul/Barbabas at the end - Argument over John Mark, who left Paul when he was sick - Problem : Paul didn't want a weak partner like John Mark while Barnabas was a relative to him which made things difficult - They sensibly decided to go their separate ways (God showing us we ought to be sensible) - It was a practical choice and not a personal thing because in the end Paul called for John Mark back
2. Principle of Cultural Adaptation - Paul liked to work in 3s - 2 seniors + 1 junior (discipleship) - Paul sent off with Silas instead (a more appropriate missionary partner in 2nd mission trip). Silas a Rom citizen. - Paul later in prison with Silas claimed Roman citizenship immunity - Paul took a junior (Timothy) with him, rather shy lad, Jewish mothers but father Greeks. - Timothy was converted in Lystra and year later, Paul saw he had grown in faith and chosen him - Then Timothy was circumcised by Paul after all the fuss Paul made in chapter 15 - It was not to 'save' Timothy, but to help Timothy to 'save' others. (To reach the Jews cos he would be culturally accepted) - Cultural adaptation is important for acceptance, integration and presenting the Gospel in a sensitive way - Jesus was the best cultural adapter. He became one of us who came and be like one of us so that he can identify with us
3. Principle of Guided Strategy (Acts 16:6-7) - Great difference where Paul wanted to go vs where God wanted to go. - Principle is "Lord, where do you want me to be?" - Paul was not permitted by the HS to go to certain places to preach PRINCIPLE OF GUIDANCE 1. Guidance of the shut door 2. Guidance comes to those who are on the move (Don't sit there and do nothing - active guidance) - Finally, Paul after moving, ended up in Troas and had a vision to go to Macedonia (God speaks as we keep doing his work) - How did Paul have this vision? > Immediately after the vision, the word "WE" was used denoting that Dr Luke (Writer of Acts) was brought into the picture > Dr Luke, medical doctor from Philipi probably met Paul at Macedonia and both knew and aligned themselves to the will of God to go preach at Macedonia with Luke probably ministering as a doctor - (HS guiding them all the way. He will guide people to go where the 'needs' are) Be open to HS
4. Principle of Sensible Tactics - Use common sense. Think it through - Paul moved from Troas to Philipi (City centre) where things would spread. (Very sensible strategy) - When he reached Philipi, he did the next sensible thing? Where is the Synagogue? >He wanted to start there - to look for God fearing people > Apparently, there seemed to be no synagogue (Need min 10 men to have a synagogue) > So Paul looked for a place of prayer (where women were found by the riverside (washing clothes) customarily making prayer) > (Think of where people might be (riverside washing clothes) and talk about God there) - Paul met Lydia (1st convert of Europe there), a top class fabric seller (High statue woman) - Can you imagine Lydia, high status, heard the Gospel, responded went down with all her household which probably included her slaves into the muddy river to be baptized. What a sight! v15 - Sensible strategy - go to the place where influence can spread and begin there
- Paul was invited to Lydia's home to rest. (What a preparation for the imprisonment to come) - Paul was able to say in Philippians with much contentment, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" - He had good place to stay, he also went into horrific imprisonment...
APPEAL TO WOMAN - YOU HAVE A GREAT MINISTRY - See how God can use woman in this chapter - Mom of Timothy raised his son well - Look at Lydia > Gather a few woman to pray together and see what the Lord can do > Minister to your 'slaves/household' and see the impact/influence you have - May not be a public/prominent ministry, but see how much you can actually do.
APPEAL TO MAN - YOU HAVE A GREAT MINISTRY - Difference in missions in Paul's time and today is that the men went - More women missionaries now. What happened to the man? - Man need to rise up, sacrifice and go to preach the Gospel
- GOD NEEDS BOTH MAN/WOMAN TO WORK TOGETHER TO PREACH THE GOSPEL
1. SCRIPTURES : Acts 16:16-21 (TROUBLE)
2. STUDY - 2 insights of how God thinks we see here in this passage that is opposite from the way the world thinks
1. In God's thinking, the supernatural and the natural are to be kept together where the world sets them apart - Science tried to blot supernatural out where only natural reality is accepted - Man tried to explain the supernatural away through science. Supernatural is lost as a result - Paul's encounter with the demon-possessed slave is a natural story pumped with the supernatural
2. In God's thinking, good and evil are to be kept apart where the world always put them together - This arena has been greyed tremendously. It's all relative now - But God wants this part separate - Here we have a girl exploring the supernatural world - she dabbled into the evil supernatural arena - We must warn people that exploring the supernatural world includes the good supernatural and the evil supernatural
- How do we know people have crossed the line of the supernatural bad? When people stopped laughing - Initially, it's for fun but then people realized it's not a joke anymore
- Paul/Silas left Lydia's house and went to prayer meeting - Met girl with not mental trouble (cos never shriek and scream around) but a spiritual trouble - Girl had gift of extra-sensory perception (ESP) - This girl (not believer) tells everyone the truth about who Paul is and what he's come to do (Servant of the most high God...) - What's wrong with that? (The devil comes in and feed truth first then mix with lies) - Her action might jeopardize Paul's work. No good
- Paul got annoyed with the girl's testimony. Why? 1. The manner of her testimony is not edifying - It's not only what we say but how we say it - The shrieking girl in the streets not a good testimony. It embarrassed Paul and turn people away. It destroyed Paul's good testimony
2. The source of her knowledge - It's not enough to say/know the right thing but where did we get it - It's not from the HS that the girl got the information. Even the devil has insight/info
- Paul in the HS, cast out the evil spirit in the girl - Girl was a double slave. slave to master and slave to the occult. - Paul freed her in Jesus' name
- The even sadder story here is that people would do anything to exploit human weakness for their own gain - The girl's masters capitalized on the girl's problem and exploited her - The masters now saw their money making machine gone, went to report to the Roman authorities - They told a lie that Paul/Silas are Jews - Their charge against Christians (Paul/Silas) when they tried to share a testimony is this, "They are disturbing our cities" - The masters accused Paul of disrupting their way of life - This is usually the way the world will resist the Gospel - accusation of disturbance of life - Christianity is not a easy life when the core message is so offensive to the world. But be of good cheer, Jesus had overcome the world - Seek the supernatural, but not the bad supernatural but good supernatural
1. SCRIPTURE : Acts 16:19-40 (TRIUMPH)
2. STUDY - Paul/Silas was put in prison wrongly. But they rejoiced still in the Lord - They were singing/praising/praying/worshiping God at midnight. The extreme security and joy in the Lord - God joined them in their worship (Earthquake came - supernatural happened, a controlled earthquake enough to open doors/break the chains, etc) - Rule : If jailor let 1 prisoner escaped, he takes that prisoner's place - Jailor wanted to kill himself. And Paul stopped him
- Paul/Silas didn't dash out. They stayed - Jailor from being fear of man to now fear of God - The world asked "what must I do to be successful/rich/popular", but the jailor asked what God desired, "what must i do to be saved?" - At the edge of death, the jailor was brought to his senses and asked the question that a "dying" man would ask - In contrast, Lydia didn't go through this sobering experience to get to this stage of needing God. She was already quietly seeking God/praying... - Lydia (a woman) had a tender heart and was easily receptive/opened to the Lord. Whereas we man (Jailor), we're proud, self-sufficient, etc - It sometimes means a man has to reach to the bottom most pit to respond
- What was Paul's answer to jailor? "Keep the 10 commandments, do good?" No! Commit your life to the Lord Jesus. That's the only way - Jailor said , "Tell me more". (He brought Paul from prison to his home) What a transformation when a man is completely open and desperate? - A jailor who was punishing/torturing prisoners was now attending to Paul delicately. When God touched a man, you just see the change - When jailor finished washing Paul's wounds, Paul said, "Now, it's your turn to be washed" (Baptism) - Jailor and his entire household baptized and rejoiced - Now, Jailor & household and Paul/Silas became brothers/sisters in Christ! POINT: Only when the supernatural steps into the natural, will we see newness/transformation - God stepped in
- Paul asserted that they are Roman citizens, and the Roman authorities had committed a crime of imprisoning their citizens without trial - Paul set this up so that other Roman Christians like Lydia can be 'protected' from such as they go preach the Gospel
- What a night it must had been. Tired but rejoicing - Paul went back to Lydia's place and continued to rejoice Note: - Don't ever believe that when you become a Christian, you will never experience trouble. - But believe when you do get into trouble, you can triumph in Christ - You would often do it by praising/worshiping/praying to God. That's where you secure your triumph - Praise God until God joins in to act... - You were not called to a bed of roses, but a crown of thorns - When we endure to the end and we get the assurance of God's reward for our faithfulness and Him honoring us as we honor Him
1. SCRIPTURES : Acts 172. STUDY - Everyone needs a little adaptability to fish for man by first hooking them or their interest first - It's a skill in evangelism - Technique : Is to start from where they are > Paul would start with his bible when the people he's speaking to believe the bible, otherwise he start from where they are - We see in chapter 17, the first half Paul spoke to Jews while 2nd half Gentiles - His approach to these groups of people was very very different - He didn't change his basic beliefs but he adapted his way of delivery to these 2 groups of people
- We must establish the right to speak in non-believers mind by meeting a need, interesting them, etc... - Paul always began with non-believers thoughts/needs/interest. From there, he started to lead them to Jesus
THESSALONICA - Paul went to Jews first (Synagogue) - his own kind first - And when he did, he started with the OT bible. v3 - To those who accepted what the bible quoted, point them to the Messiah (Savior). v3 - To those who believe it, Paul joined the dots together to point them to Jesus as the Messiah
- But for those who were not Jews but were attracted to the Jewish God (God-fearers) who is the only 1 God and this religion is simpler to follow - For the God-fearers, some of them believed which included leading women - But religious jealousy arose, the Jews now see sinners (lawbreakers) come to God "without fulfilling the law". They can't accept this - These Jews created a mob. Look for Paul, found Jason dragged him out and punished him for housing Paul
THE CHARGE - Jews accused Paul as political revolutionist who promoted a King Jesus that challenged the King Emperor. v7 - No. Christians are instead religious revolutionist that actually transform society for good
BEREA - So Paul moved on to Berea after Thessalonica using the same technique of going to the Jews first - Here these bereans went home after listening to Paul to check out whether what he said was true with the Scriptures - In Thessalonica, some believe but in Berea after the Bereans diligently checked their scriptures, many believed - Slas and Timothy stayed in Berea while Paul went off to Athens
ATHENS - Athens a city filled with arts and very religious with great brains like Aristotle, where our education system is formed - Here, Paul used a very different strategy from how he shared with the Jews - The Greeks had no knowledge and desire for a Messiah
- This city has 3 hills, Agora, Areogapus and Acropolis - The Agora - center of commerce - The Areogapus - University where they license the public lecturers, where they listen to any new philosophers - The Acropolis - The religious center with temples and shrines
- When Paul first came to Athens, he first had a good walk at the city - He saw the religious idolatry as he studied the city - His heart bled for this city that was so far from God - He came to an "Unknown God" inscription - History of the "Unknown God" Athens was filled with statues dedicated To the Unknown God. Six hundred years before Paul, a terrible plague came on the city and a man name Epimenides had an idea. He let loose a flock of sheep through the town, and wherever they lay down, they sacrificed that sheep to the god that had the nearest shrine or temple. If a sheep lay down near no shrine or temple, they sacrificed the sheep To the Unknown God.
- Paul found a link how to connect with the Greeks. - Everyone looking for a god somehow, some way - Paul was adapting and looking for someway to begin
- The other side of Athens was the philosophical argument - Areopagus was a place where something new was discussed - Epicurean and Stoic debated with Paul
1. Epicurean - Enjoy yourself. Life is a pleasure. If there 's a God, he's not interested in you - Don't enjoy yourself too much that you harm yourself or others
2. Stoic - Believes in rational behavior - main aim in life in to achieve self sufficiency - Believe in only himself
These 2 beliefs believe gods are here but separate and have nothing to do with humans. Humans will just make do and best of their own lives
- Paul went into this situation and preach Jesus and His resurrection - Paul started by saying, "I see that you are already a very religious people" - Paul pointed to them the God that they didn't know and told them "I know Him" - Paul gave good bible truths about creation and the Creator (Nature and all) - Do you think a God who made everything can be housed in a little shrine? - Do you think God needs us, your little sacrifices? - Gradually, Paul told them who God is like - He began to quote their poets to draw connection/relevance (So we must read beyond the bible) - He painted a God who is self-sufficient, who need nothing and no one else who can provide everything to us
- Paul was quoting their poets all the time and using a context they were familiar with - They were racists looking down on the barbarians. But God said all came from One Man Jesus. v26 - God's in charge, setting the times and places of all human activities - Yet God is not far from us though He's in charge because we too are His children (Paul quoted poet)
2 Things any man can know from God - Creation and Conscience - The existence of God through physical creation and through moral law - From the explanation through looking at creation, Paul went on to talk about God through human conscience
- Paul (v30) now turn the people of Athens to conscience to know that all will have to account for what they did here on earth - Paul argued that there's now no excuse for all man to repent since Paul had made known to them who God is and what they must do - They must repent from their evil ways for God will come down in judgement and judgement comes by means of a chosen Man - And proof is from Jesus resurrection
- Greeks couldn't take the idea of the resurrection. They burst out laughing (v32) - They can't accept that they will rise to meet their Maker in judgment
POINT : Responses to the Truth - Some will mock - Some will not accept - Some will not be comfortable - Some will seriously consider - Some will believe
- Dionysius (Top brain from the philosophic camp), Damaris (Leading woman) and some other believed - Our job is to start from where people are, and lead them to Jesus and don't worry about how they will respond. - Trust the Lord to work in people's heart
1. SCRIPTURES : Acts 18:1 - 19:7
2. STUDY - Missionary work wasn't always fun. Some periods are just sheer hard work. Christian life is like that. - There are times where we need to put in hard work
CORINTH - Gospel is always easy to preach at Corinth than Athens - Paul left Athens a bit discouraged and only little fruit there. Their own intellect became their hindrance - At Corinth, there was much better fruit - Church in Corinth gave Paul more problems than he could imagine but Paul had a church there - If not for the problems of the Corinth Church, there wouldn't be great lessons learnt from 1 Cor 13,15, etc
- Paul when came to a new place, he always look for 3 places - to live, to work, to preach - Paul found a person same trade as him - tentmaking - Aquila, a Jew, a tentmaker, most likely a believer v26 - Be very careful how you use the phrase, "I live by faith". Paul live by faith but he used his trade for a living - Living by faith means doing what God wants you to do and where He wants you to be
- Opposition of Paul again happened at the Synagogue at Corinth - Paul left since the opposition was so great - He left and went next door (v7) to the Gentiles - God said to Paul, "Don't go, don't give up". - Before you speak to people, God knows already who He has chosen - This is not a pattern from God on Paul staying. It was just specific in Corinth - God doesn't work the same way all the time. Some time He get Paul to move on, some time He says "stay"
- Paul was dragged to the Court because of the stirring and accusations from the Jews but Gallio the proconsul didn't charge him - Unlike Piontus Pilate, Gallio wasn't a coward who succumbed to pressure. He let Paul go - God said Paul will not be harmed here in Corinth and it came true - The Jewish leader Sosthenes was in turn beaten. First time, the Jews got their plan backfired on them as they persecuted Christians - Possibly out of gratitude to God for what happened, Paul took a vow, shaved his head in Jewish tradition - Then with Aquila/Priscilla, Paul sailed to Ephesus
EPHESUS - Ephesus was a major seaport - Great magnificent Temple of Artemis, inside you find a huge black stone a meteorite, carved into a woman with many breasts - The goddess of fertility - Diana - Paul declined to stay when asked (v20). Sensitive to God's direction - Paul always went back to home base (Antioch) and always going back to the converts, onto more new fields. v23
- While Paul was away from Ephesus, a Jewish man Apollos started speaking abt the OT, John the Baptist and Jesus - Apollos was accurate in his teaching but something was missing. - He went to talk about Jesus accurately but not far enough. He talked about the Messiah Jesus but something else missing. - Aquila/Priscilla helped Apollos to be more adequate. How did they help him? - Invited Apollos back home and lovingly correct/teach Apollos some more - From Acts 19, Aquila probably taught Apollos about the Holy Spirit
- Paul came back to Ephesus - Found 12 men talking about Jesus and linked up with them. - After link up, he felt that something missing - Apollos left Ephesus and left behind people whom he taught until the point he knew - Paul found some disciples (followers of Jesus) - How far did this disciples know/learnt about their faith? As far as the apostles taught before Pentecost
- Paul came to the conclusion that the Holy Spirit was missing in these disciples life - Paul asked, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believe?" 2 things were asked here > Did you receive when you believe? > Did the decision to place their faith on Jesus and the receipt of the HS happen together? - the word "THE" HS was not in the verse. It means the the presence of the HS is a qualitative rather than the quantitative one - IE: Do you see the power in you?
- Ans: We haven't heard HS before (Is this true that these disciples never heard abt HS before?) - John the baptist taught about the HS before - What that question really meant was the disciples didn't know that what John had predicted was now available to them - These were genuine believers only living in 2 dimensional Christian life (God and Jesus only) 3rd dimension was HS
- Next question very significant from Paul - What kind of baptism did you receive? - It's obvious from this question that baptism in water and HS baptism are linked - In NT, 30 passages, water baptism mentioned, 16 HS baptism also mentioned - Now Paul understood, Disciples repented of their sins through the water baptism (that John preached) and tried living the way of Jesus - Paul said it's just not trying to live the Christian life in your own way, but to live IN the way of Jesus - Christian water baptism teaches a believer to identify himself with the death and resurrection of Jesus and to live IN him. - Not just identification with your past sins and repent of them - But the living IN Him is empowered by the HS. That's the key! - If the baptism of the HS was just a subconscious event where there's no "physical" act, then until water baptism in Jesus was enough - But it's obvious that the whole experience wasn't complete. If not Paul wouldn't ask the qn "Did you receive the HS?"
- In baptism of HS, 3 parties responded - Paul did something, HS did something, disciples did something - The HS came "UPON" them. And they overflowed in HS and spoke in tongues - They were now 3 dimension Christians. They were not mature yet but were complete - Paul missional goal was to ensure Christians have the complete experience. - It doesn't matter who is involved in telling us about repentance, water baptism and HS baptism. - The reality is many of us learnt about these truths at different times. The key is that you get the complete experience that has power - What would you reply if you are being asked this qn, "Did you receive HS?"
"If you being evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more would God pour out His HS to you?"
1. SCRIPTURES : Acts 19:1-41
2. STUDY - It took 2 years to build 12 men to a church that is impactful - Gospel is building strong and till today God is still moving mightily - We are fighting against spiritual forces in a supernatural world : HS vs evil spirits - Start with a small bunch filled with the HS and we are ready to face trouble with the spiritual forces - That's Kingdom work
3 KINDS OF TROUBLES 1. Opposition to the Preaching - Those who are unwilling to follow a King and only want to do his own thing - From the religious, those who are supposedly following God - Paul preached fearlessly 2 things - Kingdom of God and the Way - Kingdom means there is a governing King and we have to submit to the Kingship of this King Jesus - The Way : way to life and a way of life
2. When Kingdom of God is preached, miracles happened - Even Paul's handkerchiefs (sweat rag) and his working apron did miracles (v12) - The power of God flowing out from Paul body (just like power left from his body touching the woman with blood issue) - Jesus said, "It was your faith that healed you..." It's faith - It was the faith of Paul that allowed the miracles of God to flow, not the handkerchief - It happened to Peter as well when his shadow healed - God honors simple faith and does it in the most unusual way. Be open to God
- Supernatural works of God like healing and deliverance from demons - Confrontation happens when HS present in the spiritual world - And when the power of HS is present, demons flee too - Don't underestimate evil power though, we are no match for them if not for HS in us - The result of these mighty signs and acts was that many believers came repenting of their deeds in the occult - Revival broke out and repentance came with works of being serious in burning the occult books - When the HS is moving, this is the result. There will be things that need to be thrown into the bondfire!
3. Opposition of those who were losing money - There are vested interest in evil and commercial profits will be at stake - When the manifestation of evil is affected, evil retaliates... - The Ephesians worshiped goddess of Artemis (Fallen Meteorite) - Demetrius - dealer of trade of silver images of Artemis retaliated because business was bad - It was not because Paul was preaching against Artemis. It's because people were converting to Christianity - Commerce was affected as the spiritual conversion happened (A city economy changes when Gospel has impact)
- They gathered in the amphitheater to riot against Christianity - Paul in supernatural boldness wanted to get in there but was stopped by fellow Christians - Interestingly, it was a insignificant, most unlikely city clerk who appeased the whole chaotic situation - Christians shouldn't be faulted for civic disturbances but will often be accused of it - But God knew how to preserve Paul's life till he's appointed time was up
- If we really allow HS to do with us what He wants, we must be ready for trouble all for His Glory - Are we willing?
1. SCRIPTURES : Acts 20
2. STUDY - Same outline bet Luke and Acts, (anointing of HS, signs and wonders, persecution, going back up to Jerusalem, arrested, falsely trialed...) - Luke/Acts had many parallels between Paul and Jesus but stopped short until crucifixion and resurrection - Paul was reliving the life of Jesus Christ and Christians are called to do so
- Paul knew probably he never would visit Ephesus ever again - Paul back in Troas where he all started - Paul met the believers again on Sat evening (The Lord's Day - Sabbath) - Paul preached his all - One believer fell asleep, fell down 3 stories and was dead (Verified by Dr Luke) - Paul performed a miracle by raising him back to life - After that they had communion and Paul continued preaching till midnight - The only occasion that Paul raised someone from the dead (It's an usual miracle not something that happens everyday) - Peter only raised the dead only one time - They gather for a meal. The Christians did a lot of eating together
- Paul wanted to be in Jerusalem for Pentecost and he knew he was late - Paul upon request spoke to the elders of Ephesus 2 Things we notice about Paul's speech to the elders
1. Paul can talk about himself without appearing proud - First stage we can talk about ourselves only - 2nd stage, we can talk about Jesus - 3rd stage, we can talk about ourselves that points others to Jesus (Maturity)
- So what did Paul talk about? - Paul drew their attention to 3 things to imitate him
A) His Zeal in missions. v20-21 - When he did it (First thing everywhere he went) - Where he did it (Private and Public) - What he said to them (Repent and believe) - Who he spoke to (Jews and Gentiles)' - How he spoke to them (With humility/tears)
B) His Courage - He told them about his hardship, and impending imprisonment. v22-24 - He said his life is of no value to him and the only value is to complete the job
C) His innocence - He said he can face God with a clear conscience because he has told them everything he ought to tell them. v26-27 - That's all we are accountable to God for. It's the other person's responsibility to response with what you tell them
2. Paul told the Church's future what it should be like even without him - Paul will not be there and gave them 3 things 1. A warning - Wherever they are sheeps, there will be wolves. v29 - Often they come within the church and with false teaching to lead people astray
2. A commendation - He commended his people to God and not to himself - To learn to fix our 100% focus on God
3. An example (v35) - To help the weak - To give than to receive - The greater blessing is to be able to work and to give out of your work
- Emotionally, they sent Paul off - As part of the spiritual family, we are bonded emotionally together here on earth - That's family
1. SCRIPTURES: Acts 21:1-36
2. STUDY - There are 3 relationships that every Christians must develop 1. God - Comparatively easy as we learn more and more how good God is 2. Neighbor - Comparatively easy as we see someone in need 3. Fellow Christians (Hardest of all 3) - They can't choose your spiritual family members This will be proof that Christians are rightly related to one another when they learn to love one another
- How far should a believer listen to advice from other believers? > The believers pleaded with Paul not to go to Jerusalem after the prophecy of Agabus (v10-11), but Paul still went against the plead > The believers told Paul he should do the purification rites (v24) to prove that Paul didn't turn away from law of Moses and Paul did. - And both cases Paul got into trouble for what he did. And we don't always know whether we have made the right decisions. - The way we react to Christian's advice reveals to us a far more important thing - It's more important to understand WHY Paul did what he did. In one case he decided against the advice and in another, he did.
- Paul landed at Tyre and Caesarea. In both cases, they pleaded with Paul not to go Jerusalem but Paul ignored
Tyre - Spirit of God can use a person to give a prophecy for that person for that time - The word for Paul was that he'll be heading for trouble if he went on to Jerusalem
Caesarea - Prophet Agabus prophesied that Paul will be tied up. Paul insisted in going
Why did Paul ignore? - It was a human concern for Paul when they see trouble - God revealed the trouble to Paul to 'encourage' him so that Paul would be prepared - Human tendency will be to avoid trouble usually - Paul knew that's God's will for him and Paul was just determined and prepared himself - When God reveals that trouble is coming, it's not to escape but to prepare and to engage in God and seek His Grace - We Christians can be overprotective because of our human concern for one another - But Paul in Acts 20 said that the Holy Spirit told him to go to Jerusalem so Paul was very clear to do so in obedience - So Paul said please don't distract me from the instruction from God (Same parallel: Jesus determined to fulfill his calling to go to Jerusalem to die on the Cross but Peter in deep concern dissuaded Him)
PAUL ARRIVES AT JERUSALEM - PROBLEM > When you become a Christian, how much culture/background do you have to drop? > When the Gentiles came to the Lord, they were to drop their sexual sins, immoral behavior > But when the Jews came to the Lord, how much of the law should they drop? Ans: Nothing - When Jew came to the Lord, he can go on being a Jew with his cultural practices but he is not to make a Gentile adopt Jewish practices
- Now said James, that the Jews were upset that Jewish believers have to stop being a Jew - Which was never what Paul meant - Paul was told by the Jewish believers to participate in the Jewish practices to prove that he didn't teach to abandon their Jewish roots - And Paul did so
Point: Paul was deeply concerned and prioritized Christian unity - He didn't listen before when it only concern his personal well being - But when it concerns others and the unity of others, Paul would do it to preserve the unity of the Body of Christ - Paul had a very big heart! He did it because he loved Christians - Sometimes we are called to do things that people may accuse us of being inconsistent. - But things should be done for the preservation of the fellowship and nothing else - Here you see a man who would not do anything for his own sake even under the advice of Christians - But his heart would relent to the appeal of Christians for their welfare - Paul wasn't inconsistent but divine consistency by showing no welfare of his own but utmost for others
- He got into trouble. He was accused of breaking the law - Archaeology dug up 2 blocks of stone in ruin temple of Jerusalem - With inscription , "No man of an alien race should enter the temple... if not they will pay for the consequence" - Paul knew now that in Christ, this separation had been torn down in the heart of the believer - The believer can enter into God's presence as a Gentile in Christ - But yet Paul still didn't violate the Jewish Law, not taken a Gentile into the Temple - In spirit, he had broken the Law of bringing a Gentile into God's presence - In fact it's God who broke His own law through Jesus Christ because of His Grace to us all - In the physical, Paul didn't break the law but he was accused he did. v29
- Riot started. Paul was beaten. And the soldiers caught him in the nick of time - But Paul was saved by 4 things here 1. His Greek Language 2. His Roman Citizenship 3. His Hebrew Blood 4. Christian Experience
- The crowd shouted "Kill him" - Parallel, about 20yrs earlier a similar thing happened - The first Martyr Stephen was similarly falsely accused of breaking Jewish law and killed - They dragged Stephen out and died from stoning - He asked the Lord to forgive the 'stoners' as he got stoned - And there was a young man there, holding Stephen's clothes while he was stoned to death - And this young man was Paul and same city, now the same crowd did the same thing to him
- And Paul now found himself in the same situation - Jesus went through the same experience too - Paul probably was thinking about Stephen and Jesus while going through this ordeal
- If you do what it's right in the eyes of the Lord, expect trouble, misunderstanding and accusations - Jesus said to take up the Cross and follow Him. It's a life of suffering for Him - Count yourself blessed because you are following Jesus
1. SCRIPTURES: Acts 21:37-22:29
2. STUDY - 4 THINGS WHICH SAVED PAUL 1. His Greek Language 2. His Roman Citizenship 3. His Hebrew Blood 4. Christian Experience
- Paul saw the opportunity to give his testimony even in the face of death and screaming crowd. Such focus in his purpose - Only a person as dead as self could do that - Paul wisely decided to give his personal testimony (Own story is most convincing)
HOW TO GIVE TESTIMONY? - Must be personal and first hand - Paul said "I" 18 times in this testimony - Compose of 3 parts 1. What you were like before 2. What happen when you met Jesus 3. What did the Lord Jesus did with you afterwards
- Don't let your testimony be someone else's or model someone else's - Don't overemphasizes the change in exaggeration - Paul was already very sincerely dedicated to God before - Paul didn't play things up or down. It's all facts no feelings. That's a testimony based on facts - Testimony : Objective - This is what happened!
NOTE: 1. He spoke in the lang of the people. (I'm a Jew) You must give your testimony in their lang not yours - Don't use jargons! - Lang of the generation changes constantly. Be updated - Don't dramatise your testimony. Paul just plainly say he was just as religiously as where the people are. No drastic dramatisation - Paul started connecting with them exactly where they are spiritually - Paul highlight how similar he was like them to obey the law but his encounter in Christ changed everything!
- Exactly 20years before, Stephen did the same thing sharing his testimony with facts - Paul heard it, personally held his coat when Stephen was stoned - Paul must have been impacted by Stephen's testimony - Here he was, Paul doing the same thing. "Here my defense"
2 questions to look at now looking at the Paul's encounter at the road to Damascus 1. Who are you Lord? 2. What do you want me to do Lord?
- Some people asked why he was blinded after he saw the bright light? - Paul was the first one to see the resurrected Jesus. - Jesus glorified risen body of course blinded him - Paul asked who are you Lord? - Paul used "Lord" showing he had encountered someone supernatural and superior
- Jesus identified Himself as Jesus of NAZARETH - In that blinding moment, Paul saw spiritually though physically blinded!!! - Jews were wrong, the Christians were right! - Paul suddenly realised how blinded he was
- Sooner or later, in this kind of encounter, you will ask, "What should I do now? How do I respond?" - There's always a NEXT step (Application) - Ask the Lord to show you - Paul said it, "Having met the Lord Jesus, he wanted to know what to do NEXT" Acts 22:10 - Paul being Paul wanted quickly to act - But the Lord told him "Go to Damascus" (Slow down take it easy first, take in your experience) - So led like a little lamb, the blinded Paul brought him to Jerusalem - Paul from proud angry man, encountered Christ and became humbled... - Isn't that like us that we had to start all over again learning to live our new life in Christ
- 3rd stage in his experience - For 3 days he stayed in a room in darkness thinking through his life alone with the Lord - Ananias came along under a vision from God to help Paul - Ananias was unwilling to help Paul but obeyed the Lord eventually - Ananias a respected Jew/Christian went to Paul who was a murderer of Christians and came to help Paul - Ananias came to do 2 things for Paul 1. Help to see again 2. Baptise Paul/Filled with the HS - We should be like Ananias as a Christian to ask, "Lord is there anyone you want me to go to?"
- When we become a Christian, God doesn't leave us alone. He sends different people to help us in our Christian walk - Paul was sitting there blinded in 3 days thinking how he could be killing Christians - Ananias said why wait? To get the past/sins clean so that we can get on in our Christian walk. Ananias baptised Paul
QUESTION IN EVERYONE'S MIND - How could someone so Jewish go to Gentiles. v21 - Paul was schooled by top Jew, met Jesus the Jew, helped by Ananias a Jew, came back Jerusalem and went to Gentiles - What broke the pattern? - He went to the temple and pray and fell into a trance. The Lord met Paul and told him to go to the Gentiles. v17 - And Paul was puzzled. Something many Christians are puzzled too - We assumed that God always want us to witness to our own people with same background - But sometimes God has a different idea - Paul thought that since he's so Jewish, surely the Jews would accept his testimony of his transformed life - No... The Lord knows better
- Now, God wants us to witness to people of our own TYPE - Should we go back to the people who have known you before you became a Christian? - You will realized that they will not accept you - And the reason is even if they know you have changed they will still feel insecure - They feel you have betrayed them, turn cold, unreliable and will not easily accept your testimony - Illustration : Politician switch party. Do you think it's wise for him to keep working on his own constituency? No. - Point: People don't naturally trust people who have changed - So God wanted Paul else where - As soon as Paul said he'll go to the Gentiles, the Jews were mad at this very point! v22
- After that, the Roman commander ordered Paul to be flogged, something that one rarely survives - Jesus survived but was unable to carry the cross - Some people Paul should have suffered just like Jesus
- Qn is: When should a Christian accept suffering and when not and try to escape - Paul knew that this wasn't his moment to take the suffering and die. v25 - Paul defended and say to commander "Did you realize you have punished a Roman citizen without trial?" - To do that is punishable under Roman law - Paul escaped in this way
- Result of testimony/witness : Lead to riot, misunderstanding, suffering... - Greek word for witness is martyr - Jesus said to be a witness for Him to the ends of the earth (It's a serious call) - It will involve suffering. Sometimes it's God's will to escape suffering, sometimes not - When we be a witness for Jesus, anticipate suffering as we identify with Christ's suffering
1. SCRIPTURES : Acts 22:30 - Acts 23:35
2. STUDY - Paul was always getting himself into the trouble for the Gospel - Why? Some say he was that kind of person - provocative, single minded - Don't think so... Cos it was the same kind of trouble Jesus got himself in - Answer lies not so much in the person but in the world they live in. - This kind of world that rejects their truths - Jesus said in this world, you will have tribulations - This world is bad and will get worse and worse - (Relate this to modern society we living in now)
- The bible tells us why the world is getting worse. - Satan has got hold of it. The ruler of this world and its every sphere - For Eg: > Science - Discovery of technology and usage of it to do evil in a moral-less world > Politics - Satan controlling world politics. By having a unification of one world with 1 person - It's with that that Christians get into trouble.
- Yes, sometimes it's the foolishness and tactlessness of Christians that bring offense to the world and not the Cross that bring offense - But if we are getting closer and closer to the Lord, we are going to expect greater and greater opposition from the world
- It's a world that doesn't want God and controlled by Satan - How should a Christian respond to this world? Fight / Resign to it / Avoid? - When should we fight and when should we run? - In Paul's case, when he was brought before the Sanhedrin, he fought - Whereas in the situation where plot was to kill him by the Jews, he ran
- The Sanhedrin was the Council of Jewish nation and fed up with Christians - 5th time they met for a similar issue - 1. Jesus 2. Peter/John 3. James 4. Stephen 5. Paul - Roman commander was trying to get rid of his responsibility with Paul. It's a religious issue not a civil one - Paul opened the case himself. The best form of defense is attack! v23:1 - Before he could be questioned, he established his case and proved that he's blameless/innocent
- High Priest said "Hit the man on his mouth" - Paul said, "You white washed wall!" - Was it right of Paul to say that of Ananias the High Priest? Ananias - Overeater (Sin condemned in the Bible) - They will sing a perverted version of Psalms 24 about this man - Thief/Robber - Junior priest starved while he enjoyed - Murderer for those against him - this man got his post from Herald - When being pursued to be killed, he was hiding in sewer under Jerusalem
- Paul didn't know Ananias was the High Priest and got slapped for it > Was Paul being sarcastic? > Or was Paul being affected by his tricoma (eye problem) that he couldn't recognize? - Whatever it is, the principle here was still to learn to honor the authority ordained by God - And we see Paul obeying Scriptures "You must not speak evil of the ruler of your people" v5 - Astonishing to know that even in the days of Nero, Simon Peter wrote a letter to the Christians to instruct them to honor him
- Paul seemed to be apologizing here - What Paul did next was to create a division between the Pharisee and the Sadducees - Paul lined himself up with the Pharisees who believed in the resurrection of the dead - It was from the Pharisees that many of the Christians came from - He said he's a Pharisee who believed in the resurrection of Jesus - Division happened and the argument got very violent - Was Paul right to fight back that caused disorder?
- Let's look at the next day - When people can't win verbal war, they go underground and resort to violence - This was what happened to Jesus as well - They told Judas to plot the false arrest - It's all repeating itself
- Paul's nephew knew about the ambush - What should Paul do now? Should he die as a martyr or escape? - Paul did the latter and the Roman commander ordered 470 soldiers to protect him - In such situation, should we ask the police for protection? - Should a Christian go to the Roman soldiers?
- Here are 2 situations where 1, Paul fought hard while the other he let it go and escape - You examine the 2. One it's in the argument in the open with chance of winning while the other hidden with threat of death - How do you decide how to respond to 2 such different situations? ANSWER - Let Jesus decide that. Be the kind of person Jesus can talk to. v23:11
- How do you know when Jesus talks to you? 1. Jesus only speaks to people in crisis when they are the people who speaks to him when everything is alright 2. Jesus can talk to people who are dead to self (Problem: Self keeps talking) 3. Sometimes He speaks through visions, impressions, through words of others, etc...
1. SCRIPTURES : Acts 24
2. STUDY - Conscience - Something at certain times > a blessing/curse > want it/don't want it > last you a lifetime and improve in age > most precious possession but at times want to get rid of it > some were killed for it others die for it
- Conscience is a voice that accuses us of doing wrong - It is the proof that we have free will - It is God inside holding us accountable to Him
- Chapter 24 is a study of conscience - About 3 men who all had a conscience whom each had them in a different condition - Paul, Tertullus, Felix - First, we have one that it's so stifled that it can work no more (Tertullus) - Second, we have a clear conscience. A man who is not afraid of the truth because his conscience is right (Paul) - Third, we have a man who shows all the signs of a guilty conscience (Felix)
TERTULLUS - Which of these 3 best represent my conscience really? - The lawyer opens his speech for the prosecution - He was a clever lawyer, a greek speaking Jew, familiar with the culture of his judge - Full of confidence and speech is convincing but 1 fatal flaw - it's not true - A lawyer who spoke without any hesitation which tells us this lawyer had killed his conscience
> Two parts about his speech - The good things he said about Felix are not true - The bad things he said about Paul are not true - He has no conscience left, just a professional lawyer (Sounds familiar in modern times)
- He didn't represent his presentation as what his client (Ananias) has said but he obviously identify himself with him - He used "WE" v3
- It's customary to start with words of courtesy but here it's flattery and untrue - Stooping to a low trick - Tertullus said Felix is noted for his clemency, reforms for the good done to the nation - Looking at the life of Felix - blantantly untrue
- Felix is Governor of Samaria 2 years, Judea 5 years - Started off as a slave. Had not his brother became a favorite slave of Nero, pulled strings for him - Gradually he climbed the civil servant ladder - He always had that slave mentality, and as he finally rose thru the ranks, he became brutal - Any trouble was settled in a slave mentality kind of way - For eg: When there's rebellion, he hired thugs to murder the terrorists - Result: Terrorism accelerated in his reign. (Violence doesn't give peace!) - And here Tertullus was saying that under his reign he brought peace - utter lies! - Here Tertullus was buttering Felix up
- Bad things he said about Paul - Accused Paul of 3 criminal acts > Sedition - Civil pest (Always stirring up trouble) > Sectarianism - Every religion needs to be registered. Accused of starting a new religion (Nazarenes) > Sacrilege - "Attempted" to defile temple
- Here is a lawyer committing perjury with every sentence he uttered - He killed his conscience. - Likewise, people in various industries today like medical, etc have also their conscience killed
PAUL - Remarkable speech. No trace of bitterness... Paul simply stated the facts - Only a man with such a clear conscience can defuse the accusations calmly with bare facts - Paul was only in Jerusalem for 12 days with which he didn't stir up any disorder - He admitted that he worshiped the same God as the Jews by following the Way so this can't be a new religion - Accused of sacrilege, Paul defended that he was actually offering sacrifices and going through purification ritual - All facts/truths
- But Paul did admit that this new faith in Jesus is a completion of the old religion - He had become a complete Jew - The only dispute is Paul believe that resurrection has already come thru 1 person Jesus while the believed it's in the future - Paul had done his best as a Christian to have a clear conscience before man and God. v16
FELIX - He knows perfectly well there was no case and to release Paul - Similarly 22yrs ago, Jesus went thru similar accusation of stirring up trouble, establishing a Kingdom and not paying taxes - But all untrue. Pontius Pilate the governor didn't buy the truth - Here Felix was going the same way. - People would remember him as how Pontius Pilate was remembered for not doing right by accusing Jesus in history - Felix now was remembered as an unjust judge - However Felix saw a loophole and can't release Paul until this is cleared up - Paul accused Lysias of obstructing justice. Will wait for Lysias to be back to hear his side of the story - Was a legitimate thing to do but Felix didn't follow his conscience and imprisoned Paul for 2 years as a result
- Felix had a guilty conscience after that. How did we know? 1. He held Paul lightly. v23 - Felix kept Paul in prison because of cash. Knew Paul had money. v26 2. He wanted to favor the Jews. - Frightened of offending the Jews - Wanted to please the public to stay in power
- The fact Felix kept asking about Christianity and never believed shows that he kept his conscience unchecked - Everytime Paul preached about Christianity that invokes a response, Felix would stop short at allowing his conscience to respond and sent Paul back to cell - When Paul talked about righteousness, self-control and the coming judgement, that's when Felix stopped listening - These are the 3 things people do not want to hear these days. (Faith, yes but these hard truths no...) - So we have a demand for religion without repentance, for God without goodness, for truth without tears - That's the kind of Christianity Felix was interested in - "I love to hear about Jesus. But don't tell me about me and my moral life"
- Felix heard Paul frequently because his wife Drusilla wanted to hear about Christianity - Drusilla 20yrs old, married twice, princess, daughter of Herod who died of worms in Acts 12 - Felix's 3rd wife, 1st one was Cleopatro. - Drusilla was 'forced' into marriage and now her heart was stirred to hear Paul (Maybe of her brokenness or her Jewish roots) - Wife is interested but not husband.
- Gospel is not just God's love but judgement. - Unless there is bad news, there is no good news - A gospel who doesn't include moral facts get people interested in Jesus (like Felix) but get people unsaved - Felix is a man with guilty conscience, who knew his life not right but never want to do anything about it - Therefore a man who is not in a position to accept Christ
CONCLUSION - What kind of conscience do you have? - Supposed tonight you have to face your maker tonight? Are you ready?
Tertullus - will have a certain peace because when your conscience is dead, you have momentary peace - But his conscience will one day be resurrected and face the consequence
Felix - Guility conscience will cause bad decisions to be made - 2 years later, there was a riot, he mishandled and was removed. He lost everything - Drusilla and son left him - He played around with his conscience too long and wreaked his career
Paul - Paul standing there in courage with a clear conscience - One day Paul will stand before his maker with the same courage and say that conscience is clear before God and man - How did Paul get his clear conscience? > Forgetting doesn't give clear conscience > Consensus and Justification (Everyone is doing it) doesn't give clear conscience
- Paul had made 2 discoveries 1. He discovered what to do with his failures - Live with it? - Buried it? - Go to the Cross, realized Jesus die on that Cross, that failure can be forgiven and forgotten - It's not on God's memory. - What does it matter if you can still remember your failure and can't forgive yourself when God remembers no more - That identifying with Christ in baptism is like going to God to seek also the washing away of your sins and have a clear conscience
2. Having Christ living in you reduces the failures - God has done everything needed to help you to live a clear conscience - Privilege of a Christian is to stand before God with a clear conscience because of the Cross. Nobody else can.
1. SCRIPTURES : Acts 25
2. STUDY - Do you know what it means to take up the Cross? For Paul 2yrs in prison - A man who walked over the world but now trapped in an enclosed space - Amazing thing is Paul was still the same before the imprisonment and during the imprisonment - His concern for people who didn't encounter Jesus yet
FESTUS - When Festus came, he took over a pending trial of Paul - Festus was a good upright man, unblemished record - Surely there was hope for Paul now - But religious Jewish leaders also wanted Paul to be brought back to Jerusalem to have him killed on the way back
- Festus was in the midst of this mess and stick to Caesarea for Paul to be tried - Festus heard the same trial all over again and knew Paul was innocent - He reached his critical point in his career, an unblemished record and will he do the right thing now? - Tragedy is he began to wobble here - And the Jewish leaders knew he was a weak man - He told Paul whether to keep everybody happy whether he would go to Jerusalem with the Jewish leaders - He tried to save his own face by doing what he knew was wrong in his heart - Paul realised good man though he was, Festus was also want to save his own face
- Paul's strategy now was this to appeal to the Emperor after knowing Festus was not helping - It's every Roman citizen entitlement to appeal to Emperor - Emperor then was a fine young man called Nero - It was before Nero became a wicked emperor and Paul was seeking justice through him - Festus was glad and relieved that he was able to shake his hands off this case - PROBLEM: Festus wouldn't be able to tell emperor what Paul had done wrong for the appeal to higher court was because Paul was found 'guilty' in lower court - Lesson Learnt : If you waver in your moral standing, you will be in trouble if you keep giving in to people's wishes - May God grant government leaders the courage and conscience to stand for what's right
KING AGRIPPA - King Agrippa though not born a Jew but was interested in Jewish religion - King Agrippa came visit new governor Festus - Agrippa from Herald, great grandfather Herod the Great who build the great temple and ordered the killing of young male below 2 - Grandfather was the one who mocked Jesus at the trial to perform miracle - Father Herod man who chopped off head of James, brother of John, and died with worms in Caesarea - He got his throne by playing up with the Romans. A puppet king. - Brought with him a woman. His sister and mistress - His sister a sister of Drusilla
- Agrippa conducted the inquiry and Paul spoke - Paul gave his testimony and was glad to give to Agrippa cos he knew more about the Jewish religion than Festus - 2 things Jesus promised in Matt 10:18-19, "Led before King, don't worry about what to say" - I'm sure Paul claimed that promise - What was the biggest change in Paul's life after he met Jesus? (A good way to present your testimony) > There may not be a change in temperament in Paul > There may not be a change in his moral life (He lived morally) > There may not be a religious change (He loved God in the beginning and believed Jesus is the continuity of his religion) - The biggest change in Paul's life is from an exclusive religion to an inclusive religion - He kept shutting people out of it. - He was worshipping God in a right God but in a wrong. He had no room for the Gentiles and his fellow Christian Jews - He had no room for Jesus in his religion
- Now Paul after Jesus' encounter was completely inclusive. - He saw people whom he must bring the Gospel to them and get them to repent of their sins and come to God - When God gives you a vision, He's not saying this must happen but MAY happen. He's waiting for believers to say I'll partner with you Lord - Jesus gave Paul this vision and mandate to go preach the Gospel. Paul was obedient to this heavenly vision. v19 (Isa 6: Here am I, send me) - That's what was doing and had been doing, going around with a firm message that you must repent and show your repentance with your acts. v20
- Paul challenged Agrippa who knew the prophets and the Jewish tradition whether he believed in Christ - Agrippa didn't show any signs of belief. v28 - Paul emotionally said that he prayed everyone will become what he was except for the chains. v29 - In other words, Paul's total concern was for people - Festus/Agrippa walked out and pitied Paul for he could have been released if he had not appealed to emperor - The real pity for Festus and Agrippa - Festus lived another 2 years before he died - Agrippa was retired from kingship 3years later and in AD100 died - That when a man comes near to becoming a Christian and doesn't respond, his life will become meaningless and w/o any significance - When a man turns down Christ, life will be meaningless - The day will come when Festus/Agrippa will stand before Jesus and account to Him. By then, it'll be too late
1. SCRIPTURES: Acts 27
2. STUDY - How do know the Bible is true? Proof for history 1. Reliable Record passed down intact 2. Person who recorded in position to know what happened and reliable The records of the New Testament are amazingly accurate
- 3 areas of facts that provides accuracy of Acts 27 1. Geographic facts - Locations of Acts 27 are there 2. Nautical facts - How Paul's ship behaved in such a storm recorded 3. Meteorological facts - Luke described time/climate/sea conditions accurately
- Acts 27 wasn't written for us to primarily know the geography/ship sailing/meteorology - It's about man's true behavior in face of danger and God's work - It's about what happened to a man of God in this situation when he follows God
1. SAILING - Paul shipped to Rome by fine Roman soldier Julius - If prisoner escaped, Julius will face same sentence as Paul - Paul was transported from 1 ship in a relatively easy journey to another big ship where the 2nd part of journey became dangerous - Remember Paul had been ship wreaked 3 times and he was called to be in a counsel - Paul said no don't go and spoke from experience not revelation - The reason why they didn't listen was because of money. They need to deliver the goods on the ship - It's a decision of Caution vs Vested interest - Human safety vs Profits being weighed... And they chose profit over people - They sailed out but journey was disastrous! They were only very interested in the grain/wheat/goods on board
- Warning here as we make decision and seek guidance > When we have decided a certain way, a slight favorable circumstance will make us feel assured > But may not be so this way > v13, a little soft wind from south made the crew think they made the right decision to sail out
2. STORM TASK - 14 days, Paul's ship drifted - The men onboard did all they could but couldn't save the ship - Paul encouraged them with his encounter with the angel that they would be alright - Paul wasn't due to die yet so he was encouraged by an angel this fact
3. SHIPWREAK - The sailors think they were reaching shore - They let down their 4 anchors. - Then panic broke out and people on board wanted to release dingys and sail away - Paul instructed to throw away the dingys and stay on board to stay alive because God has spoken - POINT: Trust God for His Word and not let a few panicky people jeopardize the situation - Paul was still concerned for the people. Asked them to have a meal - When daylight came, the saw bay at Malta - The ship hit a sandbar and was completely destroyed - Everyone swam to shore and true to God's word, all reach land safely
4. SAFE - Wet and cold, Paul gathered firewood to create fire for everyone - That's the behavior of a Christian, full of love and others - Paul encountered a snake and people of Malta thought he's fated to die cos he's a murderer - He didn't and the people now treated him like God - The chief official of island welcomed Paul home - The attitude of how we treat a Christian is the same attitude of how we treat Christ (Matt 25:40) - Chief official had his father sick and Paul healed the man and all the sick people came and were healed
CONCLUSION - God was in control and knows through out the whole saga - God had power as He was totally in control. A miracle that Paul actually reached that bay alive
- How do I apply Acts 27 to me? - Does it mean a Christian would always be safe? No - PRINCIPLE: If you are in the center of God's will, and God promises you to reach some where, then you can be assured!
1. SCRIPTURES : Acts 28:11-31
2. STUDY - Usually last chapter of story is anti-climax and quiet. - Benefit of studying the last chapter still because God is in it - Paul was confined in 1 house for 2 years but the Gospel is not confined - In your 'confinement', God can still use you
THE WAY TO ROME - After 3 months, winter was over and they were ready to sail - The sailors are superstitious generally because of the climatic elements - The ship sailed with the 'twin gods' as protectors - But the ship sailed smoothly not because of the twin gods but Paul for God promised him that he will reach Rome safely - God got Paul to Rome safely - Here in Rome, we already see wide-spread Christianity up the coast of Italy - It was only 30 years since Jesus died on the Cross - What an encouragement that God has planted his witnesses all over!
- Paul was encouraged in the midst of sadness as he came to Rome as a prisoner - What picked him up? The fact that Christians walked 43miles to meet him from Appius and 3 inns. v15 - So he came to Rome finally. v14 > A place he said he's not ashamed of the Gospel as recorded in Roms 1:16 > A place that years later the Emperor will believe in Jesus Christ
THE WITNESS IN ROME - Romans way of dealing with a prisoner is that they can be released in custody - In a sense he was free and he was not - He couldn't go to people but people could go to him. He could issue invitation - Paul saw it not as a handicap but an opportunity! That's the Christianity outlook - God using everything for His Glory - Preaching the Gospel can be very creative when we are determined.
- After settling in for just 3 days, Paul was off inviting the Jewish leaders to him. v17 - Why did he invite the Jews? > those whom were like him first > start from those who had some kind of faith in God - the God-fearers > he needed to know how he stood with them in Rome and whether they would testify against him > this was God's pattern - the Jews first then the Gentiles
- Paul explained the whole trial and his innocence to the Jewish leaders - That he was actually preaching about the hope Jesus whom the Jews were looking for who is the fulfillment of what the Jews were waiting for
THE ACTIVE WORD - 3 things were happening when the Word of God was being preached - For the WOG is active and living sharper than any Roman 2 edged short sword like the tongue - And wherever the Word is preached, we have these 3 things happening
1. It cuts a congregation into 2 - those who believe what's said and those who don't. v24 2. It cuts the believer from his sins - Healing of a surgeon knife that cuts off the cancer from the believer. v27 3. It cuts those who do not believe off from God (This is what Paul was referring to here) v28 - We can't ignore the fact that when the Word is preached that it doesn't do anything to you. - It invokes a response to repent lest we become more and more harden! - The words of Isaiah here that Paul read reinforced that God's people the Jews would be hardened - Those who don't believe will be more deaf and more blind. - See and won't perceive, hear and won't understand - These kind of people when Gospel is kept being preached to them, actually 'drives' them further away from God - It's true as we see it in the Jews who are the hardest group to reach now - The person who Sunday after Sunday keeps hearing the Word and refuses to believe will find it harder and harder to believe for the heart has turned callous
THE UNHINDERED GOSPEL - God continues to give the Gospel to someone else when someone doesn't accept it - The parable of the King throwing a banquet to go to the highway and byways to ensure his place will be full - The Gospel will continue to spread and be offered and people will take it, people who thankfully come to accept it - The Jews had rejected it, the Gospel had come to the Gentiles - The most unlikely Gentile will take the Gospel... Keep preaching the Gospel regardless
- What happened to Paul during these house arrest duration? > No miracle recorded > The runaway slave Onesimus came > Paul wrote those prison epistles > Paul was free to continue to preach and teach. The Word was not bound - Nothing can stop the Gospel. Till today it's still preached and people are still coming to Jesus
- Why does the Book of Acts finish here? - Why didn't finish the story of the trial of Paul? - Some say Luke die at this point. Others say Luke had accomplished his objective of presenting Christianity as a peaceful religion - Some say the book is about the Holy Spirit and therefore still continues to work and so Acts is an unfinished story and carries on with us now
- SUMMARY - God wants us to go back to the days of Acts. That's how the Church supposed to be like - The theme of Acts is complete - How they brought the Gospel from Jerusalem to Rome - How they bring the Gospel from the religious world to the secular world (Jerusalem to Rome) - Doesn't only want the Gospel to be heard by God's people but into the marketplace