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Acts 13:4-12 – Smart Believe & Worldly Deceive

Acts 13:4-12 – Smart Believe & Worldly Deceive

Diving Deeper Lesson Outline for Acts 13:4-12
Title derived from “intelligent” Sergius believing as opposed to Bar-Jesus, the false prophet, seeking to turn Sergius away. It is my opinion that an “intelligence” that leads one to Christ originates with God and not the person. Many believe that Bar-Jesus, because he was described as a false prophet, was a Jew who either represented himself as, or had associations with, the Cypriot Christian community.

1) TRUTH OF CHRISTIANITY ELEVATED OVER A SYNCRETIZED PAGANISM/JUDAISM/CHRISTIANITY

Point 1 is a general principal drawn from entire text.

Examples of this principal from other OT and NT texts:

  • Exodus 7:8-13 – Battle of the Staffs
  • 1 Kings 18:22-40 – Who said fire and water don’t mix?
  • Acts 8:9-14 – Crowd amazed by Simon, but Simon amazed by Peter

The example of this principal from our text – Acts 13:4-12:

  • Sergius Paulus, at some earlier time, was impressed enough with Bar-Jesus to appoint him as part of his entourage; presumably, due to his abilities. But Sergius, seeing the power of God’s Word in Bar-Jesus’ loss of vision, is astonished by the Word of God as proclaimed by Paul and so believes. Sergius’ belief is a victory over and condemnation of Bar-Jesus teachings and desire to turn Sergius away.
  • POI – Non-believers most often see above stories as untrue; as made up simply to elevate Judaism/Christianity above the competition. They are unable to see the deeper implications of the truth of Scripture as we hope to uncover below.

2) POWER OF INSPIRED WORD OF GOD OVER THE DECEITFUL WORD OF MAN

Point 2 is drawn specifically from the confrontation of a Spirit filled Paul with Bar-Jesus, a false prophet. See Acts 13:9 for description of Paul and see Acts 13:6 for description of Bar-Jesus.

Examples of similar conflicts from other OT & NT texts:

  • Evidence of the conflict from the OT
  • Deuteronomy 18:22 – OT description of false prophet
  • Jeremiah 29:8-14 – OT example of false prophet
  • Evidence of the conflict from the NT
  • 2 Peter 2:1-3 – NT description of false prophet seeking personal gain
  • 2 Cor 11:12-15 – Paul expresses desire to expose and undermine them

The example of this conflict from our text – Acts 13:9-11:

  • Holy Sprit filled Paul identifies and exposes Bar-Jesus. He calls Bar-Jesus, meaning “the son of Jesus”, “the son of the devil.” Bar-Jesus had made crooked the straight paths of the Lord with his words and actions. And, as an enemy of righteousness, is rendered as blind visually as he is spiritually. Bar-Jesus’ deceitful words are unable to turn Sergius from the inspired Word of God as proclaimed by Paul.

3) POWER OF THE WORD OF GOD TO EXPOSE THE “INTELLIGENT” & “WORLDLY”

Point 3 is derived from contrasting the attitudes of Sergius and Bar-Jesus toward Paul’s proclaimation of the Word of God. Sergius is said to be intelligent in Acts 13:7. Bar-Jesus is wordly because of his status as a false prophet who corrupts the truth of God for personal gain. See notes under outline title at top and see Acts 13:6 and Acts 13:10.

INTELLIGENCE EXPOSED:

  • SOUGHT TO HEAR (Acts 13:7) – Sergius desires to hear what Paul and Barnabas have to say.
  • SAW (Acts 13:12) – Sergius recognizes/witnesses the truth of God’s Word proclaimed by Paul.
  • ASTONISHED (Acts 13:12) – Sergius has a heart & mind that have the capacity to be struck exceedingly with amazement and fear at the Truth of God’s Word.
  • BELIEVED (Acts 13:12) – In God’s grace, acts upon the Truth of God’s Word and believes. Thereby validating Luke’s description of him as intelligent.

WORDLINESS EXPOSED:

  • SOUGHT TO TURN (Acts 13:8) – Bar-Jesus, concerned with threat to his own position and way of life, seeks to hinder its presentation to Sergius
  • MAKING CROOKED (Acts 13:10) – Bar-Jesus has a heart that seeks to warp and distort the truth of God’s Word and to do so for personal gain. If he loses, he is out of a job
  • CONSUMED BY DARKNESS (Acts 13:11) – He ultimately falls victim to his opposition to righteousness and is blinded. We can only hope that in his darkness, he finally saw the light.

APPLICATION
So are we intelligent or worldly?
Do we recognize, see, the truth of Scripture and apply it?
Are we astonished or struck with amazement by God’s word?
— OR —
Are we more concerned with ourselves (worldly)?
Do we misapply or ignore God’s word to suit our needs?
Do we operate in life based on the truth of Scripture or based on our own worldly experience?

Acts 13:13-26 – OT to JC in 8 Steps

Acts 13:13-25 – OT to JC in 8 Steps

Diving Deeper Lesson Outline for Acts 13:13-25
This is lesson 1 of 3 on Paul’s sermon in Acts 13.
Part 1 is the “Jesus Was” of Paul’s sermon.
Part 2 will cover the “Jesus Is.”
Part 3 will cover the “Jesus Can Be.”
Title derived from Paul’s overview of OT history which culminates with Jesus Christ in Acts 3:23.

Acts 13:13 and following is Paul’s first recorded and longest sermon.
There are at least 6 recorded for us.
It behooves us to pay attention to what the greatest evangelist of all time preaches.
It contains obvious parallels to Stephen’s sermon in Acts 7.
“Both sermons emphasize God’s raising up leaders for Israel, but with a major (though complementary) difference: Stephen pointed to Israel’s rejection of its God-sent leaders, while Paul stressed God’s grace in providing the leaders.” – ESV Study Bible

1) PREACHING THE WORD – GOD IN ISRAEL’S HISTORY
Point 1 is a drawn from the actions ascribed to God, by Paul, in Acts 13:17-22.

The Actions and the Scripture background:
CHOSE OUR FATHERS in Acts 13:17
Genesis 12:1, Genesis 17:7 and in Psalm 135:4
MADE PEOPLE GREAT in Acts 13:17
Exodus 1:7 and Psalm 105:24
LED OUT OF EGYPT in Acts 13:17
Deuteronomy 4:20, Nehemiah 9:9-12 and Psalm 78:12-13, Micah 7:15
PUT UP WITH in Acts 13:18
Exodus 16:2-3, Deuteronomy 9:7, Nehemiah 9:16-21, Acts 7:39-43 and Hebrews 3:7-10
GAVE THEM LAND in Acts 13:19
Deuteronomy 7:1 and Psalm 78:55
GAVE THEM JUDGES in Acts 13:20
Judges 2:16-20
GAVE THEM A KING in Acts 13:21
1 Samuel 10:1 and Hosea 13:11
RAISED UP DAVID in Acts 13:22
1 Samuel 13:14, 2 Samuel 5:3-5 and Psalm 78:70-72

In examples above, the sovereignty of God is evident in all of Israel’s history.
God was their cause and source.
They were done His way, at His timing, for His glory.
And Paul’s carefully chosen OT references were more than just a primer on OT history.
Paul was painting a road sign that read, “This Way to Jesus.”

2) PREACHING THE WORD – JESUS WAS PART OF THAT HISTORY
Point 2 is drawn from a comparison of the work of God in Israel’s in Acts 13:17-22 and the work of Jesus (also see Jude 1:5 in ESV for NT take on Jesus in OT).

Jesus is part of this history, literally, as a promised offspring (Acts 13:23) of King David:
See Jeremiah 23:5 about the “righteous Branch” of King David.
See 2 Samuel 7:12-17 about the “promised offspring” of King David.
John the Baptist understood that Jesus was Messiah (John 1:19-23)
The Gospel of John 7:42 asks what Paul was essentially asking – “Has not Scripture said…”
Jesus, as evident by his relationship to David, is part of the unbroken will of God for Israel since choosing Abram.

Jesus is part of this history as God’s will for Israel expressed solteriologically:
God Chooses
person (Abraham) to begin a nation // person (Jesus) to save a nation
God Makes
the Hebrews prosper & multiply // leading, ultimately, to the birth of Jesus (Gal 3:8).
God Leads
the Hebrews out of Egypt and redeems them // Jesus to the Cross to redeem us
God Put Up With
disobedience and was “ready to forgive” (Neh 9:17) // disobedience and, in Jesus, He forgives
God Gives
promised land through the shedding of blood // promised salvation through shedding of Jesus’ blood
God Gives
Judges & Kings authority to rule and protect // Jesus authority to conquer sin and save
God Raised Up
David as King // Jesus from the grave to be our unfailing King!

Not only is Jesus historically the Messiah but he is effectually the Messiah – Jesus Saves.
Paul tells us in Acts13:26 that JESUS IS the salvation message of Israel’s history!

APPLICATION
The OT relationship to JC makes sense to discuss with Jews/God Fearers who were familiar with that history.
But does OT have any place in a modern day Gospel message?
In Acts 17:22-31, Paul takes a different approach – meets them where they are.
But He still preaches a God of history.
Do you see the OT has relevant to your spiritual maturation?
Is there a Gospel message without the OT?

Acts 13:26-37 – Jesus, a Rejected Promise & then Some!

Acts 13:26-37 – Jesus, a Rejected Promise & Then Some!

Diving Deeper Lesson Outline for Acts 13:26-37
This is lesson 2 of 3 on Paul’s sermon in Acts 13.
Part 1 was the “Jesus Was” of Paul’s sermon.
Part 2 is the “Jesus Is”.
Part 3 will cover the “Jesus Can Be.”Title derived from the 3 points covered below.

In Part 2 of his sermon, I believe Paul is arguing that the sonship of God with Israel as experienced (see lesson on Part 1) in the lives of the Hebrew people, their nation and their land (the Abrahamic covenant) is the same relationship that culminates with Jesus.
Even though, in Jesus 1st coming, there was no direct intervention by God with regards to people, nation and land as there was in the Old Testament:
– Jews were not redeemed from the rule of the Romans as they were redeemed from the Egyptians, Acts 13:17.
– Jews’ promise land was not purged of pagans as it was from the Canaanites, Acts 13:19.
– Israel was not restored to prominence politically under the rule of a king as it was with King David, Acts 13:22.

Paul hangs his argument on 3 things.
The 1st is the rejection of Jesus by Jerusalem in Acts 13:27-28.
The 2nd is the concept of a promised offspring, which Paul introduced in Acts 13:23 and now in Acts 13:32-33.
The 3rd is the concept of “not seeing corruption” (resurrection), which Paul addresses in Acts 13:35-37.

1) PAUL PREACHES THE WORD – THE REJECTION

Point 1 is drawn from Paul’s words in Acts 13:27-28.

The rejection in the OT:
In Isaiah 8:14 Jesus is a “rock of stumbling”.
In Isaiah 53:3 we see the Messiah as the rejected man of sorrows.
In Romans 11:7-8 Paul quotes Isaiah 29:10 in relation to Israel’s rejection of Jesus.
In Zechariah 12:1-14 we learn that the people of Jerusalem will mourn over the Messiah they pierced.
And by inference, a pierced Messiah is a rejected Messiah.

POI – With regards to redemption of Israel as a nation, we learn in Zechariah 12:1-14 that at Christ’s 2nd coming, the people of Jerusalem will repent over the sin of rejecting Jesus.
And a repentant nation of Israel will be saved, “I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem”.
The first coming was to a nation that rejected Jesus; the second coming will be to a nation that doesn’t.
In Revelation 7 we see, in the words of John MacArthur, “A missionary corps of redeemed Jews who are instrumental in the salvation of many Jews and Gentiles during the Tribulation. They will be the firstfruits of a new redeemed Israel. Finally, Israel will be the witness nation she refused to be in the OT.”

The rejection in the NT:
In Romans 11:25-27 we learn that a “hardening” has occurred for the sake of the Gentiles.
In Luke 19:41-44 we learn from Jesus that because “they are hidden from your eyes” rejection is coming.
And though it is part of God’s plan, Jesus weeps over Jerusalem and its coming destruction for this rejection.

Summary of Point 1:
Rejection of the Messiah is as much part of OT prophecy as a national redemption.
This rejection was always part of God’s plan and it ushered in God’s plan to redeem the Gentiles.
Israel as a nation will be redeemed in Christ’s 2nd coming.
As a matter of fact, it is a “pierced” and once rejected Messiah that does this redemption!
Jesus first came “humbled and mounted on an ass” as prophesied in Zechariah 9:9 and was rejected.
But He will be “coming with the clouds” as prophesied in Daniel 7:13.

2) PAUL PREACHES THE WORD – THE PROMISED OFFSPRING

Point 1 is drawn from Acts 13:23 and Acts 13:32-33.

The promise as revealed in the OT:
In Genesis 12:7 we find the promise; “To your offspring I will give this land.”
In Genesis 22:16-18 we get an elaboration of the promise in relation to obedience to God’s voice.
(As opposed to a position of offspring based on birth, as we will see.)
In Genesis 28:14-15 we get even more on the promise.

The promise as revealed in the NT:
In Galatians 3:16, Paul refers to Genesis 12:7 and calls Christ the “offspring”.
In Romans 9:8-9, Paul relates the promise of Jesus to the promised son (offspring) of Abraham and Sarah.
He does this because, He argues, it was the promise of God that resulted in the offspring and not “the flesh”.
Therefore, it is not the “children of the flesh” who are counted as offspring but the “children of the promise”.
To emphasize this point, Paul contrasts for us in Galatians 4:23 the birth of Isaac with the birth of Ishmael.

So what is a child of promise?
In Romans 4:13 Paul tells us that the promise offspring relationship is one of faith not the law.
And in Romans 4:16, he tells us that the promise rests on the grace of God not the works of man.
As mentioned earlier, being a promised offspring is a heart condition (“a circumcised heart” in the words of Moses) not a relationship based on a physical bloodline.
In Galatians 3:29 Paul tells us that “if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.”
In other words, believers in Christ are children of the promise; a promise that God made to Abraham.
Paul sums this up in Romans 1:1-6.

POI – the concept of Gentiles being heirs is called throughout Paul’s epistles a mystery as in Ephesians 3:6.

Summary of Point 2:
God’s promise to Abraham to give him an offspring referred to Isaac and Jesus Christ.
This offspring resulted from a promise of God not the work of the flesh (see Gen 21:1-2).
This means that the equation “Jew By Birth = Child of Promise & Salvation” is not the message of the OT.
The message is that anyone can be a “Child of Promise” by grace through faith in Jesus.
If the promise was based in the flesh, there is no hope for any person but a Jew; a descendant of Abraham.
Paul captures this in Romans 15:8-11, when he says, “Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God’s truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs…”

3) PAUL PREACHES THE WORD – THE BEGOTTEN

Point 3 is drawn from Acts 13:32-33 where Paul reveals that Jesus is the begotten Son of Psalm 2:7.

Gennao – Translated as “begotten” usually refers to being born (a son or daughter) of a man and woman; a form of the word is also translated in the Matthew genealogies as “father of”.
Paul, in his context, reveals a meaning that is linked to the covenant God made with King David in 2 Samuel 7:1-17.
It is not a reference to Jesus’ physical birth, but to his resurrection.

What the OT says about the Sonship of Jesus:
In 2 Samuel 7:14, we see the association of the Messiah with Sonship, and Sonship in the Davidic line.
In Psalm 2:7, written by David, we see again the association of Messiah and Sonship.
Paul, knowing the truth, rightly associates this Psalm with the Sonship of of Jesus Christ to God the Father.
In Psalm 89:27, we see the Sonship and Kingly associations in Messianic prophecy.

What the NT says about the Sonship of Jesus:
In Romans 1:4, Paul declares emphatically that Jesus was declared “The Son” by His resurrection from the dead.
In Hebrews 1:1-5, the also declares that Jesus is “The Son” and quotes Psalm 2:7 and 2 Samuel 7:14.
In Hebrews 5:5, Psalm 2:7 is quoted again as evidence of the sovereign appointment of the Son by the Father.

Summary of Point 3:
Paul is telling us that Jesus is the SON. He is the “forever” (eternal) SON of the eternal Father.
Jesus is begotten from the tomb – in other words, resurrected from the tomb by God the Father.
And because of this, we have confirmation that He is the King in the line of King David.
And that the Davidic Covenant is fulfilled in Jesus the Son of God.
And that Jesus has authority from God the Father.
“Today I have begotten You,” is resurrection day; it is the coronation day of King Jesus. It is the fulfillment of the OT prophecy of the “Messiah-King-Son” in the line of King David.

4) PAUL PREACHES THE WORD – THE CORRUPTION

Point 4 is drawn from Acts 13:34-37 where Paul refers to corruption 4 times in 4 verses.
Diaphthora – Translated as “corruption” or “decay” means destruction to the body through decay or decomposition after death.
In the OT, it refers to the “pit” meaning the grave or a “pit of corruption”.
In other words, the picture is of a grave filled with a dead, decaying body (a mass of organic, putrid liquid).

Some Basic Observations:
Paul, in Acts 13:30, says God raised Jesus from the dead.
Paul, in Acts 13:31, says we know this because of the witnesses.
POI – 1 Corinthians 15:16 we learn there were over 500 witnesses!
Paul, in Acts 13:33, says again that God fulfilled promise by raising Jesus.
Paul, in Acts 13:34, says again that God raised Jesus from the dead and now elaborates on the raising as “no more to return to corruption.”
Paul, in Acts 13:35, further expounds on this elaboration by quoting David from Psalm 16:10 where David says the Holy One will not see corruption.
Paul, in Acts 13:36-37, contrasts David fulfilling his purpose, dying and then seeing corruption, with Jesus, “whom God raised up did not see corruption.”
Paul also says again the God raised Jesus from the dead.
Paul mentions Jesus’ resurrection from the dead and his not seeing corruption 4 times in these 8 verses.
Paul’s repetition reveals how profoundly important this is to his theology.

“The Corruption” in the OT:
1 Kings 2:10 states the obvious concerning David, to which Paul alludes in Acts 13:34.
From Psalm 16:10, however, Paul tells us that the Holy One will not see corruption.
So if David died and saw corruption, Jesus, by His resurrection, is the one to whom the Psalm refers, not David.
And this again is a reminder that because of this, Jesus is the fulfillment of prophecy and he has “the holy and sure blessings of David”, as quoted from Isaiah by Paul.

“The Corruption” in the NT:
In John 11:39 we have a NT example of corruption.
In Acts 2:25-28 Peter’s sermon makes the exact same point as Paul and also quotes Psalm 16:10.
In Romans 6:10, Paul begins to make further implications from Jesus’ resurrection – death no longer has dominion!

Summary of Point 4:
Messianic Resurrection is in the OT!
We see further confirmation that the Messiah, logically, was ordained to die otherwise the notion of corruption makes no sense.
And so at the end of the day, with no resurrection there is no Son, no Davidic eternal kingdom, no fulfillment of prophecy, no Messiah.
This is why Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:14 that if there is no resurrection then our faith is in vain.

POI – In Acts 13:36 Paul tells us that David served the purpose of God.
This is an encouragement to us.
David, a murderer and adulterer, was able to serve God’s purpose!
What does this say about God?

Acts 13:38-41 – Forgiveness, Freedom & Unbelief

Acts 13:38-41 – Forgiveness, Freedom & Unbelief

Diving Deeper Lesson Outline for Acts 13:38-41
This is lesson 3 of 3 on Paul’s sermon in Acts 13.
Part 1 was the “Jesus Was” of Paul’s sermon.
Part 2 was the “Jesus Is”.
Part 3 is the “Jesus Can Be.”

Paul’s sermon in Acts 13 is remarkable in many ways.
Strikingly, it is a Gospel message rooted in the OT!
The Gospel does not start in Matthew it starts in Genesis.

In Part 3, Paul closes his sermon by stating that freedom and forgiveness are found in Jesus and not in the law.
He states in Acts 13:38-39 that “through this man” “everyone who believes” has forgiveness of sins and freedom.
He then gives a warning about unbelief.

1) PAUL PREACHES THE WORD – FORGIVENESS

Point 1 is drawn from Acts 13:38.

OT teaching on sin & forgiveness:
Range of Sin:
– In 1 Kings 8:46, Solomon tells us “there is no one who does not sin.”
Thoroughness of Sin:
– Job 25:4 asks how a man can be right before God and how can a man born of the flesh be pure (child of promise/flesh).
The heart is ground zero for Sin:
– In 1 Samuel 16:7, we see that “the Lord looks at the heart”.
– In Psalm 95:10 God frames the sin problem has a heart problem, “people who go astray in their heart.”
– Isaiah 44:20 speaks of a “deluded heart.”
– Jeremiah 7:24 speaks of “the stubbornness of their evil hearts.”
– Ezekiel 20:16 speaks of a disobedience that is rooted in a heart that strays.
The heart can be victorious over Sin:
– Proverbs 4:23 shows that from the heart flows “the springs of life.”
– Moses tells us in Deuteronomy 10:16 that the heart requires a circumcision.
God provides the victory over Sin:
– Psalm 79:9 cries out to God for atonement and salvation.
– And in Psalm 85:2 we see that God does forgive and cover sin.
– Isaiah 6:6-7 illustrates, again, that God forgives and atones.
– Isaiah 43:25 reveals that not only does God cover the sin but He does it for his sake!

So how did God provide atonement and salvation to OT Jews?
Symbolic Blood Sacrifice:
– Leviticus 1-6 details the five major offerings to be made for sin (sins committed unknowingly).
– They all* involve the shedding of blood, but see Hebrews 10:11 about ineffectiveness of this blood to atone for sin.
– And all are to be done at each instance of sin – it is never one and done!
Repentance & Obedience:
– Leviticus 5:5 addresses the confessing in relation to the sin offering.
– Ezek 33:14-15 says repent and will be forgiven.
– Isaiah 6:10 says “turn and be healed.”
– Jeremiah 18:8 tells Israel to “turn from its evil.”

POI* – In Leviticus 5, one’s economic position determined the animal to be sacrificed and for the poor, fine flour was acceptable.
In the words of John MacArthur, “This exception is clear proof that the old cleansing was symbolic. Just as the animal blood symbolized Christ’s true atoning blood, so the ephah of flour symbolized and represented the animal blood. This nonblood offering for sin was acceptable because the old sacrifice was entirely symbolic anyway.”

Summary of Point 1:
The OT teaches that sin prevents us from being right before God.
It teaches that no one born of the flesh can be acceptable to God.
It teaches that the problem of sin resides in the heart.
And naturally, therefore, the heart requires fixing or “circumcising”.
We see that Jews of the OT were aware of sin, the separation it caused and that a remedy was necessary.
We learn that Jews of the OT understood God to be the source of the solution, not man.
We discover that the covering or atonement for sin involved repentance, a symbolic blood sacrifice and obedience.
It is faith in God that is the foundation of all of the above – see Hebrews 11.
The Bottom Line – The OT theology of salvation is the NT theology of salvation.
It is no clearer than in Habakkuk 2:4, “the righteous shall live by faith”.

2) PAUL PREACHES THE WORD – FREEDOM

Point 2 is drawn from Acts 13:39.

What is the Law:
The Law (nomos) generally refers to the first five books of the Bible written by Moses (Torah or Pentateuch) – Matthew 11:13; Luke 24:44; John 1:45; Acts 28:23.
The most well known part of the Law is, of course, The 10 Commandments.

The Law and Freedom:
In Galatians 5:3-4, Paul says if you embrace freedom under the law, you are obligated to keep the whole law – to be perfect.
The problem with this is that Hebrews 7:19 says the law makes nothing perfect.
As a matter of fact, disobedience of the Law is death; Proverbs 19:16 (NASB) says, “He who keeps the commandment keeps his soul, but he who is careless of conduct will die.”
Galatians 3:10-12 echoes this in that it says that no one is justified before God by the law.
And without justification, you face God’s judgment and wrath.
This is what Paul means when he says “from which you could not be freed from the Law of Moses”.
Paul is telling us that using the Law/works as a means of salvation brings death not freedom.

POI – For Christians who fall into a “works” view, there’s a tendency to pass judgment as detailed by Jesus in Matt 7:1-6.
There is a temptation to pharisaically believe we know the heart of another based on our own check list.
Please be aware, however, that there is a type of judgment we are called on to make such as in Matthew 18:15; 1 Corinthians 5:11; Hebrews 5:14; Romans 16:17-18; 2 John 10-11; etc.
The world would have us believe that even this type of judgment is hypocritical.

So of what use is the Law?
Proverbs 6:23 says it is a lamp and a light.
What are lamps and lights used for? The Law illuminates our sin and depraved state.
Galatians 3:24 says it is a tutor or schoolmaster.
What does a teacher do? The Law teaches us about our sin and subsequent need for a Savior.
And, interestingly, once saved, Paul tells us in Romans 7:6 that believers are released from the law.
And that now, in Romans 7:14, the Law is Spiritual.
It is written on our hearts – This is fulfillment of Jeremiah 31:31 prophecy!
For this reason, Paul says in 1 Timothy 1:8-11, that the Law was made for the unrighteous.

Summary of Point 2:
The law is not a ladder to climb to salvation; it is a mirror to show us our depravity.
The law is a gift of mercy and grace from God that we may see us how he sees us…lost sinners.
Paul’s point is that there never was, nor is, nor ever will be freedom under the law.
To be under the Law is to live under the curse of the flesh.
To be under Faith in Jesus is to be born again and live in the Spirit.
Paul is preaching that Jesus death, burial and resurrection atone for sin; nothing else does.
He is preaching that relying on the Law/works is killing you and Jesus Christ will save you – that is FREEDOM.

POI – Philippians 3:8-9 explains righteousness comes through faith in JC not the law.
POI – Read Romans 7 for an awesome treatise on the Law.

3) PAUL PREACHES THE WORD – UNBELIEF

Point 3 is drawn from Acts 13:40-41.

In these verses, Paul is alluding to Habakkuk 1:5.
“The Israelite unbelievers would not credit the prophecy as to the fearfulness of the destruction to be wrought by the Chaldeans, nor afterwards the deliverance promised from that nation. So analogously, in Paul’s day, the Jews would not credit the judgment coming on them by the Romans, nor the salvation proclaimed through Jesus. Thus the same Scripture applied to both.” – Jamieson R. Fausset
Paul is saying that the rejection of Christ that sent Him to the cross, if personal, will also lead to their damnation!
He is pleading that they don’t let that happen.

POI – The question arises from Acts 13:39, everyone who believes what?
It is clear that everything that Paul was just preaching in Acts 13 is the “what”.
Jesus is so much more than we often give him credit for being.
Typically, we limit him to being baby Jesus or our crucified & risen Savior.
Jesus is so much more.
Paul tells us that Jesus is also the promised offspring, the begotten one, the rejected one, the uncorrupted one, freedom from the law, etc.
Do you know this Jesus?
Can you believe on Jesus for salvation and reject him as “the promised offspring” or “the rejected one”, etc. and still be saved?

Acts 14:1-7 – Witness to the Word

Acts 14:1-7 – Bore Witness to the Word
Diving Deeper Lesson Outline for Acts 14:1-7
The title comes from Acts 14:3 and is an exploration of how God bears witness to His Word

1) “THE WORD OF HIS GRACE”…THE GOSPEL
In Acts 20:32 the phrase “word of His grace” is also used.
There, Paul says that it can build up and give inheritance.
Here, in Acts 14:3, the “word of His grace” is witnessed to by the signs and wonders.
We must never loose sight of the fact that the Gospel is the main thing, not the signs and wonders.
For example, Paul’s OT Gospel Sermon in Acts 13 emphasizes Jesus not signs and wonders.

2) THE POWER OF “THE WORD OF HIS GRACE”…THE GOSPEL
As a result of preaching the Gospel a number of curious things occur.

Paul
Speaking Boldly
Learned of it & Fled
Continued To Preach
People
Stirred Up
Poisoned
A Great Number Believed
God
Bore Witness To

It is Important to realize that these things occur because of the power of the Gospel.
In fact, when the Gospel is presented biblically you should expect much of the same response.
But the “poison” responses should not occur because of a smug or self-righteous attitude.
It is neither our Gospel nor our Salvation it is Jesus Christ’s!
Interestingly, it was from within the synagogue that the poisoning arises.
Acts 20:29-30 Paul warns that “from your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things.”
Does the poison today come from within the Church?
How have you ever been poison?

3) HOW DOES GOD BEAR WITNESS TO THE WORD OF HIS GRACE
Martureo – to commend, attest, confirm, testify or bear record of something – in this case the Word of Grace.

Examples of similar witnessing through signs & wonders:
Mark 16:20 God confirmed the truthfulness of the Gospel message by accompanying signs.
Acts 2:22 tells us that Jesus Christ himself was attested to by His works, wonders and signs.

How God testified to the Gospel was done, generally, in 2 ways:
It can be subjective as in a person’s experience of a personal spiritual encounter.
Acts 1:24-26 Matthias is chosen by God by casting lots.
Acts 7:54-56 Stephen has a vision of Jesus before his death.
Acts 10:9-11, Peter has a vision
Acts 12:6-10, Peter is rescued by an Angel and even he thought at first it was a dream.
It can be objective as in demonstrating a physical cause and effect process that can be seen and verified by others.
Acts 5:12 tells us that signs and wonders were regularly done by the apostles.
Acts 3:11-12, Peter and John heal the cripple beggar.
Acts 8:4-8 is Philip heals many who were lame or paralyzed.
Acts 9:32-35, Peter heals Aeneas.
Acts 20:9-10 Paul brings a dead man to life.

Which of the 2 styles of witnessing, subjective/objective, is done in Acts 14:3?
Of the 2 styles, is one more convincing that the other?
How does God give witness to his word today?

Christopher Hitchens Challenge:
“Name me an ethical statement made or an action performed by a believer that could not have been made or performed by a non-believer.”
The signs and wonders of the Apostles, Stephen and Philip in Acts are examples of this but what about now?
What presupposition does this statement make concerning “statements or actions” as they relate to the truth of the Gospel?

We will cover much more on signs and wonders as a witness to the word next week.

Acts 14:8-18 – Mistaken Identity – The Objective is Subjective

Acts 14:8-18 – Mistaken Identity – The Objective is Subjective to the Heart
Diving Deeper Lesson Outline for Acts 14:8-18

The title comes from the previous lesson on the subjective/objective ways God gives “witness to the word”.
But, as it applies to Acts 14:8-18, where the signs & wonders are misinterpreted by the Lystran gentiles.
They witnessed a healing (objective) with their own eyes, but credited it (subjective interpretation) to Zeus and Hermes.

1) THE PURPOSE OF SIGNS AND WONDERS

In our text today, the S&W were misinterpreted by the Lystrans.
If they can be misinterpreted/misunderstood, this begs the question, “what is their purpose”?
Here is a Biblical perspective of the purpose behind signs and wonders.

To demonstrate God’s many roles in the historical redemption of the Hebrew people from Egypt:
It must be noted that S&W, in relation to the Egyptian redemption and Exodus, are highlighted in at least 9 books of the OT – Exodus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Nehemiah, Psalm, Isaiah, and Jeremiah.
This conveys the importance of these S&W in revealing & confirming the historical relationship between God & Israel.

Exodus 3:20 God says he will strike with wonders and Pharaoh will let you go – to motivate.
Deuteronomy 4:34 Moses declares that God’s S&W in the history of a nation are w/o precedent – to show uniqueness.
Deuteronomy 6:22 Moses reminds Hebrews that S&W were before their eyes – to witness to God.
Joshua 24:17 it was the Lord our God in our sight who preserved us – again, a witness to God in Israel’s history.
Jeremiah 32:20-21 we learn that God used S&W as a strong hand and with great terror – to make a name for Himself.
Psalm 135:9 illustrates Egypt’s first hand knowledge of the S&W of God as “foreign” – to show authority and power.

POI – God’s S&W in Egypt and the entire Exodus story are foundational to the authenticity of our faith.
That God was physically involved in the history of Israel is evident by its birth and development.
Israel’s history is real and its birth and development must be accounted for.
The Lord God is the best explanation.
As Deut 4:34 says, a nation was called out of a nation and was done so by God.
This verse is remarkable to me; repeatedly, God promised Abraham a nation, people and land.
In the first chapter of Exodus, we see the Hebrew people growing greatly in number.
And then, as this verse states, God calls them out as a nation (via S&W) and brings them to the promise land.
This is fufillment of the Abrahamic Covenant and, in my mind, verfiable evidence of God at work in the history of Israel!

To bear witness to Gospel:
Acts 14:3 from last weeks lesson.
Hebrews 2:3-4 tells us that “a great salvation” was witness to by S&W.

POI – Hebrews 2:3-4 also distinguishes between S&W and gifts of the Holy Spirit

To authenticate a true apostle:
Acts 15:12 shows the Gospel to the Gentiles was God’s will because, through S&W, Paul’s ministry to them was validated.
2 Corinthians 12:11-12 Paul is forced to argue his apostleship is real and S&W are one reason why.

To authenticate Jesus:
John 10:37-38 Jesus says the S&W are legit and show that He is legit (He and the Father are one).
Acts 2:22 Jesus is “a man attested to you” by S&W.

To fuel the preaching of the Gospel:
Romans 15:18-19 “by power of S&W” fulfilled ministry of Gospel to Gentiles.

To lead astray:
Jesus gives us a warning about prophets of the last days.
Matthew 24:21-25 Jesus warns us that S&W will used to lead astray.

2) THE LIMITS OF SIGNS AND WONDERS – US NOT GOD

This weeks text, among other things, illustrates why S&W have limitations.
It shows us that if the heart of the observer is lost or in rebellion, he will misinterpret or disregard the S&W.

Other Biblical examples of S&W limitations:
Psalm 78:32 In spite of all this, they still sinned; despite his wonders, they did not believe
Nehemiah 9:17 about stiffened neck in spite of wonders.
Judges 6:13 Gideon suggests God has fallen down on the job since Egypt because of subjugation to Midian – to despair.
Acts 14:8-18 this weeks text.

POI – These responses reveal exactly why we interpret experience based on Scripture and not the other way around!

3) A PROPER REPONSE TO SIGNS AND WONDERS

There seems to a pattern of 2 proper responses in the Scriptures we have explored:
First, if you are saved – GIVE THE GOD OF THE BIBLE CREDIT.
The “The Miracle on the Hudson” is a perfect example.
When someone says about this that “god” or “someone” was looking out for that plane, what would Paul say?
Acts 14:15-17 gives us an idea of exactly what he would say and therefore of what we should say.

Second, if you are not saved and God is calling you and you recognize Him in the S&W – SURRENDER TO HIM.

POI – Concerning Christopher Hitchen’s challenge discussed last week:
The S&W of God himself, Jesus & the apostles have limitations due to the heart of the observer.
It follows that “statements or actions” (including S&W if they are still present) of men today have similar limitations.
So for Hitchens to look to “statements or actions” to reveal a difference between a believer and an atheist, assumes that he has the heart to recognize the difference to begin with.
This weeks text demonstrates that an inability to recognize God in the S&W is an indictment of the observer not of God.
Of course, Hitchens would say that the fact we believe that a God performed S&W through himself, Jesus and the apostles, demonstrates that we have the inability to see the truth and it indicts us.
But it is not a moot point to concede that our position is based on Scripture that is, in some cases, almost 3000 years old.
And that there exist manuscripts of some of that Scripture that are as much as 2200 years old.
And that our position is rooted in the real history of the nation of Israel.

Acts 14:19-28 – Geography of the Gospel

Acts 14:19-28 – Geography of the Gospel – A Rocky Road
Diving Deeper Lesson Outline for Acts 14:19-28

The title is drawn from, not only the lengths that Paul went to for sake of the Gospel (9 cities cited in the 10 verses of our text), but also the suffering he endured on the Gospel’s account.
We learned from our lesson in Acts 14:1-7 that God bears witness to the Gospel by signs and wonders.
I think it can be said that Paul bore witness to the truth of a risen Christ by the lengths he went to and trials he endured.

1) THE GEOGRAPHY OF THE GOSPEL – THE CITIES

Acts 1:8, Jesus says, “…Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
In our text, Paul has demonstrated his obedience to Jesus & taken quite a bite out of his known “end of the earth.”

Paul’s end of the earth from todays text (there are more than this):
Lystra, Derbe, Iconium, Antioch (of Galatia), Pisidia, Pamphylia, Perga, Attalia & Antioch (of Syria).
Reference ESV Study Bible Map of Paul’s first journey.
Paul’s 1st journey is estimated to have been just under 2 years – 46 to 47 AD.
On his journey, he traveled approximately 1400 miles.

2) THE GEOGRAPHY OF THE GOSPEL – THE PEOPLE

In our text, we encounter essentially 3 types of people associated with the Gospel aside from the apostles themselves.
The first are the opposition as represented by the Jews.
The second are the disciples; they are those that have responded to the Gospel and have believed.
The third are the disciples appointed to be elders by Paul and Barnabas.
We will focus on the elders.

Acts 14:23 matter of factly tells us that Paul & Barnabas appointed elders in every church they started on their 1st trip.
The greek word for elders is presbuteros and is sometimes translated overseer, bishop or presbyter.
Keep in mind that in our text and others, elders is always plural, as in more than one elder at each new church.

Additional evidence of elders as a Biblical norm:
Acts 15:22, “Then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole church to choose men and to send them to Antioch.” – church in Jerusalem
Acts 20:17, “And from Miletus [Paul] sent to Ephesus and called to him the elders of the church.” – Church in Ephesus
Titus 1:5, “This is why I [Paul] left you in Crete, that you might amend what was defective, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you.” – Towns of Crete
“To the twelve tribes of the dispersion”: James 5:14, “Is any among you sick? Let him call the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.” – assumes elders were in these churches.
1 Peter 5:1, “So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ as well as a partaker in the glory that is to be revealed.” – the churches in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia

From the Acts 14:23 appointments, we can infer a number of things:
The most obvious is that the Gospel was preached and embraced.
It is also clear that the disciples in the new churches needed teachers/leaders.
And to be elder worthy, some disciples must have been voracious in their appetites to learn the Gospel and teach it.

What did these elders do:
Titus 1:9 says that the elder “must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it.”
Or in the words of John Piper, “The elders are the trustees of the truth in the life of the church.”
1 Peter 5:1-2 says to shepherd the flock and exercise oversight.
Elders must know the word of God and be bold in its teaching and purity.
Elders would understand the subtle danger of mixing Scripture with hints of worldliness.

In our church, do our deacons or pastor fill the elder role?
Would a different structure work better – deacons, pastor and elders?
Any pastor, in general, may not be aware of the Scriptural inconsistencies at work in various arms of the church.
Deacons may not be well versed in Scripture or equipped to teach it.
When Paul & Barnabas appointed elders, how did they know who was qualified?

POI – Concerning “The People” part of this lesson, curiously, Timothy was from Lystra.
Acts 16:1-2 tells us Timothy was a believer from Lystra with a good reputation.
Some Sanctified Speculation:
Timothy obviously heard the Gospel, and it may very well be that he heard it from Paul.
He may have known the cripple that Paul healed and seen the healing with his own eyes.
Paul saw Stephen stoned and was impacted by it, perhaps Timothy saw Paul stoned and was equally impacted by it.

3) THE GEOGRAPHY OF THE GOSPEL – THE STONES OF SUFFERING

Paul’s stoning and suffering during his Gospel journey:
Acts 14:22, Paul tells us that “through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.”
I think Paul was well aware that suffering would be part of the Gospel message.
After all, Jesus said in John 15:20 that those who persecuted Him would surely persecute his followers.
And in Acts 9:14-16, Jesus told Ananias that he would show Paul how much he must suffer.
And Paul did witness Stephen’s stoning before he was saved on the road to Damascus.
But I would speculate that nothing made this truth more plain and real than his stoning in our text.
And by the time he wrote 2 Corinthians 11:23-28, he obviously experienced much, much more suffering.

Paul links suffering and authentic belief together:
Paul’s statement in Acts 14:22 begs the question, does salvation exist without suffering on account of the Gospel?
Romans 8:16-18, Paul explains that we are glorified with Christ “because” or “inasmuch” “we suffer with Him.”
We are identified (heirs) with Christ through His righteousness by the seal of the Holy Spirit on our hearts and through His sufferings by the suffering we experience on His account.
Philippians 1:29-30, Paul tells the Church at Philippi during his “to live is Christ” message that it has been granted to them for the sake of Christ not only to believe in Him but also to “suffer for His sake.”
2 Timothy 1:8, tells us that we are not to be ashamed and we are to “share in the suffering for the Gospel.”
2 Timothy 3:12 after referencing his stoning at Lystra, Paul declares, “all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”

The suffering we should expect to experience if we are authentic:
Again, in 2 Corinthians 11:23-38, Paul gives us a thorough list.
PHYSICAL SUFFERING – forty lashes, beaten with rods, stoned
MENTAL SUFFERING – danger from false brothers (theologically/physically), daily pressure, anxiety
INCONVENIENCED SUFFERING – frequent journeys, sleepless nights (also mental), shipwrecked (also physical)
COMFORT SUFFERING – hunger and thirst, no food, cold and exposure, people, Gentiles, cities, wilderness
CIVIL SUFFERING – king was guarding city in order to seize Paul

Many of these were out of his hands and many he knew full well would happen, but in any case obedience and boldness for the Gospel prevailed on Paul’s Journey.
Paul was fully identified with Jesus Christ through suffering on account of the Gospel.

The question today is are you?
Is your relationship with Christ authenticated by suffering for His sake?
It seems to me that the relationship between faith and works that James deals with is very similar to faith and suffering on account of the Gospel.

I think it can also be said that when we identify with Christ through suffering, our faith will have substantially more power and presence in our life.

Acts 15:1-2 – The World Creeps In

Acts 15:1-2 – The World Creeps In
Diving Deeper Lesson Outline for Acts 15:1-2

The title is drawn from what Acts 15:1-2 can teach us about how to handle theological disagreements.
Specifically, our text addresses circumcision & theological disagreements over requirements for salvation.

1) THE DISAGREEMENT – JUDAIZERS

In Act 15:1, we meet the Judaizers for the first time.
We learn quickly their belief is salvation is impossible without circumcision (law).

Who were they:
In Acts 15:1 we are told they are men from Judea, meaning Jews.
In Acts 15:24 we learn neither their message nor journey was approved by the Jerusalem church.
Acts 15:1 also shows they believed salvation requires, essentially, a conversion to Judaism & observance of the Law.
Paul also speaks to their motives in Galatians 6:12-13 – to avoid persecution and to boast.
Are they believers? There is disagreement on this.
Those that identify them with the Pharisees in Acts 15:5 see them as saved but misguided, holdouts of the old covenant.
Those that don’t make this identification see them as false brothers/teachers so often described by Paul – Galatians 2:4.
This lesson will proceed holding the 2nd view – more on this reason under point 2 of next weeks lesson.

POI – The word “Judaizer” is not in the KJV Bible, and many say the word is first used sometime around the 1580’s.

What’s the deal with circumcision?:
On one level I can sympathize with the Judaizer’s error.
Genesis 17:10-14, God tells Abraham that any one not circumcised is cut off and broken God’s covenant.
Exodus 12:48-49 explains that there is to be one law for all people and circumcision is part of that law.
Paul, however, seems to directly contradict this in Romans 3:1 where he asks what value is circumcision.
Is Paul contradicting the word of God?
This, understandably, could be a problem for a Jew.
Romans 4:9-11 explains exactly what God was doing with Abraham – Paul is not contradicting the word of God.
Romans 2:28-29 brings us back to the heart of the matter – the heart!
Colossians 2:11-14 elaborates on this further – Christ is our circumcision.
And, as we learned in Paul’s Acts 13 sermon, the Gospel message of salvation by faith, not law or circumcision, is as OT as baseball is American.
Ultimately, there is nothing new here, God’s plan has never changed and He gave ample evidence of His plan in the OT (see lesson on Acts 13 and Jeremiah 31).
Galatians 5:1-6 – Paul’s plea for the truth – I can imagine this was fairly close to the argument he made in Acts 15:1-21.

The extent of the problem:
The church at Galatia:
Galatians 1:6-10 – Paul says the church is turning to a “different” or “distorted” Gospel.
The church at Corinth:
2 Corinthians 11:1-6 – Paul speaks on the infiltration of “another Gospel” and “another Jesus”.
2 Corinthians 11:12-15 – Paul describes the “false apostles”.
The church at Colossae:
Colossians 2:16-23 – “human precepts & teachings” disqualify you they don’t qualify you.

Clearly, this is a theological problem that needs to be solved.
We will examine this next week.

POI – The false teachers in these churches, most agree, were mainly Judaizers.
But, many argue the teachings of Gnostics and Antinomians were also in view.
No matter what you call them, I believe that all were what I would call WORLDLAIZERS.
Worldlaizers – Jesus plus whatever = salvation. Or “what I/culture say” plus “what the Bible means today” = salvation.
Worldlaizers in America – discuss the relevance of Albert Mohler’s Article, http://www.albertmohler.com/blog_read.php?id=3106, to this lesson.

POI – All of this raises an important question.
Can you believe that salvation is faith plus works (or faith plus anything else) and still be saved?
Does the Gospel message that the apostles died preaching and that Jesus died fulfilling teach faith plus works?
Is Jesus clear on His view of salvation? John 14:6
If you believe that Jesus said “except through me plus works”, do you actually believe in the Jesus of the Bible?

POI – Paul spent almost 2 years preaching the Gospel on his first missionary journey.
Before that, he spent 3 years in the desert, presumably obtaining plenary knowledge of the Gospel from Jesus.
His knowledge of the requirements for salvation needed neither validation nor confirmation.
Why, in Acts 15:2, would Paul go to Jerusalem to ask “the apostles and the elders about this question”?
In my opinion, the Judaizers must have claimed to be preaching on authority of the Jerusalem church.
Paul’s mission was, I believe, to determine if Jerusalem was behind this heresy and correct it if culpable.
Acts 15:24 is the answer to Paul’s concern.

Acts 15:3-21 – Look to Scripture

Acts 15:3-21 – Look to Scripture
Diving Deeper Lesson Outline for Acts 15:3-21

The title is drawn from how the apostles and church at Jerusalem refuted the claims of the Judaizers.
The title also describes the way we will understand the compromise made with the Pharisee believers.

1) THE DISAGREEMENT SETTLED – PETER, PAUL, & JAMES

It is important for us to examine how the Judaizers’ claim is refuted.

Peter Speaks:
Acts 21:7-11, Peter refers to his role in bringing the Gospel to the Gentiles.
Acts 10:44-48 is his point of reference.
His point is if God “bore witness” to them through the Holy Spirit, we can’t disqualify them based on our standards.
It is grace through faith that saves us and the Gentiles, not bearing the burden of the yoke of the law.
So God authenticated the Gentile believers through the Holy Spirit.

Paul & Barnabas Speak:
Acts 15:4 & 15:12, Paul & Barnabas share what “signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles.”
Their point was to demonstrate how God manifested his grace through signs & wonders for the sake of the Gentiles.
God did more than just bear witness to the Gentiles through the Holy Spirit.
He was working signs & wonders through Paul & Barnabas on behalf of the Gentiles (Judaizers had no S&W).
So God authenticated the Gentile believers through the Holy Spirit and through the signs & wonders of the Apostles.

James speaks:
Acts 15:13-21, James turns the whole discussion to Scripture.
He quotes Amos 9:11-12 to make his point.
According to those in the know, the verses refer to the future millennial kingdom.
The verses paint a picture of the remnant of Israel and the Gentile elect together in the new Jerusalem.
James’ point is apparently that in this Scripture we have confirmation that believing Gentiles are part of God’s plan now because they certainly will be in the future.
So God authenticated the Gentile believers through the Holy Spirit, through the signs & wonders of the Apostles and through Scripture.

The matter is settled:
In Acts 15:19 James, based on all that we have just considered, proclaims “my judgment is that we should not trouble those of the Gentiles who turn to God…”
So the Judaizers claim is soundly defeated; salvation is by grace through faith!
I think we need to see this as a remarkable instance of submitting to the authority of Scripture.
Despite the experience believing Jews have in being Jewish, they let Scripture have the final say on what salvation is.
And it rightly demonstrates that Scripture should have the last word, not experience.

Or, is it:
In Acts 15:20-21, James goes on to say the Gentiles should abstain from a number of unclean behaviors.
What is this all about?
To consider this we will come back to the verse we dealt with last week, Acts 15:5.

POI – It is important to note that the disagreement is settled based not just on Peter’s experience.
It is settled based not just on Paul and Barnabas’ experience.
But, it is ultimately settled based on the authority of Scripture – Scripture had the last word!
It amazes me that the testimonies of Peter, Paul and Barnabas weren’t the final authority.
Their experiences were subjected to the Scripture test.
And not only did Scripture refute the Judaizers’ claims about salvation, but it also validated the ministries of Peter & Paul because their testimony lined up with Scripture.

2) THE DISAGREEMENT LEADS TO A CONCERN – PHARISEE BELIEVERS

The Pharisee believers saw this meeting as an opportunity to address a concern.

What was their concern:
In Acts 15:5, believing Pharisees stated it was necessary to circumcise the Gentiles and have them keep the Law.
Since they were described as believers, we can assume they understood “saved by grace through faith.”
Their concern, then, was over the relationship between unclean Gentiles and ceremonially clean Jewish Christians.
This is what James was addressing and conceding to in Acts 15:19-21.
BTW – If a concession had been made by James to the heresy in Acts 15:1, Paul would have freaked out.
The only logical conclusion is James made a concession to their concern over believing Jewish/Gentile relations.
To sum up, the Judaizers in Acts 15:1 believe you have to become a Jew to be saved.
The Pharisee believers knew salvation was by faith, but “believers were still obligated to keep the law.” – J. MacArthur.

Was their concern reasonable:
First, in Acts 21:17-26, we are told Paul teaches the ceremonial law of Moses is over.
Hebrews 8:13 says the new covenant makes the old one obsolete.
But, James says Jewish Christians (& Jews too), like our Pharisees in Acts 15:5, have a problem with this.
At James’ request, Paul agrees to purify himself before entering the temple to “live in observance of the law.”
The church at Jerusalem must have felt evangelizing unbelieving Jews would be hindered by “unclean” believers.
1 Corinthians 9:19-23, we get a glimpse of why Paul agreed to James’s request – for sake of the Gospel.
So, if the Gospel is furthered and not trampled, Paul appears to say the concern is not ideal but neither is it unreasonable.

Second, in Romans 14:13-19, Paul teaches on being a stumbling block.
He states that in Jesus nothing is unclean in itself unless you think it unclean for you.
1 Corinthians 8:7-10, Paul shows how those weak in the faith can easily stumble.
So, as frustrated as Paul was with the churches view on Mosaic ceremonial law, he compromised.
He says in Romans 14:20, “Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God.”
So, if conceding to the concerns of others builds up and doesn’t destroy the work of God (Gospel), it’s not a ditch worth dying in.

The compromise made:
“The danger was that the Gentiles, reveling in their freedom in Christ, would pressure the Jewish believers to exercise that same liberty and violate their consciences.” – John MacArthur
So to combat this, James asked the Gentiles to abstain from a variety of unclean things.
In verse Acts 15:21, James gives the “this is how it has always been” argument as a legitimate reason to be sensitive to the issue.
The Jerusalem church then writes a letter to the church in Antioch outlining all that had been decided.
This letter, in Acts 15:19-29, covers all that we have discussed thus far.

POI – It’s interesting to note though Paul compromised with James, he apparently did not while on his own.
Again, reference Acts 21:17-26 and Acts 24:5 where Paul is described as a plague who tried to defile the temple.
There was clearly some aggravation between Paul and the church at Jerusalem.
In Acts 21:17-26, we see Paul had more patience for the truth than for compromise – I love it!

God is Good!

I have no lesson to post today.  My wife and I, and 2 great friends, went away to our favorite B&B. In addition to a wonderful Valentines weekend, the Lord uexpectedly saw to it that the four of us would meet and befriend a wonderful Christian couple from Annapolis.  God is good!

Acts 15:22-35 – Unity and Encouragement

Thanks to Micah for teaching this weeks lesson on how the church at Antioch was blessed and encouraged by the unity displayed and letter written by the church at Jerusalem.

Acts 15:36-41 – Where Has All the Unity Gone?

Acts 15:36-41 – Where Has All the Unity Gone?
Diving Deeper Lesson Outline for Acts 15:36-41

The title is drawn from how Paul & Barnabas were unable to find common ground about John Mark.
Ironic, since prior to this they took part in the Jerusalem Council which unified the church.

1) THE DISAGREEMENT

John Mark – His Actions the Source of the Disagreement:
Acts 12:25, Paul & Barnabas brought John Mark to Antioch after their charity run to Jerusalem.
Acts 13:4-5, at the beginning of their 1st journey, they brought John Mark along with them again.
Acts 13:13, however, tells us that after arriving at Pamphylia John Mark bailed on them and went back to Jerusalem.
A “Service Apostate” is how MacArthur characterizes John Mark.
Many speculate that the thought of traveling through the dangerous Tarsus Mountains scared him off.

How the Disagreement Unfolded:
Acts 15:36, Paul was compelled to return, visit and see “the brothers” where they proclaimed the word.
Acts 14:21, this would actually be the 3rd time Paul followed up on many of these new converts.
Paul’s example demonstrates that evangelizing as well as discipling are foundational to church growth and health.
Acts 15:37, Barnabas wanted to take John Mark, but Paul thought best not to take one who had withdrawn and had not gone to do the work of God
Acts 15:39, there arose a sharp disagreement which led to their separation.
Acts 15:39 ASV says arose a sharp contention and they parted asunder.
The Greek word for disagreement or contention means to stir up, provoke or incite.
This Greek word for separation or parted asunder appears only one other time in NT, Revelation 6:14.
There it is used to describe the way the sky vanished like a scroll being rolled up on the day of wrath.
The point here is that this was more than just a cordial disagreement.

So what is God trying to teach us here?
What differences are there between the subject of this sharp contention and the Judaizer disagreement?
Doctrinal vs. Personal Opinion and its scope is Church Body vs. Personal
So, it is doctrinally insignificant and personal.
But, Paul & Barnabas were in complete agreement about the importance of returning, visiting and seeing those where they proclaimed the word – this will help us understand what is going on here.

POI – This event did not signal the permanent end of any friendships or shared ministries.
Philemon 24, Paul and John Mark still had a working relationship.
2 Timothy 4:11, Paul describes John Mark’s work as very useful.
1 Peter 5:13, shows that John Mark also worked with the apostle Peter.
John Mark is also believed to be the author of the Gospel of Mark by most scholars.
Many believe Peter was his main source for the Gospel of Mark.

2) BARNABAS BEING BARNABAS
In Acts 4:36, we learned that Barnabas was the “son of encouragement.”
In Acts 9:27, it was Barnabas who believed Paul and testified on his behalf before the Jerusalem Apostles.
In Acts 11:22-23, it was Barnabas who was sent to the Church at Antioch to teach, exhort and encourage.
In Acts 11:25, it was Barnabas who took the time and effort to track down Paul in Tarsus and bring him to Antioch.
Throughout Paul’s 1st missionary journey, it was Barnabas who encouraged him along the way.
It was Barnabas who joined Paul in refuting the Judaizers in Acts 15:2.
And, to top it off, in Colossians 4:10, we learn that John Mark is Barnabas’ cousin.
In light of all this, what would you expect Barnabas to do with John Mark?

3) PAUL BEING PAUL
Paul has more patience for truth than compromise – agreed to Council letter but taught differently in his theology.
Acts 16:3-5 & Acts 18:18, he agreed, as we discovered, because he believed in not being a stumbling block.
Romans 14:20, Paul would do nothing that would destroy the work of God or forsake the Gospel.
Acts 21:13, Paul, with his words, made clear he would die for Jesus and thus for the Gospel.
Paul, with his actions, demonstrated he would die for Jesus – stoning at Lystra, shipwreck, beatings, etc.
1 Corinthians 9:16, Paul, with his words, revealed he must preach and woe is me if I do not preach the Gospel.
Paul, with his actions, demonstrated obedience by always going Acts 15:41, 16:6, 16:11, 17:1, 18:1, 18:18, 18:21, 19:1, 20:2, 21:17, etc.
In light of all this, what would you expect Paul to do with John Mark?

Here’s the thing:
1 Corinthians 1:10, Paul says, “I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.”
Philippians 2:2 and Ephesians 4:3 also express this same sentiment.
Ephesians 5:25-27, Paul raises the issue of church purity.
With these, Paul advocated the doctrine of church unity and purity.
With his actions, as revealed in our text, did Paul contradict himself?
Or maybe it was Barnabas who fell short.
Was church unity or purity, as defined biblically, compromised by these great men of God?

We will examine these questions next week.

Answers in Genesis

This Sunday our church hosted a seminar featuring Answers in Genesis and so Sunday School did not meet. Our Sunday School will finish Acts 15 this coming Sunday. We will examine the doctrine of church unity as it relates to Acts 15.

Acts 15 Postlude – Doctrine of the Church

Acts 15 Postlude – Doctrine of the Church – What’s a church?
Diving Deeper Lesson Outline for Acts 15

The title is drawn from the subject matter of Acts 15.
This lesson material for points 1 & 2 is adapted mainly from Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology.
This is meant to be only an introduction to the topics covered.
The intent is to illuminate our previous 4 lessons on Acts 15 in light of the Doctrine of the Church.
This lesson will build a foundation that will assist us in our efforts to understand church unity and purity during next weeks lesson.

1) WHAT IS THE CHURCH

Ekklesia – the Greek word for church:
Its meaning is simply “an assembly of people called out for a specific purpose.”
The English word “church” appears in the New Testament 109 times in the ESV Bible.
Matthew 16:18 is the first time – And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
Revelation 22:16 is the last time – I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.

Church as local and universal:
Acts 8:1-3 should be familiar to us from our study on Acts.
In these verses, we see the church in Jerusalem as made up of specific individuals who met in houses – local.
Acts 9:31 goes even further and broadens the church to include Judea, Galilee and Samaria.
In this verse, we pull back and see the church as made up of many local churches – universal.

Church as visible and invisible:
“The invisible church is the church as God sees it.” – Wayne Grudem
2 Timothy 2:19 says the Lord knows those who are his.
In other words, there is no fooling God.
A person may physically attend a church and may have even joined, but if he is unsaved he is not a member.
The visible church is the church as Christians see it.” – Wayne Grudem
In other words, it is a body of professed believers that will, in reality, include some non-believers.
Why do we have candidates for church membership and not just make them members right away?
Do you think we are too easy or strict in making members?

The church is fundamental to God’s purposes for believers:
Ephesians 1:16-23 tells us that Christ was made head over all things for her sake.
When we are consumed with the local and visible aspects of church, we can lose sight of the fact that we, the church, are the body of Christ and are called to do more than we could ever do in our own power.
In verse 19, Paul says that immeasurable greatness of power, the same power that raised Christ, is directed to those who believe!
Ephesians 3:20-21 also speaks of this power, the power at work within us.
John 15:5 also tells us that apart from me you can do nothing.
God has great plans for His church, and they will be accomplished by resting in His power!

Jesus actively participates in church growth:
Matthew 16:18, He tells us that He will build his church.
How does Jesus build the church?
Acts 2:47, Luke points out the Lord added to the church.
Adding certainly builds a church, but how does he add?
1 John 5:1-2, John tells us that we become born of God and then believe that Jesus is the Christ.
So, he adds to it by calling born again believers of Christ into fellowship with one another, and as we will see, for a specific purpose.

Yes…the real church is made up of believers only:
Acts 2:41 tells us that those who were added had received his word and were baptized.
Acts 4:4 tells us again it was those who heard the word and believed.
Revelation 21:27, speaking of the New Jerusalem, reveals it is only for those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.
Would Christ, who builds our church, build it with those who are not born again (those that are dead)?

Marks of a church:
According to Grudem, the marks of a true church became most relevant because of the Reformation.
He says, “…the Roman Catholic position has been that the visible church that descended from Peter and the apostles is the true church.
Martin Luther and John Calvin obviously disagreed – as do we.
Luther, in his Augsburg Confession (1530), said this:
The church is “the congregation of saints in which the gospel is rightly taught and the Sacraments rightly administered.
Calvin said this:
Wherever we see the Word of God purely preached and heard, and the sacraments administered according to Christ’s institution, there, it is not to be doubted, a church of God exists.
So the marks of a true church are right preaching/teaching of God’s word and Gospel message (doctrine) and the proper administering of the sacraments or ordinances.
What are the sacraments or ordinances?
Are they rightly administered in our church?
What is God’s word?
Is it rightly preached and taught in our church?
What is the Gospel message (see Paul’s sermon in Acts 13)?
Is it rightly shared in our church?
How are we to know if all these things are done rightly?

2) THE PURPOSE OF THE CHURCH

Throughout the Bible the church is referred to in a variety of different ways.
These descriptions reveal, to a large extent, the relationship between it and Jesus, its members, Scripture and God’s will.
They also provide insight into what the church is called out for.
2 Corinthians 6:18 – FAMILY – I will be a father…you shall be sons and daughters.
2 Corinthians 11:2 – BRIDE OF CHRIST – I betrothed you…as a pure virgin to Christ.
John 15:5 – BRANCHES ON A VINE – I am the vine; you are the branches.
1 Corinthians 3:6-9 – GOD’S CROP – and only God who gives growth.
1 Peter 2:5 – LIVING STONES & SPIRITUAL HOUSE – to be a holy priesthood.
1 Peter 2:4-8 – BUILT ON CORNERSTONE – a cornerstone chosen and precious.
1 Timothy 3:15 – PILLAR AND BUTTRESS OF TRUTH – church of the living God.
1 Corinthians 12:27 – BODY OF CHRIST – you are the body of Christ.
These give insight into the purposes of the church by asking questions like:
What is the responsibility of sons and daughters to their father?
What is the bride to do up until the time the marriage takes place?

The 3 main purposes of the church:
Ministry to God – Worship
Colossians 3:16 – SINGING – singing psalms and hyms and spiritual songs.
Ephesians 1:12 – PRAISE – we who were the first hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.
Eph 5:16-19 – MAKING MELODY – singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart.

Worship of God is evidence of being filled with the Spirit – of being saved.
Do you worship God as you should?
Melody and harmony are only possible if the musicians and singers are using the same music.
The next purpose, Ministry to Believers, is crucial in insuring we are “using the same music.”
Ministry to Believers – Nurture and Discipleship
The very reason Paul wanted to go on his second journey in Acts 15 – discipleship.
Colossians 1:28 – TEACHING – everyone…that we may present everyone mature in Christ.
Ephesians 4:12 – EQUIPING SAINTS – equip the saints…for building up the body.
1 Cor 14:12 – BUILDING UP CHURCH – strive to excel in building up the church.
Are you equipped as well as you should be?
Or put another way, do you know the Bible as well as you should?
Can you help equip fellow believers without a thourough biblical understanding?

Ministry to the World – Evangelism & Mercy
Matthew 28:19 – GO & MAKE – disciples of all nations.
Luke 6:35-36 – LOVE – love your enemies and do good.
God drew you, a rebellious, evil, filthy and spiritually dead man walking, to him through his Son.
So, if a Holy & Righteous God can love and save a profane and evil man like you or me, the least we can do is love our fellow man as he commands.
It is important to note that young people are clearly drawn to churches that excel in this 3rd purpose.
And, sadly, many churches that excel here fall short in meeting the first 2 purposes.
Admittedly, this is my worst performer – what about you?

Acts 15 Postlude – Doctrine of the Church – Unity

Acts 15 Postlude – Doctrine of the Church – Unity

1) THE UNITY OF THE CHURCH

I want to preface this lesson on Unity with a couple of introductory comments:
First, I want to make a distinction between unity and Biblical Unity.
The Greek word for unity, henotes, means unanimity, state of oneness, agreement.
Or, put another way, it means the absence of disunity or disagreement.
We will find in this lesson that Biblical Unity is not just the absence of disagreement or factions, but more importantly, the presence of a number of very important things.
The presence of these “things” naturally gives rise to Biblical Unity.
Biblical Unity grows out of these “things” and is fed by them.
Biblical Unity is at one level, always present, yet on another level requires us to maintain it.
The maintaining of Biblical Unity can also cause division!

Secondly, in some of the verses we will discuss, Paul & Peter address the subject of unity even though there apparently are no glaring disagreements present.
This will serve to further illustrate that Biblical Unity is far more than just “everybody getting along”.
We will find it actually is has a connection to the immeasurable greatness of power that we discussed last week.

Maintain Unity with Knowledge:
Ephesians 4:1-5:
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
Ephesians 4:11-16:
11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
CONTEXT:
From 1 Timothy 1:3 and 1:20, we learn that Timothy pastured the church at Ephesus.
During that time he faced the problem of false doctrine being taught by at least two congregants.
DISAGREEMENT:
1 Timothy 1:4-7 tells us that the false doctrine being taught had to do with myths, endless genealogies, vain discussion and teaching without understanding.

In these verses, Paul speaks of unity in 2 specific things: Unity of the Spirit & Unity of the faith.
Unity of the Spirit is a “state of oneness” of the body believers rooted in our relationship with the Holy Spirit.
All believers are baptized by the Spirit and are sealed by the Spirit and so in that we share unity.
Unity of the faith is “agreement” that God exists, is creator and ruler of all things & is the provider and bestower of salvation through Jesus Christ.
Paul demonstrated why we have Unity of the Spirit and faith in that we have one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism and one God and Father.
Unity of the Spirit and Unity of the faith exist with believers even in the midst of our disagreements.
In my opinion, this unity, which God eternally upholds, is part of the immeasurable greatness of power that is directed towards the body of believers.
But, Paul calls on us to maintain this unity, an acknowledgment that we must work to manifest this unity in the life of the church.
In verses 11 & 12, we learn that we are to be obedient in using our gifts to equip the saints.
In verses 13 & 14, we see that we are to grow in knowledge and maturity so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.
Understanding that biblical unity is related to our spiritual maturity and knowledge of God, what is your responsibility as a member of the body?
What is the best way to know if you are being carried about by human cunning and schemes or that someone is teaching without understanding?
What hinders our growth in this area?
1) So, knowing the things of God – Jesus, Gospel, Scripture, Doctrine, etc. – is crucial to biblical unity.
2) And, using your gifts to equip the saints is also essential to biblical unity – there is no sitting on the sidelines.

Maintain Unity with phroneo:
Philippians 2:1-8:
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
CONTEXT:
The overall tone of Philippians is one of joy.
Paul’s relationship with God had obviously deepened during his imprisonment and I think he wanted the church at Ephesus to experience the same thing.
DISAGREEMENT:
Paul speaks of those who preach Christ with wrong motives.
It is not clear, however, that this was a real problem in the church at Philippi.

In these verses, Paul speaks of being of the same mind and of one mind.
The Greek word for mind in each instance is the same, phroneo.
The words meaning, in this context, relates to humility – this is hinted at in verse 3.
It is often defined as not letting one’s opinion of himself exceed the bounds of modesty.
In Romans 11:20, the word is translated as do not become proud when speaking to the grafted in gentiles.
In Philippians 4:10, the word is translated as concern when speaking of the church’s concern for Paul.
In Romans 15:5-6, the word is translated as to live in such harmony when referring to glorifying God with one voice.
In 1 Corinthians 13:11, it is translated as thought in the phrase thought like a child.
What is Paul’s point in this illustration about the habits of a child?
What does a child think of primarily?
In the course of a normal day, whose agenda are you looking out for primarily?
In our verses here, how is Christ our example for being of the same mind and having one mind?

How are we to be of the same phroneo and of one phroneo?
The word phroneo can also mean to direct ones mind to a thing.
In Colossians 3:1-3, when advising on how to put on the new self, Paul tells us to set our mind on things above.
In Mark 8:32-33, Jesus rebukes Peter, accuses him of not setting his mind on things of God but on things of man.
In Romans 8:5, Paul is showing us how to live life in the Spirit and cautions us not to set our minds on things of the flesh because that means we are living in the flesh.
In Romans 8:8, Paul goes on to tell us that there is no pleasing God when we live like this.
Not pleasing God is a complete failure in the first purpose of the church discussed last week – ministry to God.
And in Philippians 3:19, when speaking of the enemies of the cross of Christ, Paul says they have their minds set on earthly things.
This is exactly what Jesus was rebuking Peter about!
3) So, humility and maturity in our relationships with believers are crucial to maintaining biblical unity.
4) And, setting our minds on others and Christ not on ourselves and the world is essential to biblical unity.

Maintain Unity with Reason:
1 Corinthians 1:10-13 & 3:1-4:
I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. 11 For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. 12 What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.” 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?
3 But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. 2 I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, 3 for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way? 4 For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not being merely human?

CONTEXT:
It is from the letters that Paul wrote to Corinth that we are introduced to church discipline.
Sexual immorality was a serious problem at this church and is specifically addressed by Paul.
And among other problems, people in the church were in the habit of suing each other.
DISAGREEMENT:
Factions arose over who, apparently, had been baptized by whom.

Nous is the Greek word for mind in these verses.
It refers to a capacity to recognize goodness and hate evil and the power of considering and judging soberly, calmly and impartially.
Gnome is the Greek word for judgment.
It refers to the ability to have agreement based on knowledge.
What Paul is saying is that we need a Christ-centered Nous to have a God-honoring Gnome.
Paul scolds them for having a man-centered or personality-centered perspective (No Nous) and this led them to make judgments (Gnome) that were not God-honoring and not biblically uniting.

To get a better idea of the nous needed, we will take a look at 1 Corinthians 14:12-20:
12 So with yourselves, since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excel in building up the church.
13 Therefore, one who speaks in a tongue should pray for the power to interpret. 14 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays but my mind is unfruitful. 15 What am I to do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray with my mind also; I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind also. 16 Otherwise, if you give thanks with your spirit, how can anyone in the position of an outsider say “Amen” to your thanksgiving when he does not know what you are saying? 17 For you may be giving thanks well enough, but the other person is not being built up. 18 I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. 19 Nevertheless, in church I would rather speak five words with my mind in order to instruct others, than ten thousand words in a tongue.
20 Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature.

Paul is illustrating why it is a mature judgment to be careful and discerning in the use of speaking of tongues.
Notice in verses 15 and 19 he is talking about using his Nous to make sober judgments about the right thing to do.
To further illustrate his point, consider the contrasts he makes throughout these verses:
My tongue vs. my mind – vs 14
In a tongue vs. with my mind – vs 14
Pray with my spirit vs. pray with my mind – vs. 15
Sing with my spirit vs. sing with my mind also – vs. 15
You may be giving thanks vs. other person is not being built up – vs. 17
Ten thousand words in a tongue vs. five words with my mind – vs. 19
These are contrasts between impulse, emotional & spiritual influence and desire vs. a biblically informed, Christ-centered reason and judgment (a Nous informed Gnome).

See how this works:
We have desires and impulses, some of which may even be God given (tongues), and they lead us to certain actions.
But, by using a Christ-centered Nous we can make God-honoring Gnome that may lead us to refrain from that action or to a wiser course of action.
This principle applies to who baptized whom, to speaking in tongues, to smarter-than-thou Bible knowledge and just about anything else.
So in the pursuit of Biblical Unity, just because something is OK, doesn’t mean that it is always OK.
5) MUST BE SO MINGLED WITH CHRIST IN OUR MINDS THAT WE CAN MAKE GOD-HONORING, REASONABLE & OBJECTIVE JUDGMENTS ROOTED IN OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH CHRIST AND NOT ROOTED IN THE ISSUE WE ARE TANGLED UP IN! Again, remember Paul – don’t forsake the Gospel and don’t destroy work of God but build up!

Acts 15 Postlude – Doctrine of the Church – Purity

This Sunday we finished last weeks lesson.
We picked up with the Maintain Unity with Reason heading (see last weeks lesson).
We then had a brief intro to Church Purity.

1) THE PURITY OF THE CHURCH

A few comments before we begin:
The pursuit of unity brings balance to what can become a reckless pursuit of church purity.
However, some purity issues are worth fighting for – Acts 15 can give insight into what things.
And in fact, true Biblical Unity is impossible w/o some measure of biblical purity.
A church unified around some impurities is not a church living in Biblical Unity at all and may not even be a church.

What is purity:
Wayne Grudem, in his Systematic Theology, defines church purity as the degree of freedom a church has from “wrong doctrine and conduct, and its degree of conformity to God’s revealed will for the church.”
To know whether a church is pure requires knowledge of Scripture.
This is also, of course, one of the necessary ingredients to Biblical Unity.
The relationship between Bibilical Unity and Purity is inseparable.

God values church purity:
Ephesians 5:26-27 reveals that God’s specific will for the church is purity, “that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.”

Grudem’s Purity Scale:
False Church
NO PURITY

True Church
LESS PURE ———————————-MORE PURE

Do we truly comprehend how crucial, through the Biblical Unity principals, our role is in God’s vision for a Pure Church?
There is no coasting; as believers, we are responsible to take action.
To keep the church moving from Less Pure to More Pure, we must listen to Paul’s exhortations about Biblical Unity and put them into practice.

Grudem’s List of things in which a church can be more or less pure (the number represents purpose of church it is related to from 2 weeks ago):
Biblical Doctrine & Right Preaching of the Word – 2
Proper Use of Ordinances – 1
Right Use of Church Discipline – 1 & 2
Genuine Worship – 1
Effective Prayer – 2
Effective Witness – 3
Biblical Church Government – 2
Spiritual Power in Ministry – 1, 2 & 3
Personal Holiness of Members – 2
Care for Poor – 3
Love for Christ – 1, 2 & 3

Discuss how we are doing.

Acts 15 – Doctrine of the Church – Implications for Acts 15 & Us

This lesson takes what we have learned about the Purpose of the Church, Biblical Unity and Church Purity and uncovers the implications they have for Acts 15 and Us.

1) HOW ALL OF THIS RELATES TO ACTS 15

The 3 main threats to Biblical Unity and Purity in Acts 15 were:
The Judaizer Problem – The Pharisee Believer Concern – The Separation of Paul and Barnabas
To discover how all we have learned relates to Acts 15, the first question to ask is this:
1) Is the disagreement a fundamental, doctrinal one?
If we determine it is, then for the sake of true Biblical Unity and Church Purity, our only course of action is hold our ground and confront.

Judazier Problem:
Was the Judaizer Problem a fundamental doctrinal disagreement? Yes.
They were attempting to corrupt the very nature of Salvation.
What Biblical Unity/Church Purity principals were being compromised?
How did Paul and Barnabas respond to it?
They emphasized the differences between them and the Judaizers (they did not forsake purity for a worldly unity) and in so doing maintained both Biblical Unity and Church Purity.
What BU/CP principals were necessary for Paul to formulate his response?

Pharisee Believer Concern:
Was the Pharisee Believer Concern a fundamental doctrinal disagreement? No.
However, their concern did reveal a resistance to the truths of Scripture as fulfilled in Jesus (they were still on milk).
What BU/CP principals were they falling short in?
So, in this case, the next questions to be asked are:
2) Will opposition make the church more pure and/or Biblically Unified?
So, would opposing the Pharisee Believer Concern make the church more pure and/or Biblically Unified? Yes.
Obviously, if all those concerned would have submitted to the freedom available in Christ, the Church would have been all that more Pure and the agreement that this freedom is real would have made the church all that more Biblically Unified.
But, we know that Paul did not ultimately object to the compromise made to the concern of the Pharisee Believers.
So we must ask an additional question to choose the best course of action:
3) Will opposition forsake the Gospel or hurt the work of God?
So, would opposing the Pharisee Believer Concern forsake the Gospel or hurt the work of God? Yes.
Paul was faced with the dilemma of either forsaking a little Purity and Biblical Unity or the work of God and Gospel.
So what was Paul’s response to their concern (& James letter addressing their concern) and his dilemma?
Paul knew opposition would hinder his and his associate’s ability to share the Gospel with Jews.
So, in my opinion, Paul knew their thinking to be wrong, but did not fight it because the issue was not a fundamental one and fighting it would hurt the work of God and inhibit spreading the Gospel among the Jews.
What BU/CP principals was Paul exercising in coming to this decision?

Paul & Barnabas Separation:
Was the Separation of Paul and Barnabas a fundamental doctrinal disagreement? No.
Would Paul’s opposition to bringing John Mark make the church more pure or Biblically Unified? Maybe, but the question may not be applicable in this situation.
Would Paul’s opposition to Barnabas forsake the Gospel or hurt the work of God? Yes…Paul thought so.
Paul obviously felt, based on his experience, that John Mark might hinder the work of God and the Gospel.
John Mark had already proven himself unreliable.
Paul’s mind was set upon the Gospel and new churches and not on himself.
So what BU/CP principals was Paul was exercising?
Paul’s opposition to Barnabas, his good friend, no doubt caused some awkwardness.
He did not let that cloud his judgment; preventing him from doing what he though was right.
Paul, as a result of his decision, also had a successful 2nd missionary journey and began what would prove to be a strategic alliance with Silas.

What BU/CP principals was Barnabas exercising?
It could also be said that Barnabas’ mind was also apparently set on the same things as Paul’s, but he also set his mind on John Mark for better or for worse.
Barnabas stuck his neck out for Paul and was right on, and he obviously was ultimately right with John Mark.

Were any BU/CP principals ignored by either Paul or Barnabas?
No to 1; no to 2; and maybe 3 for Barnabas because he did not submit to the authority of Paul.
And maybe number 3 for Paul because he was so impatient with John Mark.
And maybe 5 for Paul, if he let his concern for the new churches override a responsibility to build up John Mark.
And maybe 5 for Barnabas, if he let his relationship with John Mark cloud his judgment.

So, ultimately, Paul and Barnabas’ disagreement may not really be a Biblical Unity or Church Purity concern.
However, the same BU/CP principals still apply because, we as individuals, determine with our own behavior the degree to which our church has Biblical Unity and Church Purity.
Paul and Barnabas were in complete agreement that another journey was needed.
The disagreement was on how to most effectively do the job – not really the worst kind of agreement to have.

2) HOW THIS ALL RELATES TO US

Example 1 from Newsweek Article on Biblically Supported Gay Marriage: http://www.newsweek.com/id/172653

Article subtitle reads, “Opponents of gay marriage often cite Scripture. But what the Bible teaches about love argues for the other side.”
“Biblical literalists will disagree, but the Bible is a living document, powerful for more than 2,000 years because its truths speak to us even as we change through history…A mature view of Scriptural authority requires us, as we have in the past, to move beyond literalism. The Bible was written for a world so unlike our own, it’s impossible to apply its rules, at face value, to ours.” – Lisa Miller

Visit http://www.albertmohler.com/blog_read.php?id=2881 for additional info.

Example 2 from The Virginia Pilot:
http://hamptonroads.com:80/2009/03/local-pastor-saves-souls-hiphop-soundtrack

Summary of Previous Lessons used to answer above questions:

PAUL’S MINISTRY MISSION STATEMENTS:
1 Corinthians 9:23 – “I do it all for the sake of the Gospel.”
Romans 14:20 – “Do not…destroy the work of God.”

5 WAYS TO BIBLICAL UNITY:
1) Knowing the things of God – Jesus, Gospel, Scripture, Doctrine, etc.
2) Using your gifts to equip the saints and build up the body – there is no sitting on the sidelines.
3) Considering others more important than you – Humility.
4) Setting your mind on others and Christ not on you, the flesh and the world.
5) Having a mind so mingled with Christ that we can make God-honoring, reasonable and objective judgments rooted in Christ and not be clouded by the issue or relationship we are tangled up in, thereby making poor judgments.

SOME ISSUES OF CHURCH PURITY:
1) Biblical Doctrine & Right Preaching of the Word
2) Proper Use of Ordinances
3) Right Use of Church Discipline
4) Genuine Worship
5) Effective Prayer
6) Effective Witness
7) Biblical Church Government
8) Spiritual Power in Ministry
9) Personal Holiness of Members
10) Care for Poor
11) Love for Christ

Acts 16:1-15 – How the Gospel works

Acts 16:1-15 – How the Gospel works

The title is drawn from an examination of the process of how Paul, who in our text Spoke the Gospel and Responded to the Holy Spirit’s leading, contributed to God Opening the heart of Lydia.

1) THROUGH THE ACTION AND RESPONSIVENESS OF A BELIEVER – OBEDIENCE

Paul, Silas & Timothy committed to ACTION in their “walk” with Christ:
As Christ had commanded, sharing the Gospel was of primary concern.
Their commitment to this command to share Gospel is reflected in their actions.
Circumcised him – verse 3
Went on their way – verse 4
Went through the region – verse 6
Had come up to Mysia – Verse 7
Attempted to go – Verse 7
Passing by Mysia – Verse 8
Went down to Troas – Verse 8
Immediately we sought to go – Verse 10
Setting Sail – Verse 11
From there to Philippi – Verse 12
Remained in the city – Verse 12
Went outside the gate – Verse 13
Sat down and spoke – Verse 13

Their commitment to action was guided by their RESPONSIVENESS to the Holy Spirit:
Acts 16:6-10
6 And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia.
7 And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them.
8 So, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas.
9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing there, • urging him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.”
10a And when Paul had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go…

Both our obedience in action and our responsiveness to the Holy Spirit are an indicator of the maturity of our faith.
The more we excel, personally, in all of the Biblical Unity principals the more action and responsiveness we have.

2) THROUGH THE SPOKEN WORD OF A BELIEVER – THE GOSPEL

We are called to speak the Gospel:
Acts 16:10
10 And when Paul had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.
The New Testament is clear that communicating the Gospel requires speaking it (Matt 28:19)…preaching it is speaking it!
This command is fulfilled by communicating the Gospel in words – this is not a command to lifestyle evangelism.
1st Peter 1:23,25 – since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God…this word is the good news that was preached to you.
Or as John Piper puts it, “the seed that God uses to create new life in spiritually dead, unbelieving hearts is the seed of the word of God.”

Some examples of this speaking:
Luke 9:6 And they departed and went through the villages, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere.
Acts 8:25 Now when they had testified and spoken the word of the Lord, they returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel to many villages of the Samaritans.
Acts 8:40 But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he passed through he preached the gospel to all the towns until he came to Caesarea.
Acts 14:21 When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch,
Rom 1:15 So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.
Rom 15:20 and thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else’s foundation,
1 Cor 9:16 For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!
2 Cor 2:12 When I came to Troas to preach the gospel of Christ, even though a door was opened for me in the Lord,
2 Cor 8:18 With him we are sending the brother who is famous among all the churches for his preaching of the gospel.
2 Cor 10:16 so that we may preach the gospel in lands beyond you, without boasting of work already done in another’s area of influence.
Gal 3:8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “ In you shall all the nations be blessed.” (Paul’s sermon in Ch. 13)

3) THROUGH THE SUPERNATURAL POWER OF GOD – BORN AGAIN

Acts 16:14
One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul.

All we must do is speak, but the sinner must hear with faith:
Galatians 3:2 – Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith
Romans 10:17 – Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ
We are told that Lydia heard the Gospel.
Why did she hear it when so many in Paul’s journeys had not “heard” it.

The hearing is in God’s hands:
Lydia’s ability to hear the Gospel was linked to God’s opening her heart, “…the Lord opened her heart to pay attention…”
God’s role in this process is made all the more evident in the following verse.
1 Corinthians 1:18 – For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing…
Why would anyone believe in something that is foolishness to them?
Clearly, God’s involvement in the opening of the heart has something to do with it.
God’s power seems to enable the deaf and folly minded to hear the truth.

An example of Christ’s power to give hearing to the deaf:
Mark 7:32-35
32 And they brought to him a man who was deaf and had a speech impediment, and they begged him to lay his hand on him.
33 And taking him aside from the crowd privately, he put his fingers into his ears, and after spitting touched his tongue.
34 And looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.”
35 And his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly.
This “opened” is the same “opening” that Lydia experienced.
Not only is it the same word, literally, but it is what she experienced spiritually.
She, like all of us, was deaf to the truth of the Gospel and could not speak the Gospel in truth.
Christ opened her heart so that she could hear the truth (and respond with belief) and speak the truth.

POI – This opening of our hearts/ears is what we also call being born again!
1 John 5:1 – Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God…
If your heart has been opened to believe or “hear” the Gospel, you have been born again or “born of God.”
And it began with a Paul in your life who OBEYED, RESPONDED TO GOD’S DIRECTION and SPOKE the Gospel to you.

John Piper describes the process as follows:
God causes the new birth through the seed of the word, the Gospel.
God brings about the new birth through your telling people the Gospel.
God regenerates people through the news about who Christ is and what he has done on the cross and in the resurrection.

POI – Luke 24:45 – Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures…
It is the power of God that even allows believers gain a deeper understanding of the Bible.

That the hearing is in God’s hand is great news for us:
It should take all the pressure off of us to “close the deal.”
1 Cor 1:17 – For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.
Paul tells us the power of the Gospel is not in our words but in Christ!

And so we have come full circle.
We are to Speak the Gospel because it and only it is the seed.
Our lifestyle will save no one; it is not the seed.
We have to speak the Gospel; we have to evangelize with God’s abiding word and good news.
And then pray that God would give hearing ears and open hearts to those with whom we have shared.

Acts 16:25-40 – Hardships – They are not about Us!

Acts 16:25-40 – Hardships – They are not about Us!
Diving Deeper Lesson Outline for Acts 16:25-40

The title is drawn from Paul and Silas’ response to the suffering and hardship of their circumstances.
The way they respond gives us insight into a “world”, or a way a Christian is to face hardship, that is otherwise very hard to understand.
And though this hardship is brought to bear on account of the Gospel, the principals apply to any hardship except that which is self-inflicted.

1) PAUL AND SILAS’ EXPERIENCE

What were the circumstances of Paul & Silas’ experience?
Verse 19 – seized and dragged to marketplace.
Verse 22 – their clothes were stripped off.
Verse 22 – they were attacked by the mob.
Verse 22 – they were beaten with rods.
Verse 23 – after many blows, they were thrown into prison.
Verse 24 – they were put in stocks that spread their legs to induce additional pain.

What would be an understandable response to these circumstances?
Speculate on how you might respond?

2) IN THE MIDST OF THIS, THEY WERE DOING WHAT?!

They were praying and singing hymns.
They were not escaping – they stayed in prison.
They spoke the word of the Lord to Jailer and Prisoners.

POI – One thing they didn’t do is ask, “Why me?”
To do so would have made it all about them.
Paul and Silas lived lives that were all about God.

3) WHAT WORLD WERE THEY LIVING IN?

Scriptural descriptions of this world:
2 Corinthians 1:8-9
8 For we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. 9 Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.

In Paul’s world, circumstances and suffering take there toll, but a full surrender to God is the purpose.
We are to be refined & defined by God and His truth not our circumstances.

2 Corinthians 12:8-10
9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

In Paul’s world, hardships are like empty vessels designed to be filled with Christ’s power.
And so, paradoxically, Paul can say “when I am weak, then I am strong.”
God is magnified in our weakness.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18
16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

In Paul’s world, the body and transient are nothing compared to the spiritual and its future glorification.

Romans 8:28-30
28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

In Paul’s world, we can be certain that all is for our good because we are in a relationship with a God who predestined us, justified us and glorified us.

Ephesians 5:18-20
18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,

In Paul’s world, the Holy Spirit is the source of the ability to endure circumstances like Paul and Silas did.

Are we really expected to respond like Paul & Silas – to live in their world?
Philippians 4:4-9
4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

1 Peter 5:10
10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.

Peter says “after you have suffered” not “if you suffer”.
We will face hardship and we should face hardship for the sake of the Gospel.
This lesson is showing us how we are to respond.

POI – In Paul’s world, actions can seem idiotic to the world.
Why did Paul and Silas not tell the magistrates the day before that they were Roman citizens? Because their aim was to advance the Gospel.
Sharing their Roman citizenship would have spared them all the pain and suffering.
In fact, by withholding this info, Paul most have known things weren’t going to be good.

Philippians 1:12-13 – Written from a Roman prison to the very church our verses describe.
12 I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, 13 so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ.

Philippians 2:17
17 Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all.
Paul’s aim was to glorify God, and as we already have seen, in weakness God is glorified.

One of the hardest things to come terms with as a Christian is that at the moment God opened your heart to hear and receive the Gospel message; the purpose of your life was transformed from being all about you to all about God.
The completely alien nature of this truth becomes the lens through which all our experience is to be filtered, never the other way around!

What is the purpose of your life all about – You, your wife, your kids, your job, your recreation?
What do you live and prepare for?
We are called to surrender all that to God and make Him the purpose of or lives.
We are not called to ignore or deny any suffering as Paul made clear in 2 Corinthians 1:8-9.
However, our new reality leads us to understand during hardship that we are to “rely on God” which glorifies Him and can even present us with jailers to whom we can speak the word!

Acts 17:1-15 – The Gospel – Warp It or Examine It

Acts 17:1-15 – The Gospel – Warp It or Examine It
Diving Deeper Lesson Outline for Acts 17:1-15

Paul preached the Gospel message to both the Thessalonians and the Bereans.
The title is drawn from a comparison of the responses of the Thessalonian Jews with that of the Berean Jews.

1) PAUL EXPLAINS (OPENS) THE MESSAGE

Explaining (open) in verse 3 is the same word that appears in:

Mark 7:34-35
And looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” And his ears were opened
Jesus healed the deaf man, gave him ears to hear and the words to speak.

Luke 24:32
They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures”
Jesus explained the Scriptures on the road to Emmaus.

Luke 24:45
Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures…
Jesus explained to the disciples how the Christ should suffer and then rise from the dead.

Acts 16:14b.
God opened Lydia’s heart to receive the Gospel.

We can look back to Acts 13 to get a very good idea of the message Paul OPENED.

Old Testament Gospel Message – Recap of Chapter 13 – Jesus Is:

THE REJECTION
In Isaiah 8:14 Jesus is a “rock of stumbling”.
In Isaiah 53:3 we see the Messiah as the rejected man of sorrows.
In Romans 11:7-8 Paul quotes Isaiah 29:10 in relation to Israel’s rejection of Jesus.
In Zechariah 12:1-14 we learn that the people of Jerusalem will mourn over the Messiah they pierced.
And by inference, a pierced Messiah is a rejected Messiah

THE PROMISED OFFSPRING
In Genesis 12:7 we find the promise; “To your offspring I will give this land.”
In Genesis 22:16-18 we get an elaboration of the promise in relation to obedience to God’s voice.
(As opposed to a position of offspring based on birth, as we will see.)
In Genesis 28:14-15 we get even more on the promise.

THE BEGOTTEN
It is not a reference to Jesus’ physical birth, but to his resurrection.
In 2 Samuel 7:14, we see the association of the Messiah with Sonship, and Sonship in the Davidic line.
In Psalm 2:7, written by David, we see again the association of Messiah and Sonship.
Paul, knowing the truth, rightly associates this Psalm with the Sonship of of Jesus Christ to God the Father.
In Psalm 89:27, we see the Sonship and Kingly associations in Messianic prophecy.

THE UNCORRUPTED
Diaphthora – Translated as “corruption” or “decay” means destruction to the body through decay or decomposition after death. In the OT, it refers to the “pit” meaning the grave or a “pit of corruption” meaning a grave filled with a decaying body (a mass of organic, putrid liquid).
Paul, in Acts 13:36-37, contrasts David fulfilling his purpose, dying and then seeing corruption, with Jesus, “whom God raised up did not see corruption.”
Paul also says again the God raised Jesus from the dead.
Paul mentions Jesus’ resurrection from the dead and his not seeing corruption 4 times each these 8 verses.
1 Kings 2:10 states the obvious concerning David, to which Paul alludes in Acts 13:34.
From Psalm 16:10, however, Paul tells us that the Holy One will not see corruption.
So if David died and saw corruption, Jesus, by His resurrection, is the one to whom the Psalm refers not David.
And this again is a reminder that because of this, Jesus is the fulfillment of prophecy and he has “the holy and sure blessings of David”, as quoted from Isaiah by Paul.

FORGIVENESS
Range of Sin:
– In 1 Kings 8:46, Solomon tells us “there is no one who does not sin.”
Thoroughness of Sin:
– Job 25:4 asks how a man can be right before God and how can a man born of the flesh be pure (child of promise/flesh).
The heart is ground zero for Sin:
– In 1 Samuel 16:7, we see that “the Lord looks at the heart”.
– In Psalm 95:10 God frames the sin problem has a heart problem, “people who go astray in their heart.”
– Isaiah 44:20 speaks of a “deluded heart.”
– Jeremiah 7:24 speaks of “the stubbornness of their evil hearts.”
– Ezekiel 20:16 speaks of a disobedience that is rooted in a heart that strays.
The heart can be victorious over Sin:
– Proverbs 4:23 shows that from the heart flows “the springs of life.”
– Moses tells us in Deuteronomy 10:16 that the heart requires a circumcision.
God provides the victory over Sin:
– Psalm 79:9 cries out to God for atonement and salvation.
– And in Psalm 85:2 we see that God does forgive and cover sin.
– Isaiah 6:6-7 illustrates, again, that God forgives and atones.
– Isaiah 43:25 reveals that not only does God cover the sin but He does it for his sake!

FREEDOM
What is the Law:
The Law (nomos) generally refers to the first five books of the Bible written by Moses (Torah or Pentateuch) – Matthew 11:13; Luke 24:44; John 1:45; Acts 28:23.
The most well known part of the Law is, of course, The 10 Commandments.

The Law and Freedom:
In Galatians 5:3-4, Paul says if you embrace freedom under the law, you are obligated to keep the whole law – to be perfect.
The problem is, however, that Hebrews 7:19 reveals the sad truth that the law makes nothing perfect.
As a matter of fact, disobedience of the Law is death; Proverbs 19:16 (NASB) says, “He who keeps the commandment keeps his soul, but he who is careless of conduct will die.”
Galatians 3:10-12 echoes this in that it says that no one is justified before God by the law.
And without justification, you face God’s judgment and wrath.
This is what Paul means when he says “from which you could not be freed from the Law of Moses”.
Paul is telling us that using the Law/works as a means of salvation brings death not freedom.

2) THE OPPOSITION WARP THE MESSAGE

Warp Message with a ME Agenda:
Verse 5 – …the Jews were jealous…

The implications of Paul’s message are not the message.
However, an unbelieving Jew that just lost a number of fellow Jews to this Jesus Message can do 2 things:
1) Respond like the Berean Jews, which we will examine shortly.
2) Make it all about themselves. Dwell on the implications and not the message.
Verse 5 makes clear which way these men went.
Instead of considering the historical and Scriptural truth of Paul’s message, they made it all about themselves.
They became jealous because many joined Paul and Silas.
Paul’s message was not about jealousy or how many followers one has.

So we see that if you focus on yourself instead of the message, the truth of the message is warped by the implications it has on your life.
The message is warped because the implications become the message.

POI – Jesus faced the exact same response during His ministry.
Luke 23:2
And they began to accuse him, saying, “We found this man misleading our nation and forbidding us to give tribute to Caesar, and saying that he himself is Christ, a king.

Warp Message with a YOU Agenda:
Verse 6 – …turned the world upside down…
Verse 7 – …acting against the decrees of Cesar, saying there is another king, Jesus.
Verse 8 – And the people and the city authorities were disturbed when they heard these things.

Again, the implications of Paul’s message are not the message.
Paul’s Message is unchanging; the implications vary based on culture and peoples’ conditions.
Implications are the collision of these 2 realities with the message.
Paul’s message was not political, though it could have political implications.
Thessalonica was a “free city” run by the Politarchos in step with Roman law.
The unbelieving Jews wanted Thessalonica to believe that the Jesus of Paul’s message was a king in a political sense.
This was to stir up fear and hatred of Paul, Silas and the new converts.
The freedom Thessalonica enjoyed would be in jeopardy if King Cesar had a competitor and so this is how the message preached by Paul was portrayed.
This is why, in Verse 8, the people and authorities were TARASSO – disturbed, troubled, stirred up, agitated and terrified.
And this TARASSO is why, in Verse 6, their world was turned upside down.

So we see that if you make the implications of a message challenge the status quo of somebody, you can trouble the listener and bring him to action on your behalf.
And often, to get the implications you desire, like the Jews, you have to warp and manipulate the message.

POITARASSO is same word used in the following 2 examples:
Acts 15:24
“Since we have heard that some persons have gone out from us and troubled you with words, unsettling your minds, although we gave them no instructions…”
Here, troubled is the same root word used to describe the work of the Judaizers in Antioch.

Matthew 2:3
“When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him…”
Here, troubled is also same root word.
It is used to describe King Herod’s reaction to the birth of Jesus.

3) THE NOBLE EXAMINE THE MESSAGE

Leonardo Da Vinci
“The noblest of pleasures is the joy of understanding.”

Verse 11 – …these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.

The word noble refers to open-mindedness.
Open-mindedness here is a willingness to search out the truth without regard for ones self and the implications of the truth or message to ones self.
It is not tolerating sin.

The Berean Jews were not afraid of getting to the truth.
They examined the Scriptures and did so with an eagerness or readiness of mind.
And this examining involved questioning, discerning and judging.
It is a picture of examining evidence in a court room.

However, one caveat in this examination is that without the noble, open-mind of a Berean, a mind free from the threat of self-implication, the Scripture would all seem folly.
1 Corinthians 2:14
The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.

So, we see that when we free ourselves from concern over how a message will affect us personally and simply confirm its truth and act on that truth, we grow.
We become spiritually discerning.

POI – Responsibility to examine and search Scripture and the quality of our life if we do not.
Isaiah 8:19-22 – (A section on how to fear God. This is just before a prophecy on the birth of Christ.)
And when they say to you, “Inquire of the mediums and the necromancers who chirp and mutter,” should not a people inquire of their God? Should they inquire of the dead on behalf of the living? 20 To the teaching and to the testimony! If they will not speak according to this word, it is because they have no dawn. 21 They will pass through the land, greatly distressed and hungry. And when they are hungry, they will be enraged and will speak contemptuously against their king and their God, and turn their faces upward. 22 And they will look to the earth, but behold, distress and darkness, the gloom of anguish. And they will be thrust into thick darkness.

One reason why your walk may not be as fulfilling as it should be is that you do not inquire of the teaching and testimony of God – Scripture – as much as you should.

Isaiah 34:16
Seek and read from book of Lord
This is a pretty clear exhortation!

When you hear a message or exhortation in Church, how are you most likely to react?
Evaluate it based on its implications on your current circumstances.
Or is your inclination to first search the Scriptures to discover if it is true or not and then seek to apply it to your life, without regard for its implications?
Which of these 2 is more in line with the BU Principals?
How have you ever warped or manipulated a message to make it all about you or those you wish to rally to your side?

If I were to suggest we make the Deacons all about service, and elect 5 Elders based purely on the direction of the Word of God, how would you respond?

If I were to suggest we bring women back to this class, how would you respond?

Just because the implications of a message appear to impact you negatively, that does not necessarily mean that the message is not true and should not be followed!

The only way to know if a message is true is to SEARCH THE SCRIPTURES, not evaluate its implications.
If Scripture is not clear on the subject, the implications to doctrine then must be considered to evaluate the messages authenticity.
But to do so discerningly, we must surrender our self-interest!
Again, which BU Principals does this line up with?

Acts 17:16-34 – God Made a Bridge

Acts 17:16-34 – God Made a Bridge

Diving Deeper Lesson Outline for Acts 17:16-34

The title is drawn from an examination of the “unknown god” altar and Greek philosopher quotes that Paul used as an inroads to his Epicurean and Stoic audience.

1) GOD PROVIDED A BRIDGE

Verse 23 – speaks of an altar to an unknown God.
Providentially, this was a bridge, or inroads, God provided ahead of time so that Paul could make a connection with them.

What was this altar to an unknown god? Actually, there were many of these in Athens. Six hundred years before Paul’s time, Athens had been stricken with a terrible plague. Hundreds were ill and dying, and the city grew desperate. A famous poet from Crete named Epimenides devised a plan to pacify whatever gods were causing the plague. He went to the Areopagus and turned loose a flock of sheep. The plan was to let the sheep roam the city freely. When the sheep lay down, they were to be sacrificed to the god of the nearest temple. The assumption was that the angry gods would draw the sheep to themselves. When the sheep were turned loose, however, many of them lay down in places with no temples nearby. Epimenides decided to sacrifice the sheep anyway and erect altars wherever they lay down, just to make sure no unfamiliar deities were overlooked. Since these were nameless gods, the people simply erected altars and shrines “to an unknown god.” It was undoubtedly one of these altars Paul spottedJohn MacArthur.

No doubt, God may have used these altars for other things throughout those 600 years.
Clearly, however, to provide a way for Paul to bridge from the altars to the living Jesus Christ was primary.

ETERNITY IN THEIR HEARTS EXAMPLES:
Don Richardson’s account of the New Guinea tribal concept of a Peace Child.
A tribes scape-goat concept of sin-bearing.
A tribes new birth rituals.

So we too must look for the bridges that God provides.
God knows where we are and the type of person with whom we are to speak the Gospel.

2) HOW PAUL CROSSED THE BRIDGE

Paul demonstrates how important it is to know your audience.
He uses the obvious – idols and altars – and even busts out some indigenous quotes.

Verse 22 – He perceived they were religious.
Verse 23 – Observed objects of worship.
Verse 23 – He saw and used the inscription found on the altars – “to the unknown god”.
Verse 28 – He quoted Epimenides who 600 years earlier was referring to Zeus.
His point was that through history, a creator is evident.
And even Epimenides understood that.

Romans 1:19-20
“That which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made.”
This verse is also a relevant in our discussion of the Times of Ignorance from verse 30.

Ecclesiastes 3:11
He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.

The rational mind demands an eternal cause for the effect of creation. – John MacArthur

Verse 28-29 – He quotes the Greek Poet Aratus.
His point was that if Aratus knew we were God’s offspring – His creation – then God cannot be a man made idol or art – God is a living God.
Paul was telling them that a man made object is not God, but a misguided counterfeit.
Epimenides and Aratus were on the right track so you guys surely can recognize this also.

So Paul crossed the bridge via his familiarity with Greek culture and via God’s sovereign planning.

POI – We get even further insight into Paul’s familiarity with Greek culture in Titus.
Titus 1:12
One of the Cretans, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.”
Paul was giving reason for the necessity of rebuking the Cretans so they can be sound in faith.

3) WHAT PAUL SAID ONCE HE CROSSED THE BRIDGE

Verse 23 – proclaim to you who this God is – General Revelation to the Special Revelation of Jesus Christ.
From our discussion on the times of ignorance in Verse 30, Pauls was making clear to them that what Epimenides and Aratus understood from God’s general revelation is now being made known to them as Jesus Christ.
Verse 24 – creator of the world and everything in it – CREATOR
Verse 24 – Lord of heaven and earth
Verse 24 – Does not live in man made temples
Verse 25 – Needs nothing from man – OUTSIDE OF MAN
Verse 25 – Gives life and breath and everything to mankind – ALL POWERFUL PROVIDER
Verse 26 – Made from Adam every nation and set their boundaries – SOVEREIGN RULER
Verse 27 – Man is made to seek God – GRACE
Verse 29 – So if His offspring then God is no idol – GOD IS LIVING.
Verse 30 – It is time to repent
Verse 31 – The judgment is coming by Jesus who was raised from dead.
The concept of a bodily resurrection was somewhat vile to the Greek philosophers.
They saw the body as a prison – and many even saw suicide as virtuous.

How does this Gospel message the same and differ from Paul’s Chapter 13 Gospel message?
In both he deals with God as creator, Jesus as raised from the dead and in Jesus is the forgiveness of sins.
In both there was no use of I’s and Me’s.
Who spoke the Gospel with I’s and Me’s?
Obvious differences are that to the Jews, Paul referenced Abraham, Moses, David, the law and prophets and how all of these pointed to Christ.
With the Athenians, Paul referenced the general revelation that there own teachers spoke of and how it all pointed to Christ.
Why was Paul’s differing approach with the Athenians not a watered down sell out?

So Paul unashamedly steered the message to God as creator and to Jesus as the risen Savior.
He made clear that repentance was necessary because judgment was at hand because Christ has risen.

POI – After Paul, in verse 31, declared that Jesus was raised from the dead there were 3 responses.
Some sneered – This is a rejection.
Some wanted more discussion – This is a love of argument and ultimately most likely a rejection.
Some believed – This is God opening hearts and ears!
This is an amazing thing that Greek Epicurean and Stoic philosopher judges believed on the Lord Jesus!
When we share the Gospel, we should expect nothing different.

What bridges has God given you in speaking the Gospel to your friends or coworkers?
When shopping, you are asked if you would like the stores credit card – you can then say, “No thanks, I don’t like debt, but speaking of debt…”
God may desire that your unique experience in life be the bridge you use to speak the Gospel to those around you.

Please be aware, however, that because God opens the hearts and ears, a bridge is not necessary.
A bridge is not the Gospel – the Gospel must still be spoken.
The Gospel message straight up is more than enough.

Acts 18:1-17 – Jesus Comforts & Encourages

Acts 18:1-17 – Jesus Comforts & Encourages

Diving Deeper Lesson Outline for Acts 18:1-17
The title is drawn from Christ’s words to Paul at a point in his ministry we he was afraid and frustrated.

1) WHAT WAS PAUL DOING?

Verse 6And when they opposed and reviled him, he shook out his garments and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.”

This is not the first time the Jews opposed and reviled Paul.
Reviled is elsewhere translated derided and blasphemed – the idea being they spoke evil of Paul.
This sentiment is further captured when the Jews accuse Paul in verse 13 of, “persuading people to worship God contrary to the law.”
In essence, the Jews were characterizing as evil the very truth the law taught – a truth they would not acknowledge.
Our previous lesson on the Thessalonian Jews can give us insight into why they would do this.

Short history of Paul’s interactions with the Jews:
Acts 13:45 & 50 – Antioch in Pisidia
45 But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and began to contradict what was spoken by Paul, reviling him.
50 But the Jews incited the devout women of high standing and the leading men of the city, stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and drove them out of their district.

Acts 14:2 – Iconium
2 But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers.
5 When an attempt was made by both Gentiles and Jews, with their rulers, to mistreat them and to stone them…

Acts 14:19 – Lystra
But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and having persuaded the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead.

Acts 17:5 – Thessalonica
But the Jews were jealous, and taking some wicked men of the rabble, they formed a mob, set the city in an uproar, and attacked the house of Jason, seeking to bring them out to the crowd.

Acts 17:13 – Berea
But when the Jews from Thessalonica learned that the word of God was proclaimed by Paul at Berea also, they came there too, agitating and stirring up the crowds.

Acts 18:12-17 – Corinth
From today’s text the Jews made a united attack on Paul.

What’s up with the garment shaking in Verse 6?
Verse 6And when they opposed and reviled him, he shook out his garments and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.”

The Jews’ reviling and opposition led Paul to make this emphatic declaration.
To gain insight into its meaning, we will look at some other examples.

Acts 13:46 & 51 – Antioch in Pisidia
46 And Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, saying, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken first to you. Since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles.
51 But they shook off the dust from their feet against them and went to Iconium.

Matthew 10:14-15 – Jesus Sends Out the Twelve Apostles
14 And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town. 15 Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town.

Luke 9:5 – Lukes account of Jesus Sends Out the Twelve Apostles
And wherever they do not receive you, when you leave that town shake off the dust from your feet as a testimony against them.

Luke 10:10-11 – Jesus Sends Out the Seventy-Two
10 But whenever you enter a town and they do not receive you, go into its streets and say, 11 ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near.’ 12 I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town.

So what was Paul saying to the Jews?
He spoke the truth to them – Jesus is the Messiah and only He saves.
And he bears no responsibility because he was obedient to speak the Gospel and declare to them the Special Revelation of Jesus Christ – he did his job.
Remember, he had shared with the Jews for 3-4 years now.
And to demonstrate that they are now under the Judgment of Jesus Christ, he shook out his garments and told them that their blood is on their own heads.
Shaking out the garments was something Jews typically did with Gentiles, so the fact that a Jew was doing this to a Jew was both insulting to them and underscored the depth of feelings Paul had about their rejection of Jesus Christ.

Jesus and the prophet Ezekiel sum it up nicely.
Matthew 7:6
Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.
Ezekiel 33:9
But if you warn the wicked to turn from his way, and he does not turn from his way, that person shall die in his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul.

2) WHAT WAS JESUS DOING?

Acts 18:9-10
9 And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, 10 for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.”

Jesus words comforted and encouraged Paul in three ways:
He assured Paul that he would not be physically harmed while in Corinth.
Paul, however, knew that there would be a physical price to pay for his obedience.
Jesus had often discussed in the Gospels the cost of discipleship and in Acts 9 said Paul would suffer.
Given the history we just discussed, this assurance of not being harmed was an enormous comfort.

He also assured Paul that his speaking would not return void.
How is it that Jesus could give Paul this assurance?

He also assured Paul by telling him, “I am with you.”
This is the ultimate comfort and encouragement for Paul.

What does “I am with you” it mean?
Joshua 1:5 & 9 – Gods message to Joshua at his succession of Moses
No man will be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you…. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
We see that 2 ways God’s presence manifests itself is that He will not fail us and He will not forsake us.

2 Timothy 4:17-18
17 But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. 18 The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
In Paul’s own words, this presence of God indicates there will be a future reward; Paul was safe for eternity.

And most importantly, the word With means in the company of – it is a marker of association.
Jesus is a person as well as our Savior.
There is a relationship to be had with him, He is not just one to have faith in, to understand, or to have a knowledge of.
A.W. Tozer says we are to experience God not just positionally but actually.
When Jesus says he is with us, it means we can have a relationship with him just like we have with your _____.

The reason Paul needed comforting and encouraging was that he was compelled to unashamedly share the Gospel.
And this obedience put him in a position of physical danger and being rejected.

Do you speak the Gospel as you should?
What is it we are afraid of?
How can Jesus’ encouragement to Paul encourage us?

Acts 18:18-28 – Biblical Humility

Acts 18:18-28 – Biblical Humility
Diving Deeper Lesson Outline for Acts 18:18-28

The title is drawn from the actions of Paul, Priscilla, Aquila and Apollos before the Lord and the truth of scripture.

Worldly humility, while having some overlap with biblical humility, falls short of the humility outlined in scripture.
And it is this biblical humility that God wants for us.
In our text today, we have insight into just what this biblical humility is.

Dictionary Humility:
Humility is typically seen as reserved, working behind the scenes, taking no credit, and being mousy and shy.
Dictionary.com defines the verb humility as:
The quality or condition of being humble; modest opinion or estimate of one’s own importance, rank, etc.
lowliness, meekness, submissiveness.

And as an adjective:
Having a feeling of insignificance, inferiority, subservience, etc.
Low in rank, importance, status, quality, etc.

As a heads up, one major difference between humility and biblical humility is the nature of our relationship with God’s word.

We talked briefly about humility during our lessons on Biblical Unity:
In Philippians 2:1-8, Paul speaks of being of the same mind and of one mind.
The Greek word for mind in each instance is the same, phroneo.
The words meaning, in this context, relates to humility – this is hinted at in verse 3.
It is often defined as not letting one’s opinion of himself exceed the bounds of modesty.
In Romans 11:20, the word is translated as do not become proud when speaking to the grafted in gentiles.
In Philippians 4:10, the word is translated as concern when speaking of the church’s concern for Paul.
In Romans 15:5-6, the word is translated as to live in such harmony when referring to glorifying God with one voice.
In 1 Corinthians 13:11, it is translated as thought in the phrase thought like a child.
It is here we got the following BUP:
Setting our minds on others and Christ not on ourselves and the world is essential to Biblical Unity.

1) BIBLICAL HUMILITY – GIVING THANKS TO GOD

Verse 18bAt Cenchreae he had cut his hair, for he was under a vow.
We know that Paul was well aware of the futility of the law and works for salvation.
Why, then would he make a vow with God and what kind of vow was it?

What was the vow?
Numbers 6:2-5
“Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When either a man or a woman makes a special vow, the vow of a Nazirite, to separate himself to the Lord, 3 he shall separate himself from wine and strong drink. He shall drink no vinegar made from wine or strong drink and shall not drink any juice of grapes or eat grapes, fresh or dried. 4 All the days of his separation he shall eat nothing that is produced by the grapevine, not even the seeds or the skins.
5 “All the days of his vow of separation, no razor shall touch his head. Until the time is completed for which he separates himself to the Lord, he shall be holy. He shall let the locks of hair of his head grow long.

Most believe the vow was a form of this Nazirite vow
Shaving his head indicated Paul had fulfilled his vow of thanks to God.

Why the vow?
The speculation is that Paul wanted to give thanks to God for bringing him safely through his time in Corinth.
What better way to give thanks than to humble himself in sacrifice before God.
And I also believe Paul was expressing the below truth.

Deuteronomy 8:3And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.

The biblically humble know that God’s word is the giver, sustainer and creator of life.

How can we humble ourselves before God demonstrating to him we understand who provides and sustains?

2) BIBLICAL HUMILITY – SURRENDERING TO AND APPLYING THE TRUTH OF GOD’S WORD

Accurately and More Accurately:
Verse 25bAnd being fervent in spirit, he spoke accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John.
Verse 26He began to speak boldly in the synagogue, but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him and explained to him the way of God more accurately.

Apollos described as:
A smart and eloquent man
A stranger
From a foreign country
Knew the Scriptures
An accurate teacher
A bold speaker

But in spite of all these attributes, Priscilla and Aquila explained (set forth, declare, expound) to Apollos where he was incomplete in his knowledge.
I suspect most of us would shy away from correcting such a man.
In fact, we might even justify our silence as humility.
However, to be humble before God’s word requires that we honor it by lovingly correcting those in error.

What scripture has to say about seeking and surrendering to the truth of scripture:
Daniel 10:12Then he said to me, “Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand and humbled yourself before your God, your words have been heard, and I have come because of your words.

The biblically humble set their hearts on understanding God.
And if one has humbled himself and set his heart on understanding the truth of God’s word, then they, and we, should welcome correction!

Isaiah 66:2All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the Lord. But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.

The biblically humble are contrite in spirit and revere and honor God’s word.
And this reverence and trembling before God’s word should translate into a desire to see it preached truthfully and not be idle when it is warped for whatever reason.

Being taught by a woman:
Verse 26He began to speak boldly in the synagogue, but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him and explained to him the way of God more accurately.

It is interesting to point out here that Apollos was taught by Priscilla, a woman.
Given the Middle Eastern baggage he must have grown up with concerning women, and Priscilla being a stranger at that, his willingness to learn the truth reflects his humility before God’s word and his desire to seek and apply its truth.

Proverbs 11:12When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.
If Apollos had let his pride reign, he could have missed out on receiving deeper insight into Jesus’ baptism.
The biblically humble are able to overcome the pitfalls of pride and make God honoring judgments despite of our baggage.

POI – So what is the deal with women teaching?
1 Timothy 2:12 – I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.
This letter was written to Timothy while he was in Ephesus; the very city where Priscilla explained to Apollos.
Most understand Paul’s words to be referring to exercising authority as a pastor or elder.
Our text today clearly demonstrates that a woman can teach a man in private and in small group gatherings.

POI – Apollos knew most of the Gospel, but not the whole story.
We can find ourselves in a similar position as Apollos.
Except, in our case, we concentrate more on the NT instead of the OT, and so are also prone to make mistakes in our theology.

3) BIBLICAL HUMILITY – SURRENDERING IN OBEDIENCE TO GOD’S WORD

The biblically humble speak the Gospel:
Verse 26He began to speak boldly in the synagogue, but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him and explained to him the way of God more accurately.
Verse 28 – for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, showing by the Scriptures that the Christ was Jesus.

We are called to speak the Gospel and Apollos was obedient to that calling
Apollos is an example of why speaking the Gospel is not predicated on a complete knowledge of Scripture.
And I would argue that our laziness, apathy or dissatisfaction with our walk is also no excuse.
If we had enough biblical humility to be born again, we have enough to speak the Gospel.

What scripture has to say about biblical humility and speaking the Gospel:
Philippians 2:8And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Zephaniah 2:3 – Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land, who do his just commands
The biblically humble are obedient to God’s word.

2 Corinthians 11:7Or did I commit a sin in humbling myself so that you might be exalted, because I preached God’s gospel to you free of charge?
The biblically humble speak the Gospel.
Speaking the Gospel both humbles the speaker and exalts the listener!

POI – Biblical humility is linked to a spirit of fervency.
Verse 25bAnd being fervent in spirit, he spoke accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John.
To be fervent in spirit, there can be no thought of self.
A preoccupation with self will drown our fervency.

4) BIBLICAL HUMILITY – HATING SIN

This is a bonus point not directly related to our text.
God expects his humble children to respond to sin in a certain way.

What scripture says about this response:
Leviticus 26:40-42“But if they confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their fathers in their treachery that they committed against me, and also in walking contrary to me, 41 so that I walked contrary to them and brought them into the land of their enemies—if then their uncircumcised heart is humbled and they make amends for their iniquity, 42 then I will remember my covenant with Jacob, and I will remember my covenant with Isaac and my covenant with Abraham, and I will remember the land.
The biblically humble confess their sin and repent seeking to not walk contrary to God.

2 Chronicles 7:14if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
Psalm 149:4For the Lord takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with salvation. The biblically humble repent and are forgiven and saved by God.

Zephaniah 3:11“On that day you shall not be put to shame because of the deeds by which you have rebelled against me; for then I will remove from your midst your proudly exultant ones, and you shall no longer be haughty in my holy mountain. 12 But I will leave in your midst a people humble and lowly. They shall seek refuge in the name of the Lord, 13 those who are left in Israel…”
A characteristic of a biblically humble and lowly people is that they seek refuge in God.
The biblically humble don’t just repent, but seek God.

Acts 19:1-10 – What’s Up With All These Baptisms

Acts 19:1-10 – What’s Up With All These Baptisms?
Diving Deeper Lesson Outline for Acts 19:1-10

The title is drawn from the 2 baptisms encountered in today’s text.
Specifically, we will explore the Baptism of John and the Baptism of Jesus.

1) A DIVINELY ORDAINED ENCOUNTER

Verse 2 – And he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”
Verse 3 – And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” They said, “Into John’s baptism.”

The Encounter:
Paul, through God’s direction and divine appointment, encountered these 12 men.
In the course of their conversation, they must have hinted at a similar faith to Paul’s.
So Paul, in an effort to get to the heart of the matter, asked them some telling questions.

The Preacher’s Commentary magnifies Paul’s logic and line of questioning as follows:
What happened to you when you were baptized?
Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you confessed your belief in the Messiah and repented with a water baptism?

Their answers reveal that they responded in faith to John the Baptist’s call for repentance for remission of their sins.
However, their answers also revealed that they did not know the whole story – Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
More than likely, they were gone during Christ’s ministry, death, burial and resurrection.

Summary of Point 1:
Paul, out of love, sought to determine exactly where these men were spiritually.
What he found was that these men were in a curious position regarding their salvation a transitional state – OT saints.
And to understand the transitional state they were in, we must understand a few things.

POI – Apollos was in a similar state of transition when he met Priscilla and Aquila.
Acts 18:25 – He had been instructed in the way of the Lord. And being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John.
This means, of course that he did not know the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

2) JOHN’S BAPTISM OF REPENTANCE

To understand how these men found themselves in this peculiar transitional state, we first need to understand what was John’s Baptism of Repentance.
We will first look at Baptism and then look at Repentance.

The Baptism in the Baptism of Repentance:
Baptizo is to immerse or submerge in water.
It is not a sprinkling and is not to be confused with the similar word bapto.

James Boice, a great commentator on Scripture, says the following:
The clearest example that shows the meaning of baptizo is a text from the Greek poet and physician Nicander, who lived about 200 B.C. It is a recipe for making pickles and is helpful because it uses both words. Nicander says that in order to make a pickle, the vegetable should first be ‘dipped’ (bapto) into boiling water and then ‘baptized’ (baptizo) in the vinegar solution. Both verbs concern the immersing of vegetables in a solution. But the first is temporary. The second, the act of baptizing the vegetable, produces a permanent change. When used in the New Testament, this word more often refers to our union and identification with Christ than to our water baptism. e.g. Mark 16:16. ‘He that believes and is baptized shall be saved’. Christ is saying that mere intellectual assent is not enough. There must be a union with him, a real change, like the vegetable to the pickle!

The question is what pickles us (spiritually speaking) – the faith that leads us to baptism, the baptism or something else?
Like any good pickling process, there are a number of ingredients needed.
And this leads us to one of them, the repentance in John’s Baptism of Repentance.

The Repentance in the Baptism of Repentance:
Repentance is one of those ingredients.
And John the Baptists baptism was all about repentance (among other things).

Mark 1:4-5 – John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.

Acts 13:23-24 – Of this man’s offspring God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus, as he promised. 24 Before his coming, John had proclaimed a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel.

What is Repentance?
Metanoia means a change of mind which results in a change of life.
And of course we are all familiar with the “turn around” and “change direction” definitions
These definitions sound like anybody can repent by sheer determination, will power or even out of fear.
And if you are talking about repenting from bad habits or behavior – drugs, drinking, overeating, not enough time with the kids, etc. – this is of course true.
We see this in the world all the time – change we can believe in!
And this is why I believe all of these definitions fall miserably short of a definition for repentance.
Like Biblical Unity and Biblical Humility, we need to learn what Biblical Repentance is.

What is Biblical Repentance?
Romans 2:4 – Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?
2 Corinthians 7:9-10 – I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, so that you might not suffer loss in anything through us. For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death.
Acts 5:31 – He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.
Acts 11:18 – When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.”
Hebrew 12:16-17 – that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal.
For you know that even afterwards, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought for it with tears.
If you are on your throne, there is no room for repentance and Esau is a case study of this fact.

It is clear from the verses above that Biblical Repentance is characterized by the following:
Biblical Repentance is an experience that one is brought to because of God’s kindness.
Biblical Repentance is an experience only obtained in a state of Godly Sorrow.
This Godly Sorrow is the will of God.
Biblical Repentance leads to salvation (look at the 12 in today’s text)
Biblical Repentance is not “being sorry”, “regret”, or “guilt because you got caught”, etc.
Biblical Repentance is granted by God.
Biblical Repentance cannot be granted to the proud, even if they seek demonstrably via action or tears.

Isaiah 6:5-7 – And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”
6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.”

Isaiah gives us a great example of Biblical Repentance.
In God’s kindness and grace, he showed Isaiah his glory.
The result is that Isaiah quickly recognized who he was and how he stood before a Holy God.
And in this act of confession and repentance, God took his guilt away.

An observation for us concerning repentance:
Do you ever dream of being a better Christian?
Do you sin and then imagine yourself doing better next time?
And as you imagine how victorious you can be over this or that, do you then determine or intend that you will do these better things next time?
But inevitably, the next time comes around and we fall short of our glorious intentions and imaginings.
And then we are only left with shame and regret – NOT REPENTANCE.
Sadly, our imaginings, intentions and regrets are not repentance.
At best they may be hoping for repentance.
The only way to break this cycle is to get off the throne and let God have his way with us.
Only he can produce within us the Godly Sorrow that will lead us to Biblical Repentance and make pickles!

John’s Baptism Looking Forward to Christ:
Verse 4 – And Paul said, John baptized with the baptism of repentance telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus.

John’s Baptism of Repentance was similar to Paul’s OT Gospel sermon in Acts 13, his sermon at Lystra and his Mar’s Hill Sermon.
Just as Paul’s sermons demonstrated how his listeners’ experiences pointed to Christ, John’s Baptism of Repentance was pointing to a completion and fulfillment in Christ.

So Paul, with these words, underscores 3 important things.
First, John in his Baptism of Repentance, taught that Jesus the Messiah was the point of his ministry not the baptism.
Matthew 3:11 – “I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
Acts 13:25 (from Paul’s OT Gospel sermon) And as John was finishing his course, he said, ‘What do you suppose that I am? I am not he. No, but behold, after me one is coming, the sandals of whose feet I am not worthy to untie.’

Second, this Jesus has come, was crucified and rose from the dead.

Third, this Jesus, the Messiah, left us a gift.

Paul was revealing the final ingredients needed to complete the pickling process of these 12 men.
With this, we arrive at the Baptism of Jesus.

Summary of Point 2:
John’s baptism of repentance was an experience of a person who, through God’s power, was convicted of his sin, then in faith obeyed John’s call to ceremonially wash the sin away through water baptism and walk in faith.
Biblical Repentance is possible to us because of what God does not what we do.

The 12 had participated in this experience – faith, repentance and baptism.
They were no longer cucumbers because of their faith and God-fueled repentance.

However, they also were not yet pickles because they were still missing 2 crucial ingredients in the pickling process.
So this was their curious state alluded to earlier – being pickled but not yet pickles (Christians).
And they were in this state because since their Baptism of Repentance the J-Bomb had been dropped.
John 14:6 – Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

3) THE BAPTISM OF JESUS

Verse 5 – On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

Pentecost – the Holy Spirit Seals
Acts 1:5 – for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.
Acts 2:38 – And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Acts 11:16 – And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’

The Baptism of Jesus is a Water Baptism, Baptism of Repentance and a Baptism of the Holy Spirit.
The Baptism of the Holy Spirit is best described by Paul in Ephesians 1:13-14:
In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

And so the 12, on hearing this news from Paul and believing in Jesus, were fully pickled.
In Christ, the Jews, Samaritans, Gentiles and now OT saints were ushered into Christ’s church – J. Mac.
Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?
As Piper points out, we should know we have been baptized in the Spirit not just because we know doctrine, but because we have a experiential relationship with the Spirit of God!

Summary of Point 3:
So we find these 12 men in a weird state of transition.
But we take heart that the God that led them to repentance would lead them to Jesus and a baptism of the Holy Spirit.
For surely what God started he would finish.
Philippians 1:6 – 6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

Final Summary:
We can be encouraged that those who have responded in faith to God’s revelation will also encounter someone who will reveal the truth of Jesus Christ.
And this brings us back to the title of Point 1 – God was going to complete his work and used Paul to do it.

Acts 19:11-20 – Formula or Faith

Acts 19:11-20 – Formula or Faith
Diving Deeper Lesson Outline for Acts

The title is drawn from the sons of Scevas’ attempt to cast out a demon in the name of Jesus.
Our text today describes not a process that is performed correctly or not, but describes an authority that either one has or does not have.

1) DEMONS

What the Bible says about demons:
2 Peter 2:4 – For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment;
Jude 1:6 – And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day;

Demons are angels who rebelled with Satan and were cast out of heaven.

Matthew 8:28-29 – And when he came to the other side, to the country of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men met him, coming out of the tombs, so fierce that no one could pass that way. 29 And behold, they cried out, “What have you to do with us, O Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?”

Demons can talk.

Matthew 8:29 – …O Son of God?
Mark 1:34 – And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons. And he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.
Luke 4:41 – And demons also came out of many, crying, “You are the Son of God!” But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew that he was the Christ.
James 2:19 – You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!

Demons knew who the incarnate Jesus was and know who God is – remember, they’re from heaven.

Mark 5:9 – And Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “My name is Legion, for we are many.

Demons have names – makes sense because angles have names.

Matthew 9:34 – But the Pharisees said, “He casts out demons by the prince of demons.”
Matthew 12:24 – But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons.”

Demons are underlings for the prince of demons – Satan.

Matthew 9:33 – And when the demon had been cast out, the mute man spoke. And the crowds marveled, saying, “Never was anything like this seen in Israel.”
Matthew 17:18 – And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him, and the boy was healed instantly.

Demons can bring sickness to humans and casting out the demon can bring healing.

Luke 11:17-18 – “…Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and a divided household falls. And if Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? For you say that I cast out demons by Beelzebul.

Demons will not work against each other.

What the Bible says about Christians interactions with demons:
Ephesians 2:1- 5 – And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ.

Christians are not servants of Satan or demons – we are alive in Christ.

POI – An implication drawn from an understanding of demons’ relationship with Christians, is that all the possessions spoken of in the Bible involve unbelievers.
Christians, as John MacArthur puts it, cannot be possessed because possession denotes ownership and Christians are owned by and alive in Christ!

1 Corinthians 10:20-21 – No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be participants with demons. 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons

Christians can fellowship with demons.

Acts 5:3-4 – But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? 4 While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.”
James 3:15 – This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic.

Christians can succumb to the temptations of demons thereby acting worldly and unwise!

2) THE AUTHORITY OF MAN – COUNTERFIET

Acts 19:13-16 – Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims.” 14 Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this. 15 But the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus • I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?” 16 And the man in whom was the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.

What is going on here:
Exorcist, in verse 13, appears only here in the entire Bible.
The word means one who employs a formula of conjuration for expelling demons.
Adjure, in verse 13, appears only twice in the Bible.
It means to force to take an oath or put under an oath.
The son’s of Sceva were manufacturing a formula to exorcise a demon by attempting to force the demon to submit to an oath empowered by the authority and name of Jesus.
(Cite Modern Ritual Exorcism Examples – See Bottom of Lesson)
Other than the Son’s ability to recognize a demon possession, the result of their exorcism was a complete failure.
The demon even taunted them, expressing the fact that the Sons were a bunch of unknowns.
And then humiliated them by sending them out naked and wounded.

Why the failure:
The demon’s taunting also reveals an important truth.
The “who are you” statement denotes that the Sons and their formula had absolutely no authority whatsoever.
They were anonymous both in reputation and authority.
Is the right authority based on the knowledge of a correct formula?
Jesus has some insight into this for us.

Matthew 17:16-20 – And I brought him to your disciples, and they could not heal him.” 17 And Jesus answered, “O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him here to me.” 18 And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him, and the boy was healed instantly. 19 Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” He said to them, “Because of your little faith.

So the failure both for the Sons’ of Sceva and the disciples can be attributed to faith.
The Sons’ of Sceva had none and the disciples had too little.
So we learn here that it is not formula but faith that provides victory over demons and their oppression.

But not just faith:
Matthew 15:22, 25-28 – And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.” But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” 26 And he answered, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” 27 She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” 28 Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly.

The woman’s faith was greater than that of the disciples in Matthew 17:16-20.
But her faith was only the conduit through which the power and authority of Jesus could flow.
And so great was Jesus’ power and authority he didn’t even need to be in the direct vicinity of the demon to cast it out.
And the woman needed no exorcism ritual to heal her son.
She needed only unhindered, unwavering saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

But not just the authority and power of Jesus:
Matthew 12:28 – But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.

It is also the power of the Holy Spirit.

A final word on the counterfeit authority of men and their formulas:
Matthew 7:22 – On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

The question, I believe, is sincere; they believed they had actually cast out demons.
Satan made fools out of them; he led them (the wordly & unwise) to believe they had cast out demons.
The problem was that it was all Satan’s trickery & man’s bogus formula, but no faith.
We learned already that Satan and his demons would not fight against themselves.
But he did, and still does, lead the world to believe that “workers of lawlessness” perform successful exorcisms.
It serves Satan’s purpose to deceive the world.

POI – And God’s word speaks plainly about the “workers of lawlessness”.
They, the unsaved, cannot sit on the fence; they are either with God or against Him.
Matthew 12:27a-28 – And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. 28 But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.
1 John 3:8a – Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning.

Jesus makes clear, if it is not by the Spirit of God, then it is Satan!
John makes clear, you either abide in Christ or you are of the devil.

John MacArthur on how Satan works:
How are the unsaved manipulated by satan?
Now, Satan rules men usually two ways, and these are very general. There may be others, but these are just two general thoughts. First of all, he rules men by virtue of their understanding. “The natural man understandeth not the things of God.” So the natural man, the man without Christ, without God, is left with only the information which is available to him apart from God. And that really makes up all of the information that Satan uses and can use, even though some of it is God’s proof. And so Satan rules the understanding. In fact, is says in 2 Corinthians 4:4 that, “The God of this world has blinded the minds of them that believe not.” Satan blinds the mind. That is, he rules the understanding.

The second thing that Satan dominates in the unregenerate man is the will. He rules the understanding and the will. Though he cannot make the will act, he can certainly force it. Though he cannot make you do something, he can certainly draw you into that by temptation. John 8:44, “Jesus said to the Pharisees, “The lusts of your father, you will do.” And their father, of course, was the devil. Satan then dominates men by controlling the information that they have and by controlling the will that they exercise.

POI – Why didn’t Satan make it appear that the Son’s of Sceva were successful in their exorcism?
Certainly that would have helped his cause and make Paul look less authoritative.
Jesus, in His authority and by the Spirit, put the kibosh on them for His purposes.
So what is the nature of Jesus’ authority with regard to demons and Satan?

3) THE AUTHORITY OF GOD – JESUS & THE WORD OF GOD

Christ’s mission and goal:
1 John 3:8b – The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.
Hebrews 2:14 – Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil…

These verses are self-explanatory.

How was this mission accomplished?
Mark 1:27 – And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.”
Luke 4:36 – And they were all amazed and said to one another, “What is this word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out!”
John 10:21 – Others said, “These are not the words of one who is oppressed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”
Mark 1:34b – And he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.
Luke 10:17 – The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!”
Matthew 12:28 – I by the Spirit of God cast out demons.
Matthew 8:16a – That evening they brought to him many who were oppressed by demons, and he cast out the spirits with a word

Jesus has absolute authority over demons.
He casts them out by the Spirit of God.
This power is demonstrated and manifested via His spoken word.
So this mission was accomplished by Christ’s God given, Spirit bathed authority and word.

POI – Jesus authority over demons parallels, in Acts, the Apostles ability to heal.
Both Jesus casting and the Apostles healing were instant and complete.
There was no question about the sickness or possession and there was no doubt about the healing or casting.
The results were instantly visible to all.

How this relates to our interactions with demons:
Ephesians 6:12 – For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

As previously mentioned, demons can influence us so we must wrestle against them.
Paul goes on to say we are to face the enemy via exorcism? WHAT!! (not really)
What does Paul tell us to do?

What John MacArthur Says about the wrestling match:
It is the power of Christ, the power of the Holy Spirit that cast out demons. Now you answer me this question. Where does the spirit of Christ live? Then whom do I need to cast out demons? I don’t need any other humans. For a Christian to get rid of the problem of demons is as simple as the area of confession and holiness, just that simple.

The power to wrestle demons is resident in every believer. You are sufficient to take care of the responsibility of your spiritual life. The demon is gone when the spirit of God’s in control.

If there’s sin in your life, willing, willful, protracted, unconfessed, unrepented of sin, you have given place to Satan.

Summary:
So it is not formula but faith that is authoritative.
Satan benefits from deceiving the world into thinking men can formulate an authentic authority.
However, this authority is counterfiet.
Christ’s authority is genuine and Christ came to destroy the work of the devil.
Christ smashes satan’s scheming with His truth, power and Spirit infused word.
And this power resides within every believer.

Exorcism Rituals (Wikipedia):
The person performing the exorcism, known as an exorcist, is often a member of the church, or an individual thought to be graced with special powers or skills. The exorcist may use prayers, and religious material, such as set formulas, gestures, symbols, icons, amulets, etc.. The exorcist often invokes God, Jesus and/or several different angels and archangels to intervene with the exorcism.
In general, possessed persons are not regarded as evil in themselves, nor wholly responsible for their actions. Therefore, practitioners regard exorcism as more of a cure than a punishment. The mainstream rituals usually take this into account, making sure that there is no violence to the possessed, only that they be tied down if there is potential for violence

Example 1 (Wikipedia & How Stuff Works):
Catholic exorcism is still one of the most rigid and organized of all existing exorcism rituals. Solemn exorcisms, according to the Canon law of the church, can be exercised only by an ordained priest (or higher prelate), with the express permission of the local bishop, and only after a careful medical examination to exclude the possibility of mental illness.

To perform the rite, the exorcist dresses in his surplice and purple stole. The ritual of exorcism is mostly a series of prayers, statements and appeals. These prayers are loosely broken down into the “imploring formula,” in which the priest asks God to free the subject from the devil (“God, whose nature is ever merciful and forgiving, accept our prayer that this servant of yours, bound by the fetters of sin, may be pardoned by your loving kindness”), and the “imperative formula,” in which the priest demands in the name of God that the devil leave the subject’s body (“Depart, then, impious one, depart, accursed one, depart with all your deceits, for God has willed that man should be His temple”). In addition to these recitations, the priest takes certain actions at particular times during the rite: He sprinkles holy water on everyone in the room, lays his hands on the subject, makes the sign of the cross both on himself and on the subject and touches the subject with a Catholic relic (usually an object associated with a saint).

Example 2 (Augustine’s Exorcism website):
Augustine’s Exorcism Formula is for difficult cases, when outside influences, larger than the individual, bring misfortune and bad luck into the life. Many times this happens because a curse or hex has been set down. Under these conditions, an ordinary purification ritual is not enough and you will need our much stronger Exorcism Ritual. At Augustine’s we have the recipe for a 7 Power Incense formula that was used by the Catholic Church, experts in performing exorcisms. It is comprised of Asafoetida Herb, Van Van Root, Dragon’s Blood Root and other ingredients. It is the strongest exorcism material we know of. This we combine with a special XXX Triple Strength Bath and Exorcism Root Oil and a specially dressed and prepared candle to enhance the power of the exorcism. But more important than this, we tell you the time it will be most effective!

Acts 19:28-41 – Paul’s Intent and Tone

Acts 19:28-41 – Paul’s Intent and Tone

The lesson title is derived from verse 37 of our text.
It is our aim to understand how the town clerk could have truthfully said that Paul did not blaspheme Artemis.
The lesson title is the answer we will explore.

1) THESE MEN – WHO ARE THEY?

Acts 19:29a & 37a – So the city was filled with the confusion, and they rushed together into the theater, dragging with them Gaius and Aristarchus… 37 For you have brought these men here…

Who are “these men” – Gaius and Aristarchus?
It seems Paul was not there when the mob ensued, so they grabbed 2 of his coworkers in Christ.
Aristarchus – He was a converted Jew from Thessalonica (where most of the Jews formed a mob on 1st visit).
Colossians 4:10 reveals to us that he accompanied Paul on his journey to Rome, and in fact was also a fellow prisoner with Paul.
Gaius – He was from Derbe (where Paul fled after being stoned at Lystra).
Romans 16:23 tells us he “hosted” Paul during his stay at Ephesus.
Corinthians 1:14 shows us that he was one of only 2 people Paul baptized.

Our text today also tells us they were traveling companions with Paul.
So because of this, we know that both sacrificed for the sake of the Gospel; they left home to accompany Paul.
It is also reasonable to assume they spoke the Gospel alongside Paul and learned from him.

2) THESE MEN – SPEAK NOT A BLASPHEMOUS GOSPEL?

Acts 19:37b – who are neither sacrilegious nor blasphemers of our goddess.
The town clerk (mayor) calms the men, in part, by saying there is no legitimate claim against these me because they have not stolen from the temple of Artemis nor have they blasphemed against her.

This begs two questions:
1) What might have Paul, Gaius and Aristarchus have said to a city full of idolators?
2) Why would the town clerk not consider the Gospel and their words blasphemous toward Artemis?

First, we need to take a look at what Paul, Gaius and Aristarchus may have said to their Pagan audience.

What might “these men” and Paul have said to idol worshippers?
Acts 19:26 – And you see and hear that not only in Ephesus but in almost all of Asia this Paul has persuaded and turned away a great many people, saying that gods made with hands are not gods.

From Chad’s lesson last week, this text reveals one thing spoken by Paul and friends.
Gods made with man-hands are not gods.

Acts 14:15 & 17 – “Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men, of like nature with you, and we bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them. 17 Yet he did not leave himself without witness, for he did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.”

After having been identified as Zeus and Hermes while in Lystra, Paul and Barnabas plead with the people.
Turn from vain things, Zeus & Hermes, to a living God.
The living God bears witness to you through rain, seasons, food and gladness.

Acts 17:22-31 – So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. 24 The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, 25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. 26 And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, 27 that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, 28 for “ ‘In him we live and move and have our being’;
as even some of your own poets have said, “ ‘For we are indeed his offspring.’
29 Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. 30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”

Upon arrival at Athens, Paul addresses the philosophers at the Areopagus.
They are very religious.
God does not live in temples made by man.
God is not served by human hands.
Man should seek this God, who created all things.
We are this God’s offspring.
God is not of gold or silver or stone or man made.
Repent because this God will judge in righteousness through the risen Jesus Christ.

Summary:
Paul is emphasizing that his huge God is not found in gold or some temple – all unfulfilling attempts to find God.
God is more than all these things; He’s the creator of the gold and the rock used to make the temple!
The idolators’ desire to search for God is legitimate, but they need to think bigger than a gilded wood idle or altar.
Paul points them in the right direction, Jesus, and knows that it is up to God to bring them unto Himself.

What is Blasphemy?
Now that we have an idea of what Paul and His companions might have said, we need to know what blasphemy is.
The Greek word means to speak evil of, to insult, malicious talk and slander.
Ezekiel 20:27 says it is to deal treacherously with.
Matthew 9:3 and Mark 2:7 say it is to claim to be equal to God.
Acts 6:11 says it is to speak falsely against God.
Romans 2:24 and 2 Peter 2:2 says actions done in God’s name that are hypocrisy is blasphemy.

So knowing all this, why did the town clerk not think Paul, Gaius and Aristarchus blasphemed Artemis?
We must remember that not only the mob, but the Asiarchs who oversaw the emperor worship, would have had legitimate reason to deal with Paul and his companions harshly had they felt they were blasphemous toward Claudius or Artemis.
But as Scripture states, the Asiarchs were actually friends of Paul’s.

Paul’s Intent and Tone in speaking the Gospel:
This, of course, leads us to the following question in order to address this apparent anomaly:
How did Paul speak the Gospel to idolatrous Pagans and not blaspheme their gods?
The case can be made that he spoke the Gospel differently to Jews than to Pagans.
We saw this when we compared his Acts 13 sermon to those in Acts 14 and Acts 17.
I think, however, that Paul’s intent and tone were the same, to some extent, no matter the audience.
The Bible sheds light on Paul’s intent and tone when he spoke the Gospel.
It reveals 3 different words used to describe how he and, even Jesus, desired to give no offense.

Acts 25:8 – Paul argued in his defense, “Neither against the law of the Jews, nor against the temple, nor against Caesar have I committed any offense.”
Same word as sin – to miss the mark.

1 Corinthians 10:31-33 – So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 32 Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, 33 just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved.
1 having nothing to strike against, not causing to stumble. 1a of a smooth road. 1b metaph. of not leading others to sin by one’s mode of life. 2 not striking against or stumbling. 2a metaph. not led into sin, blameless. 3 without offense, not troubled by a consciousness of sin.

Matthew 17:24-27 – When they came to Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma tax went up to Peter and said, “Does your teacher not pay the tax?” 25 He said, “Yes.” And when he came into the house, Jesus spoke to him first, saying, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do kings of the earth take toll or tax? From their sons or from others?” 26 And when he said, “From others,” Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are free. 27 However, not to give offense to them, go to the sea and cast a hook and take the first fish that comes up, and when you open its mouth you will find a shekel. Take that and give it to them for me and for yourself.”
1 to put a stumbling block or impediment in the way, upon which another may trip and fall, metaph. to offend. 1a to entice to sin. 1b to cause a person to begin to distrust and desert one whom he ought to trust and obey. 1b1 to cause to fall away. 1b2 to be offended in one, i.e. to see in another what I disapprove of and what hinders me from acknowledging his authority. 1b3 to cause one to judge unfavourably or unjustly of another. 1c since one who stumbles or whose foot gets entangled feels annoyed. 1c1 to cause one displeasure at a thing. 1c2 to make indignant. 1c3 to be displeased, indignant.

1 Corinthians 9:12 – If others share this rightful claim on you, do not we even more? Nevertheless, we have not made use of this right, but we endure anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ.
1 a cutting (made in a road to impede an enemy in pursuit). 2 a hindrance.

Summary:
For Paul, it’s important to know his audience and live and speak the Gospel in a way that is most effective.
His tone and intent is to not let his actions or words get in the way of the power of the Gospel.
But, he does so w/o compromising his life under Christ.
Paul was really a missionary and an ethnographer – he understood a specific cultures politics, beliefs, religion, etc.
The below scripture summarizes Paul’s tone and intent when speaking the Gospel, and it’s one we have used before.

1 Corinthians 9:20-23 – To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. 21 To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. 23 I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.

POI – Of course, the tone and intent to not give offense, also raises some questions.
The silversmiths suffered economically due to Paul’s message.
And earlier, Paul cast out a demon from a fortune teller, costing her handlers money.
Why would these outcomes not be considered by Paul a hindrance, obstacle or offensive?
Surely the men losing money were offended.
From 1 Corinthians 10:31-33, we just learned that Paul did nothing “seeking my own advantage.”
The answer is to be found, then, in Paul’s motive.
First, not only was he not out to get them, but he was not out to get them so that he might benefit from it in any way.
And second, Paul did not think he offended them because they also were freed from the trap, love of money, that may very well have hindered them from hearing the Gospel – like the rich young ruler.

Summary:
We are neither to water down the Gospel to make it sound more relevant (Gospel is foolishness to unbelievers) nor are we to offend by insulting the person or belittle what they believe.
Like Paul, we are to know our audience, speak the Gospel and point them to the living God, the big God, the true God.
I suspect Paul, instead of saying “Artemis is bogus”, said “Christ is risen and alive.”
Instead of saying, “Why do you idiots worship a rock”, he might say “worship the God that lives and blesses you with rain and seasons.”
2 Corinthians 2:17 – For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ.

Acts 19:29-41 – Submission to Authority is Submission to God

Acts 19:28-41 – Paul’s Politics – Submission to Authority is Submission to God
Diving Deeper Lesson Outline for a second lesson on Acts 19:28-41

The title is drawn from Paul’s relationship with government authorities as shown in our text and in previous texts in Acts.
We will explore how Romans 13:1-7, written most likely during his 3rd missionary journey while in Corinth (Acts 20:2-3), fleshes out when overlaid on Paul’s (and his fellow apostles) interactions with the political powers that be in Acts.

1) INTERACTIONS WITH THE POWERS THAT BE – GOOD & BAD

First we need to look at several examples that highlight the various interactions Peter and Paul had with the authorities.

Acts 4:1-3 – And as they were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them, 2 greatly annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. 3 And they arrested them and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening.

Acts 5:17 – But the high priest rose up, and all who were with him (that is, the party of the Sadducees), and filled with jealousy 18 they arrested the apostles and put them in the public prison.

Acts 12:1-6 – About that time Herod the king laid violent hands on some who belonged to the church. 2 He killed James the brother of John with the sword, 3 and when he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also. This was during the days of Unleavened Bread. 4 And when he had seized him, he put him in prison, delivering him over to four squads of soldiers to guard him, intending after the Passover to bring him out to the people. 5 So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church.

Acts 13:7 & 12 – He was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, a man of intelligence, who summoned Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God. 12 Then the proconsul believed, when he saw what had occurred, for he was astonished at the teaching of the Lord.

Acts 16:20-24 – And when they had brought them to the magistrates, they said, “These men are Jews, and they are disturbing our city. 21 They advocate customs that are not lawful for us as Romans to accept or practice.” 22 The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates tore the garments off them and gave orders to beat them with rods. 23 And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, ordering the jailer to keep them safely. 24 Having received this order, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.

Acts 18:12-17 – But when Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews made a united attack on Paul and brought him before the tribunal, 13 saying, “This man is persuading people to worship God contrary to the law.” 14 But when Paul was about to open his mouth, Gallio said to the Jews, “If it were a matter of wrongdoing or vicious crime, O Jews, I would have reason to accept your complaint. 15 But since it is a matter of questions about words and names and your own law, see to it yourselves. I refuse to be a judge of these things.” 16 And he drove them from the tribunal. 17 And they all seized Sosthenes, the ruler of the synagogue, and beat him in front of the tribunal. But Gallio paid no attention to any of this.

Acts 19:38-41 – If therefore Demetrius and the craftsmen with him have a complaint against anyone, the courts are open, and there are proconsuls. Let them bring charges against one another. 39 But if you seek anything further, it shall be settled in the regular assembly. 40 For we really are in danger of being charged with rioting today, since there is no cause that we can give to justify this commotion.” 41 And when he had said these things, he dismissed the assembly.

In these examples, we see varied interactions and outcomes.
Underlying all these interactions is a Biblical mandate taught both by Peter and Paul.
This Biblical mandate guided all the decisions they made in their relationship with the authorities.

2) PAUL AND PETER’S CALL TO SUBMIT TO THE POWERS THAT BE

Now we need to look at Peter and Paul’s Biblical mandate.

Titus 3:1a – Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities…

1 Peter 2:13-14 – Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, 14 or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good.

Romans 13:1-7 – Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4 for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. 7 Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

When we read these verses, all sorts of questions arise.
It doesn’t take us long to imagine scenarios that have implications that we are very uncomfortable with.
So to get our bearings we will examine more closely Romans 13:1-7.

Understanding Romans 13:1-7:
Acts is a great help to us in understanding these verses.
Peter & Paul were “living Acts” when they made the previous declarations.
In fact, Paul wrote Romans at the end of his 3rd missionary journey.
So because Paul’s 3 journeys in Acts are the physical backdrop of this letter, we will use Acts to “unlock” the meaning Paul and Peter may have had in mind.

Verse 1 – A SOVEREIGN GOD:
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.

A very big and sovereign God is an essential component of Paul’s theology.
Paul’s sermons and epistles are ripe with a big God.
God is Lord of heaven and earth, creator of earth and everything in it, needs nothing from man, gives life and breath, made from Adam every nation, etc.
So it is no surprise that Paul recognizes that “governing authorities” are instituted by God and not simply a random outworking of the choices of men.

Proverbs 8:15-16 – By me kings reign, and rulers decree what is just; 16 by me princes rule, and nobles, all who govern justly.
Daniel 2:21 – He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding;

And for a man who gave his life to Speak the Gospel, the only right response to what God had instituted is obedience.
Submission to authority is a witness strategy that glorifies God.

POI – We must remember that Evil rulers are also ruling under the authority of God.

We know this includes wicked rulers as well as good ones because the Bible tells about wicked kings that God guided into office. For example, Jeroboam was one of the most wicked kings of Israel, and 1 Kings 12:15 describes the intrigue that put him in place like this: “It was a turn of affairs brought about by the Lord.”
Piper, J. (2007). Sermons from John Piper (2000-2007). Minneapolis: Desiring God.

Verse 2 – CONSEQUENCES:
Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.

Paul tells us that there are consequences to resisting the authority God has instituted.
God makes this cause and effect principle clear in Proverbs.
Proverbs 14:35 – A servant who deals wisely has the king’s favor, but his wrath falls on one who acts shamefully.

A first consequence of disobeying authority is that the disobedience becomes a stumbling block and obstacle to the very people that may need to hear the Gospel.
Paul alludes to this when discussing slavery with Timothy:
1 Timothy 6:1 – Let all who are under a yoke as slaves regard their own masters as worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and the teaching may not be reviled.
The principal applies here; we are to submit to the powers that be so that God and the Gospel “may not be reviled”.

A second consequence is that in resisting and disobeying the authorities, you, in effect, resist and disobey God.
You must now consider the following questions in light of this.
Am I disobeying God when I:
Speed in my car?
Fail to obtain and pay for applicable permits or licenses?
Cheat on my taxes?
Exceed hunting quotas?

The point here is that there is much more to the picture than just you and the authorities.
God is present throughout our decision making process whether we realize it or not.
Paul surrendered his entire life to an obedience to God, and I suspect he would do none of the things just mentioned.
To do so would be all for Paul’s benefit and not God’s and Paul didn’t live his life like that.

Verses 3 & 4 – PURPOSE:
For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4 for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.

Paul speaks with first hand experience when acknowledging the purpose of the powers was to inhibit bad behavior.
In our opening examples, both Gallio and the town clerk diffused bad behavior.
Doing so turned out to be beneficial to Paul and his disciples.
It was fear of a Roman crack down, God’s civil law “avenger”, that motivated the town clerk to resolve the riot peacefully.

POI – These verses, and the 3 below, are used to outline the Biblical case for capital punishment.
Genesis 4:10 – And the Lord said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground.
Genesis 9:6 – Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image.
Numbers 35:33 – You shall not pollute the land in which you live, for blood pollutes the land, and no atonement can be made for the land for the blood that is shed in it, except by the blood of the one who shed it.

Why did Jesus tell Peter in the garden of Gethsemane to put down his sword?

Verses 5-7 – YOUR CONSCIENCE:
Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. 7 Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

Paul gives us another reason we our to submit to the powers that be, “for the sake of conscience.”
When we both disobey God and inhibit the spreading of the Gospel through the disobedience of the powers that be, we will suffer spiritually and experience the wrath of God.
Our conscience and by extension our spirit will be burdened and grieved – not a good place to live for a Christian.
This principal also applies to those forms of disobedience we addressed above under verse 2 – CONSEQUENCES.

This is why Paul says the following:
Acts 24:16 – So I always take pains to have a clear conscience toward both God and man.

And Peter tells us that when we suffer injustice we are to do so:
1 Peter 3:16-17 – having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. 17 For it is better to suffer for doing good (being obedient), if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil (being disobedient).

Summary:
It is clear that God’s Word teaches that the Christian has a unique relationship with the powers that be.
We are to understand that:
God installed them and sustains or overthrows them.
They are in power for our good – either directly or indirectly.
They rule under God’s authority, and by submitting to them we submit to God.

In our disobedience to the powers that be, we are to understand that:
We disobey God.
We burden our conscience.
We hinder our ability to speak the Gospel without offence.
We risk experiencing God’s wrath and judgement.

Now that we have a basic idea of why the Bible teaches we are to submit to the powers that be, we will look at a couple of examples of this submission from the Bible.

3) EXAMPLES OF SUBMISSION TO THE POWERS THAT BE

Jeremiah 29:6-7 – But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.

1 Samuel 24:5-6 – And afterward David’s heart struck him, because he had cut off a corner of Saul’s robe. 6 He said to his men, “The Lord forbid that I should do this thing to my lord, the Lord’s anointed, to put out my hand against him, seeing he is the Lord’s anointed.”

Matthew 22:17-21 – Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” 18 But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why put me to the test, you hypocrites? 19 Show me the coin for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius. 20 And Jesus said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” 21 They said, “Caesar’s.” Then he said to them, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

Acts 16:25 – About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them,

Acts 18:2 – And he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to leave Rome.

These examples of submission are of but a few that are available.
Yet they demonstrate that this submission exists and is most often at the expense of the one submitting.

If you know your Bible, however, you also know that there are examples that demonstrate the defiance of authority.
So we will explore a few of these as well.

4) EXAMPLES THAT SEEMINGLY CONTRADICT THE CALL TO SUBMISSION TO THE POWERS THAT BE

Acts 4:18-20 – So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, 20 for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.”

Acts 5:19-21 & 25 – But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out, and said, 20 “Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this Life.” 21 And when they heard this, they entered the temple at daybreak and began to teach. 25 And someone came and told them, “Look! The men whom you put in prison are standing in the temple and teaching the people.”

Acts 16:35-39 – But when it was day, the magistrates sent the police, saying, “Let those men go.” 36 And the jailer reported these words to Paul, saying, “The magistrates have sent to let you go. Therefore come out now and go in peace.” 37 But Paul said to them, “They have beaten us publicly, uncondemned, men who are Roman citizens, and have thrown us into prison; and do they now throw us out secretly? No! Let them come themselves and take us out.” 38 The police reported these words to the magistrates, and they were afraid when they heard that they were Roman citizens. 39 So they came and apologized to them. And they took them out and asked them to leave the city.

Daniel 3:16-18 – Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 17 If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. 18 But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”I (when told to worship other gods & a golden image.)

The question now arises how do we reconcile a call to submission with these examples of defiance?
We will attempt to address this question next.

How to account for the apparent contradiction:
Acts 5:27-32 – And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them, 28 saying, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” 29 But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. 30 The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. 31 God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. 32 And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”

1 Corinthians 9:16 – Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!

1 Corinthians 9:21 – …not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ…

Acts 22:25-27 – But when they had stretched him out for the whips, Paul said to the centurion who was standing by, “Is it lawful for you to flog a man who is a Roman citizen and uncondemned?” 26 When the centurion heard this, he went to the tribune and said to him, “What are you about to do? For this man is a Roman citizen.”

There seem to be two lines of thought and conviction that led Peter & Paul to disobey the powers that be.
The first way involves the necessity to obey God’s call to Speak the Gospel – to evangelize.
The second way involves holding the authorities accountable to the same laws that you are expected to follow.
And related to the second, when authorities ask us to break their own laws.

The first way:
Speaking the Gospel might be the primary call on the Christian’s life.
It can be argued that how Peter and Paul lived indicates that our obedience to this call is to be done no matter the cost.
This call on our lives (and all of God’s moral law) is to be followed without exception.
Peter & Paul show us that when the powers that be make demands of us that violate this law (God’s law), we are to disobey them.
And the example of Paul, Peter and others show us that we are to disobey them no matter the cost to us – imprisonment, flogging, stoning, etc.
Amazingly, it can also be argued that if we are punished for our disobedience we are, however, to submit to the punishment.
But we, like Daniel or Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, should pray for deliverance by God.

The second way:
It is not just us who are accountable to civil law, but also the authorities who live under it.
When the authorities break their own laws, we are expected to hold them accountable.
And if they seek our cooperation in breaking the very laws they made, we are to resist them.
Paul unashamedly pointed out to the authorities that they were unlawful in flogging him because he was a Roman citizen and so resisted his punishment.
(How Paul’s citizenship in this example stacks up to his experience in the jail at Philippi will be discussed in a future lesson.)

Summary:
We should now have a basic understanding of the nature of the relationship between Paul and the powers that be.
And by extension, we understand this to apply to us as well.
This brief study of the subject certainly raises as many questions as it answers.
But by way of application, I want us to consider a few things.

One of the most priceless freedoms we have as Americans is an ability to Speak the Gospel.
We can speak the Gospel, for the most part, without cost.
And certainly not with the cost Peter and Paul paid.
Do we avenge ourselves of this God-given freedom as we should?
Paul would be licking his chops if he were a missionary to the U.S.

The sad thing is that we are disobedient to God in Speaking the Gospel because we foolishly think it is to OUR BENEFIT to do so.
Interestingly, when we speed, cheat on taxes, kill more game than allowed, don’t pay for permits or licenses, etc., we do so for the same sorry reason – OUR BENEFIT.
We should be ashamed that the same reason we refuse to Speak the Gospel is the same reason we give for so many other ways we disobey God.
Paul has taught us that we are to do nothing “seeking my own advantage.”

Peter and Paul’s primary burden in life was Speaking the Gospel.
It was not family or comfort or food or recreation or a hot shower or sports or children.
As Peter said, they must talk about “what they have seen and heard.”
Because of this, they see hardships as blessings and face them with a clean conscience.
Whether in submission to or disobedient to authorities, they were committed to obeying God and not counting the cost.

If we reject the primacy of this calling – the Gospel, we run the race God has set before us disingenuously.
We justify putting kids, sports, wife or our comfort first.
We begin to count the cost of our relationship with Jesus Christ.
And in so doing, we weaken our resolve and contribution to the cause of Christ.

We become calculating in our decision-making when a sacrifice for Christ is needed.
We might consider, how am I going to make a living; I need to provide for my family; my kids need me to give them what their friends have; I have to have a hot shower, etc.
All of these things weaken our constitution and hinder us from being Peters and Pauls!
And all this begins, in my opinion, by rejecting the primacy in life of Speaking the Gospel.
So if we desire to learn submission to authority, to not count the cost, to not seek our own advantage we must begin to Speak the Gospel – the ultimate act of obedience to authority!

Acts 20:1-6 – Paul’s Acts of Parakaleo

Acts 20:1-6 – Paul’s Acts of Parakaleo
Diving Deeper Lesson Outline for Acts 20:1-6

The title is drawn from the ministry of Paul to his fellow Christians.
A ministry that consisted of both exhorting them and encouraging them to keep their eyes on God’s purposes.

1) PAUL’S MINISTRY TO BELIEVERS – PARAKALEO

In 2 of our 6 verses, we encounter a word that points us to a lifetime of responsibility to our brothers and sisters in Christ.
In fact, the concepts behind this word under gird much of the intent behind Paul’s Epistles to the churches.

Parakaleo is that word.
Parakaleo comes from two Greek words:
Para meaning from, alongside, by, besides and near.
Kaleo meaning to call aloud by name or to give a name.

This Greek word is translated into as many as 12 different English words in most of our translations.
Some examples are comfort, encourage, embrace, beseech, appeal, implore, exhort, and entreat.
From these examples we begin to taste the flavor of this word.

Vines Expository dictionary describes parakaleo as a word “used for every kind of calling to a person which is meant to produce a particular effect…hence to comfort, exhort, desire, call for.”
In other words, you call one by name and come along side or draw near to them in order to comfort, encourage or exhort & beseech he or she.
Clearly this is something that Paul did often and excelled at.
Paul’s parakaleo ministry can be best understood when separated into what are, I believe, its 2 intents.
It is these two intents together that encompass the full meaning of the word.
To forsake one for the other is to shortchange the spirit of our calling to give parakaleo.

The question, then, is what are the two forms OR intents of Paul’s parakaleo ministry?
I would suggest that the two forms are “Parakaleo Exhorter” and “Parakaleo Encourager.”

Paul makes clear in the following passage both intents of his parakaleo ministry.
And the passage importantly reveals that it is ultimately not man but God that is “at work”, producing the result or is the power of the parakaleo.

1 Thessalonians 2:11-13 – For you know how, like a father with his children, we 12 (1) exhorted each one of you and (2)encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.
13 And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.

2) PARAKALEO EXHORTER

The first intent or form of Paul’s parakaleo ministry involves the believers need to know and be responsive and obedient to the truth of God’s word.
The English words in your Bible that convey this intent are exhort, beseech, urge, implore, appeal, etc.
I think that the word exhort best catches the spirit of all of them.

Exhort – To give urgent advice, recommendations, or warnings. To urge by strong, often stirring argument, admonition, advice, or appeal: exhorted the troops to hold the line – Dictionary.com.

I would define it as “giving instruction” with the purpose of redirecting our actions toward God’s calling in our life.

Some Biblical Examples of this Exhorting type of Parakaleo:
Acts 11:23 – When he came and saw the grace of God, he was glad, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose,

Romans 16:17 – I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them.

1 Corinthians 1:10 – I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.

1 Corinthians 4:16 – I urge you, then, be imitators of me.

1 Thessalonians 4:1-2 – Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more. 2 For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus.

Jude 2:3 – Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.

Titus 1:9 – He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.

So we are “exhorted” to:
Remain faithful with purpose – this implies not just dedication and obedience, but to do so for God’s purposes not ours. Avoid false teachers & those that cause division because they lay obstacles that hinder the progress of God’s purposes.
Be unified in mind and judgment.
Imitate Paul.
Increasingly walk with and please God – you have the tools available to you so continually grow.
Dispute earnestly against falsehood.
Rebuke false doctrine by knowing sound doctrine and being able to convey that sound doctrine to others.

So the intent of Paul’s Parakaleo Exhorter ministry is to call us to know, obey, grow and defend God’s Word.
So now knowing what Paul’s Parakaleo Exhorter ministry is, we look to the Bible to tell us why this ministry is so important.

Why parakaleo this way:
2 Timothy 4:1-4 – I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.

Because Christians embrace false doctrine and turn away from God’s word.

Hebrews 3:13 – But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.

That we might help our fellow Christians not be hardened and led astray by sin.

3) PARAKALEO ENCOURAGER

The 2nd intent or form of Paul’s parakaleo ministry involves the responsibility of one believer to build up and encourage another believer in order to strengthen that believers growth and resolve in Christ in spite of events or circumstances.
The English words in your Bible that convey this intent are encourage, embrace, comfort, etc.
I think that the word encourage best catches the spirit of all of them.

Encourage – to inspire with courage, spirit, or confidence or to stimulate by assistance, approval, etc. – Dictionary.com

I would define it as comforting with the purpose of reenergizing our affections toward God’s calling in our life.

Some Biblical Examples of this Encouraging type of Parakaleo:
Acts 14:19-22 – But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and having persuaded the crowds, • they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead. 20 But when the disciples gathered about him, he rose up and entered • the city, and on the next day he went on with Barnabas to Derbe. 21 • When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, 22 strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter • the kingdom of God.

This is an unbelievable example of Paul’s love of his calling.
He was stoned almost to death and yet he does the comforting.

2 Corinthians 7:6-7 – But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, 7 and not only by his coming but also by the comfort with which he was comforted by you, as he told us of your longing, your mourning, your zeal for me, so that I rejoiced still more.

Acts 15:30-32 – So when they were sent off, they went down to Antioch, and having gathered the congregation together, they delivered the letter. 31 And when they had read it, they rejoiced because of its encouragement. 32 And Judas and Silas, who * were themselves prophets, encouraged and strengthened the brothers with many words. 21 • So that you also may know how I am * and what I am doing, Tychicus the beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord will tell you everything. 22 I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are, * and that he may encourage your hearts.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 – Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as • you are doing.

1 Thessalonians 4:17-18 – Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.

So we are “encouraged” to:
Continue in the faith in spite of and because of tribulations.
And from Paul’s example, use the hardships we have endured to comfort others.
Comfort with our presence (often meaning affections or embracing) and enthusiasm.
Comfort with our words.
Rejoice in the comfort we receive.
Build up one another.

So the intent of Paul’s Parakaleo Encourager ministry is to call us to love, comfort, sustain and build up our brothers and sisters in Christ..
So, again, we will look to the Bible to understand the importance of this ministry.

Paul experienced the benefit of a Parakaleo Encourager ministrty first hand through the support of Baranabas at what point in his, Paul’s, life?

Why parakaleo this way:
2 Corinthians 13:11 – Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, * live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.

We are commanded to.

Hebrews 10:24-25 – And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

That we might help inspire love and good works from our fellow Christians.

2 Corinthians 1:1-6 – Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the church of God that is at Corinth, with all the saints who are in the whole of Achaia: 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. 6 • If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we • suffer.

We share in Christ’s sufferings that we might share in His comfort and thereby comfort others as God has comforted us.
Comfort (encouragement) is a currency of God given to us in order to pay to others.

POI – 2 Cor 1:1-6 also makes clear what we alluded to at the beginning of our lesson with “the word of God, which is at work in you”.
GOD IS THE POWER & THE PURPOSE BEHIND THE EHORTING AND ENCOURAGING!

POI – The Holy Spirit also undertakes the 2 forms of parakaleo that Paul does.
Encourager:
Acts 9:31 – Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied.
Jesus used the word paraklete, a derivative of parakaleo, to describe the Holy Spirit as the “Comforter” in John 14:16:
“And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may be with you for ever…” – ASV
Exhorter:
Ezek 36:27 – I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.
1 Corinthians 2:12-13 – Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 13 And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.

Summary:
So there is both an emotional/physical cost in the Christian walk and a doctrinal and obedience deficit in the Christian walk.
Paul teaches us that we have a responsibility to assist our fellow Christian overcome these via a Parakaleo Encourager and Parakaleo Exhorter ministry.
Paul gives instruction on how to engage in these ministries and the reason to do so.
All we must do is obey and this enables God to work these things through us.

What are the symptoms of a church’s need for these 2 Parakaleo ministries?

We can say that symptoms might be:
An unwillingness to evaluate and make sense of circumstances, experiences and surroundings using a Biblical perspective.
In other words, we become worldly in our evaluation process.
Another symptom, in my opinion, is that we begin to mistake our hurt pride as a pricked conscience and so make decisions we believe to be wholly correct but are in fact completely wrong!
Discouragement with how things are going in Church.
Discouragement in our walk due to the sin in our lives.

Acts 20:7-16 – A Sunday Sabbath?

Acts 20:7-16 – A Sunday Sabbath?
Diving Deeper Lesson Outline for Acts 20:7-16

1) A SUNDAY SABBATH?

In our text today, we have the subtle introduction of Christians observing and Paul’s endorsement of a Sunday Sabbath.
Verses 7 and 11 reveal them partaking in the Lord’s Supper and Paul preaching and teaching the Word of God.
This change flies in the face of well over 1000 years of Jewish tradition.
And this change raises a question about Paul.
Namely, why would Paul, who compromised for the good of the Gospel on behalf of the Christian Pharisees, and who had Timothy circumcised, observe the Sabbath on Sunday?

Also, Sabbath is used 57 times in the Gospels, 9 times in Acts and only 2 times in the remainder of 32 books of the NT!
The 9 times in Acts are mostly used in conjunction with Paul speaking the Gospel at a synagogue on the Sabbath.
This absence of the presence of the word Sabbath also raises a question.
Did Paul and the NT Christians’ view the observance of the Sabbath as unimportant?

In order for us to get a handle on these questions, we need to examine what the Sabbath is and Jesus’ view of the Sabbath.

What’s the Sabbath what was God’s intent for the Sabbath?
Genesis 2:1-3 – Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. 2 And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. 3 So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.

It is the day God “rested” after creation.
And because he chose it and “rested” on it, it was set apart as holy.
“Rested” denotes not a God who was worn out and needed a nap.
But it denotes a God who, through His spoken Word, completed His purpose to create “the heavens and the earth” and was satisfied and lodging in this fact. (Satisfied & Lodging are both translations of the Hebrew sabbat.)
In fact the word “rested” can be defined as to “be in a state of favorable circumstances.”
God’s resting = God’s purpose (creation) was accomplished and he was satisfied!

Exodus 20:8-11 – “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

The Sabbath is the 4th commandment.
We are to remember it which means to “to recall it, with a focus on responding in an appropriate manner”.
In other words, we are to recognize God’s accomplished purpose and respond in thanksgiving and worship.
And as we will see, JESUS is part of that purpose!

Isaiah 58:13-14 – “If you turn back your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on my holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight and the holy day of the Lord honorable; if you honor it, not going your own ways, or seeking your own pleasure, or talking idly; 14 then you shall take delight in the Lord, and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth; I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

The Sabbath day is not to be about us but God.
We will be blessed when we observe the Sabbath.

Now that we have a basic understanding of the Sabbath, we now need to examine Jesus and the Sabbath to get an idea of what he said it was and what man had made it.

Jesus and the Sabbath:
Matthew 12:6-8 – I tell you, something greater than the temple is here. 7 And if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. 8 For the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.”
(Hosea 6:6 – For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings).
Matthew 12:11-12 – He said to them, “Which one of you who has a sheep, if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not take hold of it and lift it out? 12 Of how much more value is a man than a sheep! So it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”
Mark 2:27-28 – And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.

The Sabbath is God’s day and because Christ is God it is also Christ’s day.
The Sabbath is more about the “Internals” than the “Externals”.
The Sabbath and common sense are not mutually exclusive.
The Sabbath is a day for man to use for God’s purpose, not a day for man to serve himself.

Mark 3:1-5 – Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there with a withered hand. 2 And they watched Jesus, to see whether he would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse him. 3 And he said to the man with the withered hand, “Come here.” 4 And he said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. 5 And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart,

A Sabbath focused on the externals, like that of the Pharisees, corrupts the Sabbath and hardens the heart.

Luke 13:13-17 – And he laid his hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and she glorified God. 14 But the ruler of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, said to the people, “There are six days in which work ought to be done. Come on those days and be healed, and not on the Sabbath day.” 15 Then the Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger and lead it away to water it? 16 And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?” 17 As he said these things, all his adversaries were put to shame, and all the people rejoiced at all the glorious things that were done by him.

A Sabbath focused on the externals, like that of the Pharisees, leads to hypocrisy or is a result of hypocrisy.


John 7:21-24 – Jesus answered them, “ I did one work, and you all marvel at it. Moses 22 gave you circumcision (not that it is from Moses, but from the fathers), and you circumcise a man on the Sabbath. 23 If on the Sabbath a man receives circumcision, so that the law of Moses may not be broken, are you angry with me because on the Sabbath I made a man’s whole body well? 24 Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”

A Sabbath focused on the externals, like that of the Pharisees, no longer finds its meaning and fulfillment in the work and purpose of God but in the misguided puporses of man.

Summary – from Jesus we learn:
The Sabbath had been corrupted and had lost its purpose with the Pharisees.
It became man-centered and about them – Jewish law had over 39 classes of forbidden work on the Sabbath.
There can be no observance of the Sabbath with a hard heart (Internals) no matter the work rules followed (Externals).
Proper Sabbath remembrance involves not just the absence of man-centered action but also the presence of a right heart!


So now I think we can answer the 2 questions posed at the beginning.

Why would Paul observe the Sabbath on Sunday & not Saturday?:
We learned what the Sabbath was, what it was made for and what it had become.
We know enough about Paul to know that Jesus and the Gospel were to be elevated in all he did.

John 20:1 – Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb.
We know that Christ rose from the dead on Sunday.

1 Corinthians 15:13-14 – But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.
We know that for Paul Christ’s resurrection is a if not the foundation of our faith.

Colossians 2:16-17 – Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. 17 These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.
We know that for Paul it was not the day, but the God and His purposes behind the day that are the thing.
And the purpose for the all the diets, festivals and the Sabbath pointed to and have been fulfilled in Jesus Christ.

So an answer to this first question is Paul observed the Sabbath on Sunday because God’s intent for the Sabbath was fulfilled in Jesus Christ on a Sunday with His resurrection.
To do otherwise would be a failure to recognize that Christ was the point from the very beginning.

J.V. McGee puts it as follows: Under the old creation the seventh day was the important day, the Sabbath day. That belongs to the old creation. On the Sabbath day Jesus was dead, inside the tomb. On the first day of the week He came forth. We meet on that day because we are now joined to a living Christ. That is the testimony of the first day of the week.

Christ is the sinners new creation and that is a “favorable circumstance” to rest in!

Did Paul and the NT Christians’ view the observance of the Sabbath as unimportant?:
We learned from Paul that it was Christ, the Messiah, and His resurrection that gives the Christian Sabbath meaning.
Hebrews 4:9-13 – So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, 10 for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. 11 Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.
We know that NT Christians saw Christ as The Sabbath Rest.
In other words, Christ’s resurrection enabled us to be “in a state of favorable circumstances” – SALVATION.

So quite the contrary, the observance of the Sabbath is all the more important for Paul and the NT Christians.
For the Christian, to “remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy” is done through the “rememberance” and worship of Jesus Christ!
And knowing that Christ is our Sabbath rest, we see that in fact that this “Sabbath” (Jesus) appears in the NT 531 times.

As we look back our text we see this about Paul’s Sunday Sabbath Service:
Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection was celebrated through partaking in the Lord’s Supper.
Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection was celebrated through the preaching and teaching of His word.
Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection was celebrated by Paul’s demonstrating that death has been overcome because Christ had overcome it.
And so this is what we do today.
And this is why the writer of Hebrews exhorts us not to forsake gathering together for this very purpose!

Acts 20:25-31 – Feed the Flock

Acts 20:25-31 – Feed the Flock
Diving Deeper Lesson Outline for Acts 20:25-31
The title is drawn from Paul’s charge to the elders in verse 28.

1) THE CHARGE – FEED THE FLOCK
Paul leaves the elders of Ephesus with a charge in verse 28 – “pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock…to care for the church of God.”
This is the “what” of Paul’s final words to the Ephesian Elders.

The idea behind “care for the church” is to shepherd the flock.
The flock, of course, is the Ephesian Christians under the elders care.

Peter, under direction of the Holy Spirit and in unity with Paul, gives the same charge:
1 Peter 5:1-3 – So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: 2 shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; * not for shameful gain, but eagerly; 3 not • domineering over those in your charge, * but being examples to the flock.

This charge literally means “provide the pasture” for the sheep and “feed” the sheep.
What is the pasture they are to provide and what is the food it will contain?

The food:
Matthew 4:4 – But he answered, “It is written, “ ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’
Jesus tells us the word of God is the food His sheep need.

The Pasture:
A pasture is a hedged in or set apart area where the sheep can feed in safety and without inside or outside threats.
The pasture and all it entails enables the sheep to “grow” and “reproduce” – be sanctified and evangelize.
Therefore I think the pasture may be both the church body itself, the relationship between the sheep and the relationship between the elders and the church body.
A church body that is biblically unified and has a sound relationship with itself and its elders is in fertile pasture.
And in a safe and fertile pasture the flock can be fed the “whole council of God”.
So this understanding of the pasture implies that the elders responsibility is to not just feed the sheep and provide the pasture but to also keep the pasture fertile.

Now that we understand the “what” we can examine the “why.”
Of the 4 reasons Paul gives, the first two deal more with the existential and the second two deal more with the metaphysical – the real world why and the theological why.

2) THE WHY – FIERCE WOLVES WILL DEVOUR THE FLOCK
In verse 29 we find this reason for Paul’s charge – “I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock…”

So part of keeping the sheep fed and the pasture fertile is to protect from outside threats and corruption to the pasture.

Who are the wolves?
Matthew 7:15 – “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.

2 Corinthians 11:13-1 – For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ.
14 And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.

Matthew 24:11 – And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray.

The wolves are convincing hypocrites.
They deceitfully posses an authority from God or Scripture.
They are very good at teaching their deceit and because of this “lead many astray.”
All wolves bring tension, stress and distraction (or worse) to the pasture interrupting the feeding cycle.

How will they devour?
It takes more than the aforementioned for them to be successful in their deceit, however.
It also requires a sheep that resists its responsibility to feed (learn and study) on the word provided by the shepherds!
A malnourished sheep is the first target of the wolf or lion; it is any easy meal.

In 2 Thessalonians we have a perfect example of this at work.
2 Thessalonians 2:1-3 – Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers, 2 not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. 3 Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed…

Here we see that the flock at Thessalonica was deceived into thinking they had missed Christ’s return.
They were deceived by a man (or group) that claimed to be speaking on authority of Paul and even presented a counterfeit letter to them from Paul.

But then Paul reminds them of something:
2 Thessalonians 2:5 – Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things?
In other words, they bear some responsibility because of their inattentiveness to the truth of God’s word that Paul personally taught them.

The wolves deception can always be found out by the truth of Scripture.
Scripture is the straight line and their line will always seem crooked in comparison.

3) THE WHY – YOUR OWN PEOPLE WILL DRAW AWAY THE FLOCK
In verse 30 we find this reason for Paul’s charge – “and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.”

So part of keeping the sheep fed and the pasture fertile is to protect from inside threats and corruption to the pasture.

Your own people:
2 Peter 2:1 – But false prophets also arose among the people, just as • there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.

Galatians 2:4 – Yet because of false brothers secretly brought in — who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery…

James 3:14-16 – But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth.
15 This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.

The insiders are apostates who teach heresy and even deny Christ.
The insiders are infiltrators presumably of Satan who seek to fool us into thinking we are still slaves to sin.
And sometimes the insiders can be fellow brothers corrupt with selfish ambition.
All spoil the fertile pasture even if, in the case of believers, they don’t intend to.

How they “draw away”:
Clearly, they will “draw away” the same way that the wolves will devour except that it might be more subtle.
Paul also gives tells Timothy other ways the insiders may corrupt the pasture.

1 Timothy 1:3-7 – As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, 4 nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith. 5 The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 6 Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion, 7 desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions.

And as referenced in James above, the impetus for much of this can be selfish ambition.
This is certainly why Paul also told the overseers from Ephesus to watch out for themselves also.

4) THE WHY – HOLY SPIRIT MADE YOU OVERSEERS
In verse 28 we find the first reason for his charge – “… the Holy Spirit has made you overseers.”

Holy Spirit made you:
What does this mean that the “Holy Spirit has made you”?
Did the Holy Spirit appear at a business meeting and nominate these men?
How did the the Holy Spirit make his will known?

The Greek word for made is tithemi.
This word is related to the English word tithe in that it can mean to “deposit in a bank” but it is not the word for tenth.
It also can mean “to set apart” money, ideas or even food to serve.
But in our text it denotes a set of circumstances which were “caused to be” or in which they were “caused to experience.”
In other verses this word is translated as “arranged”, “appointed”, “fixed” and “destined”.
So from this we can say that Paul intends for us to understand that these men were elders because the Holy Spirit set in motion the events in their lives to bring this experience about.
We can also literally say that God “tithed” these me to the church to be overseers.
However, this does not necessarily exclude the direct intervention of the Holy Spirit via His spoken word or other means.

This understanding can be useful with understanding other verses too.

Acts13:2 – While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart • for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”
Acts 16:6 – And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia.
We see in these examples, the Holy Spirit set apart Barnabas and Paul as missionaries and forbid Paul to go to Asia.
Now when we encounter verses like these, we have a general idea of how the Holy Spirit “made” these things so.
It would seem that if something were so, Paul understood that “so” to “be” because the Holy Spirit made it that way.
Paul’s God is a very big God!

Summary:
So because it was God’s will that they were elders and he “tithed” them to the church for this purpose, they had a responsibility to God to carry out Paul’s charge.

5) THE WHY – CHRIST OBTAINED THE CHURCH WITH HIS OWN BLOOD
In verse 28 we find this reason for Paul’s charge – “… which he obtained with his own blood.”

Peter also makes this point:
1 Peter 1:18-19 – knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.

Paul repeats the concept to the Church at Corinth:
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 – You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

“Obtained” in verse 28 carries with it the idea of gaining and preserving.
So what Paul is emphasizing is that the Church – the flock, the pasture, the overseers – the whole thing – was gained for us by the blood of Jesus Christ.
Therefore, you (the overseers) and you (the flock) have a responsibility that is not to be taken lightly.

In my opinion, I think it can be said (using “remember” as discussed a couple of weeks ago) that we are to “Remember the Church purchased by the blood of Christ.”
Remember, as we discussed then, means “to recall it, with a focus on responding in an appropriate manner”.
So in this case Paul’s charge to the overseers is what that response is to consist of.
What is our response, the flock, to be in the flock/shepherd metaphor?

Summary:
Paul charged the overseers to watch out and care for themselves, the flock and the church.
He advised this because there are those outside and inside the church that seek to corrupt the church and devour or draw away its members.
He also taught the overseers they are to carry out this charge because they were “made” by the Holy Spirit and because Christ gave his blood for the church.

This responsibility of the overseers is one that we (the flock) should understand and be sympathetic to.
Our leaders answer to God for how they perform this charge.

In light of this, I think we can better understand the following:
Hebrews 13:17 – Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.

A further implication of Paul’s charge involves the family.
We as the spiritual leaders, in my opinion, are accountable before God for the “pasture” that is our family.
Do we keep the relationships biblically responsive?
Do we teach our families God’s word?
We were “made” by the Holy Spirit the husband and father to our children, and God calls us to respond to this responsibility in much the same way the elders are to respond to Paul’s charge.

Acts 20:32-38 – Paul’s Economy

Acts 20:32-38 – Paul’s Economy

Diving Deeper Lesson Outline for Acts 20:32-38
The title is drawn from the sentiments Paul expounds in verses 33-35.

Paul teaches the Ephesian elders some important economic principles.
In our text today, he hits on three issues.
We will try to uncover the significance of the three.

1) NO COVETING ALLOWED

In verse 33 Paul says, “I coveted no one’s silver or gold or apparel.”
This is easy enough to say, but it speaks to something profound about coveting and echoes the 10th commandment.

Ephesians 5:5 – For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.
To covet is to be an idolater.

James 4:2a – You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel.
To covet is to fight and quarrel.

Ecclesiastes 5:10 – He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity.
To covet money brings no satisfaction, but only a black hole of never having enough.

Matthew 6:24 – No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money
If to covet is to be an idolator, then we idolize or serve what we covet.
This is why Jesus said, “You cannot serve God and money.”

Hebrews 13:5 – Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
To covet (love) money is to say you do not trust in God.
Contentment in what you have is the proper response to God and His love for us.

Summary:
Paul’s interest in all he did was not his gain but the gain of Jesus Christ and the Gospel.
Here Paul is clearly saying this attitude also applies to his finances.
Paul is not indicting money itself, but our relationship with it.
Covetousness reaps only more vice and impedes our relationship with God.
And for the Ephesian elders, it would be a dreadfully poor example to the flock.

2) WORK IF YOU CAN

The second principle Paul deals with is that of working for a living.

In verse 34 Paul says, “You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my necessities and to those who were with me.”
While in Ephesus for three years, Paul worked to provide his needs and even the needs of his disciples.

We also have other evidence of Paul’s work ethic.

Acts 18:3 – and because he was of the same trade he stayed with them and worked, for they were tentmakers by trade.

1 Corinthians 4:11-13 – To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless, 12 and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; 13 when slandered, we entreat. We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things.

1 Thessalonians 2:8-9 – For you remember, brothers, our labor and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. It was not because we do not have that right, but to give you in ourselves an example to imitate.

POI – Interestingly, this last verse reveals Paul had a right to be accept help or be paid for his work for them.
But, Paul did not accept money from churches where he was currently working.
And as he made clear, he refrained from doing so to set an example to them.
For as he said to the church at Corinth in 1 Corinthians 10:23-24:
“Everything is permissible”—but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible”—but not everything is constructive. 24 Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.

POI – It is interesting to note that Paul, however, did accept financial help from churches he had previously planted.
Philippians 4:15-20 – And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only. 16 Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again. 17 Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit.

2 Corinthians 11:9 – And when I was with you and was in need, I did not burden anyone, for the brothers [Silas & Timothy Acts 18:5] who came from Macedonia supplied my need. So I refrained and will refrain from burdening you in any way.

Summary:
We are to work.
It takes the burden off of those that might support us and it sets an example for others.

3) CHARITY TO THE “WEAK” IS ESSENTIAL

The third principal involves the giving of what is yours to others.

In verse 35 Paul says, “In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’.”

The obvious question here is, “Who are the weak”?
The Greek word is astheneo.
The word elsewhere is translated sick, ill and invalid.
Being any of these can put you into financial need and even poverty.
Being “weak” is not the lack of food or clothing but the lack of means to secure food or clothing.
Paul here says that we work hard that we may help these “who are weak”.

In fact God, when speaking of the abominations of Jerusalem to Ezekiel, says:
Ezekiel 16:49 – Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy.

Jesus himself said this:
Matthew 25:35-40 – For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

POI – It goes without saying that astheneo is not the only thing that can lead to poverty…corruption, natural disasters, etc. can also bring about a “weak” or impoverished condition.

Who are not the “weak”?

Idleness is not “weakness”:
2 Thessalonians 3:6, 10-12 – Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us…10 For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. 11 For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. 12 Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.

Paul gives a command to not feed the idle.
Clearly, the idle to whom Paul said “let him not eat” are not what he would consider “weak”.
Not to mention, this seems to be a pretty harsh command.

Who is this person Paul is describing?

It helps first to understand that we are to work:
Genesis 3:19 – By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground,…

And that God is dissatisfied when we can and don’t:
Proverbs 21:25 – The desire of the sluggard kills him, for his hands refuse to labor.

So we can now see who Paul is describing.
The word “idleness” denotes a soldier who is walking disorderly and out of step with the ranks.
In his specific usage of it, it is describing an able-bodied person who is walking “out of step” (not working) with the “ranks” (God’s intent) due to laziness.

This both confirms that working for a living is part of God’s plan for humanity and that idleness not only causes societal problems but is also disobedient to God.

The word “busybodies” denotes one who appears busy but is engaged in “trifling, needless, useless matters.”
In other words, they are still “out of step” even though they appear to be working.

Is Paul’s command as harsh as it sounds?

One reason for this command is that the lazy can cause systemic societal problems.
In the words of John MacArthur, “The results of a welfare culture are visible for all to see – family breakups, immorality, crime, hopelessness, meaninglessness, and bitterness.”

Dr. Adrian Rogers described the potential for problems like this:
“What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, they my dear friend, is about the end of any nation. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it.”

Secondly, we find that this command is not a form of punishment, per se, but an attempt at restoration.
Most believe that Paul’s intent here is best summed up in the word’s of Solomon:
Proverbs 16:26 – A worker’s appetite works for him; his mouth urges him on.
In other words, when they get hungry enough they will rejoin the work force as they should.

Summary:

The weak are not those who lack food or clothing but those who lack the means to secure food or clothing.
The idle are not the weak; they are those out of step with God’s purpose (working) and are therefore disobedient to God.
So there is a clear difference between the “weak” in need and the “idle” in need.
The first we are to help, the second we are to withhold help (as Paul teaches) so that they might be restored to a working frame of mind (as Solomon illustrates).

But all of this naturally leads me to another question.

4) WHAT KIND OF FOOD ARE WE TO GIVE THE “WEAK” AND NEEDY?

“God is in the slums, in the cardboard boxes where the poor play house. God is in the silence of a mother who has infected her child with a virus that will end both their lives. God is in the cries heard under the rubble of war. God is in the debris of wasted opportunity and lives, and God is with us if we are with them.” – Bono (Singer from the band U2)

Granted, this statement is tinted with pantheistic characteristics, but Bono rightly places an obligation on those of us who can help to actually help.
However, when he says, “if we are with them” what does he mean?
We as Christians must take our cues from Christ on how to be “with them”.
We have learned from Paul who the “weak” are as opposed to the “idle”.

And we have learned from Jesus & Paul that we are to help the weak.

But is there more to it than this?
Does the Christian have an even greater responsibility than the one Bono alludes to?
After all, the world can only offer physical food.
Jesus says there is another kind of food people need.

John 6:55 – For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.

John 6:35 – Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst…”

John 6:9-51 – Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50 This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”

So, without question, if we give physical food and do not give the food that gives eternal life we have come up short.

In fact, Jesus makes this so very clear in the following:
John 6:26-29 – “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27 Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” 28 Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”

The world elevates the physical above the spiritual – as if the spiritual does no good.
Jesus’ words make certain to us that from His perspective the “Word of Life” is the more important food.

The world, in its disdain for Jesus, may ask this, “How does the Gospel help a starving child?”

How do we respond to such a question?
Honestly – if the church has not helped feed the “weak” we have failed in a calling Christ has placed on us.

After all, James asked the same question:
James 2:15-17 – If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

But we are also never to be shamed into thinking that feeding with “the bread of life” is useless!
So again, we must do both!
As Randy Alcorn says, “God prospers me not to raise my standard of living, but to raise my standard of giving” [The Treasure Principle (Sisters, Oregon: Multnomah, 2001], 71).

Acts 21:1-16 – To Go or Not to Go – What did the Holy Spirit say?

Acts 21:1-16 – To Go or Not to Go – What did the Holy Spirit say?

Diving Deeper Lesson Outline for Acts 21:1-16

This lesson begins with some basic observations concerning the Holy Spirit’s role in Paul’s trip to Jerusalem.
After the observations, we will try to understand an apparent contradiction involving the will of the Holy Spirit.
Along the way we hope to gain further insight into Paul’s commitment to the Gospel and the humanity of his disciples.

1) THE HOLY SPIRIT SPEAKS

Beginning mainly with Paul’s meeting with the Ephesian elders, the Holy Spirit made a number of proclamations using a number of people.

To Paul at Ephesus & Miletus:
Acts 19:21 – Now after these events Paul resolved (tithemi – set apart) in the (ho – the, not his) Spirit to pass through Macedonia and Achaia and go to Jerusalem, saying, “After I have been there, I must also see Rome.”

Acts 20:22-23 – And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, constrained (bound or compelled) by the (ho – the, not his) Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there, 23 except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me.

Paul believes it is God’s will for him to go to Jerusalem.
Apparently this is confirmed in “every city” Paul visits.

Through the disciples at Tyre:
Acts 21:4 – And having sought out the disciples, we stayed there for seven days. And through the Spirit they were telling Paul not to go on to Jerusalem.

The word “through” means “by means of” or “by reason of” the Holy Spirit.
Paul’s disciples apparently believed that it was God’s will for Paul to not go to Jerusalem.

Through Agabus at Caesarea:
Acts 21:10-11 – While we were staying for many days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. 11 And coming to us, he took Paul’s belt and bound his own feet and hands and said, “Thus says the Holy Spirit, ‘This is how the Jews at Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.’ ”

Agabus’ prophecy presupposes that Paul will be in Jerusalem, otherwise it makes no sense.
So it is reasonable to assume that this prophecy, like the testimony the Spirit gave Paul in “every city”, can be taken to mean that Paul is to go to Jerusalem.

POI – This wasn’t the first time Paul had met Agabus.
Acts 11:27-28 – Now in these days prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. 28 And one of them named Agabus stood up and foretold by the Spirit that there would be a great famine over all the world (this took place in the days of Claudius).
As a result of this prophecy, Paul and Barnabas brought relief to Judea from the church at Antioch.
Paul, then, saw first hand the accuracy of Agabus’ prophecies.

2) THE DISCIPLES RESPOND TO AGABUS (THE HOLY SPIRIT)

Acts 21:12 – When we heard this, we and the people there urged him not to go up to Jerusalem.
And, as previously mentioned in Acts 21:4, they also said, “not to go” in response to the leading of the Spirit in them.

Acts 21:14 – And since he would not be persuaded, we ceased and said, “Let the will of the Lord be done.”

The disciples reacted to Agabus’ prophecy, no doubt also influenced by their Spirit led conviction in verse 4, by asking or telling Paul not to go to Jerusalem.
Interestingly, however, they conceded that because Paul would not be persuaded that his going must be the will of the Lord.

3) PAUL RESPONDS TO THE DISCIPLES

Acts 21:13 – Then Paul answered, “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be imprisoned but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.”

Very similar to what he said to the Ephesian elders:
Acts 20:24 – But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.

Paul made two things clear at this point.
The first relates to our current line of thought so we will unpack it first.

The first thing Paul made clear:
His main consideration was to finish the course of his ministry which was “to testify to the gospel” regardless of the consequences.
Therefore, he did not consider the Spirit lead prophecies describing his bleak future as a MESSAGE from God to refrain from going to Jerusalem.
They were merely descriptive of the cost of obedience and of finishing the mission.

POI – WE CAN LEARN A GREAT DEAL FROM THIS!
If you or someone else believes they have been called by God to go or do something, the duration or legitimacy of the call cannot necessarily be called into question because of the possibility of a bad ending.
Paul demonstrated that he loved Christ and the gospel more than himself.
In view of this, our love of Christ may pale in comparison to Paul’s love.
What would it take for us to love Christ more than our life?

Now back to the main point.

Our observations thus far lead us to the following:
Apparently, the Holy Spirit lead the disciples to believe that Paul should not go to Jerusalem.
The Holy Spirit lead Paul to believe that he should go to Jerusalem.
And Paul’s adamancy about going, then led the disciples to conclude that God’s will was for him to go.

This leads us to a tough question:
Was the characterization of God’s will conveyed by the Holy Spirit to the disciples in verse 4 true or not?
If we say it was true, then it contradicts both what Paul believed (making him disobedient) and what the disciples conceded in verse 14.
If we say it was false, then why would the disciples (unless crazy) believe it to be true and act as if it were true.
And also if false, it would give us reason to doubt the accuracy of what Luke wrote.

How do we account for this apparent contradiction?

To start:
We can say that the disciples believed the Spirit, in verse 4, was telling them that Paul shouldn’t go to Jerusalem.
We know this to be true by their attempts to keep him from going.
We can also say that Paul believed the Spirit was calling him to go to Jerusalem
We know this to be true by his not being persuaded by the disciples or the prophecy of Agabus to stay put.

We also know the following:
Acts 9:15-16 – But the Lord said to him (Ananias in Damascus), “Go, for he (Paul) is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. 16 For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.”

This is important because it lines up exactly with Acts 19:21, Acts 20:22-23 and Acts 21:10-11.
In these verses God “shows” Paul how much he must suffer.

We also know from the “Feed the Flock” lesson:
Paul was experienced in knowing the leading of the Spirit – see Acts 13:2; Acts 16:6 and Acts 20:28.

Therefore it is my opinion that Paul was correct in his assessment of the Spirits leading and the disciples were incorrect.
The disciples were being led by something other than the Holy Spirit.

If true, that leaves us with the problems addressed above:
Why did the disciples think they were being led by the Spirit?
Why did Luke make a mistake in his account of the story?

The second is the easiest to address.
The disciples believed their revelation to be from the Spirit and Luke merely represented what he and they believed and he did so accurately.
In fact, this makes Scripture even more authoritative and believable to me.
If the New Testament was a scam, this and all the other possibly condemning and embarrassing passages would have been fixed.

Now, the first can be reasonably explained using our second POI insight earlier in the lesson.
It is my opinion that the disciples confused the Spirit’s warnings of persecution to mean that Paul should not go.
And I think all of us could understand why this could be easily done.
It is a perfectly reasonable instinct for them to protect the leader of the Gentile mission – Paul.

I think further evidence for this can be discovered from the discussion of “The second thing Paul made clear” below.
There we see that Paul gave insight into the point of view of Luke and the disciples.
The view Paul describes is one that stems from personal and subjective motivations not God-centered ones.
And it is from these motivations that they drew the wrong conclusions.

In other words, they were being lead by themselves and not being led by the Holy Spirit.

Before we move to the second thing Paul made clear in Acts 20:24, we should consider a few things from what we have learned thus far.

It is worth noting here that two godly men (Luke & Paul) had a difference of opinion.
(I am assuming here that Luke, because of his later actions, agreed with the disciples in verse 4.)
Both believed they were right based on the leading of the Holy Spirit, but obviously they both couldn’t be right.
So understanding why Luke and the other disciples were mistaken will help us immensely as members of a church.
Our feelings (a subjective point of view) and potential consequences (like Paul’s persecution) are not necessarily confirmation of the Holy Spirit’s leading.
Any “leading” should be accompanied by biblically based evidences to be considered a leading of the Holy Spirit.
As well, to confirm the “leading” it should be considered in context of our Biblical Unity Principals from chapter 15; especially the one dealing with making God honoring judgments – objectivity, humility, etc.

Now the second thing Paul made clear deals with a different, but no less significant, point.

The second thing Paul made clear:
To put it kindly, Paul was not enthused with the response of Luke and the disciples towards the news that he was in fact going to Jerusalem regardless of the consequences.
He tells them they broke his heart.
The word “breaking” is “to deprive of strength for enduring trials”.
In other words, this was the complete opposite of the encouragement – parakaleo – that Paul had taught them to give.
Instead of “redirecting Paul’s affections to God” they were redirecting Paul to their fear and Paul’s coming pain.
Not only were they wrong but they were discouraging too.

A caveat: the position of this lesson is not the only explanation but it is, in my opinion, one of the more reasonable.

Acts 21:17-24 – Submit & Accomodate the Weak – Part 1

Acts 21:17-24 – Submit & Accomodate the Weak – Part 1

Diving Deeper Lesson outline for Acts 21:17-24

The title is drawn from James request to Paul to placate the believing Jews of Jerusalem.

1) PAUL IS BACK – TROUBLE IS BREWING

Acts 21:20b-22 – And they said to him, “You see, brother, how many thousands there are among the Jews of those who have believed. They are all zealous for the law, 21 and they have been told about you that you teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or walk according to our customs. 22 What then is to be done? They will certainly hear that you have come.

So somebody, probably the Judaizers many say, were saying that Paul was teaching the Diaspora Jews to “forsake Moses”, to “not to circumcise their children”, and were no longer to “walk according to our customs”.
Presumably, they were to abandon these before they could come to Christ.

Whether or not this rumor was true or not, the Jewish believers who were “zealous for the law” were up in arms and James saw it as his duty to bring peace and unity to the body.

Was the accusation true?

Paul on Moses:
Acts 13:38-39 – Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and 39 by him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses

Acts 28:23 – When they had appointed a day for him, they came to him at his lodging in greater numbers. From morning till evening he expounded to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets.

Romans 10:18-19 – But I ask, have they not heard? Indeed they have, for “Their voice has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.” 19 But I ask, did Israel not understand? First Moses says, “I will make you jealous of those who are not a nation; with a foolish nation I will make you angry.”

The law of Moses could not produce the freedom that belief in Christ could.
The correct understanding of the law of Moses points to Christ.
Moses knew that Israel would reject the Messiah AND have a problem with His relationship with Gentiles.

Paul on Circumcision:
Romans 2:28-29 – For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. 29 But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.

Galatians 6:12-15 – It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh who would force you to be circumcised, and only in order that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. 13 For even those who are circumcised do not themselves keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh.

1 Corinthians 7:17-19 – This is my rule in all the churches. 18 Was anyone at the time of his call already circumcised? Let him not seek to remove the marks of circumcision. Was anyone at the time of his call uncircumcised? Let him not seek circumcision. 19 For neither circumcision counts for anything nor uncircumcision, but keeping the commandments of God.

A circumcision that is meaningful is a circumcision of the heart done by the Holy Spirit.
(BTW – This is exactly what Moses taught in Deut. 10:16)
Circumcision of the foreskin has become a way to impress man and avoid persecution.
Obedience to God’s moral law not his ceremonial law is what counts for something.

Paul on Jewish customs:
Romans 10:12-13 – For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Romans 14:1-3 – As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. 2 One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. 3 Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him.

Salvation from God sees neither ethnic nor cultural differences.
Some have found the freedom from cultural baggage that Christ provides and some have not yet done so.

So, did Paul teach, as far as we can tell, that believing Jews were to abandon the laws and customs of Moses?
In fact, what kind of vow did Paul participate in earlier in Acts?
What was the gist of Paul’s teaching on the law of Moses?

Now we will see that even though Paul never taught what was said of him, James made a demand of him.

2) JAMES SPEAKS – HERE IS THE SOLUTION

Acts 21:23-24 – Do therefore what we tell you. We have four men who are under a vow; 24 take these men and purify yourself along with them and pay their expenses, so that they may shave their heads. Thus all will know that there is nothing in what they have been told about you, but that you yourself also live in observance of the law.

First, Paul is told to cover the expenses of 4 men who were about to complete a Nazarite vow (see Numbers 6:1-21).
James asked him to pay for the ritual haircutting, but it also would have included the accompanying sacrifices (vs.26) required to complete the vow.
In so doing, James believed Paul would “up his street cred” as a law observing Jew to the thousands of Jewish believers.

The book of Numbers tells us exactly what Paul was paying for:
Numbers 6:13-20 – “And this is the law for the Nazirite, when the time of his separation has been completed: he shall be brought to the entrance of the tent of meeting, 14 and he shall bring his gift to the Lord, one male lamb a year old without blemish for a burnt offering, and one ewe lamb a year old without blemish as a sin offering, and one ram without blemish as a peace offering, 15 and a basket of unleavened bread, loaves of fine flour mixed with oil, and unleavened wafers smeared with oil, and their grain offering and their drink offerings. 16 And the priest shall bring them before the Lord and offer his sin offering and his burnt offering, 17 and he shall offer the ram as a sacrifice of peace offering to the Lord, with the basket of unleavened bread. The priest shall offer also its grain offering and its drink offering. 18 And the Nazirite shall shave his consecrated head at the entrance of the tent of meeting and shall take the hair from his consecrated head and put it on the fire that is under the sacrifice of the peace offering. 19 And the priest shall take the shoulder of the ram, when it is boiled, and one unleavened loaf out of the basket and one unleavened wafer, and shall put them on the hands of the Nazirite, after he has shaved the hair of his consecration, 20 and the priest shall wave them for a wave offering before the Lord. They are a holy portion for the priest, together with the breast that is waved and the thigh that is contributed. And after that the Nazirite may drink wine.

Second, Paul is also told to purify himself.
Most take this to mean that Paul, having come from Gentile lands, was considered unclean by the believing Jews, and so therefore in need of purification.
And implicit with this was that purification was needed before he could accompany the 4 men to the completion of their Nazarite vows.

To be thorough, we must understand that Jews had obligations to both ceremonial law and moral law.
To understand this superficially, I think we can say that these obligations can be seen as external (e.g., circumcised foreskin) and internal (e.g., circumcised heart).
But for the believing Jew mentioned in verse 20, these obligations were not displaced by faith in Christ.
In fact, we just learned that Paul apparently did not teach that believing Jews should abandon them.
So we must keep all of these in view to fully grasp what is going on in our text.

To help us do this, we need to define moral and ceremonial law.
Please keep in mind that they can overlap with each other, so we shouldn’t be to wooden in our understanding.

Ceremonial Law:
“The ceremonial law, described mainly in Exodus 25:1–40:38 (as well as in Leviticus and Deuteronomy), involves the tablernacle, the clothing and function of the priests, and the sacrifices and offerings.”
Enns, P. P. (1997, c1989). The Moody handbook of theology (57). Chicago, Ill.: Moody Press.

This law included such things as dietary restrictions (e.g., could not eat any blood) and quarantine restrictions (e.g., menstruating women),

It is said that the ceremonial laws, in addition to setting the Jews apart culturally, dealt mainly with how to worship God.
In reference to ceremonial law, J.I. Packer says:
The ancient Israelites centered all of their activities on the worship of Jehovah…In great detail, the Bible described the ceremonies of worship that were so important to the life of God’s people. These scriptures show that even though a person cannot please God on his own, God makes that person able to worship Him acceptably.
Packer, J., Tenney, M. C., & White, W. (1997, c1995). Nelson’s illustrated manners and customs of the Bible (384). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

Moral Law:
The moral law is found, though not exclusively, in the 10 Commandments.
The moral law is prefaced with “I am the Lord your God…”, it is therefore said of it that:“the standard of moral measurement in deciding what was right or wrong, good or evil, was fixed in the unwavering and impeccably holy character of Yahweh, Israel’s God. His nature, attributes, character, and qualities provided the measuring stick for all ethical decision.” Kaiser, Toward an Old Testament Theology, p. 114.

Which of these two, moral law or ceremonial law, was Paul asked to oblige?
That it would show Paul to be “observant of the law” tells us what about the law?

We will finish this lesson next week when we deal with Paul’s response.

Acts 21:20b-26 – Submit & Accommodate the Weak – Part II

Acts 21:20b-26 – Submit & Accommodate the Weak – Part II

1) PAUL’S RESPONSE TO JAMES’ REQUEST

Acts 21:26 – Then Paul took the men, and the next day he purified himself along with them and went into the temple, giving notice when the days of purification would be fulfilled and the offering presented for each one of them.

What Paul did:
As we discussed last week, Paul purified himself and paid for the sacrifices of four men who were completing their Nazarite vow. (To see what this entailed, please refer back to Part I of this lesson).
We determined that James was asking Paul to oblige the ceremonial law not a moral law.

We noted that Paul taught all were free from the constraints of the law:
Galatians 3:23-25 – Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. 24 So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian,

Nevertheless, we saw that he obliged James’ request anyway.

Because of this, we want to explore what motivated Paul to do these things.

And we want to find answers to the following questions:
Paul certainly knew he didn’t really need purifying, so why did he agree to do so?
Wouldn’t Paul’s participation in a blood sacrifice devalue the work of Christ on the cross and confuse Gentile converts?
Did Paul actually “live in observance of the law” as James stated?

2) WHY HE DID IT – ALL THINGS TO ALL PEOPLE – THE “FOR THEM” REASON

1 Corinthians 9:19-23 – For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. 20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. 21 To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. 23 I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.

Titus 3:9 – But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless.

Paul makes clear that he will oblige a group’s idiosyncrasies if it allows him to more effectively share the Gospel. (Obviously, he draws the line at violating God’s moral law).
Paul also makes clear that bickering over the law is a waste of time.
In his pragmatism, he teaches Titus that no good can come from trying to change the behavior of those Jewish believers whose affections are wrapped up in the ceremonial law.

But there is an even more significant underlying problem associated with those that Paul is talking about above.

In 1 Corinthians 9:22, from our verses above, Paul tells us that “to the weak I became weak”.
In my opinion, this is Paul’s summary description of all those he described in verses 19 through 21.

The weak in faith:
Romans 14:1-2 – As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. 2 One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables.

Romans 15:1 – We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves.

1 Corinthians 8:6-13 – yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist. 7 However, not all possess this knowledge. But some, through former association with idols, eat food as really offered to an idol, and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. 8 Food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do. 9 But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. 10 For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, will he not be encouraged, if his conscience is weak, to eat food offered to idols? 11 And so by your knowledge this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died. 12 Thus, sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. 13 Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.

Paul knew that there was a inverse relationship between a weak faith and our freedom in Christ.
Those that were weak in faith were more likely hold on to the customs and ceremonies that guided their lives before Christ.
Paul tell us that those who “have knowledge” (who understand their freedom in Christ) are to be aware of this and accommodate the weak.
The Jewish believers he was accommodating were weak in faith as evidenced by their love of the ceremonial law.
The freedom they had in Christ from this law had eluded them.

How has the freedom we have in Christ eluded us because of weak faith?

But Paul, in his genius, takes the implications for the weak even further.
He teaches us that their zeal can be misplaced.

The weak in faith are zealous for the wrong things:
Luke describes the Jews in our main text as:
Acts 21:22 – “…zealous for the law.”

In the case of these Jewish believers, we see that they were zealous for the law.
Understanding what we have learned about the actions of those that are weak in faith, it is clear that we can say that a weak faith allowed a zeal for the ceremonial law to flourish.
And so Paul became as one under the law and participated in all that James asked of him to accommodate not only their weak faith but their misplaced zeal that flowed from that.

Unbeknownst to us, how have we let our weak faith lead us to be zealous for the wrong things?
Misplaced zeal can be spiritual growth killer.

The source of misplaced zeal for the unbeliever:
Romans 10:2-3 – For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness.

For the unbeliever, self-righteousness in any form informs a misplaced zeal.
And it can be a hindrance to salvation.

The source of misplaced zeal for the believer:
1 Corinthians 8:7 – “…through former association with idols…”
Acts 21:21 – “…according to our customs.”
Romans 14:2 – “…eats only vegetables…”

For the believer, “cultural baggage” informs our misplaced zeal.

By cultural baggage, I mean the patterns of thoughts and behaviors in our culture that, by their very nature, hurt our ability to interact with God’s truth in a biblically responsive manner – Paul’s examples are association with idols; our customs; our dietary restrictions; etc.
From our text, we see that the cultural baggage for the Jewish believers was the ceremonial law.
In just a moment, we will explore what our cultural baggage might be.

Cultural baggage, symptomatic of weak faith and the foundation of our misplaced zeal, can influence the believer in detrimental ways.
It can cloud our spiritual judgment AND, in conjunction with our weak faith, lead us to be zealous for the wrong things and hinder our spiritual growth.

I think it is important here to further explore the detrimental effects of cultural baggage on both the Jewish believers in our text and in our own lives.

Be aware of cultural baggage:
How did the cultural baggage of the ceremonial law in verse 22 inhibit the growth of the Jewish believer?
In our lesson text today, we can clearly see it was a source of tension with those believers who were past it – Paul.
We also can see that it enabled them to be easily mislead by those spreading rumors about Paul –verse 21.
It also clouded their view of Paul and his gentile ministry, which limited their ability to receive teaching from Paul.
And by teaching, I mean that those weak in faith and clinging to cultural baggage are in a place where “spiritual meat” is not an option.
They are limited to milk because of the freedom in Christ they have yet to fully come to comprehend.

What cultural baggage do we have as Americans that can hinder are spiritual growth?
If you are stuck in neutral in your walk with Christ, it may be because of the cultural baggage you have never given any thought to.

With respect to our Christian work, our biggest cultural baggage is our individualist culture.
Below is a list of the differences between an individualist culture (ours) and a collectivist culture (the one in which the Bible was written).
As you go through the list, examine how much of what an individualist culture stands for is counter to the principles that we are taught in the Bible.

Individualism vs Collectivism Cultures


The U.S. is an Individualist culture and the Middle East, then and now, is a Collectivist culture.
Clearly, both have their pluses and minuses.

One of the minuses an Individualistic world view brings to bear on our Christian walk is that we mistakenly create our own individual form of Christian faith.
We filter everything we learn from God’s word through our Individualistic “faith filter” and adapt it to our circumstances.

This causes us problems on two fronts: We have a problem with a surrender and submission to letting Biblical truth transform our lives; and we have a problem with Church Authority, especially when it is at odds with “my faith”.

With regards to Biblical truth, we hear the truth of God’s word and process it (warp it) through our “faith filter” with the end result being a faith that is often at best self-centered and at worst unbiblical.
This is one reason why, in my opinion, there is a such a huge disconnect between what the power of the word of God and the spiritual immaturity of the average American believer.

A classic example of this is, “I have prayed about it and the Lord has given me a peace about not doing “x”.” When “x” is an issue that we are commanded to do by the Bible and therefore needs no further word from God.

With regards to church authority, we see man or men who have Biblical authority over us as just individuals (see above list) in their own right who have no more authority over us than some stranger.

POI – We are guilty of sin collectively, not just individually, because of our relationship to Adam.

And this leads us into the 2nd reason Paul obliged James request.
A reason that, because of our individualist culture, is very difficult for us to practice – submission

We will delve into this next week.

Acts 21:20b-26 – Submit & Accommodate the Weak – Part III

Acts 21:20b-26 – Submit & Accommodate the Weak – Part III

See last weeks lesson and review the snares of cultural baggage such as our American individualist “faith filter”.

From that lesson we learned:
Being zealous for the wrong things is a result of a weak faith.
A weak faith is informed by and manifests itself through our cultural baggage.
Our cultural baggage creates for us a “faith filter” by which we respond to the Bible.
Our faith filter as Americans is Individualism.

George Kateb, in his book The inner ocean: individualism and democratic culture, provides a great summary of the cultural baggage of American individualism:

He says individualism produces “a movement toward allowing individuals to make up their world as they go along. That is a principle aspect of individualism, and the hidden spring of self-centered behavior.”

He says that an alternative to this individualism is submission.

And to the individualist, “such submission in itself diminishes the people who endure it.”
One way submission diminishes the individualist is that it limits him from the satisfaction “intrinsic to the effort to make up the world as one goes along.”

One further insight from one of our church missionaries on the limitations of individualism:
You will not succeed on your own, but as you carry the power of God through your church. – N.

His insight, informed by both his “collective” not “individualistic” Arab cultural background and his experience as a Muslim missionary, flies directly in the face of American individualism.

We, of course, would agree with N., but deep in our hearts we still want to succeed “on our own”.
To paraphrase George Kateb, ultimately we don’t want to be diminished by submission.
We simply have a mental and cultural bent against submission, but we must seek to purge its influence.

This leads us to the second reason Paul complied with James & the elders request.

1) WHY HE DID IT – SUBMISSION – THE “FOR JAMES & ELDERS” REASON

Paul obliged James and the other Elders request in Acts 21:23-24 because he was submitting to their authority.
Or to put another way, he was submitting to God’s will.

The Bible makes God’s will in this regard very plain.
As we examine His will, it will not be hard for us to see how it is at odds with our American individualism.

Hebrews 13:17Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.

Hebrews is telling us to “trust, yield to & suffer yourself to be persuaded by” and “resist no longer” your pastors.
They are accountable to God for how they lead and pastor us and we are accountable to God for our submission.

Titus 2:15-3:2 – Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you. 1 Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, 2 to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.

“Submissive” here is a picture of troops arranging under the command of a leader to accomplish a purpose.
Is also literally means that we are to “yield to our leaders admonition or advice”.

1 Thessalonians 5:12-13We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, 13 and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work.

“Over” here denotes that they “superintend” and “preside over” us.
It is the same word used in 1 Timothy 3 where Paul teaches that a qualified elder or deacon is to “manage” their children and keep them submissive.

2 Corinthians 10:8For even if I boast a little too much of our authority, which the Lord gave for building you up and not for destroying you, I will not be ashamed.

And yes, the pastor/teacher does have that authority and they aren’t to be ashamed of it.

1 Peter 5:4-5And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders.

This is literally a comparison between the “not as superior” and their relationship to the “superior” – the elders.
This phrase, “be subject”, means that the “not as superior” are to “yield to” or “to obey” the “superior”.

POI – Peter gives us insight into how our pastors are to lead.
And as Hebrews revealed, they will no doubt be accountable to God to do as Peter teaches.
1 Peter 5:1-3So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: 2 shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; 3 not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.

John Piper provides further insight for us:
“I think “domineering over” (katakurieu) means using power without a servant heart, and trying to sway people without setting an example for them, and exerting influence for the enhancement of one’s own status and ego—not for the glory of Christ and the good of the people. This command should make them tremble with the weight of spiritual responsibility, rather than gloat over the right to rule.”
Piper, J. (2007). Sermons from John Piper (1990-1999). Minneapolis: Desiring God.

POI – Is there occasion to disobey our pastor/elders?
After explaining the 1 Peter 5 passage, John Piper goes on to argue that a pastor/elders shortcoming in this area does not negate the will of God for us to obey them.
He states explicitly that “Now none of this nullifies Hebrews 13:17.”

In fact, teaching twisted things to draw away or teaching a false gospel is the closest the Bible comes to giving a green light to disobedience.

Acts 20:29-30I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.

Galatians 1:8-9But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.

Verses such as these are very specific:
They show an elder speaking Biblical corruption and angels or anyone preaching a contrary gospel.

Using these verses as examples, John MacArthur says:
“Unless the shepherds ask the sheep to do something that is unscriptural or sinful, the sheep ought to obey and submit to the shepherds’ leadership”
MacArthur, J. (2002). 1 & 2 Thessalonians (174). Chicago: Moody Press.

An example of how our “faith filter” tries to justify our rebellion when it is not warranted:
We look for personal fault in those who are in authority over us and then rationalize that they are not worthy of our submission because of their fault.

Summary:
So God’s will for us is to submit to, yield to, obey and resist no longer our pastor/elders.
It is to this Biblical principal that Paul yielded and it is to this that God expects us to yield.
In fact, Hebrews says it is to our advantage to do this so that our pastor/elders can lead us with joy!

More comments about the effects of cultural baggage in light of what we have learned the past 2 weeks:
We are called by Paul to renew our mind.
Romans 12:2Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

This “testing” is not a subjective testing but a leveling of our crooked thinking and experience against the perfectly straight line of God’s word.
Our misplaced zeal, our weak faith, our faith filter, all influenced by our cultural baggage, need to be leveled against God’s word.

So, one way we renew our mind is to submit all of this to God’s truth.
And in so doing we have to jettison our cultural baggage!
To do otherwise is to be disobedient to God and remain enslaved to our self-interests and cultural baggage.

Oswald chambers gave us some insight into how failing to do this can be problematic.
It is quite possible to be living in union with God through the Atonement and yet be traitors mentally. It is easy to be traitors unless we are disciplined along the lines that Jesus taught, viz., the need to submit our intellect to Him as He submitted His intellect to His Father. – Chambers, O. (1996, c1947). Biblical ethics. Hants UK: Marshall, Morgan & Scott.

THE RENEWED MIND OF A CHRISTIAN WILL NOT BE “DIMINISHED BY SUBMISSION” BUT BE “BLESSED BY SUBMISSION.”

Acts 21:27-36 – Paul’s Life – Not His Own

Acts 21:27-36 – Paul’s Life – Not His Own
Diving Deeper Lesson Outline for Acts 21:27-36

The title is drawn from the way Paul lived his life for Christ and the cause of the Gospel.
Our text details yet another situation where Paul could have walked away giving the warnings he received about the coming sufferings he would face.
Yet, he chose to be obedient to God’s call on his life no matter the cost.

The question is why did Paul live with such abandon?
Why did he live his life as if not his own?

1) PAUL’S LIFE – NOT HIS OWN

This theological and real world reality of Paul’s life is yet another way we should seek to imitate him.
I would describe this theological and real world reality as a life of forfeiture.

Paul lived like he did because he had forfeited his life to Christ!

Forfeit means “to lose or to be liable to lose”.
It is the idea of losing ownership of something.
When we enter into a relationship with Christ a forfeiture happens.
In fact, salvation is not even possible if forfeiture of our life does not take place.
Our life is no longer ours but Christ’s.

In the words of Jesus:
Mark 8:35For whoever would save his life will lose it but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.
Luke 17:33Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it.

Through his actions, Paul demonstrated that he lived his life in forfeiture.
We will explore two things in our text that illustrate Paul’s life of forfeiture – obedience and suffering.

Forfeiture of ownership revealed through his Obedience:
Obedience to God via submission to James.
As discussed the last few weeks, Paul in obedience to God, obeyed the wishes of James and the rest of the elders in the church at Jerusalem.
His ability and willingness to submit to authority demonstrates a view of himself much different than our own.

Obedience to God in going to Jerusalem.
His obedience to God’s call to go to Jerusalem, despite the cost, can also be traced throughout Acts.

Acts 19:21Now after these events Paul resolved in the Spirit to pass through Macedonia and Achaia and go to Jerusalem, saying, “After I have been there, I must also see Rome.”

Acts 20:16For Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus, so that he might not have to spend time in Asia, for he was hastening to be at Jerusalem, if possible, on the day of Pentecost.

Acts 20:22-23And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, constrained by the Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there, 23 except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me.

Acts 21:15After these days we got ready and went up to Jerusalem.

Paul’s willingness to obey God’s call to go to Jerusalem was not even thwarted by prophecy of suffering and the pleading of his disciples.

Acts 21:10-12While we were staying for many days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. 11 And coming to us, he took Paul’s belt and bound his own feet and hands and said, “Thus says the Holy Spirit, ‘This is how the Jews at Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.’ ” 12 When we heard this, we and the people there urged him not to go up to Jerusalem.

And the reality of suffering leads us to the next way Paul demonstrated his forfeiture.

POI – In fact, at the very beginning of Paul’s ministry, suffering was ordained by God.
Acts 9:16For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.”

Forfeiture of ownership revealed through his Suffering:
Paul, by enduring so much suffering for Christ’s sake, demonstrated he lived his life in forfeiture.

Vs. 27 – laid hands on him.
Vs. 28 – false accusations.
Vs. 30 – seized and dragged him out of temple.
Vs. 31 – sought to kill him.
Vs. 32 – beat by crowd.
Vs. 33 – arrested and bound in chains.
Vs. 35 – violence of crowd directed at him.
Vs. 36 – away with him.

There are countless other examples of the suffering endured by Paul in the Book of Acts.
What are some of the other examples?

Clearly we see, then, that Paul was obedient to God’s will and suffered for Christ’s sake.
How is it that these actions demonstrate that Paul lived his life in forfeiture?

How do Paul’s actions reveal a life in forfeiture?
The obvious answer to this question is that the obedience and suffering we discussed do not serve his own interests.

So Paul was either crazy or his obedience and suffering served the interests of the one to whom his life was forfeited – Jesus Christ.

In fact, Paul taught us that it was for Jesus and the Gospel he lived and not himself.

Acts 20:24But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.

Acts 21:13Then Paul answered, “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be imprisoned but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.”

Philippians 3:8Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ…

Suffered the loss” here is the same word often translated as forfeited.

2 Corinthians 5:14-15For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.

So we see in Paul’s own word’s the connection between a life of forfeiture and a willingness to be obedient and to suffer.

But we are not Paul.
Do we also have to live life like Paul?

Jesus speaks to the risk of resisting forfeiture of your life to the right thing – namely Himself:
Luke 9:25For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?

So, again, without forfeiture of your life to Christ there is no salvation.
Jesus also reveals here that a failure to do so is costly – you gain nothing and lose it all.

But there is also a day to day forfeiture required and the Christian can resist this full surrender.

Jesus put it this way: And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow meLuke 9:23.

Deny” is often translated as “renounce”, “reject” or “refuse” in the New Testament.
Strongs defines it as “to disregard ones own interests” and “to act entirely unlike oneself”.

Our lives our not ours anymore and we are called to deny, renounce, reject and refuse them daily – a life of forfeiture.

I think Acts reveals that Paul’s was an example of a life lived for Christ that was fully forfeited on a daily basis.

Why do we resist forfeiture and what are the consequences of resistance?
The easy answer is that we don’t want to obey, submit and suffer.

As a result of our resistance I think we lose our full portion of peace and satisfaction in Christ this side of heaven.

And our struggle to retain ownership of our life after we have forfeited it to Christ at salvation accounts for some of the frustration and lack of spiritual growth we experience as a Christian.

How have you demonstrated forfeiture of ownership of your life on a day to day basis?

POI – When something is not ours we tend to take more risks with it!
Whether it be a yard tool, a rental car or a vacation house.
We care less about it’s condition and more about how it serves its purpose.
Paul knew his life was not his and so he took risks.
Living a life of forfeiture can be freeing and exhilarating!

Caution Forfeiture may lead to death & persecution at worst and not living in a comfort zone at best!

Acts 21:37-22:2 – Paul’s Personal Apologia Introduction

Acts 21:37–22:2 – Paul’s Personal Introduction
Diving Deeper Lesson Outline for Acts 21:37-22:2

In verse 22, Paul described his forth coming statements as a “defense”.
Next week we will deal with the WHAT and WHY of the defense.
Today’s lesson is simply a brief introduction.

And to that end, it will be useful to understand Paul’s actions and motivations through the lens of 1 Peter.

1 Peter 3:14-17But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, 15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, 16 having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. 17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.

1 Peter 4:14-16 – If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. 16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.

In these verses, Peter unknowingly described precisely what Paul experienced in Acts 21 & 22’s lessons.

From 1 Peter 3:14-17:
Vs. 14 – “suffer for righteousness’ sake” – Acts 21:27-36
Vs. 15 – “in your hearts honor Christ” – Acts 21:23 & 26
Vs. 15 – “prepared to make a defense” – Acts 22:1
Vs. 15 – “with gentleness and respect” – Acts 21:37-40
Vs. 16 – “when you are slandered” – Acts 21:28 & Acts 21:38
Vs. 17 – “suffer for doing good” – Acts 21:26
Vs. 17 – “should be God’s will” – Acts 9:16

From 1 Peter 4:14-16:
Vs. 14 – “insulted for the name of Christ” – Acts 21:28
Vs. 15 – “none of you suffer as a murderer…” – Paul’s suffering was a result of what?
Vs. 16 – “let him not be ashamed” – Acts 22:3-21 (next weeks lesson)

Although all the parallels are worth examining, we will focus on Peter & Paul’s shared desire to make a defense.
It is worth noting that Paul engaged in two types of defenses in the course of his ministry.
One is the “gospel defense” that Paul regularly made as demonstrated in Acts 13:16-41; 17:2; 17:17; 18:4; 19:8.
The second is the “personal defense” made in our text today.

So in light of all that was going on, why did Paul desire to make a personal defense (apologia)?
The first reason has to do with a clarification for the Roman soldiers; the second an identification with the Jewish mob.

1) THE ROMANS AND A CASE OF MISTAKEN IDENTITY – PAUL’S CLARIFICATION

Acts 21:37b-38 & 39aAnd he said, “Do you know Greek? 38 Are you not the Egyptian, then, who recently stirred up a revolt and led the four thousand men of the Assassins out into the wilderness?”…39a Paul replied, “I am a Jew, from Tarsus in Cilicia, a citizen of no obscure city.

Who was the Egyptian?
There was a lot of Jewish Nationalist unrest under Roman rule at this time and as a result there were violent revolts.
The Roman tribune made the assumption that Paul was one of the Jews involved in these revolts.
The “Assassins” mainly targeted those Jews who sympathized with Roman interests.
However, when Paul spoke Greek to the tribune, it became clear to the him that Paul was something other.

The historian Josephus provides further insight into the Egyptian:
This Egyptian is mentioned by Josephus (Ant. l. xx. c. 7. sec. 6. Bel. l. ii. c. 13. sec. 5) who says that he pretended to be a prophet, and persuaded a multitude of people to follow him to the top of mount Olivet, telling them that they should see the walls of the city fall down before them; but Felix attacked them with horse and foot, killed 400 on the spot, took 200 prisoners, and put the Egyptian himself to flight.
Smith, J. H. (1992; 1996). The new treasury of scripture knowledge. Nashville TN: Thomas Nelson.

This is another of many historical correlations between Biblical and Secular history found in Acts.

Paul’s reply:
Paul emphatically states that not only am I not Egyptian but I am a Jew from a prominent Roman city.
Due to this revelation and his ability to speak Greek, many commentators speculate that the Roman tribune began to suspect that Paul may have been a Roman citizen.
Paul would confirm that suspicion shortly.

So Paul clears up the Roman misconception.
He is then left with his identification with the Jewish mob.

But first, a interesting Point of Interest.

POI – Paul’s actions in our text also serve to underscore principals from previous lessons.
Acts 21:37a & 39b & 40aAs Paul was about to be brought into the barracks, he said to the tribune, “May I say something to you?”… 39b I beg you, permit me to speak to the people.” 40a And when he had given him permission, Paul, standing on the steps, motioned with his hand to the people.

Romans 13:3 tell us that “rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad”.
The Roman presence was clearly a deterrent to the violent conduct of the Jewish mob – Acts 21:32.
This is another example of how political power served (in this case) to protect Paul from being beaten to death – a terror to bad conduct.

But the Romans did more than just protect Paul physically.

Paul submitted to the authority of the tribune as demonstrated by his humility and respect.
As a result, the tribune allowed Paul to make his defense to the Jewish mob.
So we see another example of “Blessed by Submission” and not “Diminished by Submission.”

2) THE JEWISH MOB AND A CASE OF BROTHERLY LOVE – PAUL’S IDENTIFICATION

Acts 21:40b-22:2And when there was a great hush, he addressed them in the Hebrew language, saying: 22:1 “Brothers and fathers, hear the defense that I now make before you.” 2 And when they heard that he was addressing them in the Hebrew language, they became even more quiet.

The second reason for Paul’s personal defense was to identify with his fellow Jews as shown with “brothers/fathers.”
I think he sought to do this both to demonstrate their shared heritage and because he desired to see them saved.

To the first point, Paul’s defense spoken in Aramaic was just the first of many ways he would demonstrate how much he and the mob had in common.
It is interesting that Paul’s use of Aramaic had the same affect on the Jews as his Greek had on the Romans.

To the second point, Paul’s words in Romans reveal what underlies an affection for the Jewish Mob who sought to kill him.
Romans 10:1Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them (unbelieving Israel) is that they may be saved.

He longed to see them complete their relationship with the God that had redeemed Israel out of Egypt generations before.
And to that end, Paul was about to establish that – “LIKE YOU, I AM JEWISH AND SERVE YAHWEH.”

Acts 22:3-23 – Paul’s Defense

Acts 22:3-23 – Paul’s Defense

Diving Deeper lesson outline for Acts 22:3-23.
Lesson taught over 3 weeks.

Lesson title is drawn from Paul’s stated intent behind the speech made to the Asian Jews.

1) IDENTITY – I AM A JEW – VS 3-5

Acts 22:3-5I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up in this city, educated at the feet of Gamaliel according to the strict manner of the law of our fathers, being zealous for God as all of you are this day. 4 I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering to prison both men and women, 5 as the high priest and the whole council of elders can bear me witness. From them I received letters to the brothers, and I journeyed toward Damascus to take those also who were there and bring them in bonds to Jerusalem to be punished.

Paul associates the following with his Judaism:
Spoke Aramaic – Vs. 2
Raised in Jerusalem
Educated by Gamaliel according to the law
Zealous for God
Persecutor of the Way

POI – The wisdom of Gamaliel
Acts 5:33-39When they heard this, they were enraged and wanted to kill them. 34 But a Pharisee in the council named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law held in honor by all the people, stood up and gave orders to put the men outside for a little while. 35 And he said to them, “Men of Israel, take care what you are about to do with these men. 36 For before these days Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a number of men, about four hundred, joined him. He was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing. 37 After him Judas the Galilean rose up in the days of the census and drew away some of the people after him. He too perished, and all who followed him were scattered. 38 So in the present case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; 39 but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!”

He cites witnesses:
High Priest
Whole council of elders
Brothers in Damascus

And a chain of evidence:
From them I received letters to punish the Way

In fact, elsewhere Paul outlines even more evidence for his Judaism:
Descendant of Abraham
Member of the tribe of Benjamin
Circumcised
A Pharisee
Blameless under the law

Romans 11:1bFor I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin.

Philippians 3:4-6If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.

And it is certainly possible that he built his case even more thoroughly than Luke reveals:
So zealous for traditions I was a prodigy
Witnessed & approved of Stephen’s execution
Ravaged the church

Galatians 1:14And I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers.

Acts 8:1-3And Saul approved of his execution. And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. 2 Devout men buried Stephen and made great lamentation over him. 3 But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison.

None of this was in any way offensive to the Jewish Mob – the Asian Jews.
In fact, much of this may have been new and impressive info for them.
The Saul that Paul was speaking of would have been at the front of the line in their persecution of Paul
This would help explain why just prior to this they were trying to kill him and now they were continuing to listen to him.
It is not unreasonable to expect, that with some of them, Paul had achieved his desired affect.
Which is to say, they began to question “This guy was awesome, but what happened to him?”

The answer was about to come.

2) IDENTITY – I AM A JEW WHO ENCOUNTERED JESUS OF NAZARETH – VS 6-11

Acts 22:6-11“As I was on my way and drew near to Damascus, about noon a great light from heaven suddenly shone around me. 7 And I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’ 8 And I answered, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And he said to me, ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting.’ 9 Now those who were with me saw the light but did not understand the voice of the one who was speaking to me. 10 And I said, ‘What shall I do, Lord?’ And the Lord said to me, ‘Rise, and go into Damascus, and there you will be told all that is appointed for you to do.’ 11 And since I could not see because of the brightness of that light, I was led by the hand by those who were with me, and came into Damascus.

In fact, on the way to persecute in Damascus:
Had a physical encounter with objective consequences
Blinded by light from heaven
Fell to the ground

Jesus talked to me:
Jesus of Nazareth was an allusion to the historical man who was crucified and buried and whose body was no longer in its tomb (the Asian Jews would have known this – Acts 19:17 – Jesus name extolled).
Jesus told me that persecuting the church was a persecution of him.

Cites witnesses to the physical encounter and consequences:
Those who were with me saw the light
Those who were with me saw I was blinded by it and had to lead me to Damascus
“Those who” were also the witnesses to Saul’s zealous Judaism, his persecution of the way and of the letter.

Cites a reason for the event:
Jesus has something for me to do and it is not to persecute the church.

In these verses, Paul was describing an event that changed his life.
The change it produced he would reveal soon enough.
What is in view here as Paul is making his defense, however, is that the event and its objective affects had witnesses.
Presumably, Paul’s story could be investigated and verified, otherwise, to use it as evidence for his the truth of his claims would have been merit less.

“The conversion and apostleship of St. Paul alone, duly considered, was of itself a demonstration sufficient to prove Christianity to be a divine revelation,” – George Lyttelton; Observations on the conversion of St. Paul

POI – Interesting to notice what Paul did not say in his defense.
When speaking the Gospel, we are often taught to give a testimony that describes our life before and then after our salvation & we typically talk about subjective, emotional aspects of our salvation – “peace”, “satisfaction”, “happiness”, etc.
Paul made mention of none of these things in his defense.
He spoke more about objective reasons behind his conversion; things much more useful to the audience if they wished to investigate Paul’s defense.
I think we should endeavor to adopt Paul’s strategy.

3) IDENTITY – I AM A JEW FORGIVEN BY THE MESSIAH – VS 12-16

Acts 22:12-16“And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, well spoken of by all the Jews who lived there, 13 came to me, and standing by me said to me, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight.’ And at that very hour I received my sight and saw him. 14 And he said, ‘The God of our fathers appointed you to know his will, to see the Righteous One and to hear a voice from his mouth; 15 for you will be a witness for him to everyone of what you have seen and heard. 16 And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name.’

Paul cites another witness:
Ananias
Devout man according to the law
Respected by the Damascus Jews
(Acts 9:14 – Jews who knew Paul was coming to persecute the Christians & would have known Ananias was a Christian).
A witness to my blindness
Healed my blindness

Why cite a Christian as a source when speaking to the Asian Jews?
Wouldn’t this hurt Paul’s argument?

The answer to the above question is found in an understanding of the role of witnesses in Jewish law.
This, admittedly, is a very basic understanding.

First, it is necessary that there be testimony from at least two witnesses to establish the possibility of an event (crime).

Deuteronomy 19:15“A single witness shall not suffice against a person for any crime or for any wrong in connection with any offense that he has committed. Only on the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses shall a charge be established.

Second, the quality and relationship of the witnesses must be established and examined.

The Jewish Law Annual states with respect to witnesses that, “what is being sought is a common denominator that serves to render the witnesses a single unit, that is, some factor that links together persons who would otherwise be simply a number of discrete individuals. It is clear that the connection between them is formal and accidental, without involving any personal element, and there is no logical or substantive reason to suppose that this connection has any influence on the case.”

When we apply this by comparing Ananias, the “those who were with me” from Acts 22:9 & 11 and the high priest and elders from Acts 22:5, we see a picture of witnesses whose connection is “formal and accidental”, without any “personal element” and that their connection is not some sort of collusion.

We see this because Annanias, a well-respected Jewish follower of Christ from Damascus, is quite different both in his beliefs and in his geography from the other witnesses.

Yet they all can testify to the following “common denominator”:
Paul was zealous for the law.
Paul persecuted Christians.
Paul encountered Jesus.
Jesus spoke to Paul.
Paul was blind.

Their relationship to the events Paul was recounting was the only thing that made the witnesses “a single unit”.
So the fact that they could, if interrogated, paint a picture that would have had all the aforementioned similarities gave their testimony incredible weight!

God orchestrated a series of events that provided actual historical reasons to believe in Paul’s message.
No one had to just take his word for it…and neither do we.
The Bible can withstand all the scrutiny we wish to throw at it.

This devout, respected, law abiding, healing Jew (Ananias) revealed:
God of our fathers (God of Abraham, Isaac & Jacob)
Appointed (CHOOSE) Paul to know God’s will
To see Righteous One
To hear His voice

POI – That Paul was appointed or chosen by God reveals God’s role in calling us to Him.
As a side note, God also chose the disciples.
Luke 6:13And when day came, he called his disciples and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles

The audience would have rightly understood the term “Righteous One” as referring to the Messiah.

Isaiah 24:16From the ends of the earth we hear songs of praise, of glory to the Righteous One.
Acts 3:14But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you,
Acts 7:52Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, 53 you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it.”

Ananias, as a witness, was corroborating Paul’s story and declaring that God chose Paul to see and hear the Messiah!
This was a remarkable claim Paul was making before the Jewish mob and it would not have been lost on them.

The purpose of the call on Paul:
Witness for Jesus what was seen and heard – THE BOOK OF ACTS.

The effects of the call:
Baptized
Sins forgiven in name of Jesus

The idea of being immersed in water and its symbolic relationship to purification was not new to the Jews.
When you go to Jerusalem today, you see the remains at the temple mount of the Mikveh baths.
The Jewish Mikveh Laws were founded in the ceremonial washings taught in the Pentateuch.

Leviticus 8:6Then Moses brought Aaron and his sons forward and washed them with water.
Leviticus 16:4He is to put on the sacred linen tunic, with linen undergarments next to his body; he is to tie the linen sash around him and put on the linen turban. These are sacred garments; so he must bathe himself with water before he puts them on.

And interestingly, Ezekiel & Zechariah prophesied about a cleansing to come in the days of the Messiah symbolized with water.

Ezekiel 36:24-28“For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you…You will live in the land I gave your forefathers; you will be my people; and I will be your God”

Zechariah 12:10; 13:1“And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son…On that day a fountain will be opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and impurity”

It is amazing to me that even with all these claims, the mob remained attentive.
Paul had declared that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah and that Jesus had forgiven Paul’s sins.
It was presumable that many of the Jewish mob had also picked up on the relationship drawn between Jesus the Messiah and a symbolic water purification.
Perhaps the mob was still enamored with Paul’s Super Jew credentials.
But it was also possible that this points to the persuasiveness of Paul’s argument to at the very least, garner a respectful hearing.

But all that was about to change.

4) IDENTITY – I AM A JEW REJECTED BY JEWS & GIVEN TO GENTILES – VS 17-21

Acts 22:17-23“When I had returned to Jerusalem and was praying in the temple, I fell into a trance 18 and saw him saying to me, ‘Make haste and get out of Jerusalem quickly, because they will not accept your testimony about me.’ 19 And I said, ‘Lord, they themselves know that in one synagogue after another I imprisoned and beat those who believed in you. 20 And when the blood of Stephen your witness was being shed, I myself was standing by and approving and watching over the garments of those who killed him.’ 21 And he said to me, ‘Go, for I will send you far away to the Gentiles.’ ” 22 Up to this word they listened to him. Then they raised their voices and said, “Away with such a fellow from the earth! For he should not be allowed to live.” 23 And as they were shouting and throwing off their cloaks and flinging dust into the air… [enter the Roman tribune].

Paul’s time in the temple paints a beautiful picture of restoration:
Paul left Jerusalem a “slave to sin” and came back a “slave to righteousness”.
He left Jerusalem persecuting followers of Jesus and now was praying in the temple as a follower of Jesus.
He left Jerusalem irrevocably alienated from God and returned having been called and fully restored.

So we have the completion of Paul’s defense.
He made a brilliant, event and witness based case for Christ.
And he ended with this beautiful picture of a Jew restored and completed in fellowship and prayer with Jesus Christ in the temple.
A temple which had its purpose completely fulfilled in Jesus Christ!

POI – It can’t be overstated how remarkable this return to Jerusalem must have been for Paul.
One would speculate that when Paul entered the temple everything from the sights, smells, and symbolism must have struck him with a clarity that, in spite of all his Super-Jew qualities, he had never known before.
One would speculate further that his prior life must have now seemed hollow and counterfeit compared to what he now knew through Jesus Christ.
Romans 10:4For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.
What a huge burden lifted!
What undo burdens have we placed on ourselves???

Paul is puzzled:
Paul seemed to be of the opinion that if he responded to God’s call then surely his former piers would respond as well.
Therefore, when Christ warns him to leave Jerusalem, he is puzzled by it.
He even gives his reasoning to Jesus – “I imprisoned”, “I beat”, on Stephen’s death “I myself was standing by and approving”.
In other words, if one who was “blameless under the law”, “a pharisee”, “zealous beyond his years”, “persecutor of the Way” could be restored, then surely others would do so as well.
Yet, Jesus knew differently.
Thus, Paul began a life of submission to the will of God no matter the cost.

The J-Bomb drops the G-bomb:
Jesus’ will for Paul – ‘Go, for I will send you far away to the Gentiles.’
In fact, it was God’s will for Paul before Paul was even born.

Galatians 1:15-16But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, 16 was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles,

In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul described this call to preach to the Gentiles this way:
This calling made possible by grace and power of Jesus
A mystery made know to me by revelation from Jesus
A mystery withheld from previous generations
That mystery being that Gentiles are fellow heirs

Ephesians 3:1-9For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles— 2 assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you, 3 how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. 4 When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5 which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. 6 This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. 7 Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power. 8 To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9 and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things,

Jews are outraged:
Up to this word they listened to him…
What ensued next reminds me of the 2001 Space Odyssey movie when the chimpanzees went nuts.
Paul claiming that God was going to do business with Gentiles sent them over the edge.
The question is why?

First, we need to see what informed their cultural bias (very similar to our cultural baggage lesson a few weeks ago).

The OT is full of references to “the nations” in a negative light.
And when taken out of context and coupled with a history of oppression by “the nations” it is easy to understand the Jews hatred of the Gentiles.

“I am the Lord your God, who has separated you from the peoples” – Leviticus 20:24
“abominations of the nations” – 2 Chronicles 33:2
“despicable practices of the nations” – 2 Kings 21:12
“the nations I am driving out before you have become unclean” – Leviticus 18:24
“you shall perish among the nations…your enemies” – Leviticus 26:38
“he gave them into the hand of the nations, so that those who hated them ruled over them” – Psalm 106:41

But in spite of these characterizations, the OT is also clear in God’s intent for “the nations”.

The Gentile call in the OT:
Both Luke in Acts 2:21, and Paul in Romans 10:13 interpreted the prophet Joel’s words as referring to a call of Gentiles.
In fact, they quoted the prophet word for word.

Joel 2:32aAnd it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Moses speaks of a blessing for the nations all the way back to Genesis.

Genesis 26:4I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and will give to your offspring all these lands. And in your offspring all the nations of the earth shall be blessed,

The restoration of Israel was prophesied to include Gentiles.

Amos 9:11-12“In that day I will raise up the booth of David that is fallen and repair its breaches, and raise up its ruins and rebuild it as in the days of old, 12 that they may possess the remnant of Edom and all the nations who are called by my name,” declares the Lord who does this.

Not to mention Ruth coming to God in faith & Jonah’s ministry to Nineveh.

Since the OT taught that God called the Gentiles the NT Jews had no Biblical reason for their objection.
So we are left with and understandable but worldy/culturally informed bias toward Gentiles.

I think it may have played out like this:
Strike 1 – It is not just Paul’s call to preach to the Gentiles.
Strike 2 – It is not just that Paul’s call to preach to the Gentiles came from Jesus of Nazareth.
Strike 3 – But, it is that this call to preach to the Gentiles took place inside the temple!

The temple was the ultimate expression of God’s covenant and relationship with the Hebrew nation.
To say that God confirmed this call to the Gentiles in the temple, was for the Jew a defilement of temple purity.
But for Paul it was a highway sign that read “the Gentiles are grafted in” as he taught in Romans 11.

There is another monumental implication for the Jew with regards to God’s call to the Gentiles.
Namely, what it means to be Jewish.

Romans 2:28-29For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. 29 But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.

Romans 9:4-8They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. 5 To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen. 6 But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, 7 and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” 8 This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring.

It is as if Paul is saying that to be Christian is to be Jewish and to be Jewish is to be Christian.

We can draw some modern day parallels to Christianity today:
Today there are “Christians” who reject Paul’s Christianity just as many Jews rejected his Judaism.

Recently, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America voted to allow homosexual pastors.
And it declared that Scripture offers no clear teaching on homosexuality.
It therefore reasoned that one’s stance on homosexuality is best left up to one’s conscience.

In opposition, Lutheran theologian Robert Benne explained that, “The liberating movements fueled by militant feminism, multiculturalism, anti-racism, anti-heterosexism, anti-imperialism, and now ecologism have been moved to the center while the classic gospel and its missional imperatives have been pushed to the periphery.”

So, as a worldly, cultural bias and incomplete understanding of the implications of Scripture clouded the Jews view of God’s will to include Gentiles, so to have the same things contributed to the ELCA’s Scriptural relativism.

Albert Mohler, in refuting the ELCA’s reasoning (which they borrowed from Martin Luther), explained that Luther did teach that we are to be “bound by our conscience”, but he taught that the conscience was in turn bound to Scripture and not bound to the world (feelings, emotions, etc.).

Summary:
Paul’s defense and the Jews rejection confirmed what Jesus revealed to him in them temple years earlier.
Yet, Paul continued to recognize in his Epistles that God’s covenant and call to the nation of Israel will find fulfillment.

Acts 22:30 – 23:11 – In All Good Conscience

Acts 22:30 – 23:11 – In All Good Conscience

Diving Deeper Lesson Outline for Acts 22:30-23:11

The title is drawn from Paul’s words in 23:1 where he describes his life as one lived in all good conscience.

1) IN ALL GOOD CONSCIENCE

Background of conscience in OT:
OT has no concept of conscience so there is no Hebrew word for conscience in the OT.
The closest the OT comes, most believe, is when it uses a phrase involving the word “heart”.
The phrase is translated as “offence” or “stumbling block” or “pangs” of the heart.
Some translations now translate this phrase as “pangs of conscience” or something similar – 1 Samuel 25:31.

Background of conscience in Greek culture:
Koine or common language Greek, the language the NT was written in, does have a word for conscience – suneidesis
It first turned up in the 400-500 BC time frame.
It was the idea that “humans have w/in themselves one who is aware of their behavior.” – Pannenberg
Or to put another way, it was used to denote self-consciousness or cognizance NOT morality.
However, most unusually, the writer Euripedes some 100 years later did use it in Orestes in a moral context.

Background of conscience in NT:
A couple of interesting things happen with the New Testament writers, like Paul, who wrote or dictated in Greek.
1st, the 4 Gospels do not use the word at all; it first appears in our text today.
2nd, the meaning of the word is changed by the NT writers, especially Paul, from its common secular meaning.
He used it, like Euripedes, to refer to an awareness of right and wrong BUT as established by God.
As Zodhiates says, “The testimony of the Spirit in man’s heart concerning his obligation to God.”

However, Paul also used the concept behind the original meaning of the Greek word but with a twist.
That is to say “humans have w/in themselves one who is aware of their behavior” and that “one” is either the world OR the Spirit of God.
For example, we possess either a self-consciousness/cognizance informed by the righteousness of Christ (the new Adam) OR the sin and death of the old Adam.
Or more specifically, consider Paul’s contrast of the believer and unbeliever in Romans 6.

Slave to Righteousness == Slave to Sin
Freed from Sin == Slave to Sin
Newness of Life == Life Found Wanting
Old Self Crucified == Old Self Lives
Alive to God == Condemned by God
Under Grace == Under Law

Our understanding of who we are is rooted in either one or the other of these realities.
This is an oft overlooked usage of the conscience concept in Paul’s theology – Pannenberg.

Paul co-opting this word gives insight into how Paul engaged a Hellenistic culture (like at Mar’s Hill) in a relevant way w/o compromising truth and at the same time provided deeper insight to the Christian in his new life.
For me, it also highlights why God chose the Greek era to bring Jesus and the NT.
The Greek language was capable of richly conveying His revelation.

Acts 23:1 – Our text:
With regards to his conscience, Paul’s work as an apostle of Christ was done in “obedience to his obligation to God’s testimony on his heart” and therefore, regardless of the fact that he had fell into disrepute as a Jew, his conscience was clean.
This ticked the counsel off because he was claiming God as the authority behind this “sect of Judaism” that he was teaching.

Paul’s theology of conscience (a few examples):
In his epistles, Paul developed a theology of conscience to explain God’s truth and to disciple the believer.
We will explore some of the implications of his teachings.

1) One who has never heard of the God of Israel or the Law is still accountable to the God of Israel.

Romans 2:14-16 – For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them 16 on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.

Paul taught that the very capacity & presence of a “law to themselves”, regardless of its moral or cultural context, was evidence of a transcendent law of God “written on their hearts.”
And so the conscience (obligation to right over wrong) “bears witness” to an accountability to God as one evaluates the guilt/“accusing thoughts” or the lack of guilt/“excusing thoughts” of ones actions.

Many say, if God is so concerned about humanity’s reconciliation with Him why didn’t he just spell it out clearly.
Paul is saying here that God spelled it out with, among other things, your conscience.
The ambiguity is not from God but from man!
The conscience is not of cultural origin as man would believe but of transcendental origin!

BTW – Atheists have a conscience and are moral people too.
They would argue morality is just an obligation to society or themselves not an “obligation to God”.

2) Conscience can be “defiled” and “seared” OR “clear” and “good” so be cautious to care for yours and others.

Care for Others Conscience:
1 Corinthians 8:7-13 – But some, through former association with idols, eat food as really offered to an idol, and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. 8 Food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do. 9 But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. 10 For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, will he not be encouraged, if his conscience is weak, to eat food offered to idols? 11 And so by your knowledge this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died. 12 Thus, sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. 13 Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.

1 Corinthians 10:27-30 – If one of the unbelievers invites you to dinner and you are disposed to go, eat whatever is set before you without raising any question on the ground of conscience. 28 But if someone [a believer] says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for the sake of conscience— 29 I do not mean your conscience, but his. For why should my liberty be determined by someone else’s conscience?…33 [because Paul is] not seeking my own advantage.

We are not to offend the conscience of weak or new believers.
If the weak or new believer violates their own conscience, especially due to our following or leading, their own conscience can become hardened or as Paul puts it “the weak person is destroyed.
Paul even says that to “make my brother stumble” by “wounding his conscience” is to “sin against Christ.”

In fact, Paul says it would be better to offend the host and not eat the meal, if by doing so you are protecting the conscience of the believer that is concerned that it is food that was offered to idols.
Our Freedom is not meant to offend the weaker conscience.
That is, we should not cause our freedom to be slandered by expressing it in ways that offend a weaker brother.”- JM

Care for Our Conscience:
We can also wound our own conscience.
This is why Paul says in Romans 13:5 – Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience.
When we resist God’s will we can injure our own conscience making it less receptive to our “obligations to God.”

3) Teaching and living God’s truth accurately is a witness to a God informed conscience.

Acts 24:14-16 – But this I confess to you, that according to the Way, which they call a sect, I worship the God of our fathers, believing everything laid down by the Law and written in the Prophets, 15 having a hope in God, which these men themselves accept, that there will be a resurrection of both the just and the unjust. 16 So I always take pains to have a clear conscience toward both God and man.

2 Corinthians 1:12-14 – For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience, that we behaved in the world with simplicity and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God, and supremely so toward you. 13 For we are not writing to you anything other than what you read and acknowledge and I hope you will fully acknowledge— 14 just as you did partially acknowledge us—that on the day of our Lord Jesus you will boast of us as we will boast of you.

2 Corinthians 4:1-3 – Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. 2 But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. 3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing.

1 Timothy 1:3-5 – As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, 4 nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith. 5 The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.

Paul believed and taught the truth giving him a clean conscience before God and man.
Paul had a conscience informed by God and so behaved with godly sincerity not by earthly wisdom.
Again, Paul taught the truth and did not tamper with God’s word and so did not weaken but commended ourselves to everyone’s conscience.
And Paul again linked teaching a different doctrine or speculations to having a negative impact on one’s purity, faith and conscience.

Summary:
All of humanity has a conscience but only the Christians’ is informed by the truth of the Spirit and Scripture.
Our conscience needs to be watered and nurtured.
This is done by learning God’s word which is to say learning our obligations to God and being obedient to them.
“The person who has considerable knowledge of God’s Word will have a more sensitive conscience…the neglected and resisted conscience becomes more insensitive and eventually may stop giving warning signals about wrongdoing.” JM

Hebrews 10:19-22 – Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.

What are some things we do or don’t do that can weaken our conscience and therefore our walk in Christ?
Not speaking the Gospel (huge one for me – I can feel my conscience writhing when I resist).
Not tithing.
Not coming to church.
Not studying and learning God’s word.
Not raising your kids in the admonition of the Lord.
Resisting authority.
Confusing priorities.

The more we disobey these calls on our life the more we wound our conscience – a sin against Christ.
Our life is supposed to be informed by and lived in context of our “newness of life” as Paul says in Romans 6.
Our conscience testifies to us about this.
When we ignore or disobey our conscience, despair and dissatisfaction are sure to follow.
So if you have a lackluster walk; one that is apathetic and stagnate, I think this very well could be your problem!

Acts 23:23-35 – Bible as History

Diving Deeper Lesson Outline for Acts 23:23-35

The title is drawn from a recognition that the Bible is linked to secular history.
Luke writes about not only the history of Paul’s current predicament but also inserts the story into the Roman geographical and political realities of that time.
Here we examine some examples and some implications of linking revelation with history.
But first, I have a couple of points about Paul’s immediate history.

1) A WAY OF LIFE FOR THE APOSTLES

Acts 23:27 – This man was seized by the Jews and was about to be killed by them when I came upon them with the soldiers and rescued him, having learned that he was a Roman citizen.

Our lesson text today contains much review, so we will use that as license to review even further.
To live a life in obedience to Christ, was to live a life mired in threats, intimidation, imprisonment and even death.
In Acts, we see a pattern of apostle persecution that began with some restraint but quickly escalated to violence.

Acts 4:21a – And when they had further threatened them, they let them go…
Acts 5:18 – They arrested the apostles and put them in the public prison.
Acts 5:33 – When they heard this, they were enraged and wanted to kill them.
Acts 5:40 – and when they had called in the apostles, they beat them
Acts 7:58 – Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him.
Acts 8:3 – But Saul was ravaging the church…he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison.
Acts 9:23-25 – …the Jews plotted to kill him,…watching the gates day and night in order to kill him
Acts 9:29 – …But they were seeking to kill him.
Acts 12:2 – He killed James the brother of John with the sword,
Acts 14:5 – When an attempt was made by both Gentiles and Jews, with their rulers, to mistreat them and to stone them,
Acts 14:19 – …they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead.
Acts 16:23 – …they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison

2) JEWISH STRATEGY OF DEFEATING THE GOSPEL MESSAGE

Acts 23:29 – I found that he was being accused about questions of their law, but charged with nothing deserving death or imprisonment.

There never was an attempt made by the Jewish leaders and laymen, that we know of, to discredit Jesus’ miracles, His death or the empty tomb.
In fact, they readily admitted the power of this testimony.
The Jews claim was that the apostles were teaching against the law.
The Jews first handled the problem posed by the apostles by asking them to speak no more of Jesus or else – Plan A.
In fact, Gamaleil advocated reason and pragmatism.

As time went on, however, it became clear that the apostles were unfazed by threats.
So as we just saw, the Jewish leaders were more & more willing to resort to violence.
To garner support for violence, they realized it was necessary to stir up intense hatred of the apostles.
So enter Plan B – turn the public against the apostles by falsely accusing them of corrupting the laws and customs of Moses.

Jerusalem, we have a problem – Plan A:
The Jewish leadership and layperson of Jerusalem were all in agreement that Signs & Wonders were taking place.
However, the apostles rightly attributed the source of the Signs & Wonders to a resurrected Jesus.
Plan A was to convince the apostles to stop this attribution and shut up.

Acts 4:13-17 – Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus. 14 But seeing the man who was healed standing beside them, they had nothing to say in opposition. 15 But when they had commanded them to leave the council, they conferred with one another, 16 saying, “What shall we do with these men? For that a notable sign has been performed through them is evident to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. 17 But in order that it may spread no further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to anyone in this name.

Acts 4:21b – finding no way to punish them, because of the people, for all were praising God for what had happened.

Plan A not working:
Frustration was building among the Jewish leadership, but Gamaliel argued for a reasonable solution.
Like previous movements, he argued, if the movement is bogus it will die.

Acts 5:34-35 & 38-40 – But a Pharisee in the council named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law held in honor by all the people, stood up and gave orders to put the men outside for a little while. 35 And he said to them, “Men of Israel, take care what you are about to do with these men…..38 So in the present case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; 39 but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!” So they took his advice 40 and when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.

Too much at stake so time for Plan B – divide and conquer:
The problem with Gamaliel’s approach was that if the movement didn’t die, the status quo might.
And given the power of the apostles argument and witness, this possibility was unacceptable.

Acts 6:10-14 – But they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking. 11 Then they secretly instigated men who said, “We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God.” 12 And they stirred up the people and the elders and the scribes, and they came upon him and seized him and brought him before the council, 13 and they set up false witnesses who said, “This man never ceases to speak words against this holy place and the law, 14 for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and will change the customs that Moses delivered to us.”
**Notice here, like in Acts 4:13-17 that the influence of the power of Jesus and the Holy Spirit was not in question.

What exactly was at stake for the Jewish leadership?
Why such violent opposition to the apostles’ message?

Further evidence of Plan B in action:
Acts 13:45 – …they were filled with jealousy and began to contradict what was spoken by Paul, reviling him.
Acts 13:50 – …incited the devout women and the leading men, stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas.
Acts 14:2 – …stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers.
Acts 17:5 – …Jews were jealous..formed a mob, set the city in an uproar
Acts 17:13 – …they came there too, agitating and stirring up the crowds.
Acts 18:13 – saying, “This man is persuading people to worship God contrary to the law.”
Acts 21:20b-21 – …you teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or walk according to our customs.

***The tactics of the Jews had even lingered and brought doubts to the believing Jews.
Acts 21:27-28 – …stirred up the whole crowd…the man who is teaching everyone everywhere against the people and the law and this place. Moreover, he even brought Greeks into the temple and has defiled this holy place.”

POI – The Jews’ Plan B strategy was also employed by Gentiles.
Acts 16:21 – They advocate customs that are not lawful for us as Romans to accept or practice.

Acts 19:27-28 – And there is danger not only that this trade of ours may come into disrepute but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis may be counted as nothing, and that she may even be deposed from her magnificence, she whom all Asia and the world worship.” 28 When they heard this they were enraged and were crying out, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!”

POI – Scripture paints a clear picture of the Jews treatment of the apostles, the tactics used and their motivation.
For me, the apostles’ willingness to endure this for Jesus, a dead man, demonstrates not only the probability of their claim that He in fact was raised from the dead but also the power of this risen Christ to sustain and encourage during hardships suffered on His account.
They had nothing to gain (they weren’t politicians or power brokers) and everything to lose.

3) FELIX AND CAESAREA – CHRISTIANITY AS HISTORY

I am fascinated how Scripture is so deeply rooted in and intertwined with secular history.
And unlike many other religions, the authority of Scripture is linked to its accurate depiction of that history.
Of course the best example of this is that, “Christianity is belief in a person, a genuine historical individual – but at the same time a special individual, whom the church regards as not only human, but divine.” – William Lane Craig

By contrast, little of the Koran is rooted in the actions of persons that existed in a secular historical context.
The Koran is a revelation of God to Muhammad over a period of about 23 years.
Its 114 chapters consist mainly of spiritual teachings and their application not a publicly recorded and verifiable history.
For example, chapter 30 entitled “The Romans” makes no mention of any names or specific places.
So historically, there is nothing at stake.

But in our text today, Scripture unashamedly plants itself right in the middle of Roman politics and jurisprudence.
And it does so in such a way that if its historical context is found to be inaccurate, the authority of Scripture itself could be called into question.

Antonius Felix:
Acts 23:24 – Also provide mounts for Paul to ride and bring him safely to Felix the governor

Luke claimed that Antonius Felix was the governor of the Judean Province of the Roman Empire.

Secular historians agree.
Felix is known to have been in power from about 52-58 A.D.
Bronze coins minted during his time in power have been discovered.

And interestingly:
He had 3 wives &, in fact, one of his wives was the 2nd cousin to Emperor Claudius (41-54 A.D.).
He had a son die in the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius.
Historians at the time of Felix wrote that he “practiced every kind of cruelty and lust”.
He was known to put down disturbances with “severity.”

In our verses today, Luke reveals the below odd conversation.
Acts 23:34-35 – On reading the letter, he asked what province he was from. And when he learned that he was from Cilicia 35 he said, “I will give you a hearing when your accusers arrive.” And he commanded him to be guarded in Herod’s praetorium.

In fact, there was a Roman practice know as “Forum Domicilli” that would have given Felix the option of sending Paul back to the province of his birth to have a hearing.

We see the same thing going on with Pilate and Jesus.

Luke 23:6-7 – When Pilate heard this, he asked whether the man was a Galilean. 7 And when he learned that he belonged to Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him over to Herod, who was himself in Jerusalem at that time

If Felix was never governor of the Judean Province, how does that help or hurt the authority of the Bible?

Caesarea:
Acts 23:33-35 – When they had come to Caesarea and delivered the letter to the governor, they presented Paul also before him. 34 On reading the letter, he asked what province he was from. And when he learned that he was from Cilicia, 35 he said, “I will give you a hearing when your accusers arrive.” And he commanded him to be guarded in Herod’s praetorium.

Luke claimed that the governor of the Judean province and Herod’s praetorium were in Caesarea.

In fact, we know that about 6 A.D., the administrative capital was moved from Jerusalem to Caesarea.
Due to its status as the capital, Caesarea contained a Roman built aqueduct, hippodrome, a amphitheater and Herod’s praetorium was converted into the governor’s palace.
Having been there, I can tell you that even in ruins it is a beautiful place.

Interestingly, it is in the amphitheater that was found a seat marker for Pontius Pilate; it had his name inscribed on it.

Other references to Caesarea:
Acts 8:40 – But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he passed through he preached the gospel to all the towns until he came to Caesarea.
Acts 21:8 – On the next day we departed and came to Caesarea, and we entered the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven, and stayed with him.

Philip evangelized in and lived in Caesarea.

Acts 10:1-2 – At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion of what was known as the Italian Cohort, 2 a devout man who feared God with all his household, gave alms generously to the people, and prayed continually to God.

Peter came to Caesarea after his vision and met up with a converted Roman centurion.

Acts 18:22 – When he [Paul] had landed at Caesarea, he went up and greeted the church, and then went down to Antioch.

As with Felix, if Caesarea was not the capital, or did not have Herod’s palace, or was not the capital in which the governor would have resided, we may have a problem with the authority of scripture.
I find it difficult to divorce the teachings of Luke with the history in which it happened.

Summary:
It is in the context of all this history that the our faith finds one of its many reasons to be probable.
The more we confirm the accuracy of the historical context of the Bible, the more probable it becomes.
Therefore, an effective Christian apologetic is rooted in the truth of the history in which it was born.
I love the boldness demonstrated by God by putting his revelation smack dab in the middle of human history.
I have heard it said, “if God and the Bible are true, why didn’t God make it loud and clear?”
I think this is one way that He did exactly that!

But as important, is that in our text today we find the continued fulfillment of God’s call to Paul that he, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. 16 For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” – Acts 9:15-16

Acts 24:1-21 – Paul & Jesus on Trial

Acts 24:1-21 – Paul & Jesus on Trial
Diving Deeper Lesson Outline for Acts 24:1-21

The title is drawn from Paul’s trial as revealed in our text.
It also deals with the root of the Jews disdain for Paul which is to be found in Jesus.

1) PAUL ON TRIAL BEFORE THE GOVERNOR

Acts 24:1-2a – And after five days the high priest Ananias came down with some elders and a spokesman, one Tertullus. They laid before the governor their case against Paul. 2 And when he had been summoned, Tertullus began to accuse him saying:…

Tertullus was a “forensic orator” otherwise known as a lawyer hired by Ananias and company.
Their plan was apparently to accuse Paul of violating both Jewish & Roman laws.

Paul’s Roman Violations:
Acts 24:5a – For we have found this man a plague, one who stirs up riots among all the Jews throughout the world

Stirs Up is the Greek word kineo and it means “to set in motion.”
Therefore, they were arguing that Paul purposely set out to cause riots as he traveled throughout the Roman empire.
And if true, this could have been condemned as treason – crimen majestatis. – Easton’s Bible Dictionary
This is one reason Lysias (Acts 22:30) and Felix probably didn’t just let Paul go.

Another Biblical example of imprisonment due to riot/insurrection:
Luke 23:25 – He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, for whom they asked, but he delivered Jesus over to their will.

POI – Gallio, a Roman official, acted somewhat differently that Lysias or Felix.
Interestingly, Gallio (Acts 18) was less patient with the Jews efforts to “work the system”.
He saw what was really going on and had nothing to do with it.

Acts 18:14-15 – But when Paul was about to open his mouth, Gallio said to the Jews, “If it were a matter of wrongdoing or vicious crime, O Jews, I would have reason to accept your complaint. 15 But since it is a matter of questions about words and names and your own law, see to it yourselves. I refuse to be a judge of these things.”

******** Paul’s defense ********
Acts 24:11-12 – You can verify that it is not more than twelve days since I went up to worship in Jerusalem, and they did not find me disputing with anyone or stirring up a crowd, either in the temple or in the synagogues or in the city.

Acts 24:17 – Now after several years I came to bring alms to my nation and to present offerings.

Paul made a few points to refute Tertullus’ 1st claim.
Witnesses could verify that:
A) He came to Jerusalem to bring alms and offerings – Paul’s business in Jerusalem was religious not political.
B) He had spent about 7 “days in purification”. – In obedience to James, he did this with some Jewish believers.
C) He had been in Caesarea 5 days. – Lysias and Felix himself were well aware of this.
D) He could not have begun an insurrection in 7 days – remember he had been out of Jerusalem for 3+ years. He didn’t have enough time.

How do we know the time frame?
Acts 21:26-27 – Then Paul took the men, and the next day he purified himself along with them and went into the temple, giving notice when the days of purification would be fulfilled and the offering presented for each one of them. 27 When the seven days were almost completed,

Acts 24:1 – And after five days

Paul’s Jewish Violations:
Acts 24:5b – and is a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes.
Acts 24:6 – He even tried to profane the temple, but we seized him.

Ringleader” is a military term which means “one who stands in the front rank.”
Sect” carries with it the idea of “heresy” or “false teaching.”
The implication here is that Paul is the leader of a heretical movement rooted in Jesus of Nazareth.
And the military imagery seems to be an attempt to paint this heretical movement as a political threat which relates to the Roman violations.
And picking up on the Asian Jews fabrication, He accuses Paul of desecrating the temple.
Acts 21:28b – Moreover, he even brought Greeks into the temple and has defiled this holy place.”

POI – It is significant to see how a Gentile’s physical presence in the temple would defile it, but under Jesus’ new covenant the converted Gentile is now in fact the temple – 1 Corinthians 3:16-17.
This is an outrageous thought to the Jew and a reason they had such animosity towards Jesus and Paul.

******** Paul’s defense********
Acts 24:14-15 – But this I confess to you, that according to the Way, which they call a sect, I worship the God of our fathers, believing everything laid down by the Law and written in the Prophets, 15 having a hope in God, which these men themselves accept, that there will be a resurrection of both the just and the unjust.

Acts 24:18a – While I was doing this, they found me purified in the temple, without any crowd or tumult.

Paul made a few points to refute Tertullus’ 2nd claim.
A) I worship the God of our fathers.
B) I believe in the Law and the Prophets
C) I have a hope in a resurrection.
D) These are exactly what my accusers before you believe.
E) I was purified, in the temple & so there were no crowds (Paul wouldn’t be w/Gentiles during purification).

Paul’s summation:
Finally, Paul went on to make some basic observations about his accusers.

Acts 18b-21 – But some Jews from Asia—19 they ought to be here before you and to make an accusation, should they have anything against me. 20 Or else let these men themselves say what wrongdoing they found when I stood before the council, 21 other than this one thing that I cried out while standing among them: ‘It is with respect to the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial before you this day.’ ”

He rightly pointed out that the Asian Jews, who were supposedly the witnesses to these so-called transgressions, weren’t even there to testify.
In fact, the ones present and making accusations weren’t witnesses to any of the things they are claiming.
The only thing they witnessed was the council meeting.
So the only legitimate gripe they had is that Paul started an argument concerning the resurrection of the dead.

2) THE ROOT OF THE JEWS PROBLEM WITH PAUL’S GOSPEL

Last week we examined the methods employed by the Jews to stop the Apostles and their message.
We determined that some of the reasons for this involved jealousy (Acts 13:45) and loss of status quo.
In our text today, we see they traveled 2 days and hired a lawyer to see to it that Paul was done.

It is clear that there is more going on than just jealousy and a power struggle.
The Jews believed that what they were trying to do was the right thing to do for God and for Judaism.
They believed that Paul’s teachings (and by extension Jesus’) were heresy.

And of course this all has to do with Jesus.
Paul’s sect of Judaism was rooted in Jesus.
The Jews had a problem with Paul because they had a problem with Jesus.

Very briefly, I want us to try and understand just one of many reasons why.
Remember, we already made mention of the Gentile & temple relationship.

With the help of William Lane Craig’s book Reasonable Faith, we can get an appreciation for why Jesus (and by extension Paul) was so problematic for the Jews.

Jesus’ View of His Authority:
A typical rabbi’s teaching style was seen to be authoritative because the source material from which they taught was deemed to have authority.
They would quote the law, the prophets or oral law and explain what it means.

Jesus, in stark contrast, taught as one who was the very source of authority – even above that of the law and the prophets.
The best example of this is seen in the Sermon on the Mount.
In Matthew 5:21, 27, 31, 33, 38, & 43, we see the following method:
“You have heard that it was said…///…But I say to you…”

Here we see that Jesus “placed his personal authority on a par with that of the divine law” and “he adjusted the Law on his own authority.” – Craig

We get a Scriptural glimpse of the crowds recognition of this authority in Matthew 7:28-29.
And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, 29 for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.

Jesus authority was evident to others.

But Jesus’ view of His authority is even more profound than this.
Take, for example, Matthew 5:31-32.
“It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”
Here, Jesus claims the authority to actually change, correct and reinterpret the law! (See Mark 10:2-9)

Jesus seems to assume an authority over Torah that no Pharisee or OT Prophet assumed – the authority to set it aside.” – Ben Witherington.
The extent that this would have offended the Jew cannot be understated or exaggerated.
For a man to claim the authority to change, correct or reinterpret the law would have been outrageous!

In fact, Jewish Scholar Jacob Neusner says:

Jews believe in the Torah of Moses…and that belief requires faithful Jews to enter a dissent at the teachings of Jesus, on the grounds that those teachings at important points contradict the Torah. And therefore, because that specific teaching was so broadly out of phase with the Torah and covenant of Sinai, I could not then follow him and do not now either. That is not because I am stubborn or unbelieving. It is because I believe God has given a different Torah from the one that Jesus teaches; and that Torah, the one Moses got at Sinai, stands in judgment of the torah of Jesus, as it dictates true and false for all other torahs that people want to teach in God’s name.

Understanding Jesus view of himself as one who is the source of authority, i.e. God, really begins to help explain the layers of animosity the Jews held toward Jesus and His followers.

Only God could give law, and most of the Jews did not accept that Jesus was God.
And this, as I stated earlier, is just one of many ways that Jesus offended the Jews.

So it is no wonder that the Jews were so offended by Paul and his message.
And all of this makes Paul’s conversion (a Pharisee of all Pharisees) even more remarkable!

Acts 24:22-27 – Righteousness & Self-Control

Diving Deeper outline for Acts 24:22-27.

The title is drawn from Paul’s words to Felix in verse 25.
Using Paul’s teachings elsewhere, we will discuss what Paul likely said to Felix concerning righteousness, self-control and judgment.
And as important, we will explore what he might say to those of us who are saved on those topics.

This week will only cover righteousness and self-control; judgment will be discussed next week.

1) FELIX WAITS FOR LYSIAS

Acts 24:22, 27 – But Felix, having a rather accurate knowledge of the Way, put them off, saying, “When Lysias the tribune comes down, I will decide your case.” 27 When two years had elapsed, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus. And desiring to do the Jews a favor, Felix left Paul in prison.

Felix’s Response to Paul and Tertullus:
Lysias was a witness to many of the events being discussed – more so even than the accusers present.
And as such, Lysias gives what opinion about Paul’s case in his letter to Felix (Acts 23:29)?
Was Lysias a reliable witness (review witness insights from lesson a few weeks ago)?
Therefore it makes perfect sense for Felix, in verse 22, to await Lysias’ arrival in order to hear his testimony.
However, before we assume too much virtue in Felix’s jurisprudence, verse 27 makes clear that no matter the evidence Felix’s intentions were to placate the Jews.
As a result, Paul was held in custody for 2 years.

2) PAUL’S 3 POINT GOSPEL – A DISCUSSION WITH FELIX

I also want to more closely examine Paul’s words to Felix.
Paul, instead of bribing Felix (verse 26), laid out his Gospel argument and had 2 years to do it.
Instead of justifying paying a bribe and getting out, he edured once again “for the sake of the Gospel.”

Acts 24:25 – And as he reasoned about righteousness and self-control and the coming judgment, Felix was alarmed and said, “Go away for the present. When I get an opportunity I will summon you.”

Just by way of interest, Paul’s outline is uncannily similar to Jesus’ words in John’s Gospel:
John 16:8-11 – And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; 11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.

The first question I have is why would Paul speak to Felix, the man sitting in judgment over him, concerning these things?
Titus 2:15 – Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.

1 Peter 3:14-16 – Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, 15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, 16 having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.

Romans 1:16 – “I am not ashamed of the Gospel.”

So now let’s dive deeper into righteousness, self-control and judgment using Paul, Peter and others as our source.

Luke described the way in which Paul spoke of these things – “he reasoned about” them.
Reason is to speak or dispute with someone in such a way that you “mingle thought with thought.”
In other words, Paul laid out the premises of a reasoned argument as he so often did and as Peter advocated.

Righteousness (sinner in need of a savior):
The word used here means “the doctrine concerning the way in which man may attain a state approved of God.

Jesus put it like this:
Matthew 5:48 – You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

So what did Paul teach on obtaining a “state approved of God”?
Something he often described as being justified.

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 – Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

Galatians 2:15-16 – We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; 16 yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.

Romans 10:9-13 – because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, ”Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For ”everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Romans 1:16-17 – For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

So our belief in Jesus (His death, burial and resurrection) makes it possible for us to “attain a state approved of God.”
Because he is righteous, those who are in him are also justified as righteous.
Paul was telling Felix that he was a sinner, why he was a sinner and that he was in need of a savior – Jesus.

Peter put it like this:
1 Peter 1:14-16 – As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, ”You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

And Peter’s insight leads us to Paul’s next topic of discussion with Felix – self-control.
In Jesus, we are confronted with moment after moment in which we are not to be what we once were.
How are we not to “be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance”?

Self-Control (repent and live a life of obedience):
The word used by Paul in this context means “the virtue of one who masters his desires and passions, especially his sensual appetites.”

Paul illustrates the art of self-control by using an athlete as an example:
1 Corinthians 9:25-27 – Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26 So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. 27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

And he talks about self-control resulting from training:
Titus 2:11-12 – For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age,

Our new life is to be one of self-control over our bodies and mind.
Paul reveals that self-control is linked to purpose not aimless running or beating the air.
He says self-control is found in training by the grace of God.
So our purpose (with respect to self-control) is to allow ourselves to be trained by God to live a life of self-control with respect to our worldly passions, our old nature.

So how do we “discipline” the mind & body to keep it under control?
How do we train to renounce “ungodliness and worldly passions”?

1) Self-Control is a fruit of the Spirit:
Galatians 5:22-23 – But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

And in Philippians Paul tells us:
Philippians 2:13 – for it is God who works in us to will and to act according to His good purpose.

So the admittedly more mysterious way we learn self-control is though God’s grace and Spirit.
He desires for us to live a life of self-control.
And to that end, as believers, we have the following abilities:
An ability to recognize the areas in our lives where self-control is needed.
An ability to recognize the difference between our life when lived in self-control and when not.
An ability to recognize the damage done to our life when not lived in self-control.
And a desire to live a life of self-control to begin with!

2) Self-Control is a function of the MIND:
Knowing what we do about where we need to exercise self-control in our life, we have a responsibility to act.

Ephesians 4:17-24 – Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. 19 They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. 20 But that is not the way you learned Christ!— 21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

Proverbs puts it like this:
Proverbs 23:7 – As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.

In the book, The Criminal Mind, the authors make the case that a criminal is made not by his environment but by his thinking (the mind) and the choices made as a result of that thinking.
They say that criminal behavior is a result of “the thinking errors of the criminal.”

John MacArthur points out that what they devote a 2 volume book was revealed in Scripture.
Romans 1:28 – And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.

So we have a choice to make as Christians.
Will we seek a renewed mind or will we, by doing nothing, live in the shadows of our former debased mind?

As John MacArthur puts it, we need to DECIDE if we want to live life with a “Christ-Centered Purpose” or in a “Self-Centered Emptiness“.

He argues that where we are in either of the two is based on a series of choices.
“A choice made often enough becomes a habit. And a habit reaps a personality and a personality reaps a character and a character reaps a destiny”.

So where we are in our relationship with Jesus comes down to “a series of choices.”
We must learn that to make the hard choices can provide a pleasure rooted in Christ that long outlasts and surpasses the choices made that appeal to wordly and bodily pleasures.

We must train our minds to see obedience and renewal as more pleasurable than worldly and bodily pleasures.

2 Corinthians 10:5-6 – We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, 6 being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.

Obedience and the mind are linked together as one following from the other.
If the mind is submitted to Christ, it can make correct choices.

Philippians 4:8 – Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think [the mind] about these things.

And evidence of an obedient and renewed mind is if we think on these things.

How do we train or renew our mind to think on these things and to desire self-control over wordly pleasure?

We must recognize that as long as we linger in the shadows of the debased mind our mind and body will desire worldly and ungodly pleasure.

So to stay out of the shadows, we must remain in the light of God’s word.
We must study, learn and know God’s word to renew our minds!
And these things begin with one of a man’s least favorite 4-letter words – READ.

Back to Paul & Felix:
Felix, was on his 3rd marriage with Drusilla.
He had married Drusilla when she was 16 after he forced her away from her then husband.
He was a crooked and self-indulgent governor.
Paul was bold to speak to his judge and jailor about self-control and a need to be made righteousness.

Had he just paid the bribe it seems he would have been released.
And he could have easily justified doing so…”I can speak the Gospel with those that would respond”, or “Wouldn’t my time be better spent encouraging young believers in the churches I planted”, etc.
But because he did live life with a “renewed mind” he made the right choice.
Once again, Paul proves to be an awesome example of a life given to Christ.

Acts 24:22-27 – The Coming Judgment

Luke tells us that Paul spoke to Felix on righteousness, self-control and the coming judgment
We explored righteousness and self-control last week.
Today we will dive into what Paul most likely said to Felix on the “coming judgment.”

THE COMING JUDGMENT

There will be a judgment:
Ecclesiastes 3:17 (ESV) — 17 I said in my heart, God will judge the righteous and the wicked, for there is a time for every matter and for every work.
Ecclesiastes 12:14 (ESV) — 14 For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.
Acts 17:30–31 (ESV) — 30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”
Romans 14:12 (ESV) — 12 So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.
Hebrews 9:27 (ESV) — 27 And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment,

Teaching on the coming judgment was mandated by Jesus himself.
Acts 10:42 (ESV) — 42 And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead.

This of course makes perfect sense.
Judgment is one of the many things required for the Gospel to carry any weight.
The Gospel is nonsense if there is to be no judgment.

“Proclamation of the love of God always presupposes that all men are moving towards God’s judgment and are hopelessly exposed to it.” Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (941).

Using Paul’s words to Felix to as an example, what does it matter if a man is righteous or self-controlled if there is no judgment?

What is judgment and why is it necessitated?
“Judgment is the product of a “controversy” or lawsuit.” The Eerdmans Bible dictionary (610–611).
Judgment is not a random or arbitrary action of God BUT a decision based on the whole body of “controversy” between Him and man.

What is the controversy between God and man?
Romans 3:23 (ESV) — 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

Paul further described the “controversy” between God and man this way:
Galatians 6:7–8 (ESV) — 7 Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. 8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.

“All human acts are a sowing [of the controversy]; God’s judgment is the related and self-evident reaping.” TDNT (940).

So a life (heart, mind, action) lived “sown in the flesh” creates “controversy” or enmity between God and man which requires judgment – a verdict to be rendered.

God made us, so why are we liable under God’s judgment anyway?
Reason 1:
Romans 5:12–14 (ESV) — 12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— 13 for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. 14 Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.

We are liable because of a fallen nature.

Reason 2:
Proverbs 4:4 (ESV) — 4 he taught me and said to me, “Let your heart hold fast my words; keep my commandments, and live.
Galatians 3:10 (ESV) — 10 For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.”
Galatians 5:4 (ESV) — 4 You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace.
Romans 2:12 (ESV) — 12 For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law.
James 2:10 (ESV) — 10 For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it.

We are liable because we have broken God’s law.

Reason 3:
John 6:27–29 (ESV) — 27 Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” 28 Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works [sowing or will] of God?” 29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”
John 3:18 (ESV) — 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

We are liable because of unbelief in Jesus Christ.

“The basis of judgment remains our response to God’s will as embodied in his general and special revelation focused in Jesus Christ.” New Bible dictionary (3rd ed.) (633).
“There is no hope for the man who seeks to justify himself at the judgment.” New Bible dictionary (3rd ed.) (337).

Who is the judge?
John 5:22–23 (ESV) — 22 The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, 23 that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.

The judge had to be judged!
Isaiah 53:7–8 (ESV) — 7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. 8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people?

Luke 24:19–20 (ESV) — 19 And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned [literally delivered up to a judgment] to death, and crucified him.

2 Corinthians 5:21 (ESV) — 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Jesus, the perfect sacrifice, was “by oppression and judgment” condemned to die – and he had to because:

Hebrews 10:11–14 (ESV) — 11 And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. 14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.

When is judgment?
Matthew 24:29 (ESV) — 29 “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.”
Hebrews 9:27 (ESV) — 27 And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment,
Matthew 24:36 (ESV) — 36 “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.

What happens at judgment?
The Acquitted:
Mark 13:27 (ESV) — 27 And then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.
Philippians 3:20–21 (ESV) — 20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

The Guilty:
2 Peter 3:7 (ESV) — 7 But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.
The word that spoke forth creation will also bring forth judgment!
Romans 2:5 (ESV) — 5 But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.
Revelation 20:15 (ESV) — 15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

Both:
2 Thessalonians 1:5–10 (ESV) — 5 This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering— 6 since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, 7 and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels 8 in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, 10 when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed.

Believers will be acquitted, BUT those that “sowed in their own flesh” will be found guilty and condemned to hell.
Judgment is the separation of the sheep, righteous and the elect from the goats, unrighteous and the non-elect.

POI – Being found guilty or acquitted is not based on works but…
“The meaning of faith in Christ is nothing less than the truth that Christ’s ‘good works’, i.e. his perfect obedience in life and death, are imputed to us here and now and will stand to our account on the judgment day. In this fundamental sense there can be no justification for anyone apart from ‘works’, i.e. the obedience of Christ in life and death which represents the only basis for human standing before God.” New Bible Dictionary (3rd ed.) (632).

However, “If a person is truly reborn by the Spirit, the scrutiny of God will certainly uncover evidences of this in their ‘works’. But these works are the direct fruit of the Christian’s having been regenerated by the Holy Spirit.” New Bible Dictionary (3rd ed.) (632).

1 John 3:17–18 (ESV) — 17 But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? 18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

The acquitted are also then judged by their works:
1 Corinthians 3:8–15 (ESV) — 8 He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. 9 For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building. 10 According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. 11 For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— 13 each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14 If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.

1 Corinthians 4:5 (ESV) — 5 Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.

2 Corinthians 5:10 (ESV) — 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.

Those in Jesus are not to fear judgment:
1 John 4:17–18 (ESV) — 17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.

The guilty are also judged based on their works:
Matthew 11:21–24 (ESV) — 21 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 22 But I tell you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. 23 And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You will be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. 24 But I tell you that it will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you.”

Revelation 20:12 (ESV) — 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done.

“The absolute, unerring accuracy of God’s judgment will ensure that unbelievers’ punishment in hell fits their iniquity. Each person’s life will be individually evaluated, and each person’s punishment will be consistent with that evaluation. Thus, Scripture teaches that there will be varying degrees of punishment in hell.” MacArthur, J. (2000). Revelation 12-22 (254). Chicago, Ill.: Moody Press.

Descriptions of Judgment:
Revelation 20:11–15
Matthew 25:31–46

Summary:
Given the certainty of the “coming judgment” and Jesus’ mandate to teach on it, it is plainly obvious why Paul spoke to Felix on such matters.
In speaking on the judgment, the entire scope of the Gospel message is encountered.

It must also be said that the complexity and nuances of Judgment as a topic far outpace the treatment given to them here.
We have only scratched the surface…but I hope it has been beneficial.
Questions concerning how many judgments there are and when they all take place were not really my concern.
I just wanted to get an idea of what Paul may have said to Felix and I think we did just that.

Acts 25:1-13 – Paul, A Wanted Man

Diving Deeper Lesson Outline for Acts 25:1-12

The title is drawn from Acts 25:3 of our text.
We will find that this is the eighth attempt on Paul’s life that we know of.
In today’s Diving Deeper, we will try to explore the Bible’s perspective on these murder attempts as it relates to God’s role in protecting Paul’s life.

1) PAUL – WANTED DEAD OR DEAD

Acts 25:3 (ESV) — 3 asking as a favor against Paul that he summon him to Jerusalem because they were planning an ambush to kill him on the way.

In our text today, we find yet another plot to kill Paul by the Jewish religious authorities of Jerusalem.
This latest plot is all the more remarkable because Paul had been out of the public eye and in prison for 2 years.
In spite of that, they still harbored such a hatred for Paul and Jesus that they couldn’t let it go.

Quick review of “Paul & Jesus on Trial” lesson:
Here is an excerpt from the “Paul & Jesus on Trial” lesson.
It will serve as a reminder for why the Jews despised Jesus, and therefore Paul, so much that even after 2 years they still wanted him dead.

Jesus’ View of His Authority – Review:
A typical rabbi’s teaching style was seen to be authoritative because the source material from which they taught was deemed to have authority.
They would quote the law, the prophets or oral law and explain what it means.

Jesus, in stark contrast, taught as one who was the very source of authority – even above that of the law and the prophets.
The best example of this is seen in the Sermon on the Mount.
In Matthew 5:21, 27, 31, 33, 38, & 43, we see the following method:
“You have heard that it was said…///…But I say to you…”
Here we see that Jesus “placed his personal authority on a par with that of the divine law” and “he adjusted the Law on his own authority.” – Craig

We get a Scriptural glimpse of the crowds recognition of this authority in Matthew 7:28-29:
And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, 29 for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.

Jesus authority was evident to others.

But Jesus’ view of His authority is even more profound than this.
Take, for example, Matthew 5:31-32.
“It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”
Here, Jesus claims the authority to actually change, correct and reinterpret the law! (See Mark 10:2-9)

Jesus seems to assume an authority over Torah that no Pharisee or OT Prophet assumed – the authority to set it aside.” – Ben Witherington.

The extent that this would have offended the Jew cannot be understated or exaggerated.
For a man to claim the authority to change, correct or reinterpret the law would have been outrageous!

Now back to today’s lesson.
So we see that Jesus was a heretic as far as the devout Jew was concerned.
And they were duty bound by God to have Paul killed because he was teaching this heresy.

Just how determined were both Jews and Gentiles to kill Paul:
Acts 14:5–6 (ESV) — 5 When an attempt was made by both Gentiles and Jews, with their rulers, to mistreat them and to stone them, 6 they learned of it and fled to Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and to the surrounding country,

Acts 14:19 (ESV) — 19 But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and having persuaded the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead.

Acts 9:23–25 (ESV) — 23 When many days had passed, the Jews plotted to kill him, 24 but their plot became known to Saul. They were watching the gates day and night in order to kill him, 25 but his disciples took him by night and let him down through an opening in the wall, lowering him in a basket.

Acts 9:28–30 (ESV) — 28 So he went in and out among them at Jerusalem, preaching boldly in the name of the Lord. 29 And he spoke and disputed against the Hellenists. But they were seeking to kill him. 30 And when the brothers learned this, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus.

Acts 16:22–23 (ESV) — 22 The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates tore the garments off them and gave orders to beat them with rods. 23 And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, ordering the jailer to keep them safely.

Acts 21:30–31 (ESV) — 30 Then all the city was stirred up, and the people ran together. They seized Paul and dragged him out of the temple, and at once the gates were shut. 31 And as they were seeking to kill him, word came to the tribune of the cohort that all Jerusalem was in confusion.

Acts 23:12 (ESV) — 12 When it was day, the Jews made a plot and bound themselves by an oath neither to eat nor drink till they had killed Paul.

From these examples, we see that Paul was almost murdered 7 other times, in addition to our text today.
In almost every instance, it seems that something happened so that the attempt was foiled.

  • They learned of it and fled.
  • Dragged him out, supposing he was dead.
  • Plot became known to Saul.
  • The fellow believers learned of this.
  • They ordered the jailer to keep them safely.
  • Word came to the tribune.
  • The son of Paul’s sister heard of their ambush.
  • Appealed to Cesar in Rome.

I can’t help but ask, was Paul just lucky to get away with his life or was something else going on?

2) PAUL – UNDER THE PROTECTION OF GOD

Psalm 37:32–33 (ESV) — 32 The wicked watches for the righteous and seeks to put him to death. 33 The LORD will not abandon him to his power or let him be condemned when he is brought to trial.

Psalm 97:10–11 (ESV) — 10 O you who love the LORD, hate evil! He preserves the lives of his saints; he delivers them from the hand of the wicked. 11 Light is sown for the righteous, and joy for the upright in heart.

Psalm 34:19–20 (ESV) — 19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all. 20 He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken.

Psalm 52:1 (NET) — 1 Why do you boast about your evil plans, O powerful man? God’s loyal love protects me all day long!

Psalm 66:8–9 (CEV) — 8 All of you people, come praise our God! Let his praises be heard. 9 God protects us from death and keeps us steady.

We will comment more on these later.
But to suffice it to say, there is no doubt a sense here in which David is teaching that God will “protect us from death.
And certainly, based on David’s own life and the 8 attempts to take Paul’s life, we see that this is true.
However, something happens with Paul that leads us to our next point.

3) PAUL – WHAT HAPPENED TO THE PROTECTION OF GOD

The problem is, of course, that Paul was ultimately murdered.
He was martyred; probably beheaded in Rome in the mid 60’s.

The prophet Isaiah puts our apparent contradiction like this:
Isaiah 57:1a (NLT) — 1 Good people pass away; the godly often die before their time. But no one seems to care or wonder why [not to mention, “What happened to God’s protection?”].

Well, I am wondering why.
If God’s aim (as revealed in the Psalms) was to protect Paul, why did he linger in prison and ultimately have his head chopped off?
I can’t help but ask if Paul had an opinion on the question raised by Isaiah?

To find the answer, we turn to the last letter Paul ever wrote – 2nd Timothy.
In this letter Paul, yet again, languishes in prison, but this time in Rome.
Interestingly, he knows that his time has come.
2 Timothy 4:6 (ESV) — 6 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come.

It is in this backdrop that Paul makes what I find to be an astonishing theological statement while counseling Timothy.
In a weird way, it reminds me of a quote by Ronald Spiers from the “Band of Brothers” series.

When offering advice to a replacement, Spiers states:
The only hope you have is to accept the fact that you’re already dead. The sooner you accept that, the sooner you’ll be able to function as a soldier is supposed to function: without mercy, without compassion, without remorse. All war depends upon it.

Here is Paul’s council to Timothy, his replacement:

2 Timothy 1:8–12 (ESV) — 8 Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, 9 who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, 10 and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, 11 for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, 12 which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me.

POI – I am in complete agreement with the ESV translation of verse 12 above.
1st – To accept the NASB, KJV, NIV, etc., translations is to say that Paul would be alive until the Lord’s return.
2nd – I agree with the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament:
A first point to decide is whether παραθήκην μου means “the good thing that I have entrusted” or “the good thing entrusted to me.” Mention of the eschatological day (v. 12) and regard for the generations which follow (2:2) definitely suggest the second, passive interpretation. Christ is able to protect and keep the Gospel committed to the community not only up to the time of the first apostle who will soon depart, but through the storms of coming generations right up to the last day. The genuineness of continuity is established not by the transmitted teaching as such but by the One who is Himself its content. In terms of this insight the Pastoral Epistles can repulse the false doctrinal traditions of the Gnostics without absolutising their own tradition. TDNT.

So, having cleared that up, God’s “purpose and grace” for us is to believe and teach Jesus Christ manifested through the Gospel.
Paul is declaring that it is not ourselves that will necessarily be protected; after all he equates the Gospel as a “share in suffering”.
But “he is convinced” that the one thing that God will sustain and “guard until that Day” is the Gospel!
So any protection we receive is not necessarily for our sake, but for the sake of God’s “purpose and grace”.
BTW – This is one reason why the prosperity gospel is such a huge pile of rubbish.

Knowing this about God’s purpose, I want to go back to the Psalms from point 2 above.
With Paul’s perspective, I think we can get a fuller grasp of what God “protects”, “delivers” and “does not abandon”.
I think it is fair to say that God will protect our lives when His purpose warrants it.
And, conversely, we know from Paul that He will allow us to suffer and even to die when His purpose warrants it.
But whatever happens, the Gospel of Jesus Christ will endure until Judgment Day.

What was at least 1 reason, God did not allow King Saul to kill David?

And finally, we finish with the concern of the prophet Isaiah mentioned earlier about the untimely death of believers.
Isaiah answered his own concern by bringing an eternal perspective to death.

Isaiah 57:1-2 (NLT) — 1 Good people pass away; the godly often die before their time. But no one seems to care or wonder why. No one seems to understand that God is protecting them from the evil to come. 2 For those who follow godly paths will rest in peace when they die.

Or as Paul put it:
Philippians 1:21 (ESV) — 21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

Philippians 1:12–14 (ESV) — 12 I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, 13 so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. 14 AND most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.

Or as Jesus put it:
Luke 12:22–23 (ESV) — 22 And he said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing.

Summary:
So we have both the eternal perspective of life and the “life is not about us but about the purposes of God” perspective.
These perspectives are, admittedly, extremely hard to stomach.
Yet without them, there is little comfort or perspective when faced with hardship and death.

So as Spiers exhorted his replacement and as Paul exhorted his replacement, the word of God also exhorts us.
Acts 20:24 (ESV) — 24 But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.

The sooner we “do not account our lives of any value” except for the purposes of God, the better “replacement soldiers” we will be.

Acts 25:13-27 – Luke’s Apologetic & Political Interests

Acts 22-26 – Luke’s Historical & Apologetic Interests
Diving Deeper Lesson Outline for Acts 22-26

Although we have come to Acts 25:13-27, I will not undertake a lesson specific to these verses.
Given the subject matter of these verses, I think it a better use of our time to explore some larger over-arching issues that are on display both in our text today and all the way back to Acts 22.
The below chart gives a quick overview of what I mean and it is the foundation of our lesson today.

Lysais Felix Festus Agrippa II
Acts 22:30
“set him before them.”

Acts 23:29
“charged with nothing deserving death or imprisonment.”

Acts 22:1
Paul said “hear the defense that I know make before you.”

Acts 24:27
“wishing to do Jews a favor”

Acts 24:26–27
Never passed judgment.

Acts 24:10
Paul “cheerfully made his defense.”

Acts 25:9
“wishing to do Jews favor”

Acts 25:25
“done nothing deserving death”

Acts 25:8
Paul “argued in his defense.”

“His concern for Judaism is not in doubt…” – AYBD

Acts 26:31
“doing nothing to deserve death or imprisonment.”

Acts 26:1
Paul “made his defense.”

Given events listed in the above table, which took place from about 57-59 A.D., 2 main questions arise.
What were the reasons the Roman leaders of Palestine put politics above justice and go out of their way to placate the Jews?
Why did Luke see fit to document these somewhat identical events?

The answer to the first question is found in the political climate that existed at that time.
The answer to the second question is found in Luke’s apologetic intentions.

1) POLITICAL CLIMATE

So to answer the 1st question we must consider the following information.

It was during Felix’s term as procurator that rebellion firmly took hold in Palestine” – AYBD.

  • For example, Josephus documents Felix’s suppression of a Jewish riot at Caesarea in which he ultimately used force.
  • We know that Felix was booted because of his brutal tactics in handling the Jews growing rebellion.
  • In fact – “Josephus writes that Felix was saved from disciplinary action under Nero by the intervention of Pallas, who at that time enjoyed favor with Nero” – AYBD.

So, “It is against this background of severe and growing disorder that we must understand Felix’s [and the others] detention of Paul (Acts 24: 26–27)” – AYBD.

Evidence of this lingering tension between the Romans and the Jews can be seen in the following:
Acts 22:30 (ESV) — 30 But on the next day, desiring to know the real reason why he was being accused by the Jews, he unbound him and commanded the chief priests and all the council to meet, and he brought Paul down and set him before them.

  • Lysias took the unorthodox action of calling an informal meeting of the Sanhedrin.

Acts 24:27 (ESV) — 27 When two years had elapsed, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus. And desiring to do the Jews a favor, Felix left Paul in prison.

  • Even after Felix was booted, he left Paul in prison for Festus to deal with.
  • His retention of Paul in custody for two years is understandable: “other Roman governors, including the upright Cicero (ad Att 6.1.7), are known to have avoided decisions that could earn them criticism, and Felix will have been aware that two of his predecessors had been recalled for trial” – AYBD.

Acts 25:1–2 (ESV) — 1 Now three days after Festus had arrived in the province, he went up to Jerusalem from Caesarea. 2 And the chief priests and the principal men of the Jews laid out their case against Paul, and they urged him,

  • We know that Felix was removed from office for the way he dealt with Jewish unrest.
  • Given the political tension between Rome and the Jews, it was in Festus’ (and Rome’s) interest to quickly be conciliatory to the Jewish leadership.

Acts 25:9 (ESV) — 9 But Festus, wishing to do the Jews a favor, said to Paul, “Do you wish to go up to Jerusalem and there be tried on these charges before me?”

  • Festus “hesitates to offend the Jews and suggests a trial at Jerusalem, where he might have allowed an advisory role to members of the Sanhedrin” – AYBD.
  • His actions are described as “an attempt to ingratiate himself with the Jewish officials” – AYBD.
  • Even in Josephus’ portrayal of Festus we see documentation of “his desire to have good relations with the Jewish leadership” – AYBD.

And from history, we have the following example:

  • We know that Festus died 3 years into office (after Paul had been shipped off to Rome).
  • The high priest Ananias, appointed by Agrippa II, “took advantage of the interval which elapsed before the arrival of Festus’ successor to assume the right of capital jurisdiction” – AYBD.
  • It was during time that Ananias had James, the brother of Jesus, killed.
  • This usurpation of an authority which was not his would have brought down Roman reprisals on the province if his action had not been disowned by his being deposed from the high priesthood” – AYBD.

And so for the answer to our first question, “what were the reasons the Roman leaders of Palestine put politics above justice and go out of their way to placate the Jews?

From the political background, we can see that an uneasy tension existed between the local Roman politicians and the nationalistic Jewish leadership and laymen.

  • This relationship was complicated by the Jews hatred of Christianity and the Romans indifference to it.
  • In addition, the Roman provincial governors’ standing in the eyes of Rome was negatively impacted when things went badly in the provinces; not good for their careers.
  • Therefore, “maintaining peace was the highest priority of a Roman provincial governor” – John MacArthur.

It was for these reasons that Paul was, in many ways, simply a means to an end for Felix, Festus and to a lesser extent, Lysias.

  • He was used to engender good will between themselves and the Jewish leadership.
  • He was a pawn in political game to placate the Jews at the expense of His due process.

Had Paul not been a Roman citizen, there seems to be little doubt that he would have been executed for this very same purpose.

  • But, by God’s design, Paul was indeed at once Christian, a Pharisee and a Roman citizen – a necessary trinity of a different sort.
  • And, in God’s timing, he was sent to Rome at a time appointed by God.
  • It is an awesome thing how God works in the details of history (Roman, Jewish & Paul’s) to accomplish His purposes.

Speaking of God’s timing:
One could easily question the wisdom of God allowing Paul to languish in prison these 2 years.
It would seem his time, talents and love of the Gospel could have been put to much better use.
But we must learn 2 things.

  1. God’s timing and reasoning are His to know and accomplish as He sees fit.
  2. And, if we ever find ourselves in a metaphorical “prison” lingering in life seemingly without purpose, we must look to Paul’s example on how we are to find our purpose.
  • Felix was hoping for a bribe, and so “sent for him often and conversed with him” and Paul “reasoned about righteousness and self-control and the coming judgment” – Acts 24:25-26.
  • We always have purpose in speaking the Gospel!

And What of Agrippa II whom we meet in today’s text?
Acts 25:13 (ESV) — 13 Now when some days had passed, Agrippa the king and Bernice arrived at Caesarea and greeted Festus.
Acts 25:22 (ESV) — 22 Then Agrippa said to Festus, “I would like to hear the man myself.” “Tomorrow,” said he, “you will hear him.”
Acts 25:26 (ESV) — 26 But I have nothing definite to write to my lord about him. Therefore I have brought him before you all, and especially before you, King Agrippa, so that, after we have examined him, I may have something to write.

There were, of course, some Jews, such as Agrippa II, that were sympathetic to both Roman and Jewish causes.

  • Agrippa owed his kingship of Judea, Galilee, etc. to Emperor Claudius in 53 AD.
  • Because he owed his kingship to Rome, he “seems to have thought that the best future for the Jews lay in acquiescence in Roman rule, which was to be coaxed and tempered rather than thwarted” – AYBD.

Yet he also was a Jew.

  • And as the King of the Jews, he had the authority to appoint the Jewish high priest (e.g., Ananias from Acts 23:3, 24:1) and over the temple.
  • Therefore he had sympathies for his Jewish heritage.
  • This is also evidenced by, for example, “the fact that he took costly steps to save the Temple from subsidence [sinking or settling at it foundation]” – AYBD.

Why is he involved in Paul’s odyssey?
We will learn more about that as we explore more of the end of chapter 25 and chapter 26 in the coming weeks.

2) LUKE’S APOLOGETIC INTENTIONS

Now on to our second question, “Why did Luke see fit to document these somewhat identical events?
We have at least 3 reasons.

Luke was revealing how God brought Paul to Rome:
In Acts 25:11, Paul appealed his case to Rome.
The appellatio was introduced to protect the Roman citizen against unfair treatment by a magistrate” – New Testament Milieu.
Interestingly, initially this practice was limited to the city of Rome itself, but by the time of Paul it had been extended to the Roman provinces.
Yet another example of God working through the details of history.

There seem to be 4 specific reasons why Paul made the appeal.

  • He knew he could not receive justice in Palestine because of the influence of the Sanhedrin upon the Roman courts there” – Believers Study Bible.
  • The Roman courts were notoriously unjust when they had sufficient motive” [placating the Jews, e.g.] – Believers Study Bible.
  • Acts 22:17-18 tells us that Jesus had told Paul not to go back to Jerusalem.
  • Acts 23:11 — The following night the Lord stood by him and said, “Take courage, for as you have testified to the facts about me in Jerusalem, so you must testify also in Rome.”

Luke was showing that Christianity was not a political threat to Rome:
From the texts we have dealt with today we see that:

  • Lysias (& probably Felix), Festus and Agrippa II determined that Paul had not committed any acts of sedition (crimes against Cesar & Rome).
  • And that any charges by the Jews of sectarianism (law breaking) or sacrilege (temple defilement) were not under the purview of Roman law.

And looking forward we see that this theme continues.
Acts 28:18–19 (ESV) — 18 When they had examined me, they wished to set me at liberty, because there was no reason for the death penalty in my case. 19 But because the Jews objected, I was compelled to appeal to Caesar—though I had no charge to bring against my nation.

Luke’s political apologetic is intended to emphasize that there is nothing seditious about Christianity; on the contrary, Christians are law-abiding subjects of the Roman Empire.”– AYBD.

Luke is, in fact, one of the first Christian apologists. In that particular type of apologetic which is addressed to the secular authorities to establish the law-abiding character of Christianity he is absolutely the pioneer” – F.F. Bruce.

POI – Luke, in his Gospel, also shows that even Jesus was not found guilty of sedition by Pilate.
Luke 23:4 (ESV) — 4 Then Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowds, “I find no guilt in this man.”
Luke 23:14 (ESV) — 14 and said to them, “You brought me this man as one who was misleading the people. And after examining him before you, behold, I did not find this man guilty of any of your charges against him.
Luke 23:22 (ESV) — 22 A third time he said to them, “Why, what evil has he done? I have found in him no guilt deserving death. I will therefore punish and release him.”

Luke was showing that at issue for the Christian faith was the resurrection of Jesus Christ:
Acts 23:6 (ESV) — 6 Now when Paul perceived that one part were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, “Brothers, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees. It is with respect to the hope and the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial.”
Acts 24:15 (ESV) — 15 having a hope in God, which these men themselves accept, that there will be a resurrection of both the just and the unjust.
Acts 24:21 (ESV) — 21 other than this one thing that I cried out while standing among them: ‘It is with respect to the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial before you this day.’ ”
Acts 25:19 (ESV) — 19 Rather they had certain points of dispute with him about their own religion and about a certain Jesus, who was dead, but whom Paul asserted to be alive.
Acts 26:8 (ESV) — 8 Why is it thought incredible by any of you that God raises the dead?
Acts 26:23 (ESV) — 23 that the Christ must suffer and that, by being the first to rise from the dead, he would proclaim light both to our people and to the Gentiles.”
Acts 26:26 (ESV) — 26 For the king knows about these things, and to him I speak boldly. For I am persuaded that none of these things has escaped his notice, for this has not been done in a corner [It was done in history for all to see].

Luke’s choice of the narrative form is deliberate. He explicitly designates his work a diegesis “narrative” (Luke 1:1) and emphasizes that he tells events “in sequence”. It is clear from several other places that Luke regards the narration of events “in order” to have a peculiarly convincing quality (e.g., Acts 9:27; 11:4; 15:12–14). For him, the development of the plot itself, in sequence, has a persuasive force (Dillon 1981: 217–33). In this, Luke shares the conviction of Hellenistic rhetoric, which regards the narratio as critical to historical argument or personal defense, as he shows also in the construction of Paul’s “defense speeches”” – AYBD.

And so we have answered our 2nd question.
It should come as no surprise that there is intent behind anything that God is purposing.
Even if at first glance it seems as simple repetition, if you get off the tour bus and explore the “nature preserve” you can often see more than you did from the comfort of a padded seat.

Acts 26:1-21 – Jesus “Fleshed Out” as The Promise

Acts 26:1-21 – Jesus “Fleshed Out as The Promise”
Diving Deeper Lesson Outline for Acts 26:1-21

Acts 26:6–8 (ESV) — 6 And now I stand here on trial because of my hope in the promise made by God to our fathers, 7 to which our twelve tribes hope to attain, as they earnestly worship night and day. And for this hope I am accused by Jews, O king! 8 Why is it thought incredible by any of you that God raises the dead?

• These verses capture the essence of Paul’s 5th defense made since Chapter 22.
• The sentiment here is quite similar to the other defenses as well as his sermon in Acts 13.
• We will focus on “the promise” and “God raises the dead”.

1) WHAT WAS THE PROMISE?

We briefly addressed this question when we studied Paul’s sermon in Acts 13.
But because I can hardly remember what I learned yesterday, we shall explore “the promise” again in more detail.
“The promise” is also directly related to how we handle point 2 concerning the resurrection.

The promise is well attested:
Luke 1:70–73 (ESV) — [Quoting Zechariah] “…as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old, 71 that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us; 72 to show the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant, 73 the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us…”

Acts 3:22–24 (ESV) — Moses said, ‘The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers. You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you. 23 And it shall be that every soul who does not listen to that prophet shall be destroyed from the people [Deut 18:15].’ 24 And all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and those who came after him, also proclaimed these days.

Acts 13:22–23 (ESV) — 22 And when he had removed him, he raised up David to be their king, of whom he testified and said, ‘I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will.’ 23 Of this man’s offspring God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus, as he promised.

Acts 13:32 (ESV) — And we bring you the good news that what God promised to the fathers,

  • Luke, Peter and Paul reminded the Jews that “Abraham”, “David”, “the fathers”, “the prophets”, “Moses”, “Samuel” and “Zechariah” spoke of a promise that would find future fulfillment.
  • And whatever that promise was, Luke, Peter and Paul argued that it found fulfillment in Jesus whom they called the Messiah.

What exactly was the promise Luke, Peter & Paul were referring to?
Acts 3:25 (ESV) – You are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant that God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed.’

Acts 7:5 (ESV) — 5 Yet he gave him no inheritance in it, not even a foot’s length, but promised to give it to him as a possession AND to his offspring after him, though he had no child.

Acts 7:17 (ESV) — 17 “But as the time of the promise drew near, which God had granted to Abraham, the people increased and multiplied in Egypt

Romans 9:9 (ESV) — 9 For this is what the promise said: “About this time next year I will return, and Sarah shall have a son.”

So simply put, the promise had three dimensions (source HIBD).

  • the promise of a seed or offspring (an heir; Gen. 12:7; 15:4; 17:16, 19; 21:12; 22:16–18; 26:3–4, 24; 28:13–14; 35:11–12)
  • the promise of land (an inheritance; Gen. 12:1,7; 13:17; 15:18; 17:8; 24:7; 26:3–5; 28:13, 15; 35:12; 48:4; 50:24)
  • the promise of blessing on all the nations (a heritage of the gospel; Gen. 12:3; 18:18; 22:17–18; 26:4; 28:14).

In following the cross-references throughout the Old Testament concerning “the promise”, it admittedly can become confusing.

  • It is clear that “the promise” comes to encompass more than just offspring, land and a blessing.
  • Underneath these 3 dimensions are all sorts of related prophecies and promises.

But, to stay on task, we will not explore this here.

What we want to know is how Jesus, from an OT perspective, fits into these three promises?
It seems that as God continued to work in the history of Israel, the 3 promises above were “fleshed out” or “Jesused out” even more.

  • God’s continuing fulfillment of His promises, “began to constitute the continuously unfolding divine plan by which all the peoples and nations of the earth would benefit – HIBD.”
  • And the benefit, of course, would come through Jesus Christ.

So although the first fulfillments or benefits of the promise were found in things like:

  • the birth of Isaac
  • the increase of the Israelite population while in captivity
  • the redemption from Egypt and entry into the promise land

There was also present in the OT aspects of “the promise” (the confusing stuff mentioned earlier) that more fulfillment was on the way.
And looking back, the Christian, can plainly see the person of Jesus coming into sharper and sharper focus ultimately culminating with his birth and life as revealed in the NT.

To get a sense of this, examine the verses below:
2 Samuel 7:12 (ESV) — When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom.

Psalm 98:2–3 (ESV) — 2 The LORD has made known his salvation; he has revealed his righteousness in the sight of the nations. 3 He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness to the house of Israel.

Isaiah 7:14 (ESV) — 14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

Isaiah 40:11 (ESV) — 11 He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.

Jeremiah 23:5–6 (ESV) — 5 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. 6 In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The LORD is our righteousness.’

Zechariah 2:10 (ESV) — Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion, for behold, I come and I will dwell in your midst, declares the LORD.

Zechariah 9:9 (ESV) — 9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

  • In these verses, we are introduced to someone called “offspring”, “his salvation”, “his righteousness”, “Immanuel”, “shepherd” and “righteous branch”.
  • Compared to “the promise” and the examples of its fulfillment revealed in the Pentateuch, we have here a much different picture as to the “who” and the “how” “the promise” will be fulfilled.
  • For the New Testament writers Jesus the Messiah is, was and will be the ultimate fulfillment of the “the promises” God made to Abraham, David and the nation of Israel.
  • So, “Luke never tires of showing, that the reality of Jesus has produced a new understanding of what the Messiah is, and hence of what Scripture says about Him” – TDNT.

POI – It is interesting that a search of the OT for the English word Messiah will come up with no hits.
(The NASB and NKJV translate Daniel 9:25-26 with the word Messiah, but it is apparently controversial).

In fact, “the term ‘anointed’ [messiah] is never used of a future savior/redeemer, and in later Jewish writings of the period between 200 B.C. and A.D. 100 the term is used only infrequently in connection with agents of divine deliverance expected in the future” – AYBD.

We are in a very debatable area when we discuss the development in Israel of Messianic ideas which express the hope that a time of salvation will come with the accession of a king of David’s line—a time that is often regarded also as a last time” – TDNT.

The extensive use of the term Messiah (Christ) as a title of the coming great Son of David is primarily a NT phenomenon” – TWOT.

So when the NT writers used the word “messiah”, they were saying (among other things) that:

  • Jesus’ birth, miracles, message, divinity, death, resurrection, etc., revealed that he was the one used by God to fulfill God’s promises of the “offspring”, “his salvation”, “his righteousness”, “Immanuel”, “shepherd”, and “righteous branch”, etc.
  • “The promise” fulfillment came through Christ’s capacity as prophet, priest and king (e.g., Heb 4:14-5:10).
  • He was “anointed” by God to perform these duties – as was the case with OT prophets (Aaron), priests and kings.
  • Therefore, Jesus was the “Anointed One”, the Christ, the Messiah (Acts 17:3, Luke 4:18-21).
  • How was Jesus anointed? (Acts 10:38)

Summary of this section:
The prophecies listed in this section announce a decisive and lasting change in the plight of the people, brought about by God. War will end, peace and plenty will be restored, Israel and Judah will be reunited, people in Exile will return; salvation has worldwide dimensions. In these prophecies, the central figure is a descendant of David who represents an ideal of kingship in the name of YHWH. The complexity of this ideal allows for all sorts of nuances in the individual texts. The emphasis is not on the person of the future king but on the fact that, at last, the Davidic ideal, which no historical king (including David) ever fulfilled, will be realized” – AYBD.

And in light of the revelation of Jesus Christ, the New Testament enlarges the ancient promises 3 ways (HIBD):

  • The first, and most frequent, are the references to God’s promises to Abraham about the heir he was to receive, even Jesus Christ (Rom. 4:13–16, 20; 9:7–9; 15:8; Gal. 3:16–22; 4:23; Heb. 6:13–17; 7:6; 11:9, 11, 17)”.
  • A second major grouping may be made around David’s seed and the sending of Jesus as a Savior “according to the promise” (Acts 13:23, 32–33 HCSB; 26:6).”
  • The third major group is the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promises appear after our Lord’s resurrection (Luke 24:49; Acts 2:33, 38–39).”

This encapsulates Paul’s argument concerning Jesus throughout the book of Acts and to the Jewish King Agrippa II.
But another question remains, where do the promises speak of a resurrection?
This is the issue that was causing the Jews and skeptics alike so much problem; more next week.

Acts 26:22-25 – Jesus “Fleshed Out” as The Resurrection

2) THE RESURRECTION AND THE PROMISE

Summary of last week:
Luke 24:44–47 (ESV) — 44 Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations…”

  • We looked at what Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms said about “the promise”.
  • We found it began as a promised offspring, land and nation and expanded to encompass a “continuously unfolding divine plan.”
  • We found that, from an OT perspective, there was not a central figure present known to the Jews as “The Messiah.”
  • But there was found a “shepherd”, “his salvation”, “his righteousness” and “Immanuel”, etc.
  • And we saw that Paul, Luke and the rest of the NT writers argued that Jesus was the fulfillment of all of the above and as such was anointed by God and so was “The Messiah.”

This leads us to today’s lesson, Part II, on how the death and resurrection of Jesus and relate to “the promises” of the Old Testament.

Today’s text:
Acts 26:22–25 (ESV) — 22 To this day I have had the help that comes from God, and so I stand here testifying both to small and great, saying nothing but what the prophets and Moses said would come to pass: 23 that the Christ must suffer and that, by being the first to rise from the dead, he would proclaim light both to our people and to the Gentiles.” 24 And as he was saying these things in his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, “Paul, you are out of your mind; your great learning is driving you out of your mind.” 25 But Paul said, “I am not out of my mind, most excellent Festus, but I am speaking true and rational words.

What did Paul say about OT prophesy and the death and resurrection of someone in relation to “the promises”?

  • Not only did the NT argue that Jesus the Messiah was fulfillment of the Old Testament promises.
  • But they argued that His death and resurrection was also part of the Old Testament promises as we see in our text today.
  • Paul commended the Bereans for searching the Scriptures to verify his words, so we will too.

Now we need to investigate Paul’s claim that the OT said Jesus must suffer and that He would rise from the dead.
As we go forward, it may help us to know that even Jesus made the same claims that Paul and Luke were making in our text today.
For example, He said:

  • John 3:14 (ESV) — 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up.
  • John 5:45–46 (ESV) — 45 Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you: Moses, on whom you have set your hope. 46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me.

What the OT says about Jesus and his appointed suffering:

  • Psalm 22:1 (ESV) — 1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?
  • Psalm 22:14–18 (ESV) — 14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted within my breast; 15 my strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws; you lay me in the dust of death. 16 For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet— 17 I can count all my bones— they stare and gloat over me; 18 they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.
  • Isaiah 53:3–5 (ESV) — 3 He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 4 Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.

What the OT says about Jesus and His resurrection:
The typical OT view of death is expressed in the following verses.

  • Ecclesiastes 3:19–21 (ESV) — 19 For what happens to the children of man and what happens to the beasts is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and man has no advantage over the beasts, for all is vanity. 20 All go to one place. All are from the dust, and to dust all return [dust is representative of Sheol]. 21 Who knows whether the spirit of man goes upward and the spirit of the beast goes down into the earth?
  • Psalm 104:29 (ESV) — 29 When you hide your face, they are dismayed; when you take away their breath, they die and return to their dust.
  • Job 7:9–10 (ESV) — 9 As the cloud fades and vanishes, so he who goes down to Sheol does not come up; 10 he returns no more to his house, nor does his place know him anymore.
  • Job 20:11 (ESV) — 11 His bones are full of his youthful vigor, but it will lie down with him in the dust.
  • Isaiah 38:10 (ESV) — 10 I said, In the middle of my days I must depart; I am consigned to the gates of Sheol for the rest of my years.

As you can see, there isn’t much hope expressed about the afterlife.

  • Life there unfolded “without purpose and without communication” – AYBD.
  • No contact with the living or with God.
  • Sheol was a place of no return from which very few have left.
  • Sheol was not a place of judgment, but a “place which awaited the living” – AYBD.

But there was present a hope that Sheol would be remedied through God’s power, love and justice.

  • 1 Samuel 2:6 (ESV) — 6 The LORD kills and brings to life; he brings down to Sheol and raises up.
  • Isaiah 26:19 (ESV) — 19 Your dead shall live; their bodies shall rise. You who dwell in the dust, awake and sing for joy! For your dew is a dew of light, and the earth will give birth to the dead.
  • Psalm 16:10 (ESV) — 10 For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption.
  • Hosea 13:14 (ESV) — 14 Shall I ransom them from the power of Sheol? Shall I redeem them from Death? O Death, where are your plagues? O Sheol, where is your sting? Compassion is hidden from my eyes.
  • Daniel 12:2 (ESV) — 2 And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.

Initially, many of these verses of hope “used the idea of resurrection to express the national hope of the re-birth of the nation” – NDB.

  • But the NT writers made clear that these verses were, in light of Jesus suffering, resurrection and His own teaching, references to Jesus Christ the Messiah.
  • Acts 2:30–32 (ESV) — 30 Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, 31 he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. 32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses.
  • Jesus Christ was sent by God and raised by God’s power, love and justice.
  • Jesus Christ’s resurrection made it possible that both the dead in Christ and the nation of Israel would be redeemed from Sheol.
  • Of course to us, the parallel seems obvious, but the Jew had a hard time with this concept.

Some of the barriers Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection posed for the Jews:
Barrier 1:
For death not to be an occasion of scandal and for it not to appear as an unacceptable occurrence, three conditions had to be fulfilled, as far as the Israelite was concerned” – AYBD.

  1. One needed to die “full of days” or in one’s old age not in “the middle of one’s days”(Gen 15:15; Job 42:17; Isa 38:19).
  2. One needed to leave behind descendants, especially a son (Gen 15 – Abraham & Isaac).
    1. Why a wife’s sterility was such a problem (1 Sam 1).
    2.  Why death of only son was such a problem (Amos 8:10).
  3. Funeral rites “had to be scrupulously observed” – AYBD (2 Sam 1:11–27; 3:31; Jer 16:1–9; Ezek 24:15–17).

Divine punishment against a guilty person was manifested precisely through a shortened life, the lack of progeny, and a corpse abandoned to wild beasts” – AYBD.

  • So surely the “righteous branch” and Israel’s deliverer, at the very least, would not have died young and had such an ignominious death and burial.

Barrier 2:
Deuteronomy 21:23 (ESV) — 23 his body shall not remain all night on the tree, but you shall bury him the same day, for a hanged man is cursed by God. You shall not defile your land that the LORD your God is giving you for an inheritance.

  • The specific way that Jesus died would have been seen as a rejection by God.
  • A savior-king ordained by God would not have died in such a manner.

The NT writers had answers to these barriers:

  • Galatians 3:13–14 (ESV) — 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.

The very reason Jesus could redeem is because he took on our curse and bore its shame and God’s rejection on the cross.

And the OT itself had foreseen the Jews rejection:

  • Psalm 118:22 (ESV) — 22 The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.
  • Isaiah 8:14 (ESV) — 14 And he will become a sanctuary and a stone of offense and a rock of stumbling to both houses of Israel, a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.

POI – It is also interesting to note that scholars point out that a crucified savior would have also been offensive to “Greek sensibilities.”

  • Yet, importantly and remarkably, the NT writers never made any attempt to hide or play down the Passion of Jesus.
  • Paul, in fact, readily admitted that the Gospel was foolishness to the unbeliever and that the believer was a fragrance of death to the unbeliever.

A short, biblical summary of the relationship of the resurrection to the promise:

  • Hebrews 11:13 and 17-18 (ESV) — 13 These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth…17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, 18 of whom it was said, “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.”

Things to consider:

  • It is important to point out that the barriers or hang-ups were very much “cultural baggage” hang-ups that had so often plagued the Jews.
  • We must remember that we have them too, materialism, post-modernism, relativism.
  • All of these can cloud our ability to know and experience Jesus the way God intended as revealed in the Bible.

Acts 26:24-32 – The Gospel is Folly?

Acts 26:24-32 – The Gospel is Folly?
The title is drawn from the response of Festus to Paul’s claim that Jesus rose from the dead.

1) ACTS 26 SUMMARY

Due to the weather, it has been a couple of weeks since we have met, so a short review is appropriate.

  • Prior to chapter 26, Festus was unsure what to write in his letter that was to accompany Paul to Rome.
  • So he makes arrangements for Paul to state his case before King Agrippa II.
  • Festus’ intention was to get input on the letter from Agrippa.

Chapter 26 starts with the Agrippa giving Paul permission to speak, whereby Paul proceeds to make his 5th defense.

Paul’s defense:

  • He was once a persecutor of Christians and a fanatical Pharisee.
  • He was on trial for believing what the “fathers” taught about Jesus.
  • The fathers taught about the promise.
  • The fathers taught about the resurrection.
  • He was converted on the road to Damascus by a risen Jesus – witnesses were present.
  • Since that day, his life was lived in obedience to Jesus’ call to preach the Gospel.
  • He again refers back to the “fathers”:
    • Acts 26:21–23 (ESV) — 21 For this reason the Jews seized me in the temple and tried to kill me. 22 To this day I have had the help that comes from God, and so I stand here testifying both to small and great, saying nothing but what the prophets and Moses said would come to pass: 23 that the Christ must suffer and that, by being the first to rise from the dead, he would proclaim light both to our people and to the Gentiles.”

Our previous 2 lessons examined Paul’s claims that the “fathers” spoke of Jesus both in terms of the promise and the resurrection.

  • We saw how right Paul was, but paradoxically, we saw also why the Jews had difficulty with Jesus.
  • What were some of the difficulties, e.g., specifically with His death and resurrection?

Finally, I didn’t use the following in the previous two lessons, but they capture well Paul’s claims about the OT:

  • Psalm 49:7–9 (ESV) — 7 Truly no man can ransom another, or give to God the price of his life, 8 for the ransom of their life is costly and can never suffice, 9 that he should live on forever and never see the pit.
  • Psalm 49:14–15 (ESV) — 14 Like sheep they are appointed for Sheol; death shall be their shepherd, and the upright shall rule over them in the morning. Their form shall be consumed in Sheol, with no place to dwell. 15 But God will ransom my soul from the power of Sheol, for he will receive me. Selah

And now we have arrived at our text for today’s lesson.
And here I want to unpack the world’s perception of the message Paul was preaching.
Festus expressed the world’s view clearly.

2) JESUS ROSE FROM THE DEAD – YOU ARE CRAZY!

Acts 26:24 (ESV) — 24 And as he was saying these things in his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, “Paul, you are out of your mind; your great learning is driving you out of your mind.”

  • Make no mistake, Festus was saying that Paul was crazy.
  • The Greek word literally means “to be mad, to rave. One who so speaks that he seems not to be in his right mind.” – Strongs.
  • In fact the Greek word here is where we get the English word for maniac.

Jesus Himself faced the same sentiment:
• John 10:19–21 (ESV) — 19 There was again a division among the Jews because of these words. 20 Many of them said, “He has a demon, and is insane; why listen to him?” 21 Others said, “These are not the words of one who is oppressed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”

The accusations still fly:

  • Who will say with confidence that sexual abuse is more permanently damaging to children than threatening them with the eternal and unquenchable fires of hell?” – Richard Dawkins
  • I doubt that religion can survive deep understanding. The shallows are its natural habitat.” – Richard Dawkins
  • It is child abuse to teach children there is a creator.” – Peter Atkins (paraphrase from Stephen Meyers debate)
  • Religion is fundamentally opposed to everything I hold in veneration–courage, clear thinking, honesty, fairness, and, above all, love of the truth.” – H.L. Mencken
  • The Bible may, indeed does, contain a warrant for trafficking in humans, for ethnic cleansing, for slavery, for bride-price, and for indiscriminate massacre, but we are not bound by any of it because it was put together by crude, uncultured human mammals.” – Christopher Hitchens
  • So far as I can remember, there is not one word in the Gospels in praise of intelligence.” – Bertrand Russell
  • We know enough at this moment to say that the God of Abraham is not only unworthy of the immensity of creation; he is unworthy even of man.” – Sam Harris

It needs to be said that Paul never attempted to hide, mitigate or soften the outrageousness of the Gospel’s claims.

  • Despite the insults and imprisonment, Paul’s message never wavered.
  • He never was distracted, it seems to me, with defending his intelligence directly.
  • 2 Corinthians 5:13 (ESV) — 13 For if we are beside ourselves [crazy], it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you.
  • This leads me to two questions; 1) How did he explain the responses? 2) How did he respond?

Explaining the “your are crazy” responses:
In what I believe was an act of encouragement, God gave Paul insight as to why people respond the way they do.

  • 1 Corinthians 1:18 (ESV) — 18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
  • 1 Corinthians 1:23 (ESV) — 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles,
  • 1 Corinthians 2:13-14 (ESV) — 13 And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. 14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.
  • 2 Corinthians 4:4 (ESV) — 4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
  • 2 Corinthians 2:14–17 (ESV) — 14 But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. 15 For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, 16 to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? 17 For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ.

What is Paul telling us about the Gospel message?

  • It is folly to the unsaved.
  • It is not accepted by the “natural” person.
  • The Gospel stinks; it smells one way to the lost and another to the saved.

What is Paul telling us about the hearers of the Gospel message?

  • The “natural” person can’t understand the things of God.
  • Satan is actively at work blinding their minds to the Gospel.

What is “a fragrance of death” and why is it a characteristic of a sincere Gospel?

  • What are ways we try to mask the odor of the Gospel?
  • Should we attempt to mask the fragrance of the Gospel for the unsaved?
    • Doing so, I think, is ripe with problems such as false conversions and heresy.

Knowing these things should serve to prepare us.

  • It should come as no surprise that the Gospel and Jesus’ name is a lightning rod of controversy.
  • We can empathize with the individuals who make the “you are crazy” responses because we know the theological problems they face.
  • We can be emboldened because it ultimately is not a personal attack on us, but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

So we have understood how Paul explained and understood the responses to the Gospel he was teaching.
Now on to the second question; How did he respond to the doubt and insults?

How Paul Responded:
Acts 26:25–26 (ESV) — 25 But Paul said, “I am not out of my mind, most excellent Festus, but I am speaking true and rational words. 26 For the king knows about these things, and to him I speak boldly. For I am persuaded that none of these things has escaped his notice, for this has not been done in a corner. 27 King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you believe.”


With regards to Paul’s sanity:
He stated he was in fact not out of his mind, because:
1) King Agrippa “knows about these things” and “…believe the prophets? I know that you believe.”

  • As a Jew, the King knows about “the promise” and “the resurrection” discussed by Paul and taught in the OT.
  • And Agrippa knew that God as revealed in the OT, was active in world in 5 distinct ways all of which were manifested in Jesus (N.T. Wright):
    • Word of God
    • Wisdom of God
    • Glory of God
    • Law of God
    • Spirit of Go

2) And “none of these things has escaped his notice”.

  • The implication here is that, because he is based in Jerusalem, the King knows about Jesus, the disciples, the empty grave, the resurrection, miracles, etc.

With regards to the merits of the promise and resurrection of Jesus:

true and rational [sober, reasonable] words

  • True here means “Truth as evidenced in relation to facts, therefore, it denotes the reality clearly lying before our eyes as opposed to a mere appearance, without reality” – Zodhiates.
  • In other words, “Paul answers the charge of μανία by arguing that he speaks “true and rational words” which can be understood and tested” – TDNT.
    • Side note on implication of “true words”:
    • Titus 1:9 (ESV) — 9 He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.

“this has not been done in a corner”

  • As we have discussed before, the Gospel was God verifiably intervening in History.
  • We addressed this in a past lesson by noticing how interwoven Acts is with Roman history.
  • Both in identifying Roman leaders and seats of government to the working out of Roman jurisprudence, the book of Acts did not take place in a corner

So here, Paul is claiming that the resurrection of Jesus Christ did not happen in a corner (out of sight).

  • It can be, as stated earlier, understood and tested.
  • Gary Habermas’ Historical Minimal Facts approach makes use of some of Paul’s arguments for what is meant by the resurrection did not happen “in a corner”.
  • The first 4 historical events below (some of which are used by Paul) are considered historical facts by even the most critical of scholars (Habermas).
  • The fifth event is not as widely accepted, but the majority of scholars do accept it as fact.

1) Jesus died on the cross at the hands of professional Roman executioners.
2) Disciples believed and taught risen Jesus.

  • 1 Corinthians 15:3–8 (ESV) — 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.

3) James, the skeptic brother of Jesus, was converted.

  • Mark 3:21 (ESV) — 21 And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for they were saying, “He is out of his mind.”
  • Mark 6:3–4 (ESV) — 3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. 4 And Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.
  • John 7:5 (ESV) — 5 For not even his brothers believed in him.

4) Paul, the enemy of Christ, was converted.

  • In fact, Acts teaches Paul’s conversion 3 times.

5) The tomb was empty

The above 5 historical facts must be explained.
Paul argues time and time again that the explanation is that Jesus Christ rose from the dead.
In Gary Habermas’ book, he explores in detail the above 5 facts and the various explanations (great read).

So what can we take away from how Paul responded?

  • We can take heart that it is not for a lack of evidence that people don’t believe, but it is a heart problem.
  • And though clearly we are saved by faith, we also have permission to believe in and have confidence in Jesus based on evidence.

What is the opposite of faith?(not knowledge)
The Bible makes clear elsewhere that we can believe based on the knowledge of the evidence.

  • John 10:38 (ESV) — 38 but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.”
  • John 17:22–23 (ESV) — 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.
  • John 19:34–37 (ESV) — 34 But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. 35 He who saw it has borne witness—his testimony is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth—that you also may believe. 36 For these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken.” 37 And again another Scripture says, “They will look on him whom they have pierced.”
    • These verses capture the essence of Paul’s appeal to King Agrippa II!
  • 1 John 5:13 (ESV) — 13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.

Acts 27 – A Tale of Two Journeys (Jonah & Paul)

Acts 27 – A Tale of Two Journeys
Diving Deeper Lesson Outline for Acts 27

In trying to find a lesson in chapter 27, I became fascinated from what could be learned by comparing and contrasting Jonah’s and Paul’s shipboard journeys.

So to that end, I have done something I have never done, which is cover an entire chapter in one lesson.

1) JONAH AND PAUL – WE HAVE A CHOICE TO MAKE

God’s Call – Proclaim God’s word to the Gentiles:
Jonah 1:2 (ESV) — 2 “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.”

  • God called Jonah to Nineveh to proclaim the word of God.

Acts 23:11 (ESV) — 11 The following night the Lord stood by him and said, “Take courage, for as you have testified to the facts about me in Jerusalem, so you must testify also in Rome.”

  • God called Paul to Rome to proclaim the word of God.

Their Responses – Quite Different from one another:
Jonah 1:3a (ESV) — 3a But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD.

  • Jonah rebelled and fled.
  • His heart was hardened towards the Gentiles.
  • He did not want them to be spared from God’s wrath.

Acts 25:11 (ESV) — 11 If then I am a wrongdoer and have committed anything for which I deserve to die, I do not seek to escape death. But if there is nothing to their charges against me, no one can give me up to them. I appeal to Caesar.”

  • Paul had already fully submitted to God’s will time and time again.
  • And here he did what he could to grease the skids.
  • He used the Roman legal system to appeal his way to Rome.

How do we account for the difference between Paul and Jonah?

  • Paul’s will was aligned with God’s and Jonah’s was not.
  • Paul used to despise the Gentiles like Jonah, but what happened to account for the change in his life?

Their transportation – Coincidentally the Same BUT Different:
Jonah 1:3b (ESV) — 3b He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish. So he paid the fare and went on board, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the LORD.

  • Jonah went the opposite direction, literally, that God wanted him to go.
  • And in so doing, Jonah boarded the U.S.S. Rebellion.
  • Jonah was alone.

Acts 27:2 (ESV) — 2 And embarking in a ship of Adramyttium, which was about to sail to the ports along the coast of Asia, we put to sea, accompanied by Aristarchus, a Macedonian from Thessalonica.

  • Paul went the exact direction God wanted him to go.
  • And in so doing, Paul boarded the U.S.S. Submission.
  • Paul had 2 dear friends with him – Luke & Aristarchus
    • Acts 19:29 (ESV) — 29 So the city was filled with the confusion, and they rushed together into the theater, dragging with them Gaius and Aristarchus, Macedonians who were Paul’s companions in travel.

How is rebellion from God lonelier that submission to God?
The words of David:

  • Psalm 22:1 (ESV) — 1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?

The words of Jesus:

  • Mark 15:34 (ESV) — 34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Forsake – to leave in the lurch, forsake, desert, abandon (Zhodiahtes)
When we rebel and give way to sin, we, like David and Jesus (who bore our sins) feel alone.

Storms Came to both the Rebellion and the Submission:
Jonah 1:4 (ESV) — 4 But the LORD hurled a great wind upon the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship threatened to break up.

  • The creator of nature unleashed an unexpected storm upon Jonah’s ship.
  • God was credited for causing the storm directly.

Acts 27:13–15 (ESV) — 13 Now when the south wind blew gently, supposing that they had obtained their purpose, they weighed anchor and sailed along Crete, close to the shore. 14 But soon a tempestuous wind, called the northeaster, struck down from the land. 15 And when the ship was caught and could not face the wind, we gave way to it and were driven along.

  • A powerful northeaster overtook them and blew them off course.
  • Interestingly, this storm was not a surprise and it could have been avoided altogether had they listened to Paul.

The storm Jonah faced was clearly an act of judgment by God on Jonah.

  • However, Paul was being obedient and we have no indication his storm was an act of judgment.
  • Yet, keeping in mind that Paul would soon be martyred, was it fair that he should face yet another hardship?
    • Job 38:4–11 (ESV) — 4 “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. 5 Who determined its measurements—surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? 6 On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone, 7 when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy? 8 “Or who shut in the sea with doors when it burst out from the womb, 9 when I made clouds its garment and thick darkness its swaddling band, 10 and prescribed limits for it and set bars and doors, 11 and said, ‘Thus far shall you come, and no farther, and here shall your proud waves be stayed’?

God, as he makes clear to Job, is sovereign and though that can be emotionally satisfying in answering the question, it often fails to satisfy our intellectual cravings; it is just too easy.

Oh would it be that we were so submitted to God that His sovereignty as a reason for His actions would be enough to satisfy on all levels!

  • Job 42:2–6 (ESV) — 2 “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. 3 ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. 4 ‘Hear, and I will speak; I will question you, and you make it known to me.’ 5 I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; 6 therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”

POI – God gave warning of the storm on the USS submission but it was not heeded.
Acts 27:9–12 (ESV) — 9 …Paul advised them, 10 saying, “Sirs, I perceive that the voyage will be with injury and much loss, not only of the cargo and the ship, but also of our lives.” 11 But the centurion paid more attention to the pilot and to the owner of the ship than to what Paul said. 12 And because the harbor was not suitable to spend the winter in, the majority decided to put out to sea from there, on the chance that somehow they could reach Phoenix, a harbor of Crete, facing both southwest and northwest, and spend the winter there.

  • Interesting that God issued no warning for the U.S.S. Rebellion that we know of.
  • Perhaps when in rebellion, we can’t hear God’s warnings?
  • Or perhaps his discipline serves as our warning?

Human Efforts to Save Were Not Enough:
Jonah 1:5-7 (ESV) — 5 Then the mariners were afraid, and each cried out to his god. And they hurled the cargo that was in the ship into the sea to lighten it for them. But Jonah had gone down into the inner part of the ship and had lain down and was fast asleep. 6 So the captain came and said to him, “What do you mean, you sleeper? Arise, call out to your god! Perhaps the god will give a thought to us, that we may not perish.” 7 And they said to one another, “Come, let us cast lots, that we may know on whose account this evil has come upon us.” So they cast lots, and the lot fell on Jonah.

  • The crew fought for their lives and Jonah slept!
  • How is it that he slept? (On Paul’s boat they couldn’t even eat.)
    • I think, in forsaking God, he became desperately apathetic and just didn’t care?

Acts 27:16–20 (ESV) — 16 Running under the lee of a small island called Cauda, we managed with difficulty to secure the ship’s boat. 17 After hoisting it up, they used supports to undergird the ship. Then, fearing that they would run aground on the Syrtis, they lowered the gear, and thus they were driven along. 18 Since we were violently storm-tossed, they began the next day to jettison the cargo. 19 And on the third day they threw the ship’s tackle overboard with their own hands. 20 When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope of our being saved was at last abandoned.

  • The crew did all that they could do and yet all hope was lost.

We should do all we can.

  • And with regards to the U.S.S. Submission, they did all they could and God used it to bring them to Malta.

Jonah’s Rebellion/Sin Found Him Out – Paul’s Submission Vindicated Him:
Jonah 1:8–10 (ESV) — 8 Then they said to him, “Tell us on whose account this evil has come upon us. What is your occupation? And where do you come from? What is your country? And of what people are you?” 9 And he said to them, “I am a Hebrew, and I fear the LORD, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.” 10 Then the men were exceedingly afraid and said to him, “What is this that you have done!” For the men knew that he was fleeing from the presence of the LORD, because he had told them.

  • The crew rightly blamed Jonah, not God, for their circumstances.

Acts 27:21 (ESV) — 21 Since they had been without food for a long time, Paul stood up among them and said, “Men, you should have listened to me and not have set sail from Crete and incurred this injury and loss.
Acts 27:43 (ESV) — 43 But the centurion, wishing to save Paul, kept them from carrying out their plan. He ordered those who could swim to jump overboard first and make for the land,

  • He made his point and had thus established his wisdom and knowledge.
  • Now they would listen to him and benefit from his God granted wisdom and protection.

We can take something important away from the above.

  • In our rebellion, God can choose to discipline us.
  • In our submission, God can choose to sustain us.
  • In both, God will find a way to glorify Himself.

The next topic details this process of glorification perfectly.

How God Delivered and Brought Glory to Himself:
Jonah 1:11–16 (ESV) — 11 Then they said to him, “What shall we do to you, that the sea may quiet down for us?” For the sea grew more and more tempestuous. 12 He said to them, “Pick me up and hurl me into the sea; then the sea will quiet down for you, for I know it is because of me that this great tempest has come upon you.” 13 Nevertheless, the men rowed hard to get back to dry land, but they could not, for the sea grew more and more tempestuous against them. 14 Therefore they called out to the LORD, “O LORD, let us not perish for this man’s life, and lay not on us innocent blood, for you, O LORD, have done as it pleased you.” 15 So they picked up Jonah and hurled him into the sea, and the sea ceased from its raging. 16 Then the men feared the LORD exceedingly, and they offered a sacrifice to the LORD and made vows.

  • Jonah, having been found out, spoke God’s word – “hurl me into the sea…the sea will quiet down.”
  • In other words, lose Jonah and save your lives.
  • Jonah was tossed overboard, the storm stopped and the crew feared the Lord and so He was glorified.

Acts 27:22-26 & 34–38 (ESV) — 22 Yet now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. 23 For this very night there stood before me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship, 24 and he said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar. And behold, God has granted you all those who sail with you.’ 25 So take heart, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told. 26 But we must run aground on some island.” 34 Therefore I urge you to take some food. For it will give you strength, for not a hair is to perish from the head of any of you.” 35 And when he had said these things, he took bread, and giving thanks to God in the presence of all he broke it and began to eat. 36 Then they all were encouraged and ate some food themselves. 37 (We were in all 276 persons in the ship.) 38 And when they had eaten enough, they lightened the ship, throwing out the wheat into the sea.

  • Paul, having been uplifted in stature by God, had a vision and spoke God’s word of promise.
  • Paul’s words – “no loss among you”… ”stood before me an angel of God”… “not a hair is to perish”
  • Paul’s presence preserved everyone’s’ lives.
  • The crew and those aboard were all encouraged and God was glorified.

3 Principals to Take Away:

First Principle

  • And so it seems that in our rebellion we are part of the problem.
    • Jonah the prophet, in his rebellion, brought the wrath of God to bear on the U.S.S. Rebellion.
  • And in submission to God we can be part of the solution.
    • Paul the prisoner became the leader and deliverer of all those on the U.S.S. Submission.

Second Principle

  • And in our rebellion against God, we can bring others down with us and have a negative impact.
    • A direct result of Jonah’s rebellion was the partial destruction of the ship he was on.
    • This would have hindered the crews ability to make a living until repairs were made.
  • But in our submission to God, we can encourage them and have a positive impact.
    • The destruction of Paul’s ship was a result of failing to heed his warnings.
    • But in spite of the loss of the ship, Paul brought hope and assurance that all lives would be spared.

Third Principle

  • God will glorify Himself in our rebellion through disciplining us.
    • The crew of Jonah’s ship worshiped God and saw His power first hand.
    • God brought this to bear in unison with his disciplining of Jonah.
  • He will glorify Himself in our submission by challenging us.
    • Though faced with yet another hardship, Paul again put his trust and faith in God and God saw fit to vindicate Paul and deliver every life.

What ship are you on – USS Rebellion or USS Submission?

  • Luke has clearly taught us that you can’t know that by whether there is a storm or not.
  • But, it appears you are on the USS Submission if you seek out, know and “hear” God’s word.
  • And, if in the midst of the storm, you have peace and godly companionship.
  • But, if you are in loneliness and despair or, in your apathy, you just don’t care that the ship is going down, you are surely on the U.S.S. Rebellion.
    • Jonah 2:3–4 (ESV) — 3 For you cast me into the deep, into the heart of the seas, and the flood surrounded me; all your waves and your billows passed over me. 4 Then I said, ‘I am driven away from your sight…’ 

We asked earlier how Jonah could sleep during the storm.
We also need to ask ourselves if we are asleep in our rebellion and apathy?

  • If we are not leading our wives by example in our walk with Christ
  • If we are not teaching our children by example that Christ is the most important thing in life
  • If we are neglecting our duties as Christian men in our Church and communities
  • Then we are asleep in the storm.

Acts 28:1-10 – Natural Evil and a Superstition Problem

Acts 28:1-10 – Natural Evil and a Superstition Problem
Diving Deeper Lesson Outline for Acts 28:1-10

1) PAUL A MURDERER?


You are a murderer:
Acts 28:4–5 (ESV) — 4 When the native people saw the creature hanging from his hand, they said to one another, “No doubt this man is a murderer. Though he has escaped from the sea, Justice has not allowed him to live.” 5 He, however, shook off the creature into the fire and suffered no harm.

  • Justice here refers to the god of Justice.
  • She “served in literature and art to inform Zeus of evils which humans do and to punish injustice” – TDNT.
  • The idea is that Paul was bitten by a poisonous snake to punish him for murder.
  • And why did they think he was a murderer? – because he was bitten by a snake.

Woops…maybe not:
Acts 28:6 (ESV) — 6 They were waiting for him to swell up or suddenly fall down dead. But when they had waited a long time and saw no misfortune come to him, they changed their minds and said that he was a god.

  • Evidently the following chain of logic was in play:
    • Ship Wreck + Poisonous Snake + Snake Bite + death = you are a murderer.
    • Ship Wreck + Poisonous Snake + Snake Bite + life = you are a god.

What are some present day examples of this logic at work?

  • Earthquake + Haiti + voodoo = God’s judgment
  • Hurricane Katrina + New Orleans + Mardi Gras = God’s judgment
  • Tsunami + Thailand + Pagan = God’s judgment

Our text from Acts and our present day examples raise an important question.
When natural evil wreaks havoc is it divine punishment for sin?
Jesus addresses this question, and as we will see, His answer may not be what we wanted to hear.

But first, we need to define Natural Evil.

What is Natural Evil?
Natural Evil is evil that occurs as a result of natural processes.
This is to distinguish it from Moral Evil which results from the actions of human-beings.

  • Natural Evil raises the following problem:
  • If God is all-good, he would destroy evil.
  • If God is all-powerful, he could destroy evil.
  • But evil is not destroyed.
  • Therefore, such a God (all-good and all-powerful) does not exist.

In our text from the Book of Acts, we find an example of an attempt to counter this argument.

  • Natural Evil exists because it is God’s judgment.
  • The victim of Natural Evil, in this case Paul, has brought it on himself.

It is not my aim here to grapple in depth with the philosophical arguments and implications of Natural Evil.

  • But, simply to understand what purpose it might serve.
  • Now, let’s turn to Jesus and see what he says.

The J-Bomb on Natural Evil:
Luke 13:4–5 (ESV) —4 Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? 5 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.

  • They wanted to know why “those 18” died in the tower collapse.
  • The implication here is, of course, that they died because they were the “worse offenders in Jerusalem”.
  • And so therefore their deaths were explained as judgment for their sins.

Jesus’ answer was as definitive as any he has given – NO.

  • They did not die because they were the “worse offenders”.
  • However, he never said why they died.

Let’s look at another example from Jesus.

John 9:1–7 (ESV) — 1 As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3 Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. 4 We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. 5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” 6 Having said these things, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man’s eyes with the mud 7 and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing.

  • They wanted to know why “a blind man from birth” was so cursed.
  • The implication here is, of course, that he was born blind because either he or is parents sinned.
  • And so therefore his blindness was explained as judgment of this sin.

Jesus’ answer here was also definitive – “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents”.

  • He was not born blind because of anyone’s sin.
  • Here Jesus does reveal the purpose of the man’s blindness.

So Jesus suggests to us two purposes for Natural Evil:
Repent” or “you will all likewise perish”.

  • Natural Evil (the 18 who died), at the very least, should serve to point us to our own sin and need for redemption.
  • Natural Evil, as a “wretched disfigurement” of Paradise, is a mirror to show us the “wretched disfigurement” and mortality of our physical body.
    • Just as the 10 commandments are a mirror to show us our moral depravity before God,
  • So as nature is cursed and needs redemption; our flesh is cursed and needs redemption.

That the works of God might be displayed in him.

  • Natural Evil (the blind man), was an occasion for God to glorify Himself.
  • And in the blind man’s case, Jesus literally glorified Himself as “the light of the world” by bringing light to the blind man’s optic nerves.
  • The works of God might be displayed in more than just physical healing.

In our discussion last week on Jonah and the U.S.S. Rebellion, which of the above are two reasons applicable and why?
Both are clearly in view.

  • Jonah 2:6–7 (ESV) — 6 …you brought up my life from the pit, O LORD my God. 7 When my life was fainting away, I remembered the LORD, and my prayer came to you, into your holy temple.
    • Jonah repented.
  • Jonah 1:16 (ESV) — 16 Then the men feared the LORD exceedingly, and they offered a sacrifice to the LORD and made vows.
    • God is glorified.

In Paul’s battle with Natural Evil (the storm, shipwreck and snake bite), which of the above two reasons are applicable and why?
God was clearly glorified Himself through Paul.

  • Acts 27:22–25 (ESV) — 22 Yet now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. 23 For this very night there stood before me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship, 24 and he said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar. And behold, God has granted you all those who sail with you.’ 25 So take heart, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told.
  • Acts 27:35–36 (ESV) — 35 And when he had said these things, he took bread, and giving thanks to God in the presence of all he broke it and began to eat. 36 Then they all were encouraged and ate some food themselves.
  • Acts 28:8–9 (ESV) — 8 It happened that the father of Publius lay sick with fever and dysentery. And Paul visited him and prayed, and putting his hands on him healed him. 9 And when this had taken place, the rest of the people on the island who had diseases also came and were cured.

We should be careful in our public discourse:
John 7:24 (ESV) — 24 Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.

Under the new covenant ushered in by Jesus, He gives no indication that we are to spend our time speculating whether or not a specific occurrence of Natural Evil is a specific act of judgment.

  • The Book of Job also makes this clear.
  • This is not to say that it isn’t or can’t be, however, but that the Natural Evil event’s purpose is not dependent on this knowledge.

What harm can come by speculating on Natural Evil and judgment?

  • We disobey the leading of Jesus Christ’s example.
  • The focus becomes what we claim to know instead of what we are (in need of repentance) or who God is (the one to be glorified).
  • To misdirect the focus is to misstep and “judge by appearances”.
  • To judge Natural Evil with “right judgment” is to follow Jesus’ lead.

Acts 28:11-30 – Persuade to Believe

Acts 28:11-30 – Persuade to Believe
Diving Deeper Lesson Outline for Acts 28:11-30

The title is drawn from verses 23-27 where Paul reasoned and persuaded using the Law and the Prophets.

1) PAUL SOUGHT TO PERSUADE

Acts 28:23–24 (ESV) — 23 When they had appointed a day for him, they came to him at his lodging in greater numbers. From morning till evening he expounded [unfold, solve & explain] to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets. 24 And some were convinced by what he said, but others disbelieved.

This is Paul’s sixth apologetic since chapter 22.
• He once again uses the Law and Prophets to make his case for the truth of Jesus Christ.
• Luke tells us Paul tries to “convince” or “persuade” them to believe in Jesus.
• Today, I want for us to figure out how it is possible to “persuade” someone to believe in Christ.

The Greek word for “convince” or “persuade” is peíthō.
to persuade another to receive a belief, meaning to convince – Strongs
to seek to win men – TDNT
• Translated in ESV as convince, confidence, trust, sure, obedience, rely, satisfy, persuade, follow

Persuasion was routinely Paul’s approach:
• Acts 17:4 (ESV) — 4 And some of them were PERSUADED and joined Paul and Silas, as did a great    many of the devout Greeks and not a few of the leading women.
• Acts 18:4 (ESV) — 4 And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and tried to PERSUADE Jews and Greeks.
• Acts 19:8 (ESV) — 8 And he entered the synagogue and for three months spoke boldly, reasoning and PERSUADING them about the kingdom of God.
• Acts 19:26 (ESV) — 26 And you see and hear that not only in Ephesus but in almost all of Asia this Paul has PERSUADED and turned away a great many people, saying that gods made with hands are not gods.
• Acts 26:28 (ESV) — 28 And Agrippa said to Paul, “In a short time would you PERSUADE me to be a Christian?”

Paul’s efforts to persuade are, like the rest of his life, worthy of our imitation.

In order to persuade, what is required of us?
• We must have belief.
• We must have understanding of God’s general and special revelation.
• We must have knowledge of God’s general and special revelation.
• To gain knowledge and understanding, WE MUST READ!

The Bible also gives us a caution concerning persuasion.

We can be persuaded in the wrong thing (words in CAPS are form of peíthō):
• Luke 18:9 (ESV) — 9 He also told this parable to some who TRUSTED in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt:
• Romans 2:8 (ESV) — 8 but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but OBEY unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury.
• Galatians 5:7–8 (ESV) — 7 You were running well. Who hindered you from OBEYING the truth? 8 This persuasion is not from him who calls you.

So Nurturing our ability to persuade others with our belief, understanding & knowledge can also help us to:
• guard us from being wrongly persuaded ourselves
• enable us to exhort and correct those who are straying


2) WHO WAS PAUL TRYING TO PERSUADE?

Acts 28:25–27 (ESV) — 25 And disagreeing among themselves, they departed after Paul had made one statement: “The Holy Spirit was right in saying to your fathers through Isaiah the prophet: 26 “ ‘Go to this people, and say, You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive. 27 For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed; lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.’

It seems that Paul had a problem in that he was trying to persuade men who apparently couldn’t be persuaded.

The Bible also makes this point elsewhere:
• Ephesians 4:18 (ESV) — 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart.
• 2 Corinthians 3:14 (ESV) — 14 But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away.
• Romans 1:21 (ESV) — 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.
• Matthew 13:13 (ESV) — 13 This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.
• Matthew 13:19 (ESV) — 19 When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path.

These verses tell us that the people Paul was trying to persuade were:
• darkened in understanding
• ignorant due to hard hearts
• minds are hardened
• futile in their thinking
• don’t hear and don’t understand the word

So what was Paul doing?

Did he believe he could convert them with his skills?
• Ephesians 2:8–9 (ESV) — 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.


Was he just wasting time sounding knowledgeable?
• 1 Corinthians 9:16 (ESV) — 16 For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!

So Paul was trying to persuade people who:
• Didn’t have the capacity to “hear” his apologetic
• Could only be saved by grace through faith, not intellectual assent to his arguments

Yet, we are told in verse 24 that though some did not believe there were those who were persuaded and believed.


How do we reconcile this dynamic between persuading and belief?

3) WHAT IS ESSENTIAL AND WHAT IS DESCISIVE – RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN PERSUADING AND BELIEF

So how do we reconcile the apparent contradiction between persuasion and faith?

We’ll let Paul do it for us.
• Ephesians 3:4 (ESV) — 4 When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ,
• 2 Timothy 2:7 (ESV) — 7 Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.
• Romans 1:16–17 (ESV) — 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”
• Romans 10:17 (ESV) — 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

From the above, we see a relationship between speaking (or writing) the truth or words of Christ and hearing, understanding and believing.

Or to put another way, Paul reveals that there can be a powerful dynamic between God (belief) and the spoken gospel (persuasion).
• “Word of Christ” is first and foremost the gospel – saving news of Jesus Christ.
     o But it is also the Law and the Prophets.
     o And from Romans 1:19-20, his eternal power and divine nature displayed in creation
     o And from Romans 2:15-16, law written on our hearts and conscience bearing witness
• Paul used all of these things to persuade.
• People can perceive, understand and hear our attempts at persuasion because God is using the “words of Christ” to bring men to saving faith in Christ Jesus.

In other words:
The Spirit of God condescends to use it [arguments plus the gospel] in bringing certain people to Himself – William Lane Craig.

Or the dynamic between persuasion and belief can be put this way:
• 1 Peter 1:23 (ESV) — 23 since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God;
• 1 Peter 1:25 (ESV) — 25 but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you.


So the way God brings about the new birth in dead, unbelieving hearts is by the gospel, the good news – John Piper.

And how do people hear the gospel and the arguments for its truth?
• We have to persuasively speak it to them AND then God enables them to “hear” it.

So it is for all these reasons that persuasion and belief are bedfellows.

God’s role [belief & faith] in bringing about the new birth is decisive, and our role [reason & persuasion] in bringing about the new birth is essential – John Piper.
• Our role in speaking the gospel persuasively is essential and commanded by God.
• God’s role in using our words to bring someone to salvation is decisive.

John Piper sums it up as follows:
But the fact that you can’t make electricity or create light never stops you from flipping light switches. The fact that you can’t create fire in cylinders never stops you from turning the car key. So don’t let the fact that you can’t cause the new birth stop you from telling the gospel. That is how people are born again—through the living and abiding word, the good news of Jesus Christ – John Piper.

Peter & Paul, as revealed in the Book of Acts, never stopped seeking to persuade and speak the gospel.

So how many light switches are you flipping?
How many car keys are you turning?

John 1:1-2 – The Word Was… – Part 1

John 1:1-2 – The Word Was…Part 1
Diving Deeper Lesson Outline for John 1:1-2

It is rightly said that context is king when seeking to accurately understand Scripture.
• The first 13 verses of John can be seen as setting a context for us.
• John uses them to set the penultimate context for the Jesus he is about to reveal to us.
• John prefaces his eyewitness accounts of Jesus with a Jesus that is HUGE.
• And then he drops the ultimate “J-Bomb” in verse 14 – this Jesus became flesh!

So now we need dive in and seek to understand the gravity and importance of this context.

John 1:1–2 (ESV) — 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God.
• “This Word who is God, is the very one of whom I have also said that he was in the beginning, and that he was with God” – paraphrase by D.A. Carson.

1) WHAT DOES JOHN MEAN BY “THE WORD” (LOGOS)?

Literally “logos is a collecting or collection both of things in the mind, and of words by which they are expressed. It therefore signifies both the outward form by which the inward thought is expressed, and the inward thought itself” – Marvin Vincent.

So in the incarnate person of Jesus we have the 2nd person of the triune God expressed as The Word.

D.A Carson, MacArthur & others advocate that John is linking Jesus to the role of God’s word in the OT:
• Word as Creation
  o Genesis 1:3 (ESV) — 3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.
  o Psalm 33:6 (ESV) — 6 By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host.
• Word as Revelation
  o Isaiah 9:8 (ESV) — 8 The Lord has sent a word against Jacob, and it will fall on Israel;
  o Amos 3:8 (ESV) — 8 The lion has roared; who will not fear? The Lord God has spoken; who can but prophesy?”
• Word as Law/10 Commandments
  o Exodus 24:3–4 (ESV) — 3 Moses came and told the people all the words of the Lord and all the rules. And all the people answered with one voice and said, “All the words that the Lord has spoken we will do.”
• Word as Deliverance and Salvation
  o Isaiah 55:11 (ESV) — 11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.
  o Psalm 107:20 (ESV) — 20 He sent out his word and healed them, and delivered them from their destruction.
• Word as Coming
  o Isaiah 38:4 (ESV) — 4 Then the word of the Lord came to Isaiah:
  o Jeremiah 1:4 (ESV) — 4 Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying,

John Piper’s insight into why John called Jesus the Word:
Hebrews 1:1–2 (ESV) — 1 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.
• “John calls Jesus the Word because he had come to see the words of Jesus as the truth of God and the person of Jesus as the truth of God in such a unified way that Jesus himself—in his coming, and working, and teaching, and dying and rising—was the final and decisive Message of God” – John Piper.
• Words of Jesus + Person of Jesus = Final and Decisive Message of God
• Therefore John called Jesus The Word.

Now understanding what John may have had in mind with LOGOS, what does John tell us about Him?

He paints numerous beautiful brush strokes to paint us an awesome picture.

2) THE WORD WAS IN THE BEGINNING

The Bible is in complete agreement with John on this point:
• Genesis 1:1 (ESV) — 1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
• John 8:58 (ESV) — 58 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.
• John 17:5 (ESV) — 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.
• Colossians 1:17 (ESV) — 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
  o Held together via Divine Information: “Information, of course, is just another name for logos. All the information in the universe is, in the end, mediated through the divine Logos, who is before all things and by whom all things hold together” – William Dembski.
• Hebrews 1:10 (ESV) — 10 And, “You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of your hands;
• 1 John 1:1 (ESV) — 1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life—


So what does it mean that the Word was in the beginning?

John is saying the following:
• Jesus WAS before His incarnation.
• Jesus WAS before creation.
• “The Logos [Word] did not then begin to be, but at that point at which all else began to be, He already was. In the beginning, place it where you may, the Word already existed. In other words, the Logos is before time, eternal” – Marcus Dods.

To understand the gravity of John’s statement, we need to think Psalms 8:3-4 & Hebrews 1:3 BIG:
Taking our cues from theses verses, let’s compare the Word and the universe.
• As large as the earth is, it is but a grain of sand in our galaxy.
  o 8,000 miles across vs. 100,000 light years across (1 light year is about 6 trillion miles).
• As large as our Milky Way galaxy is, it is but a grain of sand in the universe.
  o 100,000 light years across vs. 93 billion light years across
• And yet, as large as it is, our universe began to exist.

What does it mean to say that the universe began to exist?
• It is finite and exists within the confines of time and space
• It has a cause
• It was created
  o “So long as the universe had a beginning we could suppose it had a creator” – Stephen Hawking.
  o In fact, Fred Hoyle who postulated the Big Bang, dismissed it after he named it because of its implications – David Berlinski.

Now by comparison, consider Jesus and what John is telling us about Him.
• If Jesus WAS in the beginning then He never began to exist.


What does it mean that Jesus never began to exist?
• He is eternal
• He has no cause
• He is uncreated
• He is outside of time and space

This is the first brush stroke of the context John is painting for us.
• Jesus Christ never began to exist.
• Jesus Christ is huge ontologically and epistemologically!
• In fact, Jesus is bigger than the universe!
• Hebrews 1:3 (ESV) — 3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power

3) THE WORD WAS WITH GOD

The word “with” or Greek “pros” is very important.
• It is not the only Greek word for “with” and so was chosen for a specific purpose.
• D.A. Carson points out that “‘pros’ may mean ‘with’ only when a person is with a person, usually in some fairly intimate relationship.”
• Therefore, John is pointing out “that the ‘Word’ he is talking about is a person, with God and therefore distinguishable from God, and enjoying a personal relationship with him.
• So “with God” and “was God” are some of our source material for the Doctrine of the Trinity.

And it will come as no surprise that the NT is in agreement with John:
• John 16:28 (ESV) — 28 I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father.”
• John 17:5 (ESV) — 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.
• 1 John 1:2 (ESV) — 2 the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us—

And just to be clear, the Doctrine of the Trinity states that God is?
• “one divine Essence yet three Persons or centers of consciousness” – John Piper.
• John is telling us here that Jesus is one of those persons.

So the second brush stroke of the context John is painting for us is:
• “two personal beings [God the Father & God the Son] facing one another and engaging in intelligent discourse” – W. Robert Cook.
• In other words, a picture of the first 2 persons of the Trinity.

In John all 3 persons of the Trinity make their appearance, for example:
• John 14:23–26 (ESV) — 23 Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me. 25 “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

In future lessons we will deal more with the Trinity and things like:
Why did the concept of the Trinity not become fully fleshed out as orthodox Christian doctrine until the 4th century (partly to combat a form of Arianism (AYBD))?
• Orthodox Trinitarian view of God vs. a Modalism view of God which states that God is one person manifesting Himself in different historical roles or modes.

John 1:1-2 – The Word Was… – Part 2

John 1:1-2 – The Word Was…Part 2

1) THE WORD WAS GOD

John 1:1–2 (ESV) — 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God.

Today we deal with one of the more controversial statements concerning Jesus Christ.

  • theos ēn ho logos – The Word was God.

Many liberal scholars say that the translation should read the Word was “divine in quality” or “a god”.

  • This is because theos, ‘God’, does not have an article.
  • But conservative scholars argue that John’s grammar in fact makes it clear:
    • “By placing the article “the” before “Word,” [instead of before God] “Word” must be the subject of the linking verb “was,” and the statement can only be rendered “the Word was God” – NTSK.
    • Not to mention that “there is a perfectly serviceable word in Greek for ‘divine’ (namely theios)” – John MacArthur.

Was Jesus Christ God?

  • Jews don’t think so.
  • Muslims don’t think so.
    • Muslim slogan states “There is no God, but God” – AYBD.
  • Atheists don’t think so.
  • And certainly many Protestants don’t think so.
    • “I reject the virgin birth. I reject substitutionary atonement. I reject the divinity of Jesus. I reject heaven and hell in the traditional sense, and I am not alone” – Darryl, a Presbyterian Minister as quoted from Daniel Dennett’s study on unbelieving clergy.

But John is telling us that the Word, Jesus Christ, is God.

  • Or as C.K. Barrett puts it, “the deeds and words of Jesus are the deeds and words of God”.
  • And he goes on to say that “if this be not true the book [John] is blasphemous” – C.K. Barrett.

The Bible certainly is unified in its assessment of Jesus’ divinity:

  • Jeremiah 23:5–6 (ESV) — 5 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch… 6 In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’
  • John 20:28 (ESV) — 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”
  • Titus 2:13 (ESV) — 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,
  • 2 Peter 1:1 (ESV) — 1 Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:
  • 1 Corinthians 16:21–24 (ESV) — 21 I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. 22 If anyone has no love for the Lord, let him be accursed. Our Lord, come! 23 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you. 24 My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen.

So it is clear that the NT writers considered Jesus to be God.

  • We must ask the question, where did they get this idea that Jesus is God?
  • Did they just make it up or did they learn of it from Christ Himself?
  • If the belief in Christ’s divinity didn’t come from Jesus Himself, then “the belief of the earliest Christians in this regard becomes inexplicable” – William Lane Craig.

With regards to Jesus view of His own divinity:

  • There are liberal scholars (Jesus Seminar) who claim that Jesus never claimed divinity for Himself.
  • And any instance in the Bible where it seems that he does was added in later.
  • There are also Christian movements (Emergent Church) that say we read too much into it.
  • As just noted, however, Christ as God was taught by the earliest Christians.
    • If they didn’t learn this from Christ, one must speculate from where they learned this and why they would teach this and why they would die for something they knew not to be true.

And while it is true that Jesus did not make it a habit of going around telling people, “I am God.”

  • Both His words and even more so in His actions, it is clear that He thought of Himself as God.
  • And both His words and His actions were the source of the NT writers’ claims of His divinity.

We will examine how and why.

Examples of Jesus’ ACTIONS and WORDS and why they reveal that “the Word was God”:
In “A Reasonable Faith”, W.L. Craig examines at least 13 aspects of Jesus ministry that indicate His divinity.

  • We will take a look at the following 4:
    • His approach to teaching and the Law
    • His use of the phrase, “Truly, Truly I say to you”
    • His miracles
    • His view of salvation

One – His approach to teaching and the Law:
A typical rabbi’s teaching style was seen to be authoritative because the source material from which they taught was deemed to have authority.

  • They would quote the law, the prophets or oral law and explain what it means.
  • Jesus, in stark contrast, taught as one who was the very source of authority – even above that of the law and the prophets.

The best example of this is seen in the Sermon on the Mount.

  • In Matthew 5:21, 27, 31, 33, 38, & 43, we see the following method:
    • “You have heard that it was said… VS. …But I say to you…”
  • Here we see that Jesus “placed his personal authority on a par with that of the divine law” and “he adjusted the Law on his own authority.” – Craig

But Jesus’ view of His authority is even more profound than this – see Matthew 5:31-32:

  • “It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”
  • Here, Jesus claims the authority to actually change, correct and reinterpret the law! (See Mark 10:2-9)

From these examples, we see that Jesus saw Himself as the source of authority for the law.

  • “Jesus seems to assume an authority over Torah that no Pharisee or OT Prophet assumed – the authority to set it aside.” – Ben Witherington.
  • Jewish scholar Ben-Chorin states, “The sense of the unique, absolute authority that is evident from this way of acting remains deeply problematic for the Jewish view of Jesus.”
    • This is because from a Jewish perspective, only God has the authority to give the law.

Two – His use of the phrase, “Truly, Truly [amen] I say to you”:

  • John 3:3 (ESV) — 3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
  • John 6:53 (ESV) — 53 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.
  • John 8:51 (ESV) — 51 Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.”
  • John 8:58 (ESV) — 58 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.”

From Jesus’ use of this phrase, we see that He saw Himself as the source of authority for truth.

  • This phrase is historically unique to Jesus.
  • Often, the phrase is followed by a new or revised exhortation that is disobeyed at the listeners own peril.
  • Jesus refers to himself, “I say to you”, when he makes such exhortations.
  • This is why Jewish scholars say, “This ‘I’ is in itself sufficient to drive Judaism away from Gentiles forever” – Ahad ha’Am.
  • A prophet of God would have said, “Truly, truly, God says to you.”
  • Only God would say “I”.

Three – His miracles (one example of many):

  • John 9:1–3 & 6-7 (ESV) — 1 As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3 Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him…. 6 Having said these things, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man’s eyes with the mud 7 and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing.

Jesus healed the man by His own authority.

  • He gave no credit to anyone else nor did he ascribe the source of the power to heal to anyone else.
  • He did not pray for the healing, He just did it.
  • Matthew 11:4–5 (ESV) — 4 And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: 5 the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them.
    • Here Jesus makes a reference to Isaiah 35:1-6 and by implication is saying God is here and is doing what Isaiah say He would do and I am He.

This would not have gone unnoticed by witnesses (especially in light of His claims to be Messiah, etc.).

  • In fact, in Judaism, God is the one who heals the sick of Israel (Howard Kee & W.L. Craig).
  • 2 Kings 5:7 (ESV) — 7 And when the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his clothes and said, “Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man sends word to me to cure a man of his leprosy? Only consider, and see how he is seeking a quarrel with me.”

POI – By comparison, the disciples healed in the following manner:

  • Acts 3:6–7 (ESV) — 6 But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” 7 And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong.

Four – His understanding of salvation (one example of many):

  • John 14:6–7 (ESV) — 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

Who is the source of authority on salvation? God is.

  • But Jesus says He is!
  • Salvation comes from God + Jesus words that He, Himself, is “The way” = Jesus is God.
  • Know Me + is to know God AND See Me + is to see God = Jesus is God.

Summary of Jesus Words and Actions:

  • Jesus knew the OT, Jewish theology and Jewish expectations.
  • He knew His actions were going to be interpreted as one who was taking upon Himself the authority of God.
    • This truth is borne out not only in how the Jews responded to him, but also by how all unbelievers respond to him now.
  • We have examined only 4 of at least 13 facets of Jesus ministry that point to his Divinity.
  • And in just those 4, we see how Jesus purposely asserted and claimed an authority that only God could rightly claim.
  • So the simple truth is He is either God or an insane heretic.
    • “When Jewish scholars do consider the personal claims or self-understanding of Jesus, the majority conclude that Jesus did consider Himself to be the Messiah, though, of course, they consider Him to have been tragically deluded in this opinion” – William Lane Craig.

So the third brush stroke of the context John is painting for us is:

  • “Here is a man who thought of Himself as the promised Messiah, God’s only Son, the Danielic Son of Man to whom all dominion and authority would be given, who claimed to act and speak with Divine authority, who held Himself to be a worker of miracles, and who believed that peoples eternal destiny hinged on whether or not they believed in Him…Jesus did intend to stand in the very place of God Himself” – W.L. Craig.
  • Jesus is God!

John 1:3 – He Made All Things

John 1:3 – He Made All Things

Review of last 2 weeks:
John, in verses 1 and 2 has thus far painted an enormous portrait of Jesus as:
• Eternal – He never began to exist and is uncreated.
• 2nd Person of the Trinity – He was “with God” as in had a person-to-person relationship with God within the triune godhead.
• God – Jesus is God.
  o The NT writers thought of him as God.
  o He thought of himself as God

So the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is also the Eternal, 2nd Person of the Trinity, Word that is God, a.k.a., Jesus.
• What an awesome declaration by a Jew!

And by portraying Jesus as the Logos of God, he was appealing to Greek philosophical thought.
• Plato, we are told, once turned to that little group of philosophers and students that had gathered around him during the Greek Golden Age in Athens and said to his followers, “It may be that some day there will come forth from God a Word, a Logos, who will reveal all mysteries and make everything plain” – James Boice.

• Both of these appeals by John remind me of Paul at Athens in Acts 17:23 when he says I am going to proclaim to you who God this is!

Coming Attraction:
Now that it is clear who Jesus is, in verse 3, John begins to show us what Jesus (the Word) does.
• And what he does is create.
• To the Jew, the idea that God created everything is nothing new.
  o But assigning that activity to Jesus is just one more indication that John saw Jesus as God.

1) ALL THINGS WERE MADE THROUGH HIM – HE CREATES

John 1:3 (ESV) — 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.

I think we all know what “made” means and here the meaning is not much different than what we would expect.
• It is the Greek word “ginomai” and it means “to begin to be” or “to come into existence.”
• So the universe or Adam, for example, began to exist and so had an uncaused cause.
• Where it gets interesting is when you contrast “made” with the “was” in verse 1 and 2.
  o The “was” denotes the “continuous existence” of the Word.
• So we get a contrast of Eternal vs. Created giving us further affirmation of Jesus’ Divinity and Eternality.
• Plus John makes clear that “Jesus intended that we should recognize God’s existence” through what He made – James Boice.

The Bible echoes John’s declaration with respect to creator of everything that was made:
• Genesis 1:26 (ESV) — 26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
• Job 26:13 (ESV) — 13 By his wind the heavens were made fair; his hand pierced the fleeing serpent.
• Psalm 102:25 (ESV) — 25 Of old you laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands.
• Isaiah 40:28 (ESV) — 28 Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.
• Isaiah 44:24 (ESV) — 24 Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, who formed you from the womb: “I am the Lord, who made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself,
• Isaiah 45:12 (ESV) — 12 I made the earth and created man on it; it was my hands that stretched out the heavens, and I commanded all their host.
• 1 Corinthians 8:6 (ESV) — 6 yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.
• Ephesians 3:9 (ESV) — 9 and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things,
• Colossians 1:16 (ESV) — 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.
• Hebrews 1:2 (ESV) — 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.

So the point is clearly made that Jesus is Creator and everything else is created.
• But John makes another point which involves Jesus’ role in creation.
• Let’s take a look at this.

John tells us, in verse 3, that all things were made “through” him:
In fact, John repeats this phrase in verse 10.
• John 1:10 (ESV) — 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him.

And a quick look reveals that creation is not the only thing made or done “through him”:
• John 3:17 (ESV) — 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
• Acts 2:22 (ESV) — 22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know—
• Romans 5:2 (ESV) — 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
• Ephesians 2:18 (ESV) — 18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.
• 1 John 4:9 (ESV) — 9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.

So what is John trying to convey by saying everything was made “through” him?
• Well, “through” means “that which intervenes between the act of the will and the effect, and through which the effect proceeds” – Strongs.
  o But honestly, that doesn’t help us much.
• How about this one, “Christ mediates the action of another, i.e., the action of God” in creation – TDNT.
  o It sounds about like the first one; not much help.

There are at least two ways that we can gain insight what John meant.

First, because John began his Gospel by alluding to Genesis, we should also look there to find insight:
• He separated the light and darkness – Genesis 1:4.
• He formed man from the “dust from the ground” – Genesis 2:7.
• He breathed into man’s nostrils the “breath of life” – Genesis 2:7.
• He “planted a garden in Eden” – Genesis 2:8.
• He “made to spring up” trees – Genesis 2:9.

So when John speaks of creation being “through him”, He means Jesus had an intimate role in physical creation.
• He got His hands dirty, so to speak.
• He is the potter and we are the clay.
• Jesus was hands-on in His creation.

Second, we can find insight by simply understanding what is to come in John’s Gospel.
• We just read above that John says, the world will be “saved through him”.
• In his letter, 1 John, we just read that we “might live through him”.
• We just read where Paul speaks of the fact that we have “access through him”.
• And in chapter 3, we will see that the “new birth” comes through him.

Quite simply, John is saying the hands-on, personal way creation was made through Jesus “…points forward to the new creation in the Redeemer, AND the original dependence of all things on the Son is thus a basis for his later seizure of power and for redemption in Him” – TDNT.
• In other words, Christ’s hands-on involvement in creation foreshadows His hands-on involvement in the new creation and redemption.

This is powerful imagery and truth at work here!
• The first creation was through Jesus, and guess what, salvation, redemption and the new birth – the 2nd creation – are through Him too.
• And just as Jesus was hands-on in the 1st creation, he will be so in redemption too (which John will make clear).
• How much more hands-on can you be than being made flesh and being crucified?!

BTW – It is my opinion that it makes sense in the reverse too.
• As hands-on as Jesus was in redemption, it speaks to just how involved Jesus was in creation.
• This leads me to our final point.

One more reason why John’s pronouncement of Jesus’ relationship to creation is significant:
It has to do with the beliefs of early Christians known as Gnostics.
• Gnostics were heavily influenced by Greek philosophy and held a number of heretical views.
  o The one that pertains to our text today is their belief that creation came through an “emanation” of God, not God himself.
  o To say God created matter directly was to blaspheme God because matter is evil.

Our text today, as we have just seen, clearly contradicts these Gnostic beliefs.
• Not only did Jesus create matter, but He became matter (vs. 14 – flesh).

Concerns with Jesus’ relationship to creation still linger to this day among some Christians.
• Though clearly affirming Christ’s incarnation, some still seek to escape the implications that arise from acknowledging that Jesus created this world.
• Motivated by this, they seek to distance Christ from making a world that is tainted by so much evil.

Francisco Ayala, a biologist and a former Dominican priest, is one such prominent Christian.
• His ideas concerning God as creator are best expressed by the “Evolution News & Views” blog:
• “He insists that the idea of God’s acting through ‘specific agency…amounts to blasphemy.’ For such direct control would imply that God bears responsibility for all the cruelties, pains, and dysfunctions that have accompanied the unfolding of life’s history.”

John was clear, “without him was not any thing made that was made.”
• It was made “through him” like redemption came “through him” – via personal involvement.
• We can’t run from this.
• To run from this is, in my opinion, to ignore the theological and practical effects of The Fall.
• And the Fall, of course, is why Jesus had to become “matter” to begin with.

Paul understood this:
• Romans 8:22–23 (ESV) — 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

John 1:4-5 – The Life and The Light

John 1:4-5 – The Life and Light
Diving Deeper Lesson Outline for John 1:4-5

John 1:4–5 (ESV) — 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

1) IN HIM WAS LIFE

John’s description of Jesus as containing life is thick in meaning.
• Jesus was the source of life at creation.
• Jesus is the source of life at redemption.

Life at 1st creation:
• We covered Jesus as creator of everything last week, but we need to look quickly in Genesis again.
• Genesis 2:7 (ESV) — 7 then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.

Life at 2nd creation (redemption/new birth):
• John 5:21 (ESV) — 21 For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will.
• John 5:26 (ESV) — 26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself.
• John 10:28 (ESV) — 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.
• John 14:6 (ESV) — 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
• Romans 6:23 (ESV) — 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
• 1 Corinthians 15:45 (ESV) — 45 Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit.

There exists an important parallel between the life given at the 1st creation and the life given at the 2nd creation that John uncovers by alluding to Genesis.
• The Psalmist gives us a hint when he says, Psalm 119:25 (ESV) — 25 My soul clings to the dust; give me life according to your word!

Genesis tells us that man was made from what?
• Genesis 2:7 (ESV) — 7 then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.

Why is this significant…what’s the deal with dust?
• Genesis 3:14 (ESV) — 14 The Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life.
• Genesis 18:27 (ESV) — 27 Abraham answered and said, “Behold, I have undertaken to speak to the Lord, I who am but dust and ashes.
• 2 Samuel 16:13 (ESV) — 13 So David and his men went on the road, while Shimei went along on the hillside opposite him and cursed as he went and threw stones at him and flung dust.
• Job 30:19 (ESV) — 19 God has cast me into the mire, and I have become like dust and ashes.
• Job 10:9 (ESV) — 9 Remember that you have made me like clay; and will you return me to the dust?

From these verses, we get a picture of dust as:
• Part of a curse; Unworthy; Method of insult; Worthless; Death and to it we will return
There was nothing of value and no life in dust.
• And yet it was from dust that God “formed the man”.

And this brings us back to Psalm 119:
• Psalm 119:25 (ESV) — 25 My soul clings to the dust; give me life according to your word!
• In spite of being “dust made alive”, the one who fears God longs for a life in the word of Jesus.
• And giving life according to “the word” is exactly what John is doing in his Gospel.

The life that Jesus gave to dust “formed into man” parallels the life of redemption.
• Why? Because even though we have “creation life” we are “sin dead”.
• Romans 5:12 (ESV) — 12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—
• Romans 6:23 (ESV) — 23 For the wages of sin is death…
• Ephesians 2:1 (ESV) — 1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins

Two verses highlight this parallel and also demonstrate how dire our circumstances are.
• Psalm 104:29 (ESV) — 29 When you hide your face, they are dismayed; when you take away their breath, they die and return to their dust.
  o No “breath of life” from God means no life because “in him was life”.
• John 11:25 (ESV) — 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live,
  o No “belief in the life” of Jesus means no life because “in him was life”.

We are no more spiritually alive without Jesus than we are physically alive without His breath!
Our spiritual death is as lifeless and dire as our existence as dust prior to the Word’s breath.

2) THE LIFE WAS THE LIGHT OF MEN

So what happened to man that we are no longer mindful our humble beginnings from dust?
• We have become self-righteous and prideful; we are in sin.

Yet, in spite of that, the psalmist says God shows compassion on us that fear Him.
• Psalm 103:13–14 (ESV) — 13 As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. 14 For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.
• And John reveals that compassion to us as Jesus being the “light of men”.

What is light of Jesus?
• If light is that which is “emitted from a luminous body” – Strongs
• Then we can ask what, then, is contained or emitted in the light of Jesus Christ and what does it illuminate?

The answer is found, of course, in the Bible and in Jesus’ own words:
• Psalm 27:1 (ESV) — 1 The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
• Psalm 36:9 (ESV) — 9 For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light.
• Psalm 119:105 (ESV) — 105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
• John 8:12 (ESV) — 12 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
• John 12:46 (ESV) — 46 I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.
• 1 John 1:5 (ESV) — 5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.
• 2 Timothy 1:10 (ESV) — 10 and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel…
So the answer to our question, “What does Jesus light emit and what does it illuminate” is:
• It emits salvation, truth, holiness, and it illuminates or reveals darkness (sin).
• So Jesus’ light to man is that He is bringing His salvation, truth and holiness to destroy the stronghold of the darkness of sin and it consequences – spiritual death and hell.

POI – another important note on the light of Jesus.
• Revelation 21:23 (ESV) — 23 And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb.

3) THE LIGHT SHINES IN THE DARKNESS, AND THE DARKNESS HAS NOT OVERCOME IT

Jesus’ light and its relationship to darkness is controversial and divisive.

First, it shows in clear and unambiguous terms the enmity between Christ and the world’s darkness.
• 1 John 5:12 (ESV) — 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.
• John 8:24 (ESV) — 24 I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins.”

So the light of Jesus brings a “rift between faith and unbelief” – TDNT.
• The light brings life to the believer and reveals the death that we are already in as unbelievers.
• Just as there was no life in dust w/o Christ, there is no spiritual life w/o Christ!

This rift revealed by Christ’s light is one reason why the world (and Satan) seek to “overcome it” or as Phillips Translation translates it, “put it out”.
• But as we learned from Paul, the light of Christ (as contained in the Gospel) will never be put out.
• 2 Timothy 1:12 (ESV) — 12 …But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me [which as we saw from a previous lesson,was the Gospel].

Second, Jesus light reveals an objective, transcendent difference between it and the wickedness of the world’s darkness.
• Proverbs 4:19 (ESV) — 19 The way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know over what they stumble.
• John 3:19 (ESV) — 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.
• Life without Christ is “deep darkness” and “evil works”.

All of us are enslaved by this darkness unless we have surrendered and believed in the salvation, truth and holiness of Christ’s light as just mentioned above.
• So where your Bible reads “comprehend” or “perceive”, this is the sense in which it is speaking.
• Jesus light is rejected by those in darkness because they love their darkness more.
• Now, John also reveals how it is that man, who is spiritually dead, can come to see, know and believe the Light.
  o More on this in future lessons.

POI – Jesus had something important to tell us about His light and the believer.
• Matthew 5:14–16 (ESV) — 14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
• The believer is now the light of Christ!

To paraphrase John Piper, how is it that man, a dim candle, can be the light of Christ, a massive lightning bolt?
• Mark 16:15 (ESV) — 15 And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.
• 2 Timothy 1:10 (ESV) — 10 and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel,
• The light is the GOSPEL and we are to proclaim the GOSPEL!

John 1:9-13 – He Gives the Right

John 1:9-13 – He Gives the Right
Diving Deeper Lesson Outline for John 1:9-13

John 1:9–13 (ESV) — 9 The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

I am purposely skipping verses 6-8 for now and will come back to them in a few weeks.

1) JOHN REVIEWS

John 1:9 — 9 The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.
• See “The Life and the Light” lesson.
John 1:10a — 10a He was in the world, and the world was made through him…
• See “The Word Was…” lesson.

2) JEWS REJECT THE RIGHT

John 1:10b–11 — 10b yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.
• John has been describing the glory of Jesus Christ as the Word, God, Creator, the Light and the Life.
• He then brings us to something of a paradoxical observation.
• Jesus, the God of Israel who covenanted with His people “came to his own” yet they “did not receive him”.
How in the world is this possible?
If Jesus was as obviously God as John says, why did “his own” reject Him?

The Bible provides the answers to these questions:
The rejection of Jesus was prophesied in the OT.
• Isaiah 8:14 (ESV) — 14 And he will become a sanctuary and a stone of offense and a rock of stumbling to both houses of Israel, a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
• Isaiah 53:3 (ESV) — 3 He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
• Romans 11:7–8 (ESV) — 7 What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened, 8 as it is written, “God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that would not see and ears that would not hear, down to this very day.”
  o Here Paul quotes Isaiah 29:10 describing how the rejection of Jesus by Israel relates to the Gentiles being “grafted in”.
• Luke 19:41–42 (ESV) — 41 And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, 42 saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.
  o Jesus, Himself, says “the things” are hidden from Israel.

POI – With regards to redemption of Israel as a nation, we learn in Zechariah 12:1-14 that at Christ’s 2nd coming, the people of Jerusalem will repent over the sin of rejecting Jesus.
• And a repentant nation of Israel will be saved, “I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem”.
• The first coming was to a nation that rejected Jesus; the second coming will be to a nation that doesn’t.
• In Revelation 7 we see, in the words of John MacArthur, “A missionary corps of redeemed Jews who are instrumental in the salvation of many Jews and Gentiles during the Tribulation. They will be the firstfruits of a new redeemed Israel. Finally, Israel will be the witness nation she refused to be in the OT.”

The rejection of Jesus was explained in the NT.
• Romans 11:25–27 (ESV) — 25 Lest you be wise in your own sight, I want you to understand this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. 26 And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written, “The Deliverer will come from Zion, he will banish ungodliness from Jacob”; 27 “and this will be my covenant with them when I take away their sins.”
  o Paul calls this “hiddeness” or “hardening” a mystery and that it has occurred for the sake of the Gentiles.

Summary of the rejection:
The rejection of the Messiah was part of God’s purpose and was foretold in the OT.
• This rejection ushered in God’s plan to redeem the Gentiles.
• Israel as a nation will be redeemed in Christ’s 2nd coming.
• Jesus first came “humbled and mounted on an ass” as prophesied in Zechariah 9:9 and was rejected.
• But He will be “coming with the clouds” as prophesied in Daniel 7:13 and redeem Israel.

Let’s look at a specific example of how the rejection played out in Luke 4 (from Jesus Through Middle-Eastern Eyes).
• It will help us to get a little bit of background.
• Prior to and during Jesus ministry, Galilee had become known as “Galilee of the Gentiles”.
• Partly as attempt to stem the tide, nationalist Jews founded what were called “settler towns”.
• Nazareth was such a town.
• It was here that Jesus inaugurated His ministry.

Luke 4:16–21 (ESV) — 16 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. 17 And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, 18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” 20 And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

The enormity of Jesus’ proclamation alone was astounding.
• But, it was the way he quoted Isaiah that would have been just as astounding to the Jews in Nazareth.
• In Luke 4:19 Jesus quotes Isaiah 61 and says “to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor”.
• If we look at Isaiah 61:2 however, we see Jesus left something out.
  o Isaiah 61:1–4 (ESV) — 2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; 3 to grant to those who mourn in Zion— to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.
What did Jesus leave out?
• He left out that the Jews, who had been enslaved and oppressed by Gentiles throughout history, would be avenged at the hands of God.

But Jesus goes on to make things even more offensive.
• He had a reason for leaving this part of the verse out.
  o Luke 4:25–27 (ESV) — 25 But in truth, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heavens were shut up three years and six months, and a great famine came over all the land, 26 and Elijah was sent to none of them but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. 27 And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.”
What were the woman of Sidon and Naaman the Syrian?
• Jesus was proclaiming to these nationalist Jews, who had serious problems with Gentiles, that He Jesus was the Messiah of whom Isaiah spoke and that this Messiah was called to save the very ones that had oppressed Israel, the Gentiles!

And their reaction to Jesus is exactly what John meant when he tells us “his own people did not receive him”.
• Luke 4:28–29 (ESV) — 28 When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. 29 And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff.

Who, then, are those that don’t reject the Messiah?
Who are those that are able to recognize Christ as Word, God, Creator and the Life?
Who can see the light He shines in the darkness and understand it?

3) JESUS GIVES THE RIGHT

John 1:12–13 (ESV) — 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
• “Gave the right” denotes that Jesus has given us the freedom and capability (Strongs & TDNT) to become children of God by receiving and believing Him.
• John is telling us that the right to be children “is not obtainable through any racial or ethnic heritage (blood), personal desire (flesh), or man-made system (man)” – John MacArthur.
• It is a right that John says is “of God”.

This bestowal of “the right to become children of God” brings us back to the Life/Light/Psalmist discussion from last week.
• We learned that we are as dead spiritually without Christ as we are dead physically without Christ.
• Our spiritual person is as lifeless and unclean as the dust of our physical person.
• We can no more make ourselves alive spiritually as we could make ourselves alive from the dust.
• So those that see the light shine in the darkness and understand it are those that Christ gives this right.
• Psalm 36:9 (ESV) — 9 For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light.

To be sure, John opens a can of worms here that has challenged the Protestant mind since the reformation.
What is the relationship between God bestowing this right (election) and our freewill?
• We won’t settle this issue in this class but we will wrestle more with it as we move through John’s Gospel.

POI – And the rest of the NT clearly echoes John’s words (and these are just a few):
• John 6:37 (ESV) — 37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.
• Acts 13:48 (ESV) — 48 And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.
• Romans 9:14–16 (ESV) — 15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.
• Ephesians 1:4 (ESV) — 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.
• Ephesians 2:8–9 (ESV) — 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
• 2 Timothy 1:9 (ESV) — 9 who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began,
• 1 Peter 1:3 (ESV) — 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

One thing we can be certain of is that the Jew’s perception of what it meant to be a “child or promise” or a “child of Abraham” is radically challenged and altered by John’s Gospel and Jesus.
• John 1:13 (ESV) — 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
• Galatians 3:7 (ESV) — 7 Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham.

See you next week.

John 1:14 – The Word in Sandals

John 1:14 – The Word in Sandals
Diving Deeper Lesson Outline for John 1:14

John 1:14 (ESV) — 14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, (full of grace and truth).

1) THE GREATEST UNDERSTATEMENT OF ALL TIME

John has just told us that the Word is:
• In the beginning – eternal
• With God – part of the godhead
• Was God
• Creator of all things
• Life (physical and spiritual)
• Light

And now, in verse 14, John drops the ultimate “J-Bomb” – this “Word became flesh”!

The gravity of this statement and the truth it conveys should be jaw-dropping in their implications.
• Eternal entered space and time
• 2nd person of godhead became son of Joseph from Nazareth
• God became man
• Creator of all things became creature
• Life came to die
• Light came to shine divine truth

It is a humbling thing for me when I consider the enormity of the incarnation.
• The idea that God would posit himself into space and time and humanity for our sake is AWESOME!
• Psalm 8:3–4 (ESV) — 3 When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, 4 what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?

John goes on in verse 14 to describe the impact of the incarnation.
• He mentions both that Jesus “dwelt among us” – something felt by humanity (physically).
• And he mentions a glory of Jesus “as of the only [unique] Son” – something seen by humanity (visually).
  o We will cover “grace and truth” next week.

So the incarnation made it possible to know God physically and visually in ways heretofore never possible.
• Thus, John can say at the end of verse 18, “he has made him known”.
• Or as Dick Woodward says, God has become “The Word in Sandals.”

So now we need to explore the dwelling (physical) and the glory (visual) ways God made himself known through Jesus as described by John.

2) DWELT AMONG US – THE TABERNACLED WORD IN SANDALS

The word dwelt is the same word for “tent” or “tabernacle”.
• So this part of the verse could also be translated, “The Word became flesh, and tabernacled among us”.
• This “translation is particularly significant because the word refers beyond any question to the portable wilderness tabernacle or temple of the Hebrew nation” – Boice.

The significance of this can be quickly discovered when we briefly look at the role of the tabernacle in the OT – Boice.
• We will see that to know God “physically” is to know Jesus as a serving as a tabernacle in the flesh.

The tabernacle was the center of Israel’s camp.
• It was placed with the Levites at the center of the camp of all the tribes.
• Jesus is the center of Christianity – He is the only mediator between God and man.

The tabernacle was the place where the law of Moses was preserved.
• The 10 Commandments were stored in the ark of the covenant which resided in the tabernacle.
• Jesus is the perfect fulfillment of the demands of the law, thus a perfect sacrifice.

The tabernacle was the dwelling place of God.
• God’s visible manifestation was His shekinah light or glory which was within the holy of holies.
• Jesus becoming flesh was the ultimate visible manifestation of God.

Because the tabernacle was the place where God dwelt among his people, it was also the place of revelation.
• This is why the tabernacle was called the “tent of meeting”.
• Jesus as the incarnation was the revelation of the Logos of God and all that John described therein.

The tabernacle was also the place where sacrifices were made.
• The tabernacle was where the priests offered the atoning sacrifices.
• Jesus’ sacrifice was the once for all sacrifice for the atonement of our sins.

Finally, the tabernacle was the place where the people of Israel worshiped.
• It was to the tabernacle that gifts and sacrifices were brought and offered up to God.
• Since His birth, those that are drawn to Jesus worship and sacrifice at His feet.

John makes clear that the incarnation of Jesus makes God known to us because Jesus “tabernacled” among us.
• Jesus, then, was not only “the Word in sandals” but “the tabernacled Word in sandals”.
• And he will be again:
  o Revelation 21:3–4 (ESV) — 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

As we stated earlier, in addition to the knowing God physically “tabernacally”, John tells us that God is known visually through His glory in Christ.

3) WE HAVE SEEN HIS GLORY – THE GLORIFIED WORD IN SANDALS

It is interesting that, as discussed earlier, the shekina glory of God resided in the tabernacle.
• So it should come as no surprise that the shekina glory of God resides in “the tabernacled Word in sandals”.
• And it does so in a number of ways.

Glory manifested in the transfiguration:
Matthew 17:1–2 (ESV) — 1 And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. 2 And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light.
• John was a witness of this glory.
• This is reminiscent of the Glory of God revealed to Moses at Mt. Sinai.
• And it is a preview of the Glory of God to come:
  o Matthew 25:31 (ESV) — 31 When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne.

Glory manifested in miracles:
John 2:11 (ESV) — 11 This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.
John 11:4 (ESV) — 4 But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”
• What was the first sign at Cana?

Glory manifested in the Passion:
John 12:23 (ESV) — 23 And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.

Glory manifested after resurrection:
John 17:5 (ESV) — 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.

From these we get a sense of what John meant in describing Jesus’ unique glory as the Son of God.
• These manifestations of God’s glory were seen and witnessed by John and others.
• In fact, John 2:11 credits the seeing of this glory as drawing the disciples to belief; as making himself known.
• So Jesus was not only “the tabernacled Word in sandals” but also “the glorified Word in sandals”.

In contrast to God’s glory, John’s Gospel talks of another kind of glory – a glory that comes from man.
• John 12:42–43 (ESV) — 42 Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.
• John 5:44 (ESV) — 44 How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?

What is the glory of man?
• Glory (Doxa) – the dóxa of man is human opinion and is shifty, uncertain, often based on error, and its pursuit for its own safety is unworthy – Strongs.
• It is the opposite of the grace and truth (vs. 14) found in the Glory of God that we will talk about next week.
• And Jesus makes clear that His Glory did not come from man.
  o John 5:41 (ESV) — 41 I do not receive glory from people.

Paul also makes clear that we are to seek “the glory that comes from God”.
• 2 Corinthians 3:18 (ESV) — 18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

Whose glory are you being transformed into – God or man’s?
• The glory of man – shifty, human opinion full of error.
• The Glory of God – the character and image of God and new creation as received in and present in Jesus Christ – Strongs.

John 1:14b & 16-18 – Fullness of Grace Part I

John 1:14b & 16-18 – Fullness of Grace

John 1:14 (ESV) — 14b & 16-18 …glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. 16 And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.

John has told us that creation was made through him – hands on (breath of life into the dust).
• We talked about how this parallels how the new birth is through him – hands on (crucifixion on the cross).
• Now John tells us that grace and truth came through him.
• How are grace and truth through Jesus?
• BTW – today, we will only be dealing with grace; we will consider truth next week.

1) GRACE UPON GRACE THROUGH JESUS CHRIST

I want to first see how grace came through Christ and then explore what this grace is.
• John gives us a hint of how grace came through Christ when he says that it came “from his fullness”.
• “Fullness” here refers to the abundance of grace present in the incarnated Christ.
• Therefore, it was through the incarnation (the physical life of Christ) that the grace and truth of Christ manifested themselves in space and time.

So we have yet another “hands on” parallel.
• Grace was “hands on” in that it came through God being made flesh in the incarnation of Christ.

Paul says as much himself:
• Romans 5:2 (ESV) — 2 Through him [God incarnate – Jesus Christ] we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

What is Grace?
The scholarly definition:
• The absolutely free expression of the loving kindness of God to men finding its only motive in the bounty and benevolence of the Giver; unearned and unmerited favor – Strongs.
• This helps us isolate the grace we are discussing as a grace that exists between Creator and creation.
• But to really get a grasp of what this definition means, let’s use my favorite pastime of Bible-on-Bible commentary.

I think the best way to see what grace is will be to see what it does.

Grace empowers His choosing and our will:
• Romans 11:5 (ESV) — 5 So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace.
• Galatians 1:15 (ESV) — 15 But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace,

Grace empowers belief:
• Acts 18:27 (ESV) — 27 And when he wished to cross to Achaia, the brothers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples to welcome him. When he arrived, he greatly helped those who through grace had believed,

Grace empowers repentance:
• Zechariah 12:10 (ESV) — 10 “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn.

Grace empowers our justification:
• Romans 3:23–24 (ESV) — 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,

Grace empowers our salvation:
• Ephesians 2:5 (ESV) — 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—
• Acts 15:11 (ESV) — 11 But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.”
• Romans 5:21 (ESV) — 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.


Grace empowers a sanctified Christian life:
• 2 Corinthians 9:8 (ESV) — 8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.
• Acts 20:32 (ESV) — 32 And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.

Grace empowers Christian service:
• Hebrews 4:16 (ESV) — 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
• Acts 6:8 (ESV) — 8 And Stephen, full of grace and power, was doing great wonders and signs among the people.
• Acts 14:3 (ESV) — 3 So they remained for a long time, speaking boldly for the Lord, who bore witness to the word of his grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands.

POI – God’s common grace even blesses those who are not saved.
• Matthew 5:45 (ESV) — 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

Grace led the Lamb to the slaughter:
• Hebrews 2:9 (ESV) — 9 But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
• 2 Corinthians 8:9 (ESV) — 9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.

Grace alone is enough:
• 2 Corinthians 12:9 (ESV) — 9a But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
• Paul asked for healing – Jesus said “My Grace” is all you need and besides I am glorified in your weakness.

So from the above, we get a glimpse of all that the grace that came “through [the incarnate] Jesus Christ” does.
• It is not hard to see how this grace figures into our own lives.
• But so as to be even clearer, we will look at a specific Biblical example of “his fullness” of grace next week.

John 1:14b & 16-18 – Fullness of Grace Part II

1) LUKE 19:1–9 – THE FULLNESS OF CHRIST’S GRACE IN ACTION
(The below is inspired by and adapted from “Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes”.)

We will examine this story and uncover the role grace played as it unfolded.
• You need to familiarize yourself with Part I of this lesson first.
• It is there that we define Grace and here where we see it in action.

Verse 1
• Jesus was passing through on His way to Jerusalem.
• The town would have expected a chance to show him some hospitality.
• They had already demonstrated their desire to do so via the act of going out of town to greet him.
• But Jesus had made clear (He kept walking) that he was not going to stop.

Verse 2
• Zacchaeus was a tax collector; somehow he had acquired the rights to collect taxes for Rome.
• Rome would have told him exactly the tax to turn over, the rest he could keep.
• Since only Rome and the tax collector knew how much tax was required, the system was ripe for greed and corruption on the part of the tax collector.
• Because of this corruption tax collectors were considered unclean and were despised.
• They were seen as Gentile collaborators.
• They were oppressors as compared to the oppressed that Jesus had just healed a few verses earlier.

With the 1st 2 verses, the scene has been set for Jesus’ grace to have its way.

Verse 3
• Zacchaeus for some reason had a desire to see Jesus.
• The crowd became an obstacle to this because he could not see over them.
• Had he been a respected rich man in Jericho, the crowd would have made way for him.
• But, because he was hated, he knew there was no way they would let him through to the front where he could see.
• Plus, to be a hated man in a crowd is not the safest place to be.

What drew Zacchaeus to want to see Jesus?
• Grace empowers our will

Verse 4
• Zacchaeus’ solution was to do two things that a rich Middle Eastern man would never do so that he could see Jesus.
• First, he ran in public (a humiliating act).
• And then he climbed a tree (also a humiliating act).
• A sycamore tree is very bushy; many believe Zacchaeus climbed it to hide and thus avoid being seen and humiliated.

Why would Zacchaeus risk humiliation?
• Grace empowers our will

Verse 5
• Zacchaeus was busted and the hated, rich, unclean tax collector was humiliated in front of everybody.
• Jesus, and probably others as well, saw him, and Jesus called him down.
• No doubt the crowd was waiting for Jesus to heap it on this defiled, Gentile collaborator.
• But Jesus does that which is “both unthinkable and unprecedented”; He invites Himself to the traitor’s house.
• Especially in the Middle East, “the community selects the form of hospitality, not the guest”.
• Jesus, however, insulted the town by both in inviting Himself and in inviting Himself to a tax collectors house.
• As a result, Jesus shifts the ire of the crowd from a humiliated Zacchaeus to Himself!
• Isaiah 53:5 – “by his wounds we are healed”.

Why did Jesus say he must go to Zacchaeus’?
• Grace empowers His choosing
Why did Jesus shift the ire of the crowd to himself – a costly act on His part?
• Grace led the lamb to the slaughter

Verse 6
• Having been “accepted” by Jesus, Zacchaeus accepts Jesus invitation and accepts Jesus joyfully.

How was Zacchaeus able to receive Jesus joyfully in the midst of his humiliation?
• Grace empowers repentance and salvation

Verse 7
• Jesus entered Zacchaeus’ house, a place of defilement in the eyes of the town.
• What kind of Messiah would defile Himself in such a way?

Why did Jesus “defile” Himself on account of Zacchaeus?
• Grace led the lamb to the slaughter

Verse 8
• Zacchaeus freely makes a gesture to give away 50% of his assests.
• And on top of that says “he will pay back fourfold anyone he has cheated”.
• If he owes out just 13% of the 50% he has left, he will be unable to pay back everybody.
• Here Zacchaeus is exaggerating and in the Middle East, to exaggerate is to demonstrate sincerity.
• “If he does not exaggerate, the crowd will think he means the opposite”.
• Zacchaeus is showing the fruit of repentance.


How was Zacchaeus able to let go of what he held so dear?
• Grace empowers a sanctified Christian life

Verse 9
• Jesus says “salvation has come” both confirming the spiritual state of Zacchaeus and that it was He, Christ, that brought it.
• He calls Zacchaeus a “son of Abraham”.

Why could Jesus say that “salvation has come”?
• Grace empowers salvation and Zacchaeus had responded by faith to the grace offered to him.

So in this story, we have a beautiful display of how the grace of God brings salvation.
• By Grace it is planned by the Father (Jesus came to Jericho and Zacchaeus wanting to see Him)
• Through grace it is procured by the Son (Jesus calling Zacchaeus to Himself and taking the crowd’s ire on Himself)
• With grace it is applied by the Spirit (fruits of repentance and sanctification).

Ring Composition of Luke 19:1-9:
It reveals the emphasis of the story on Christ’s grace in verse 5.

• JESUS ENTERS (vs. 1)
    o ZACCHAEUS (vs. 2)
        – THE CROWD (vs. 3)
            • THE TREE – RAN & WENT UP IT (vs. 4)
                o JESUS’ GRACE (vs. 5)
            • THE TREE – CALLED BY JESUS & CAME DOWN (vs. 6)
       – THE CROWD (vs. 7)
    o ZACCHAEUS (vs. 8)
• JESUS SPEAKS (vs. 9)

John 1:16-17 – Truth Through Christ

John 1:14b & 16-17 – Truth Through Christ

John 1:14, 16-17 (ESV) — 14b…glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. 16 And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

In our text, John has thus far told us that grace and truth were through the Word.
• Last week we talked about how grace came through Christ and what grace was.
• Today we will tackle truth – how it came through Christ and what it is.

1) HOW TRUTH CAME THROUGH CHRIST

In the context of verse 14, as with grace, truth came through Christ through the incarnation – “Word became flesh and dwelt among us”.
• We discovered last week, with the story of Zacchaeus, how exactly grace came through Jesus.
• Today we will also look to Scripture to see exactly how and what truth came through Jesus.

What Scripture Says:
• Psalm 78:2–3 (ESV) — 2 I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings from of old, 3 things that we have heard and known, that our fathers have told us.
• John 17:8 (ESV) — 8 For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me.
• John 8:31–32 (ESV) — 31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
• John 17:17–19 (ESV) — 17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.

The truth came from the spoken word of Jesus Christ!
• This fact gives further insight into why John called Jesus the “Word was God”.
• Jesus was, in every conceivable way, the “Word” of God who spoke the word of God.

As in the past few lessons, we again see (and will see) the intimacy and “hands-on” or “word-on” interaction Jesus had with His creation.

But what was the truth that came through Christ?

2) WHAT TRUTH CAME THROUGH CHRIST?

Christ said that He came to “bear witness to the truth”.
• He said that all those who are “of the truth” listen to His voice.
• And to these statements Pilate asked the same question we ask, “What is truth?”

John 18:37–38 (ESV) — 37 Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” 38 Pilate said to him, “What is truth?” After he had said this, he went back outside to the Jews and told them, “I find no guilt in him.”

So we ask the same question as Pilate, but to answer it we need to know something to narrow our search.
• What category of truth does John refer to as coming through Christ?
• What category of truth is John meaning to reveal that Jesus bears witness to?
• Does he mean to say that Jesus bears witness to philosophical truth, doctrinal truth, spiritual truth, moral truth, the law of gravity, the law of thermodynamics, quantum physics, DNA translation and transcription, photosynthesis, the irreducible complexity of blood clotting, etc.?
• Surely anything that is true is upheld and sustained by Christ, but John and Jesus seem to be more narrowly focused in their treatment of the truth.

The category of truth:
Jesus helps us narrow our search down.
• John 1:17 (ESV) — 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
  o This truth is revealed through the incarnation as Christ’s spoken words (as we saw earlier).
• John 5:32–34 (ESV) — 32 There is another who bears witness about me, and I know that the testimony that he bears about me is true. 33 You sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth. 34 Not that the testimony that I receive is from man, but I say these things so that you may be saved.
  o John the Baptist bore witness that Jesus is the one who bears witness to this truth
  o This truth saves
• John 8:32 (ESV) — 32 “…and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
  o This truth sets free
• John 8:40 (ESV) — 40 but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did.
  o This truth was given to Christ by the Father
• John 14:6 (ESV) — 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
  o Acceptance of this truth is gives access to the Father
  o Denial of this truth precludes one from entering the presence of the Father
• John 17:8 (ESV) — 8 For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me.
  o From this truth, it follows that Jesus is God
  o From this truth, it follows that Jesus was sent by the Father
• John 18:37 (ESV) — 37 Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.”
  o This truth is discriminatory, only those of the truth can truly “hear” it
• Luke 4:18-20 (ESV) — 18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” 20 And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”
  o This truth is a fulfillment of prophecy
  o This truth entails the state of humanity before God

We can see then, in the below summary, that the truth we are dealing with is:
• Revealed through incarnation
• Attested to by John the Baptist
• It saves – It sets free
• Given to Jesus by the Father – Gives access to the Father
• Reveals that Jesus is God – Reveals that Jesus was sent by the Father
• It is discriminatory – not everyone can “hear” it
• It is a fulfillment of prophecy
• It concerns the state of humanity

So from these observations, I think we can safely say that we are dealing primarily with a category of truth that deals with the spiritual and moral standing of man before God as spoken of AND as remedied by God incarnate, the Messiah, Jesus Christ.

POI – This is NOT to say, by any means, that other categories of truth are not addressed by Jesus and/or the rest of the New Testament writers.
• If Scripture does not bear witness directly to these categories of truth mentioned earlier (and all other truth for that matter) we can be assured that, at the very least, these categories of truth proclaim and bear witness to the majesty of the Creator who made them possible and sustains them.

Now that we narrowed our focus down to essentially the moral/spiritual realm of truth, we can isolate in detail what truth John probably had in mind that came through Jesus.

To help us, we need to know what the Greek word “truth” used in our text means:
• The TDNT states that alḗtheia, the Greek word for truth in our text, can denote “the real state of affairs” that is “seen” or “expressed” or “disclosed” as opposed to “concealed” or “falsified”.
• R.C. Sproul says it like this; “Truth is that which corresponds to reality as perceived by God”.

We can now frame our question in a way that helps us determine what truth came through Jesus.
So what exactly was the “real state of affairs” that Jesus the Messiah revealed concerning Himself and mans’ standing before God?
Or, put another way, what was the “reality as perceived by God” that Christ bore witness to pertaining to spiritual/moral truth?

In studying and researching these questions in John’s Gospel, it appears that John seemed to focus on essentially 3 aspects of truth that Christ bore witness to with His spoken word.
• It could be argued, then, that it was the following that John had in mind when speaking of the truth that came through Christ.

The Word spoke the word of truth revealing the “real state of affairs” concerning:
• BTW – Notice how often the truth is associated with Jesus’ speaking (the through the incarnation part)!

TRUTH 1 – SALVATION – Without belief in the words of the Word there is no salvation but damnation.
• John 11:25–26 (ESV) — 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”
• John 3:3 (ESV) — 3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
• John 5:28–29 (ESV) — 28 Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice 29 and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.
• John 6:40 (ESV) — 40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
• John 7:37–38 (ESV) — 37 On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ ”
• John 8:23–24 (ESV) — 23 He said to them, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. 24 I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins.”
• John 14:6 (ESV) — 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

TRUTH 2 – AUTHORITY – Jesus is of the Father, has authority from the Father, was sent by the Father and to reject Jesus is to reject the Father.
• John 5:26–27 (ESV) — 26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. 27 And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man.
• John 6:57–58 (ESV) — 57 As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me.
• John 7:16–17 (ESV) — 16 So Jesus answered them, “My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me. 17 If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority.
• John 7:28–29 (ESV) — 28 So Jesus proclaimed, as he taught in the temple, “You know me, and you know where I come from? But I have not come of my own accord. He who sent me is true, and him you do not know. 29 I know him, for I come from him, and he sent me.”
• John 8:28 (ESV) — 28 So Jesus said to them, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me.
• John 10:37–38 (ESV) — 37 If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; 38 but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.”
• John 12:44–45 (ESV) — 44 And Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. 45 And whoever sees me sees him who sent me.
• John 12:49 (ESV) — 49 For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak.
• John 16:27–28 (ESV) — 27 for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. 28 I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father.”

TRUTH 3 – HEARING/OBEY – If you are of me you will “hear” me; if you are not of me you will not “hear” me. Those who don’t “hear” me are of the devil and will be judged for not “hearing” me.
• John 8:43–44 (ESV) — 43 Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. 44 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him…
• John 8:45–47 (ESV) — 45 But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. 46 Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? 47 Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.”
• John 6:35–37 (ESV) — 35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. 36 But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. 37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.
• John 6:43–45 (ESV) — 43 Jesus answered them, “Do not grumble among yourselves. 44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. 45 It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me.
• John 6:63–65 (ESV) — 63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 64 But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) 65 And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”
• John 8:37–38 (ESV) — 37 I know that you are offspring of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you. 38 I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father.”
• John 10:25–27 (ESV) — 25 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not part of my flock. 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.
• John 12:47–48 (ESV) — 47 If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. 48 The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day.
• John 15:22–24 (ESV) — 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Whoever hates me hates my Father also. 24 If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father.
• John 9:39 (ESV) — 39 Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.”

BTW – What does Jesus mean when he says “hear”?

POI – Jesus withheld from those that did not “hear” His word and shared all with those that “heard”.
• John 15:15 (ESV) — 15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.
• Mark 4:11–12 (ESV) — 11 And he said to them, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables, 12 so that “they may indeed see but not perceive, and may indeed hear but not understand, lest they should turn and be forgiven.”
  o Mark 4:12 is from Isaiah 6:9-10, about which J.E. Smith says, “How long must he continue to preach a message which would cause his people to entrench themselves ever deeper in sin?”
  o And John MacArthur says, “[The] Lord speaking in parables is a judgment to the non-believers who are fixed in their rejection”.
  o William Kaiser says Jesus had, “the same (retributive) purpose behind the call of Isaiah: to harden the hearers in their unbelief”.
• So when Christ spoke to those who did not “hear” he entrenched them deeper in their sin!

POI – It seems that those that believe “hear” something different than those that don’t believe when confronted with the words of the Gospel.
• The one who believes is the one “who has hears to hear”.
• Why is that? Is it something in their will or is it the “grace that empowers our choosing”?

Summary:
John seemed to have some specific things in mind we discussing the truth that came through Jesus.
It seems clear that the category of truth mostly at issue was spiritual/moral truth.
And the truth spoken by the Word of God was:
1. Without belief in the words of the Word there is no salvation but damnation.
2. Jesus is of the Father, has authority from the Father, was sent by the Father and to reject Jesus is to reject the Father.
3. If you are of me you will “hear” me; if you are not of me you will not “hear” me. Those who don’t “hear” me are of the devil and will be judged for not “hearing” me.

Do you believe…can you hear the words of the Word?
Does the truth Christ speaks penetrate your heart & mind or dull your heart & mind?
The answers to these questions have eternal significance!

John 1:6-8 & 15 & 19-28 – John the Witness and the Not

John 1:6-8 & 15 & 19-28 – John the Witness and the Not

1) WHO JOHN WAS – THE WITNESS

John 1:6–7 & 15 (ESV) — 6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. 15 John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’ ”

To bear witness:
• “Witness” is the noun martyria – it denotes, for John, what his life was characterized by.
• He was born to, lived as, and died as a witness to the light of Jesus Christ.
  o It is the word from which martyr came from – to die for a cause.
• “Bore Witness” is the verb martyreo – it denotes the testimony of a witness which carries legal weight in a court of law.
  o The witness of John was authorized by God to hold men accountable to the truth it contained.

POI – Speaking of witnesses, John said he wrote his Gospel so that we might believe and he provided in his Gospel the testimony of multiple witnesses intended to warrant our belief.
• The Father (5:37)
• Jesus’ words (8:18)
• Jesus’ works (5:36; 10:25)
• Old Testament Scriptures (5:39)
• Some of those who met Him (4:29)
• The disciples (15:27; 19:35; 21:24)
• The Holy Spirit (15:26)

To what did John bear witness:
• John 1:22–23 (ESV) — 22 So they said to him, “Who are you? We need to give an answer to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” 23 He said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said.”
• Jesus is the Messiah!


How did John the Witness bear witness:
• John 1:15 (ESV) — 15 John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’ ”
• John 1:23 (ESV) — 23 He said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said.”
• John 1:26–27 (ESV) — 26 John answered them, “I baptize with water, but among you stands one you do not know, 27 even he who comes after me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.”
• John 1:30 (ESV) — 30 This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’
• Luke 3:3 (ESV) — 3 And he went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

It should come as no surprise that John used words to bear witness, to testify of Jesus Christ!
• We learned a few weeks ago that The Word Himself used words to convey His light to the darkness.
The fact that words are used to convey the Gospel is obvious in Scripture but is it obvious in our lives?

John 1:36–37 (ESV) — 36 and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” 37 The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus.
• John the Witness’ words led his disciples to follow and become disciples of Jesus Christ.
• Christ’s addition at the cost of John the Witness’ subtraction leads us to our next point.

2) WHO JOHN WAS – THE NOT

John 1:8 & 19-21 (ESV) — 8 He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light. 19 And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” 20 He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” 21 And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.”

“I am not the Christ”:
• John 3:28 (ESV) — 28 You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.’
• Acts 13:25 (ESV) — 25 And as John was finishing his course, he said, ‘What do you suppose that I am? I am not he. No, but behold, after me one is coming, the sandals of whose feet I am not worthy to untie.’

There seem to be 2 reasons Scripture is so clear in showing that John the Baptist is NOT the Christ:
• Acts 19:2–5 (ESV) — 2 And he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” 3 And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” They said, “Into John’s baptism.” 4 And Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus.” 5 On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
  o So 1st, there were disciples of John that continued to hold an incorrect view of John’s meaning.
• And 2nd, as we will examine in point 3, is humility which is essential to be an effective witness.

“I am not” Elijah:
• Malachi 4:5 (ESV) — 5 “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes.
• If John is not the Christ, he must be Elijah who will herald the Christ.
• After all John, like Elijah, wears camel hair and a leather belt – Mark 1:6 and 2 Kings 1:8.
• But John said he wasn’t!

POI – This is interesting because of the following:
• Matthew 17:10–13 (ESV) — 10 And the disciples asked him, “Then why do the scribes say that first Elijah must come?” 11 He answered, “Elijah does come, and he will restore all things. 12 But I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but did to him whatever they pleased. So also the Son of Man will certainly suffer at their hands.” 13 Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them of John the Baptist.
• Matthew 11:14 (ESV) — 14 and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come.

So John says he is not, and Jesus says he is – we learn 2 things from this apparent contradiction.
• The first concerning the Bible and second concerning John the Baptist.

First, understanding the depth of the Bible’s truth involves an effort in research and study.
• Luke 1:17 (ESV) — 17 and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.”
• So what Jesus meant is not that Elijah came back in the flesh but John acted in the way of Elijah…as a prophet calling people to the Lord.
• Given this, John and Jesus were both right.
So a thorough reading of all of the Bible’s revelation on John the Baptist is needed to reconcile this contradiction.
• I think God revealed much of His truth in this fashion on purpose (that is, spread out in different verses, chapters and books); it is how we find the meat of our faith as contrasted with the milk.


Second, we are again confronted with the humility of John:
• In the words of D.A. Carson, “John did not detect as much significance in his own ministry as Jesus did”.
• And in the words of the International Commentary on the N.T., “No man is what he himself thinks he is. He is only what Jesus knows him to be.

“No” I am not the prophet (Moses):
• Deuteronomy 18:15–18 (ESV) — 15 “The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen— 16 just as you desired of the LORD your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God or see this great fire any more, lest I die.’ 17 And the LORD said to me, ‘They are right in what they have spoken. 18 I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him.
• So if not the Christ and not Elijah how about the prophet Moses spoke of.
• John stated that he was not “a prophet like” Moses.

Again, in our effort to eat meat we learn the following of the “prophet like” Moses:
Peter and Stephen said of Jesus –
• Acts 3:22–23 (ESV) — 22 Moses said, ‘The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers. You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you. 23 And it shall be that every soul who does not listen to that prophet shall be destroyed from the people.’
• Acts 7:37 (ESV) — 37 This is the Moses who said to the Israelites, ‘God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers.’
• Jesus is the prophet Moses spoke of.

3) THE HUMILITY OF THE NOT’S WITNESS

John 1:24-28 (ESV) — 24 (Now they had been sent from the Pharisees.) 25 They asked him, “Then why are you baptizing, if you are neither the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?” 26 John answered them, “I baptize with water, but among you stands one you do not know, 27 even he who comes after me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.” 28 These things took place in Bethany across the Jordan, where John was baptizing.

John’s humility is humbling:
• Here we see that John tells us that He considers himself unworthy to handle the sandals of Jesus Christ.
   o There isn’t much about a person less clean than his sandals.
   o And we must remember what the dirt and dust represented to the Jew – death and impurity.
   o Yet John said he was not even worthy to handle these.
• We have seen already that John did not embrace the notion that he was somehow Elijah.
• Jesus also said of John, Matthew 11:11 (ESV) — 11 Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
• And yet John states over and over he is “not this person” or “not that person” and that he is “not worthy”, etc.

The humility of John’s witness is, as John Piper says, “the great not of our witness to Christ.
• I am not the light (verse 8)
• I am not the Christ (verse 20)
• I am not Elijah (verse 21)
• I am not the prophet (verse 21)
• I am not worthy to untie his sandals (verse 27)

This humility is striking behavior, especially when we consider even more of John’s uniqueness:
• John was the first prophet to speak to Israel in almost 400 years.
• And he had the privilege of ushering in the promised Messiah!

Yet, John the Baptist was not done with the humility of his “great nots”:
• John 3:28–30 (ESV) — 28 You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.’ 29 The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. 30 He must increase, but I must decrease.”

John’s humility is as striking as Paul’s:
• Ephesians 3:8 (ESV) — 8 To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ,
• 1 Corinthians 15:9 (ESV) — 9 For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.
• 2 Corinthians 4:5 (ESV) — 5 For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.

The lesson for us:
We must be his witnesses. It is a great necessity. Faith comes by hearing a witness. But we must not make much of ourselves. Beware of the witness that needs attention for himself. Beware of the preacher who constantly angles to put himself in a good light and returns again and again to his ministry and his achievements. Beware of the preacher’s subtle preoccupation with himself even when he speaks of his own flaws. Beware of your own bent to love the praise of men – John Piper.
We must decrease; he must increase. We must make much of him; we must not make much of ourselves – John Piper.

How do we make much of Him in our witness?
Share Christ – we are to witness with words
Serve Christ – our witness will cost us – we must decrease (John 1:36-37 – one of a myriad of examples).
Search Christ – these things and more are learned by diving in and studying Scripture

What is making much of ourselves?
• To not SHARE
• To not SERVE
• To not SEARCH
• Shirking our Sharing, Serving and Searching is making much of ourselves.
  o Why do I say this?

John 1:29-34 – Behold the Lamb of God

1) THIS IS HE

John 1:29–30 (ESV) — 29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’

John the Baptist is adamant that we “behold” Jesus Christ.
What does he mean by that?
• To behold something is “not the mere act of seeing but the actual perception” – Strong’s.
• But it is more than this in that the seeing and the perceiving lead one to know the truth of that which they “behold” and so “believe” in it.
    o In other words, if you are given the “ears to hear” and “eyes to see”, i.e. to behold, belief will naturally follow.

Some Biblical examples of “behold” in action:
• John 1:47 (ESV) — 47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!”
    o Jesus could say this of Nathanael not because he saw him but because he “knew” him.
• John 20:27 (ESV) — 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.”
    o Now that Thomas’ beheld Jesus’ crucifixion wounds in person and saw that they were the truth, Jesus called him to take the next obvious step – believe.

An interesting symmetry between Abraham and John the Baptist with respect to “beholding” the lamb:
• Genesis 22:7-8 (ESV) — 7 And Isaac said to his father Abraham, “My father!” And he said, “Here am I, my son.” He said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” 8 Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So they went both of them together.
    o They went looking that they might “behold” the lamb for the sacrifice.
• And then some 2000 years later, John the Baptist says:
    o “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” – Jesus!

What did John Behold?

Jesus is the Lamb:
• John makes a direct connection between the man Jesus Christ and the function of the sacrificial lamb of the Old Testament.

Was this concept new or does symmetry exist between John’s claims and the claims of the Old Testament?
• Leviticus 5:5–7 (ESV) — 5 when he realizes his guilt in any of these and confesses the sin he has committed, 6 he shall bring to the LORD as his compensation for the sin that he has committed, a female from the flock, a lamb or a goat, for a sin offering. And the priest shall make atonement for him for his sin. 7 “But if he cannot afford a lamb, then he shall bring to the LORD as his compensation for the sin that he has committed two turtledoves or two pigeons, one for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering.
• Isaiah 53:7 (ESV) — 7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.

Interestingly, however, we know that early on the disciples did not fully grasp the concept of a suffering Messiah.

Peter himself provides an example of this:
• Matthew 16:21–23 (ESV) — 21 From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. 22 And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” 23 But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”

However, with his spiritual maturation and the resurrection, it becomes plainly clear to him:
• 1 Peter 1:18–20 (ESV) — 18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. 20 He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you

Jesus takes away sins of the world:
• In addition to “beholding” Jesus as the lamb, John also “beheld” that this lamb was going to “take away” the sin of the world.

What does “take away” mean?
• Strong’s describes it as the act of “placing on oneself” or “bearing on oneself”.
• Literally, however, it simply means to pickup something up and remove it.

This literal meaning, D.A. Carson believes, may give us an indication as to why the followers of Jesus did not grasp that the Messiah must suffer (as alluded to earlier with Peter).
• He says that in light of this meaning, “what John the Baptist meant by ‘who takes away the sin of the world’ may have had more to do with judgment and destruction than with expiatory sacrifice – D. A. Carson.”
• In other words, Jesus was going to remove sin by judging and destroying it not by taking it upon Himself on the cross.


But as with Peter, once Christ’s followers beheld a risen Jesus there was no mistaking what happened on the cross:
• 1 John 3:5 (ESV) — 5 You know that he appeared to take away sins, and in him there is no sin.
• Hebrews 10:4 (ESV) — 4 For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.
• Hebrews 10:11 (ESV) — 11 And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins.

2) I DID NOT KNOW HIM

John 1:31 & 33 (ESV) — 31 I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.” 33 I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’

Two times in our text John the Baptist points out, “I myself did not know him”.
• This statement reveals at least two things to us.
• First, as with the “not” of John’s witness we discussed last week, it points to John’s humility.
• Second, by declaring that he did not know Jesus as Messiah, he gave all the credit to a sovereign God’s revelation to him that Jesus is the Messiah.

As for the first, it is striking that we even have additional evidence that John clearly stated he did not know who the Messiah would be, only that he himself was to prepare the way for him.
• Even though John had no clue, he was obedient to God’s call and was “baptizing with water so that he might be revealed to Israel”.
• Matthew 11:2–3 (ESV) — 2 Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples 3 and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?”

So as to the second, how did God reveal “one who is to come” to John the Baptist?

3) THE FATHER MADE HIM KNOWN

John 1:32–34 (ESV) — 32 And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 33 I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”
• The Father spoke words that would point John to an historical event that, if occurred, would show him.
• See/Witness the Spirit descend on + Remain on = Son of God
• In other words, without the revelation of the Father, John the Baptist would not have known!
• This is exactly what Jesus says, John 6:44 (ESV) — 44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.

This is why John can “bear witness” to Christ.
• He “beheld” himself the confirmation of the Father’s words in an actual event!
• And, for us, Christ’s resurrection further confirms the words of God to John the Baptist.
• Therefore, we continue to appreciate John’s words concerning his Gospel:
• John 20:31 (ESV) — 31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.


Was God’s statement to John concerning the Spirit simply a convenient coincidence or did it have foundation in biblical history?
• Isaiah 11:1–2 (ESV) — 1 There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. 2 And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.
• Isaiah 42:1 (ESV) — 1 Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations.
• Isaiah 61:1 (ESV) — 1 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;

Jesus recognized the Old Testament connection:
• Matthew 11:4–5 (ESV) — 4 And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: 5 the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them.
• Jesus paraphrases Isaiah 61:1 declaring that what He is doing and saying is fulfillment of this prophecy.


Why is a Spirit that “remained” on Jesus important?
• It signifies the permanent nature of the Holy Spirit’s relationship with Jesus.
    o The reason we are indwelled by the Holy Spirit when we believe Jesus.
• It is a fulfillment of prophecy.
    o Ezekiel 36:25–26 (ESV) — 25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. 26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
    o God puts a “new spirit” within us through Christ.
• It contrasts the water baptism that doesn’t last (John’s baptism), with the baptism of the Spirit which lasts (Jesus’ baptism).
    o Or to put another way, the transition from the OT and John the Baptist to the New Testament’s revelation of a new covenant in Jesus Christ.
    o Acts 19:3–5 (ESV) — 3 And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” They said, “Into John’s baptism.” 4 And Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus.” 5 On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

POI – Generally speaking, what is the baptism of Holy Spirit?
• “It means that Jesus Christ was the One who would give of his Spirit to those who should follow him. Or, to put it another way, it means that Jesus would come to live within the lives of his followers” – Boice.
• And this baptism is permanent!

Lesson for us:
How can we behold the Lamb of God?
• Baptism of the Holy Spirit
• Devotional and Theological grasp of Scripture
• Through His creation

Like Peter, has your understanding of Christ grown since you became a Christian?
How has it changed or grown?
• The more time we spend with Christ the better we should know Him.

John the Baptist spent his life proclaiming a Messiah he was unable to recognize without the Father’s revelation.
• We, of course, have Scripture and the testimony of the Holy Spirit that we might recognize the Messiah.
Given John’s relative “revelation deficit”, how does our faith compare to his?

Why Can We Rely on the Bible – Part I

**Since this lesson I have written a 30 page document on the Reliability of Scripture which I used to teach a Deeper Life class in my church – Click Here for Info.

A slight detour from our lesson in John, this lesson on the reliability of Scripture is precipitated by the oddest cast of characters – namely John’s Gospel, Bart Ehrman and Megan Fox.

In this lesson we will discuss the following questions:
• Does the NT contain the actual words written by its authors?
• Why are the words the NT writers wrote considered Scripture?
• What was the NT writers’ view of Scripture?
• What was Jesus’ view of Scripture?
• Why does Scripture warrant our belief?

A number of presuppositions:
• We accept and believe that the Bible is the inerrant word of God.
• We accept that whatever we learn concerning the reliability of the New Testament will also hold true for the Old Testament.

Why, one might ask, do we start with our first question?
• This is because when we speak of the inerrancy of Scripture we are saying two things.
• First, we are affirming only the inerrancy of the original manuscripts (autographs) not the copies; “Scripture in the original manuscripts does not affirm anything that is contrary to fact” – Wayne Grudem.
• Second, we are affirming that through the original words “the Bible always tells the truth, and it always tells the truth concerning everything it talks about” – Wayne Grudem.

Therefore, we need to know if our Bibles contain the original words; the words of the autographs.

1) DOES THE NT CONTAIN THE WORDS THE NT WRITERS ACTUALLY WROTE?

The Bible you read today comes from hand written documents (manuscripts) which are copies of the original writings (autographs).
• When it comes to manuscripts, both quantity and proximity in date to the originals are relevant in determining their accuracy and faithfulness to the autographs.
• You will see that The Bible is excels in both.

Greek Manuscripts (See NT Manuscript Comparison PDF):
• Currently, there are 5,700+ hand written manuscripts of the 27 NT books dating from the early 2nd century to the 1500’s.
• There are 10-15 Greek manuscripts (most are fragments) dated within 100 years of the last original NT document.
   o It is worth noting that there aren’t any other ancient documents with copies within decades of the original writings.
• Within 200 years there are about 48, and prior to 400 A.D. there are about 99.
• The oldest complete NT is the Codex Sinaiticus completed before 400 A.D.
• The NT has “well over 1000 times as many manuscripts as the works of the average classical author” – ESV.


Other Manuscripts:
• And taking in to account the Latin, Coptic, Syriac, Armenian, Georgian, Gothic and Arabic language manuscripts the total number of Bible manuscripts increases to 20,000 – 25,000 copies.
• BTW – one of my favorite books, “Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes”, draws many of its insights from three Syriac versions of the Gospels – the Old Syriac, the Peshitta and the Harclean.

But, over and above manuscripts, we have additional sources – the Church Fathers.

Church or Apostolic Fathers:
Over 1 million quotations from the early church Fathers have been cataloged to date that attest to the accuracy of the manuscripts” – ESV Study Bible.
• The editors of the ESV Study Bible (Wayne Grudem) state that “the NT text could be reproduced almost in its entirety by quotations of it in sermons, tracts, and commentaries written by” the Church Fathers.
• One early source for this info is a book called, “The New Testament in the Apostolic Fathers”, which was written in 1905.
• It is worth noting that the Church Fathers wrote mainly between 90 A.D. and 160 A.D, less than 140 years after Jesus death. (F.F. Bruce).

Some examples of the Church Fathers and what they quoted:
• Bishop Clement (96 A.D.) in a letter to the church at Corinth quoted from the Gospels, Acts, Romans, 1 Corinthians, Ephesians, Titus, Hebrews and 1 Peter (F.F. Bruce).
• Bishop Ignatius (115 A.D.) in letters he wrote on the way to martyrdom in Rome quoted from Matthew, John, Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus (F.F. Bruce).
• Polycarp (Ignatius’ brother and student of John), in a letter to the Philippians, quoted from the Gospels, Acts, Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 & 2 Timothy, Hebrews, 1 Peter and 1 John (F.F. Bruce).

Compared to other documents that inform our ancient history (not to mention documentaries on TLC and The History Channel), the Bible is in a league of its own.

Comparison Chart of Bible and Other Historical Documents (ESV Study Bible):

Histories Oldest Manuscripts Number Surviving
Livy 59 b.c.–a.d. 17 4th century 27
Tacitus a.d. 56–120 9th century 3
Suetonius a.d. 69–140 9th century 200+
Thucydides 460–400 b.c. 1st century 20
Herodotus 484–425 b.c. 1st century 75
New Testament 100–150 A.D. c. 5,700 (plus more than 10,000 in Latin, more than a million quotations from the church fathers, etc.)

It is for the above reasons that F.F Bruce states, “if the New Testament were a collection of secular writings, their authenticity would generally be regarded as beyond all doubt” – F.F. Bruce.

What about differences that exist between manuscripts?
• We need to be clear, differences do exist between manuscripts.
But are they significant? We will see that the answer is no.

The differences between manuscripts are called textual variants.
• Yet we will see 99% are completely innocuous; they do not affect doctrine at all and can be weeded out.
• And a huge majority of them are not even relevant to the meaning of the text in which they are found.
• As Wayne Grudem puts it when dealing with textual variants, “the correct decision is often quite clear, and there are really very few places where the textual variant is both difficult to evaluate and significant in determining the meaning” of the original text.

The 3 most common textual variants are:
Spelling and Nonsense Variants – 75%
• This is by far the largest kind of variants that exist and account for about 75%.
Example of a Nonsense Variant is in 1 Thessalonians 2:7
   o “we were gentle among you” vs. “we were infants among you” vs. “we were horses among you”.
   o In the above case, the word for infants (nepioi) or for gentle (epioi) is miscopied as horses (hippoi).
   o It is called a Nonsense Variant because “horses” makes no sense and is clearly a miscopy.
   o This variant is noted in the ESV Study Bible.
Example of a Spelling Variant would be in English using “a book” vs. “an book” or “abook” or “anbook”.

Synonym and Word Order Variants – 24%
• These variants account for about 24%.
Example of Word Order Variant would be the Greek version of “Jesus loves John”.
   o In Greek, this can be written 16 different ways without changing the meaning (ESV Study Bible).
   o Thus in differing manuscripts you see a variety of different wordings, but the same meaning.
Example of Synonym Variant is in John 4:1, “The Lord” as in ASV vs. “Jesus” in ESV.
o Synonym variants, as exampled above, do not change the meaning.

“Meaningful and Not Viable” and “Meaningful and Viable Variants” – 1%
• These variants are the least common and account for about only 1%.
Example of Meaningful and Not Viable Variant is John 7:53-8:11 which is the account of the women caught in adultery.
   o The earliest manuscripts don’t have it so modern Bibles either notate that or exclude it all together.
   o Though it contains meaning, because it is not in early manuscripts it is not viable.
   o And leaving it out does not affect the meaning of John’s Gospel whatsoever.
   o This variant is noted in the ESV Study Bible.
Example of Meaningful and Viable Variant is Romans 5:1, “we have peace” vs. “let us have peace”.
   o The difference in the Greek is just one letter.
   o This variant is noted in the ESV Study Bible.
   o The meaning changes but not significantly and does not affect any doctrine.

POI – A comparison between different versions or a good study Bible will note many of these variants for you.
• NT critics insinuate that variants are “not shared because many pastors who learned this material in seminary have, for a variety of reasons, not shared it with their parishioners” – Bart Ehrman.
• In fact, the critics write books sensationalizing textual variants as if they are revealing something never before known.
• However, the idea that variants are “not shared” or known is simply not true.
   o As stated, any decent Study Bible will note variants (usually with the phrase “some manuscripts say”).
   o Any attempt to harmonize Scripture (such as the Gospels) will expose variants.
   o Any comparison of differing Bible translations will expose variants.
   o And it is worth noting that as far back as the 4th century Augustine addressed the issue of differences between manuscripts as did John Calvin in the 1500’s.
• The real problem is that, and this is one thing liberal Bart Ehrman is correct on, “…most Americans are increasingly ignorant of the contents of the Bible”.

Conclusions based on manuscript evidence:
We readily admit the following:
• “It is easily proved by experiment that it is difficult to copy out a passage of any considerable length without making one or two slips at least. When we have documents like our New Testament writings copied and recopied thousands of times, the scope of the copyists’ errors is so enormously increased that it is surprising that there are no more than there actually are” – F.F. Bruce.
• “But the original manuscripts [autographs] are those to which the claims to be God’s very words apply. Thus, if we have mistakes [textual variants] in the copies as we do, then these are only the mistakes of men. But if we have mistakes in the original manuscripts, then we are forced to say not only that men made mistakes, but that God himself made a mistake and spoke falsely. This we cannot do” – Wayne Grudem.
• And referring to the way in which the early Christians made copies of NT manuscripts D.A. Carson says, “the private copy made by an eager and well-meaning layperson was likely to include more transcriptional errors than copies made and checked in a scriptorium.

However, given the sheer quantity of Manuscripts (See Textual Variant PDF):
• “It increases proportionately the means of correcting such errors, so that the margin of doubt left in the process of recovering the exact original wording is not so large as it might be feared; it is in truth remarkably small. The variant readings about which any doubt remains among textual critics of the New Testament affect no material question of historic fact or of Christian faith and practice” – F.F. Bruce.
   o In other words, the more copies there are, the more comparisons can be made among them, and the more variants can be reconciled.
• And, “the wealth and range of material supporting the Greek New Testament is staggering” – D.A. Carson.

So, the answer to our question, “Does the NT contain the words the NT writers actually wrote?”
• “As [the late] Bruce Metzger [the well-respected but not conservative professor emeritus at Princeton Theological Seminary] once said— we know what about 92% of the NT said in its original manuscripts with a rather high degree of certainty. As for the other 8%, very little of theological or ethical consequence is at stake.” – Ben Witherington.
• “In the final analysis, no cardinal doctrine, no essential truth, is affected by any viable variant in the surviving NT manuscripts…although scholars may not be certain of the NT wording in a number of verses, for the vast majority of the words in the NT, the modern English translations accurately represent what the original authors wrote, and therefore these translations can be trusted as reproducing the very words of God” – ESV Study Bible.
• “The overwhelming majority of the text of the Greek NT is firmly established. Where uncertainties remain, it is important to recognize that in no case is any doctrinal matter at issue” – D.A. Carson
• Or as Wayne Grudem puts it, “for over 99% of the words of the Bible, we know what the original manuscript said”.
THE ANSWER IS YES!

Why Can We Rely on the Bible – Part II

**Since this lesson I have written a 30 page document on the Reliability of Scripture which I used to teach a Deeper Life class in my church – Click Here for Info

2) WHY ARE THE WORDS THE NT WRITERS WROTE CONSIDERED SCRIPTURE (GOD’S WORDS)?

So we have determined that the Bible we hold in our hands does contain the inerrant words the NT writers wrote.
• Where, then, do we get the idea that their words are really God’s words?

Theópneustos: remember this word because it is a remarkable claim.
• Many translations translate the word as “inspired by God”.
• However, many also translate it literally as “breathed out by God” which denotes more of a direct involvement as compared to just “inspiring” it.
• In other words, just as our life came out of dust via God’s breath, the wisdom, truth and authority of the NT writer’s words also found their origin and life in God’s breath – the Holy Spirit.
    o We will see, in fact, that the NT writers and Jesus Himself make clear the role of the “breath of God” (Holy Spirit) in producing Scripture.

So what did the NT writers say about the words they wrote?
• Often, the following verses are used to answer that question.
• 2 Timothy 3:16–17 (ESV) — 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God [theópneustos] and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.
• 2 Peter 1:19–21 (ESV) — 19 And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

These verses make clear that Scripture was seen as coming from God.
• However, to be fair, these texts speak of the Old Testament.
• What about the New Testament? Why is it in the same class as the Old Testament?

Peter and Jude have something to say about this question.
• 2 Peter 3:15–16 (ESV) — 15 And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, 16 as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.
    o In other words, they twist Paul’s Scriptures just as they do the other Scriptures.
    o Peter comparatively declares, unequivocally, that Paul’s letters are Scripture!
• Jude 17 (NAS) — 17 But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ,
    o “In the NT ‘to remember’ is not just a mental act. To remind others is to bear witness to the word of God; to remind oneself is to place oneself totally under this word” – TDNT.

And even more substantial are the words of Jesus Himself about this question.
• The following verses make clear that there was a “chain of custody” in the revelation of God’s word.
• As you will see, this chain of custody confirms that the NT writers spoke the Words of God!
• Just as crime scene evidence is tagged and bagged so that it is not contaminated.
• God provided a way to transmit His word through the NT writers so that it was not contaminated.

Chain of Custody of God’s Word:
• John 14:10 (ESV) — 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works.
    o Jesus identifies that the authority of His words comes from the “Father who dwells in” Him.
• John 17:8 (ESV) — 8 For I [Jesus] have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me.
    o Jesus reveals that the source of His words comes from the Father.
    o Jesus reveals that he gave the words he received to the disciples.
• Matthew 10:20 (ESV) — 20 For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.
    o Jesus tells the disciples that their very words come from the “Spirit of your Father” not themselves.
• 1 Corinthians 2:13 (ESV) — 13 And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.
    o Paul confirms his words were taught by the Spirit.
• Acts 6:10 (ESV) — 10 But they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking.
    o Luke also reveals that the words of the apostles were rooted in “the Spirit”.
• Matthew 10:27 (ESV) — 27 What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops.
    o Jesus commands the disciples to proclaim the words he gave them.
    o Their obedience to this command is why we have their words.
So the “chain of custody” of God’s Word looks like this:
• Father – Source and Authority of His Word and gave it to Jesus
• Jesus – Given the Words and Authority by the Father and passed it on to NT writers
• Holy Spirit – Promised by Jesus and also gave words to the NT writers after Jesus left
• NT writers – Received both their words and authority by Jesus through the Holy Spirit

It is therefore clear that the words spoken (and written down) by the disciples had a divine chain of custody that began with the Father, flowed through the Son, and then later flowed through the Holy Spirit, and dwelled with them.

So, the answer to our question, “Are the words the NT writers wrote to be considered Scripture (God’s Word)?”
YES, they are God’s Words and are as much theópneustos (god breathed) as the OT.

So now that we can be assured that the Bible contains the inerrant words the original authors wrote and that those words are God’s words, we need to see what we are to do with it.

We will look to the the NT writers and Jesus for our cues in this regard.

Why Can We Rely on the Bible – Part III

**Since this lesson I have written a 30 page document on the Reliability of Scripture which I used to teach a Deeper Life class in my church – Click Here for Info

WHAT WERE THE NT WRITERS AND JESUS’ VIEW OF SCRIPTURE?

My aim here is to determine how the NT writers and Jesus treated the Scripture they had (the OT).
• In other words, how it informed their lives.
• Obviously, they believed it as Jesus Himself said – John 2:22.
• What I am getting at here is that when we understand the level of reverence and authority they accorded the Bible, we will understand the level of reverence and authority we should accord the Bible.

Some interesting observations before we begin:
• The only books of the NT without any direct quote or allusion to OT texts are Philemon and 2 & 3 John.
• The NT contains roughly 312 direct OT citations and thousands of OT allusions – Walter Kaiser.
• “The NT assumed that the OT WAS RELEVANT to first-century believers” – Walter Kaiser.
    o For example, the NT writers “preferred to use the present tense where the OT had used the past tense, and to use the second or first person plural pronouns you, us, or we, where a third person pronoun would have been found in the OT” – Walter Kaiser.

First – NT writers relationship with Scripture:
It informed their theology:
• Romans 9:9–10 (ESV) — 9 For this is what the promise said: “About this time next year I will return, and Sarah shall have a son.” 10 And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, 11 though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls.
• Romans 4:2–3 (ESV) — 2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.”

It informed their painful circumstances:
• Romans 15:4 (ESV) — 4 For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

It informed their cultural biases:
• Galatians 3:8 (ESV) — 8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.”

It informed their view of salvation:
• Romans 10:11–13 (ESV) — 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

It informed their view of the relationship between the OT and NT:
• Acts 24:14 (ESV) — 14 But this I confess to you, that according to the Way, which they call a sect, I worship the God of our fathers, believing everything laid down by the Law and written in the Prophets,

It informed their evangelism:
• Romans 10:15 (ESV) — 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”

It informed their view of worldly wisdom:
• 1 Corinthians 1:19 (ESV) — 19 For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”

It informed their view of economic issues:
• 1 Corinthians 9:8–10 (ESV) — 8 Do I say these things on human authority? Does not the Law say the same? 9 For it is written in the Law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain.” Is it for oxen that God is concerned? 10 Does he not speak entirely for our sake? It was written for our sake, because the plowman should plow in hope and the thresher thresh in hope of sharing in the crop.

It informed their view of Jesus:
• Romans 1:1–4 (ESV) — 1 Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, 2 which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, 3 concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh 4 and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord,

It informed their apologetics:
• Acts 18:28 (ESV) — 28 for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, showing by the Scriptures that the Christ was Jesus.

It informed their view of mans’ condition before God:
• Romans 3:9–12 (ESV) — 9 What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, 10 as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; 11 no one understands; no one seeks for God. 12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”

It informed their decisions (a detailed example):
• Acts 15:12–20 (ESV) — 12 And all the assembly fell silent, and they listened to Barnabas and Paul as they related what signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles. 13 After they finished speaking, James replied, “Brothers, listen to me. 14 Simeon has related how God first visited the Gentiles, to take from them a people for his name. 15 And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written, 16 “ ‘After this I will return, and I will rebuild the tent of David that has fallen; I will rebuild its ruins, and I will restore it, 17 that the remnant of mankind may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who are called by my name, says the Lord, who makes these things 18 known from of old.’ 19 Therefore my judgment is that we should not trouble those of the Gentiles who turn to God, 20 but should write to them to abstain from the things polluted by idols, and from sexual immorality, and from what has been strangled, and from blood.

• James, like most Jews at the time (Peter & Paul had a run in on this issue), was at a minimum uneasy with the degree of Gentile inclusion in the Messiah’s restoration of Israel.
• Yet notice he did not say, “I feel Gentiles are unclean and they oppressed us for years (Syrians, Babylonians, Romans), therefore my judgment is they are not worthy of inclusion.
• He put aside any bias and cultural baggage and submitted to the words of the Bible.
• He submitted to it by allowing it to authenticate the truth and not letting his emotional and cultural baggage lead him astray.

With just a handful of verses, we see only a few ways the NT writers let OT Scripture guide them into truth.
• It goes without saying that given the 300+ OT quotes and thousands of OT allusions found in the NT and handful could easily become hundreds.

But, we aren’t done yet.
• We need to look at Jesus relationship with Scripture.

Second – Jesus relationship with Scripture:

As Truth (He believed it):
• The Genesis account of creation (Matt. 19:4-6; Mk. 10:6-8);
• The Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch (Matt. 8:4; Jn. 5:46; 7:19);
• The historicity of Abel (Matt. 23:35; Lk. 11:50-51);
• The historicity of Noah and the Noahic Flood (Matt. 24:37-39; Lk. 17:26-27);
• The historicity of Abraham (Jn. 8:56);
• The historicity of the account of Sodom and Gomorrah (Matt. 10:15; 11:23-24; Lk. 10:12);
• The historicity of Lot and the account of his wife having been turned into a pillar of salt (Lk. 17:28-32);
• The historicity of the account in which Israel was given manna from heaven (Jn. 6:31,49,58);
• The Davidic authorship of some of the Psalms (Matt. 22:43; Mk. 12:36; Lk. 20:42);
• The historicity of the account of Jonah’s having been swallowed by a whale (Matt. 12:39-41; Lk. 11:29-32);
• The unity and single authorship of the book of Isaiah (Matt. 13:14-15; Mk. 7:6; Jn. 12:38-41);
• The Danielic authorship of the book of Daniel (Matt. 24:15);
• The canonicity of the entire Jewish Old Testament, which excluded the Apocrypha (Matt. 23:35; Lk. 11:50-51; 24:44);
• The verbal plenary inspiration of Scripture (Matt. 4:4; 5:17-18);
• The divine preservation of Scripture (Matt. 5:17-18; 24:35; Lk. 16:17; Jn. 10:35);
• The vital importance of studying and knowing Scripture (Jn. 5:39; Matt. 22:29);
• The judgment of all mankind by God’s Word (Jn. 12:47-48).

POI – Our orthodox view of the above verses is that Jesus is referring to actual historical events and persons and is thereby at once affirming the historicity and truth of the OT while at the same time providing NT insights, warnings or commentary in harmony with the OT.

However, not surprisingly, there is a different view that is growing in popularity in our post-modern world.
• The view is called The Accommodation Theory (attributed to J.S. Semler – 18th century).
• This view holds that the OT events and persons referenced by Jesus and his disciples were probably not historical but allegorical or parable.
• Therefore in using these OT stories, “our Lord and His Apostles accommodated themselves to the prejudices, the errors and the superstitions of their time” – Trinitarian Bible Society.
• The prejudices, errors and superstitions concerned “beliefs about authorship, inspiration, historical accuracy and the basic truthfulness of the Old Testament” – Josh McDowell.
• In other words, Jesus usage of OT references was not a truth or historicity endorsement, but merely a tactic He used to make His points.
• “For example, this theory holds that Jesus did not actually believe that God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah (Matthew 11:23, 24), or that the people on the earth at the time of Noah perished in a great flood (Matthew 24:37-39), or that Jonah was really in the belly of the great fish (Matthew 12:39-41). It was not the purpose of Christ, they claim, to teach historical truth or to question it. His purpose was to teach spiritual truth. Therefore, any mention of historical personages or events does not mean that Jesus believed them to be true” – Josh McDowell.

Problems with the Accommodation Theory view:
• Not only did Jesus not accommodate, He in fact corrected wrong views of the OT.
    o “He undermined the incorrect views held by those who heard Him. This is obvious, for instance, in His Sermon on the Mount, where in Matthew 5:21-48 He repeatedly challenged the beliefs of His contemporaries and corrected their understanding of the Old Testament” – Gary Habermas.
    o This would be Jesus’ “You have heard it said…but I say to you” formula.
• Related to this was Jesus handling of false teachers.
    o Jesus labeled them hypocrites, snakes and children of Hell for their mishandling of Scripture.
• The theory “gives a very low view of Christ, Jesus said, “I am the truth” (John 14:6). [If] His life and ministry consisted of telling only half-truths [and] holding back that which He knew was incorrect. This would mean that Jesus allowed the end to justify the means, something that His life and ministry simply did not do. If Jesus did not tell the whole truth, He did not tell the truth at all” – Josh McDowell.

Therefore, given our rejection of the Accommodation Theory and our holding to the orthodox view, Jesus’ use of OT verses demonstrate a relationship between belief in Jesus and belief in the historicity of the OT.

As Authoritative (He obeyed it):
• Luke 4:3–13 (ESV) — 3 The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” 4 And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.’ ” 5 And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, 6 and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. 7 If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” 8 And Jesus answered him, “It is written, “ ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.’ ” 9 And he took him to Jerusalem and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, 10 for it is written, “ ‘He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you,’ 11 and “ ‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’ ” 12 And Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ” 13 And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.

As Proclaiming His Coming (He was it):
• Luke 4:17–21 (ESV) — 17 And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, 18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” 20 And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”
• John 6:45 (ESV) — 45 It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me
• Luke 22:37 (ESV) — 37 For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors.’ For what is written about me has its fulfillment.”
• Luke 24:27 (ESV) — 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.
• John 5:39–40 (ESV) — 39 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.

So, what level of reverence and authority did they accord Scripture?

It informed their:
• Theology
• Suffering & Circumstances
• Cultural biases
• Economics
• Worldly wisdom
• Evangelism
• View of Salvation
• Relationship between OT & NT
• View of Jesus
• Apologetics
• Mans’ condition before God
• Decisions
• Jesus believed it
• Jesus obeyed it
• Jesus was its story

The OT…was the basis for expressing God’s direction and guidance for all of our living. That understanding was shared by the NT, Jesus and the apostles” – Walter Kaiser.

The point is that the New Testament writers were thoroughly conversant with the OT and felt that they were in direct continuity with it” – Walter Kaiser.

The point is clear by now: the interweaving of phrases and lines from the Old Testament by the New Testament writers with their own words and literary styles shows how the very fabric of their thought was immersed in the language and teaching of the earlier Testament” – Walter Kaiser.

Of course now our Scripture, given the 27 books of the NT, is even more thorough and relevant.
But we must ask ourselves, is the very fabric of our thoughts immersed in Scripture?
• This, as we have seen, is the example set for us by our Lord and the NT writers.
• We will deal more with our relationship to Scripture in point 5.

For now, however, we need to explore why we should believe Scripture.
• Clearly, as believers, we have the internal testimony of the Holy Spirit
But are there even more reasons to believe in the authority Scripture?

We will answer that question in Point IV.

Why Can We Rely on the Bible – Part IV & V

**Since this lesson I have written a 30 page document on the Reliability of Scripture which I used to teach a Deeper Life class in my church – Click Here for Info

4) WHY DOES SCRIPTURE WARRANT OUR BELIEF?

We have seen that Scripture contains the words the original writers wrote based on the manuscript evidence; that those words are God’s words; that the NT writers believed Scripture and saw it as authoritative; and that Jesus also believed Scripture and saw it as authoritative.
• And now we are faced with the obvious question – Are there objective reasons to believe Scripture and treat it as it demands to be treated?

I need us to be realistic at this point.
• As mentioned in previous lessons, born again believers (those with ears to hear and eyes to see) need no further reason to believe Scripture beyond the testimony of the Holy Spirit.
• This is important for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that we believe the testimony of the Holy Spirit to be a True and Uncorrupted testimony originating with God the Father as seen in our “chain of evidence” discussion.
• However, there do exist other valid reasons to believe Scripture.
• And though these reasons can’t definitively prove the Bible to a fallen world, they can be used apologetically, especially when taken together.
• And for the believer, they can be used to buoy our faith, give us confidence and remove worldly barriers that may cloud our thoughts and hinder our obedience.

Having said that, let us explore some of those reasons.

Fulfilled Prophecy:
• According to Walter Kaiser, J. Barton Payne “itemized 127 messianic prophecies involving an amazing more than three thousand verses”.
• To get an idea of these fulfilled prophecies, see the Prophecy Chart.
• Obviously, when prophecies pronounced 400+ years before Jesus find their fulfillment in Jesus they warrant our consideration.
• BTW – we aren’t even considering here the fulfilled prophecies unrelated to Jesus.

Historical and Archeological:
From the beginning of the existence of the NT documents, investigations were made as to their authenticity.
• According to F.F. Bruce, Papias (a Church father) wrote the following around AD 130-140:
    o “If ever a person came my way who had been a companion of the elders, I would inquire about the saying of the elders – what was said by Andrew, or by Peter, or by Philip, or by Thomas or James, or by John or Matthew or any other of the Lord’s disciples; and what things Aristion and the elder John, the disciple of the Lord, say. For I did not suppose that what I could get from books was of such great value to me as the utterance of a living and abiding voice”.

And archeological evidence has strengthened the reliability of Scripture.
• In the book of Romans (written in Corinth) Paul tells the Romans that “Erastus the City Treasurer greets you”.
    o In 1929 a pavement stone was found with an engraving that stated, “Erastus, curator of public buildings, laid this pavement at his own expense“.
    o F.F. Bruce states that “it is most probable that the donor is identical with the Erastus who is mentioned by Paul”.
• F.F. Bruce also discusses many more archeological finds which confirm Paul’s words concerning the existence of a Corinthian synagogue; the Corinthian meat market; the town of Lystra’s fascination with Zeus and Hermes (in Acts the Lystran’s thought Paul and Barnabas were Hermes and Zeus); etc.
• And for more examples please refer to the Archeological Handouts.

Mishnah and the Talmud:
• The Mishnah was the Jewish code of laws and the Talmud were rabbinical commentaries on the Mishnah.
• “These references do at least show that there was not the slightest doubt of the historical character of Jesus” – F.F. Bruce.
• In them Jesus is described as “a transgressor in Israel, who practiced magic, scorned the words of the wise, led the people astray, and said he had not come to destroy the law but to add to it. He was hanged on Passover Eve for heresy and misleading the people. His disciples, of whom five are named, healed the sick in his name” – F.F. Bruce.

The writings of Josephus:
• Even earlier than the Talmuds are the writings of Josephus.
    o From Josephus we get confirmation of the existence of Pilate, Felix, Festus, Caiaphas, Ananias; confirmation of Gamaliel’s words in Acts concerning Judas the Galilean; the Jerusalem famine in Acts 11:28 ; the death of Herod Agrippa I from Acts 12; a record of the death of both John the Baptist and James the brother of Jesus “the so-called Christ”; etc.
• There is also evidence that Josephus confirmed the following concerning Jesus Christ.
    o “We have therefore very good reason for believing that Josephus did make reference to Jesus, bearing witness to (a) His date, (b) His reputation as a wonderworker, (c) his being the brother of James, (d) His crucifixion under Pilate at the information of the Jewish rulers, (e) His messianic claim, (f) His being the founder of ‘the tribe of Christians’, and probably (g) the belief in His rising from the dead” – F.F. Bruce.

Various Gentile writers:
• Julius Africanus writing about AD 221 when referring to the writings of Thallus who wrote about 52 AD stated, “Thallus, in the third book of his histories, explains away this darkness as an eclipse of the sun unreasonably, as it seems to me (unreasonably, of course, because a solar eclipse could not take place at the time of the full moon, and it was at the season of the Paschal full moon that Christ died).
    o “From this reference in Julius Africanus it has been inferred (a) that the gospel tradition, or at least the traditional story of the passion, was known in Rome in non-Christian circles toward the middle of the first century; and (b) that the enemies of Christianity tried to refute the Christian tradition by giving a naturalistic interpretation to the facts which it reported” – F.F. Bruce.
• The British Museum contains a letter written by a Syrian after AD 73 that mentions the death of Christ.
    o It states, “What advantage did the Jews gain from executing their wise King?
    o And goes on to say that as a result of the death of Jesus, “the Jews, ruined and driven from their land, live in complete dispersion”.
• The Roman historian Tacitus writing around AD 110 when speaking of the burning of Rome by Nero says, “Therefore, to scotch the rumour, Nero substituted as culprits, and punished with the utmost refinement of cruelty, a class of men…whom the crowd styled Christians. Christus, from whom they got their name, had been executed by sentence of the procurator Pontius Pilate when Tiberius was emperor…
• F.F. Bruce details many more examples which we don’t have time for here.

Given the evidence contained in both Jewish and Gentile writings as outlined above, F.F. Bruce says, “The historicity of Christ is as axiomatic for an unbiased historian as the historicity of Julius Caesar”.
• Acts 26:26 (ESV) — 26 For the king knows about these things, and to him I speak boldly. For I am persuaded that none of these things has escaped his notice, for this has not been done in a corner.

General Revelation:
• Romans 1:19–23 (ESV) — 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

The Resurrection:
As Scripture declares, if Christ’s resurrection was an historical event, we have reason to believe in Scripture.
• John 2:22 (ESV) — 22 When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.
• 1 Corinthians 15:3–8 (ESV) — 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.
• Relevant to this point is the historical evidence for the resurrection as argued by N.T. Wright, Gary Habermas and William Lane Craig.

5) LESSON FOR US

Given all that we have learned about the reliability and authority of Scripture (even in Jesus’ life) and that there are very good reasons to believe it:
Do we treat Scripture as it demands to be treated?
And, as considered already, are we as immersed in Scripture as Jesus and the NT writers?

Examples of how it demands to be treated:
• Jeremiah 15:16 (ESV) — 16 “Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart.”
• Hosea 4:6 (ESV) — 6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to me. And since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.

In Acts, we have yet another example of these admonitions in action.

Acts 17:11 (ESV) — 11 Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.
• Here, most likely, Paul was teaching that Jesus was the Christ and used the Old Testament to make his case.
• He commended the Bereans for exhibiting the “noble” trait of searching Scripture to verify the truth of his words for themselves.
• Given this example, it goes without saying, then, that we are also to search Scripture to verify the very words we speak to ourselves through our feelings, emotions and prayer life!
• We must make the Biblical case to ourselves.
• Hebrews 4:12 (ESV) — 12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

Another Consideration:
A couple of weeks ago, we discussed how to make much of God.
• Share Him
• Serve Him
• Search Him

Given our lesson today, we have a decision to make.
• If we have the words written by the NT writers
• If those Words espouse to be the very Word of God
• If Jesus viewed them as believable and authoritative
• And If we have more than sufficient evidence to believe all these things to be true
Are we making much of God by Searching Him in Scripture thereby making His words “a joy and the delight of [our] heart[s]”?

And finally, if everything we have discussed with during the course of this series is true, it follows that any apparent contradiction within the Bible can be legitimately harmonized.
• This is exactly what we will do in our next lesson when dealing with John 1:35-42.

An important implication of this truth:
• Scripture can be tainted, even by the Christian.
• When we begin to look to the world around us to inform us of what is “right” or “true” or “just” we corrupt the chain of evidence and taint Scripture.
• Colossians 2:8 (ESV) — 8 See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.
• Ephesians 4:14 (ESV) — 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.
• Mark 7:8-9 (ESV) — 8 You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.” 9 And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition!
• We must remember that it is Scripture that is inerrant, not the words of men and the world.
• “The Bible tethers us to reality. We are not free to think and speak whatever might enter our minds or what might be pleasing to any given audience—except God” – John Piper.

John 1:43-50 – Two Ways to Come to Belief?

John 1:43–50a (ESV) — 43 The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” 44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” 46 Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” 47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” 48 Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” 49 Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” 50 Jesus answered him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe?

1) NATHANAEL THE SCKEPTIC

John 1:45 (ESV) — 45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”

Concerning Philip and his remarkable claim about Jesus:
• It is unclear if Philip had any encounters with Jesus prior to this event.
• He may have known Andrew and Peter (all born in Bethsaida) and had some associations with John the Baptist.
• But what is for certain is that Jesus was looking for him and “found” him.
     o John 6:37 (ESV) — 37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.
• Now Philip’s claim is an allusion to Deuteronomy 18:15 & 18:
• Deuteronomy 18:15 (ESV) — 15 “The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen—
• Deuteronomy 18:18 (ESV) — 18 I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him.

Nathanael’s response demonstrates his skepticism toward Philip’s claim:
• And interestingly, his response is informed by the current views of the Messiah.
• John 1:46 (ESV) — 46 Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”
• Nathanael’s response was based “apparently on the scriptural lore that neither the awaited prophet or nor the Messiah would have Galilean origins” – AYBD.

An example of the pervasiveness of this “scriptural lore” is found in John 7:40-44:
• John 7:40–44 (ESV) — 40 When they heard these words, some of the people said, “This really is the Prophet.” 41 Others said, “This is the Christ.” But some said, “Is the Christ to come from Galilee? 42 Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the offspring of David, and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David was?” 43 So there was a division among the people over him. 44 Some of them wanted to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him.

Philip countered Nathanael’s speculation with simple, yet profound words:
• John 1:46b (ESV) — 46b Philip said to him, “Come and see.”
• Nathanael obliged Philip’s request; he had no reasonable reason not to.
• And as any honest skeptic should be, Nathanael was perhaps skeptical of his own skepticism.

Whatever the reason, Nathanael went with Philip to meet Jesus and it was an encounter that would change his life.
• BTW – Philip the Apostle is not Philip the Evangelist in the Acts.
• And Nathanael (a personal Hebrew name) is the most likely the same as Bartholomew (a patronymic name).

John 1:47–49 (ESV) — 47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” 48 Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” 49 Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!”
• This is a remarkable encounter between an unbeliever and Jesus.
• With respect to the relationship between Scripture and the supernatural to salvation, it is unlike most other encounters in the Gospels.
• A comparison between Nathanael’s encounter and these other examples in Scripture will tell us something about the relationship between evidence and belief.

3 examples (and there are more) that appear to be at odds with our text today:
• John 5:46-47 (ESV) — 46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. 47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?”
     o Prior to 46 and 47 above, Jesus had just revealed and taught how he came “in my Father’s name”.
     o They rejected Him and he told them that the one on whom they had set there hope, Moses, would be their accuser before the Father.
     o Why would Moses be their accuser – if you believed Moses you would believe Jesus.
• John 12:37–38 (ESV) — 37 Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him, 38 so that the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: “Lord, who has believed what he heard from us, and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”
     o Prior to 37 and 38 above, the crowd whom Jesus was teaching had just heard “a voice from heaven” speak of Jesus and yet “they still did not believe in him”.
• Luke 16:29–31 (ESV) — 29 But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ 30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31 He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’ ”
     o Prior to 29-31 above, the Rich Man had been sent to hell.
     o From hell, He asked Abraham to send a supernatural sign to his brothers so that they might believe.
     o Abraham responds that they would not because they don’t believe what they do have.

These verses seem to indicate that if Scriptural revelation is not enough for you then supernatural revelation will not be enough either.
• Hundreds if not thousands who witnessed Jesus’ supernatural power rejected Jesus.
• Yet, Nathanael, who was skeptical that Jesus was the Messiah of the Scriptural revelation, believed in Jesus based on a supernatural encounter with Jesus.
What was different about Nathanael’s encounter that caused him to believe?
• It can’t have been the nature of the supernatural power he witnessed because his was fairly tame compared to the healings and feedings Jesus did before the crowds.
• In other words, it appears the supernatural was not what really made the difference.

Maybe it was the fact that Nathanael was such a dedicated student of Scripture.
• Jesus described him as “under the fig tree” when Jesus “saw” him.
     o “In rabbinic tradition, fig trees were frequently cited as appropriate locales for teachers to discuss the meaning of the scriptures with their students” – AYBD.
     o In other words, Nathanael was presumably a dedicated student of Scripture.
• Jesus also alluded to Jacob’s vision as found in Genesis 28:12.
     o This is only useful if Nathanael was acquainted with the passage and the implication Jesus was making.
• Nathanael’s response to Jesus as “Son of God” and “King of Israel”.
     o These phrases are allusions to OT references to the Messiah (Psalm 2:7 and Zeph 3:15, respectively).
     o Possession of this knowledge further demonstrates his familiarity of Scripture.

Unfortunately, as steeped in Scripture as Nathanael seemed to be, it is fairly clear that knowledge of Scripture does not lead to salvation any more than witnessing the supernatural power of Jesus does.
• One need only look at the Pharisees, Sadducees, and temple Priests that rejected Jesus.
• It seems that something else was at play.

So we are still left with the question how was Nathanael’s encounter different than the others?
• Perhaps Jesus’ words provide the clues for us.

John 1:47 (ESV) — 47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!”
What in the world does this mean?
• It has to do with the nature of his heart.
• “Nathanael may have been blunt in his criticism of Nazareth, but he was an Israelite without duplicitous motives who was willing to examine for himself the claims being made about Jesus” – D.A. Carson.
     o In other words, as we hinted at earlier, as a skeptic, he rightly was open to the idea that skepticism of his own beliefs is just as warranted as skepticism of Philip’s claim about Jesus.
• In fact, according to D.A Carson, Jesus’ words are even more specific as to the disposition of Nathanael’s heart.
• Carson argues that Jesus statement is an allusion to Jacob after his wrestling match with God in Gen 32:22-32.
• Jacob at first had a heart problem – he stole Esau’s birthright via deception.
• However, later Jacob wrestled with God and received a new name (and presumably a new heart) – Israel.
• Jesus was telling Nathanael that he had the heart of “Israel” not the deceitful heart of “Jacob”.
• This allusion is further supported by Jesus’ reference to Jacob’s vision in verse 51.

So what is the answer to our question concerning the difference in Nathanael’s encounter with supernatural evidence and the “crowds” or the Rich Man’s brothers?
• Jesus’ own words reveal that the difference was not the kind (Scriptural or supernatural) of evidence or even the quality of evidence.
• The difference was that Nathanael had a different kind of heart than the “crowds” or the Rich Man’s brothers.
• And for those who have eyes to see and ears to hear, Scripture and the supernatural are always making themselves available to persuade.
• It is also clear, however, that Nathanael’s knowledge of Scripture did provide him with the ability to flesh out his new found faith in a way he could make sense of.
o John 1:49 (ESV) — 49 Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!”

And what about the relationship between evidence and belief, what can we learn about it?
• John 1:50 (ESV) — 50 Jesus answered him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe?…”
• With this statement Jesus seems to be acknowledging a difference between coming to belief in Christ based on the internal testimony of the Holy Spirit alone responding to the Gospel (John 6:44, John 1:13, 1 Pet. 1:3, Eph 2:8-9, etc.), and a combination of the internal testimony of the Holy Spirit and outside evidence (shortly we will see He calls this type of person “slow of heart”).
• Jesus’ words also echo this sentiment in the following verses:
     o John 4:48 (ESV) — 48 So Jesus said to him, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.”
     o John 14:11 (ESV) — 11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.
     o John 12:10–11 (ESV) — 10 So the chief priests made plans to put Lazarus to death as well, 11 because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus.
     o John 20:29 (ESV) — 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Nathanael was one of those who responded in faith to a combination of the outside evidence and the internal testimony of the Holy Spirit.
• D.A. Carson notes that Nathanael’s faith was “grounded upon a miracle, and such a foundation can be insecure, though certainly better than nothing”.
• Jesus describes this type of person elsewhere in Scripture.
• Luke 24:25 & 31 (ESV) — 25 And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! …31 And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him.
• John 10:38 (ESV) — 38 but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.”

Lesson for Us:
So can external evidence lead one to belief?
• It appears the answer is yes, if the person confronted with the evidence has a heart so disposed or inclined.
• In other words, a heart prepared by God and given eyes to see and ears to hear the internal testimony of the Holy Spirit.
• It is for this reason we speak the Gospel and seek to persuade with Scripture and apologetics; we don’t know who is so inclined and how they are inclined (internal or internal+external).
     o “The Spirit of God condescends to use it [evidence plus the gospel] in bringing certain people to Himself” – William Lane Craig.
• This also helps us make sense of Paul’s attempt to persuade in Acts 17:4; 18:4; 19:8; 19:26; 26:28; 28:23.
     o Some had hearts that responded to the Gospel alone (internal testimony of the Holy Spirit).
     o Some were “slow of heart” that responded to the Gospel plus Paul’s OT arguments for the Messiah, etc.

This relationship between external evidence and belief simply provide yet another reason that we are called to give account for our beliefs by Peter.
• As W.L. Craig puts it, we know why we believe, but we must be able to show why we believe.

John 20:30–31 (ESV) — 30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

John 1:50b-51 – What’s in a Name?


Fantastic instrumental version of Amazing Grace!

Josh Wilson – Amazing Grace from nicholsmgmt on Vimeo.


John 1:50–51 (ESV) — 50 Jesus answered him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” 51 And he said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”

1) ONE CHAPTER AND 10 NAMES

In the first chapter of John’s Gospel, there are 10 names or descriptions for Jesus.

Here are nine of them:
The Word. Verse 1: “In the beginning was the Word.”
God. Verse 1: “And the Word was God.”
Light. Verse 9: “The true light … was coming into the world.”
Jesus Christ. Verse 17: “Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”
Lamb of God. Verse 29: “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”
Rabbi. Verse 38: “And they said to him, ‘Rabbi’ (which means Teacher), where are you staying?”
Messiah. Verse 41: “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ).”
Son of God. Verse 49: “You are the Son of God!”
King of Israel. Verse 49: “You are the King of Israel!”

Some of these we have discussed at length – the Word; was God; the Light; and the Lamb of God.
• The rest we have discussed but only briefly.

However, it is the 10th name that we will discuss at length today.

2) JESUS REVEALS IN HIS OWN WORDS WHO HE HIS

In John’s Gospel thus far, John has described Jesus in his words and in the words of John the Baptist.
• But in the last verse of chapter 1, John lets Jesus tell us who He is.
• And given that Jesus is the main arc of the entire OT, it makes sense that Jesus refers back to the OT to find His preferred description.

Jesus uses Jacob’s Vision:
Genesis 28:12–19 (ESV) — 12 And he dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven. And behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it! 13 And behold, the LORD stood above it and said, “I am the LORD, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring. 14 Your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south, and in you and your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed. 15 Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” 16 Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it.” 17 And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place!” 18 So early in the morning Jacob took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up for a pillar and poured oil on the top of it. 19 He called the name of that place Bethel, but the name of the city was Luz at the first.

Jesus and the Ladder:
Genesis 28:12 (ESV) — 12 And he dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven. And behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it [D.A. Carson states the “more likely rendering is “on him”]!
John 1:51 (ESV) — 51 And he said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.
• Clearly, Jesus is the “ladder” that definitively links the OT to the NT.
• And one can’t help but think that it also says something about Nathanael, Jacob and believers in general one day sharing in seeing the fulfillment of this vision.
• But most significantly, Jesus words reveal that He is in fact the ladder between Heaven and Earth.
• The significance of this is best captured by John Piper when he says, “Jesus is the decisive, final connection between heaven and earth…When we move heavenward, we move on the Son of Man. When God moves earthward, he moves on the Son of Man.


Jesus and Bethel:
Genesis 28:16-19 (ESV) — 16-19 Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it.” 17 And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.” 18 So early in the morning Jacob took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up for a pillar and poured oil on the top of it. 19 He called the name of that place Bethel, but the name of the city was Luz at the first.

Further Examples of significance of Bethel for God and Jacob:
• Genesis 31:13 (ESV) — 13 I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed a pillar and made a vow to me. Now arise, go out from this land and return to the land of your kindred.’ ”
• Genesis 35:1 (ESV) — 1 God said to Jacob, “Arise, go up to Bethel and dwell there. Make an altar there to the God who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau.”
• Genesis 35:3 (ESV) — 3 Then let us arise and go up to Bethel, so that I may make there an altar to the God who answers me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone.”
• Genesis 35:7 (ESV) — 7 and there he built an altar and called the place El-bethel, because there God had revealed himself to him when he fled from his brother.
• Genesis 35:15 (ESV) — 15 So Jacob called the name of the place where God had spoken with him Bethel.

Jesus is Bethel.
• He is the “house of God”.
• He is the “altar”.
• He is the place where God has “revealed himself” to us.
• He is where God has “spoken” with us.
• Or to put it another way, Jesus “is the place where God is present. Heaven has opened, and Jesus has appeared. And from now on, Jesus will be the place where God appears most clearly among men, and where men find their way into fellowship with God. There are no holy geographic places any more designated by God as his meeting place with man. Jesus is that meeting place” – John Piper.
     o Cross reference John 2:19-22.

POI – The rest of the NT is in agreement with the truths discussed above:
• John 3:13 (ESV) — 13 No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.
• 1 Timothy 2:5 (ESV) — 5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,
• Hebrews 8:6 (ESV) — 6 But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises.

Jesus Uses Daniel’s Vision:
Daniel 7:13–14 (ESV) — 13 “I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. 14 And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.

Jesus and the Son of Man:
Daniel 7:13 (ESV) — 13 “…there came one like a son of man…”
John 1:51 (ESV) — 51 And he said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”
• Only Jesus refers to Himself as the Son of Man in the Gospels and He does so about 80 times.
• This description name used by Jesus is still not fully understood and realized.

Why is it significant and what is its meaning?
• D.A. Carson (and others) argue that its significance and meaning lie precisely in its ambiguity.
     o “Jesus could take it up and use it without fear of being misunderstood because of doubtful associations in his hearers’ minds. Titles like ‘the King of Israel’ and ‘the King of the Jews’, while appropriate at a certain level, were so loaded with political messianism that they could not be adopted without restraint and appropriate caveats. ‘Son of Man’, on the other hand, lay ready to hand as an expression that could be filled with precisely the right content…[and Jesus] himself shapes its content” – D.A. Carson.
• So the “you will see” in verse 51 is Jesus giving Nathanael and the rest of the disciples an invitation to see how Jesus will “fill out its content” and give it meaning through
     o “the entire gamut of the action of the Son of Man for the kingdom of God: from the heaven that became open at his baptism, the blessings of the saving sovereignty [that] will be poured out through him in the signs he performs, the revelation of his word, the life that he lives, the death and resurrection that he accomplishes…till the goal is attained when the Son of Man welcomes the redeemed to the Father’s house” – John Beasley-Murray.
• So “the full articulation of ‘the Son of Man’ demanded all of Jesus’ ministry, including his life, resurrection and exaltation. Precisely parallel to this development, it will take John the rest of his book to ‘unpack’ the significance of the title” – D.A. Carson.

Lesson for Us:
With respect to John 1:51, James Boice points out that any good explanation of Jesus’ words needs to address at least 4 things: (1) the reference to the future you shall see; (2) the fact that the heavens will open; (3) the reference to angels ascending and descending upon Jesus; and (4) the title given by Jesus to himself, ‘the Son of Man.’”
• Our lesson today has really only dealt with points (1), (3) and (4).
What explanation reconciles all (4) points together?
• According to Boice, only 1 thing can account for all (4) points together.
     o Jesus “was not talking about anything that took place during the lifetime of Nathanael. Nor was he talking about anything that took place either in the lifetime of Philip or Andrew or any of the other disciples or even of you and me. He was talking about something that is still future, that is still to come. In other words, although no one has seen the fulfillment of this verse yet, all will one day see it when Jesus Christ returns” – James Boice.
     o What a sight this will be!
     o Does this contradict D.A. Carson’s explanation?

John 2:1-4 – Jesus’ First Miracle Part I

John 2:1–4 (ESV) — 1 On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2 Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. 3 When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” 4 And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.”

1) JESUS REBUKES HIS MOTHER

John 2:3–5 (ESV) — 3 When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” 4 And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” 5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

A wedding crisis:
• Given the presence of Jesus and His mother, it is probable that the wedding was for a relative or family friend.
• It is also reasonable to assume that Mary had some role in the catering of the wedding given her interest in the wine.
• A wedding celebration could last as long as a week, so a great deal of food and drink were necessitated.
• To run out would have been shameful and an embarrassment.
• It was in this context that Mary approached Jesus, her son, and told him, “They have no wine”.
• Now we don’t know if Mary knew what Jesus was capable of, but we do know as her firstborn she would have naturally looked to Him for help (she was probably a widow at this time).
    o Yet because we are told by John that this is the first sign/miracle of Jesus it is likely that Mary was not expecting a miracle.
    o Interestingly, in the uninspired Gospel of Thomas, a weird story is told of the toddler Jesus.
    o We are told that he was playing by the river on the Sabbath and was making clay pigeons.
    o Someone told Joseph of Jesus’ activity and he came to Jesus to find out what was going on.
    o Jesus essentially turned the pigeons into real birds and said what pigeons (Curiously, I have run into this story twice this week).

Jesus’ “stiff-arm” response in verse 4:
• Jesus said to His mother, “Woman, what does this have to do with me?
    o Or “Why do you involve me”.
    o Or even better, “You have no claims on me”.
Is His response as harsh as it sounds?
• Woman, “though thoroughly courteous, is not normally an endearing term, nor the form of address preferred by a son addressing a much-loved mother” – D.A. Carson.
• There really is no English equivalent, but what comes closest is Ma’am.
• And when coupled with “what does this have to do with me”, Jesus is definitely giving Mary the “stiff arm” in the words of John Piper.

How can we be sure that this was a “stiff arm”?

Let’s take a look at the only other 5 instances where the phrase “have to do with me/us” shows up in the NT.
• Matthew 8:29 (ESV) — 29 And behold, they cried out, “What have you to do with us, O Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?”
    o This is a demon’s response after Jesus had just calmed the sea and wind.
• Mark 1:24 (ESV) — 24 “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.”
    o This is a demon’s response after Jesus demonstrated his authority at Capernaum.
• Mark 5:7 (ESV) — 7 And crying out with a loud voice, he said, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.”
     o This is a demon’s response after seeing Jesus and falling down before Jesus.
• Luke 4:34 (ESV) — 34 “Ha! What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.”
    o As before, this is a demon’s response after Jesus had demonstrated His authority in Galilee.
• Luke 8:28 (ESV) — 28 When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell down before him and said with a loud voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me.”
    o This is a demon’s response after Jesus had commanded it to come out of a man.

As can be seen, every other case the phrase “have to do with me/us” is used in the NT, it is spoken by demons to Jesus when he has or is about evict them from their human host.
• In other words, this phrase is said to Jesus when he “intrudes in their domain and starts to exert power where they were in control” – John Piper.
• And it is in this way that Jesus uses the phrase with His mother Mary.
    o She was attempting to exert an authority over Jesus that, for some reason, Jesus felt was not her place to do at this moment.
• So, whatever else it did, Jesus’ response to Mary, at the very least, created distance between Jesus and His mother.

But why did Jesus see a need to create this distance?
• The wedding feast is, John tells us, where Jesus first reveals His glory through signs and wonders so that “we may know” He is the Messiah; His divine mission.
• And given this, Jesus saw a need to create this distance because, “everything, even family ties, had to be subordinated to his divine mission. She could no longer view him as other mothers viewed their sons; she must no longer be allowed the prerogatives of motherhood…he, like every other person, must come to him as to the promised Messiah, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Neither she nor anyone else dare presume to approach him on an ‘inside track’—a lesson even Peter had to learn” – D.A. Carson.
• Another way to put it is, “faith over family” – John Piper.
    o Most interestingly, Carson speculates that this encounter with Jesus could also be seen as part of the fulfillment of Luke 2:35.
    o Luke 2:35 (ESV) — 35 (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”

But what about the rest of His response; it seems to make no sense at all?
• He tells Mary, “My hour has not yet come.”
• BTW – This will not be the only time Jesus makes this claim in John’s Gospel:
    o John 7:30 (ESV) — 30 So they were seeking to arrest him, but no one laid a hand on him, because his hour had not yet come.
    o John 8:20 (ESV) — 20 These words he spoke in the treasury, as he taught in the temple; but no one arrested him, because his hour had not yet come.
    o And he does eventually affirm His time has come.
    o John 12:23–24 (ESV) — 23 And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.
• Mary was simply looking for a way to avoid a shameful event (running out of wine) and yet this phrase of Jesus seems to indicate so much more was going on or at stake.
• He had already rebuffed her and now He in effect tells her, “The time for the purification of sin through my death, resurrection and exaltation to glory is not yet upon us”.
Want does this have to do with anything Mary was talking about?
• Plus, when we consider that Jesus went ahead and took care of the wine problem anyway, it becomes even