The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, “Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.” Acts 23:11
Well, If God plans it..it will happen, maybe not how we assume or plan but be assured it will. God’s word was fulfilled and the Gospel was spread. We can hear scriptures in our past reads just being fulfilled with ever step Paul and the others made
He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.” After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God. Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.
Paul remained in Prison and this where God had him write what some call the ”Prison Letters”: Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and Philemon. His ministry was over 30 years and he is an example of a life worth living.
Acts 28 Ends with a Scripture we have read about several times, in Isaiah, Romans and now Paul’s final words in Acts. God’s ways are not our ways. He is perfect and sovereign. Just like in the Exodus God had to harden the hearts of the Pharoah SO THAT his people would be set free. Well in the New Testament God is telling us He had to harden the heart, blind the eye and confuse the ear of who Jesus was to the Jews SO THAT the Gentiles would be set free. This is a level 400 topic so if you cannot wrap your hands around it, let’s talk about it.
- Felix came with his wife Drusilla (24:24) Drusilla is the sister of King Agrippa/ Felix had taken another man’s wife, so it explains why when Paul talks about righteousness, self-control and judgement Felix says “Ohhh look at the time…gotta go”.
- King Agrippa II, isn’t it amazing that EVERY generation of the Herod family free is somehow personally presented with the Gospel face to face. Here is the family tree on them.
- Bernice was King Agrippa’s sister and wife.
- Apippas’ father was the one who killed James, his great-uncle was the one who beheaded John the Baptist and his great grandfather was Herod the Great who ordered the children dead in Bethlehem.
What was your favorite part of this read? Mine was a Scripture reaffirming the great commission, the way to salvation and the purpose of deeds all rolled up in one.
First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and to the Gentiles also, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds. (Acts 26:20)
But another good one is
Then Agrippa said to Paul, “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?” Paul replied, “Short time or long—I pray God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains.” (Acts26:28-29)
OK, we have been away from Acts a little so let’s recap. Paul left Ephesus, spent time in Corinth and then returned through Macedonia and now is sailing away again. This is the end of Paul’s three Mission trips which covered about 12 years. (the map above we are the teal line, if you notice the next one is one-way) Paul visited or planted churches in major cities throughout Asia Minor (Turkey) and Greece. Truly the Epi-center of the world at the time.Paul is determined to take this great offering to Jerusalem no matter the cost. The offering was collected out of brotherly love and kindness between both Jews and Gentiles. Paul arrives in Jerusalem in June 58′ , making this his 5th recorded visit to Jerusalem since his Road to Damascus experience. Rumors are hot regarding Paul about his “purpose”. Some in Jerusalem accuse him of turning people away from the Law of Moses. Just like when Jesus came, Paul never did that. Paul came to preach that the Law was to point to the Christ, Paul is still respectful of Jewish Law but as an Act of Jesus not to replace Jesus.
Paul does many things here in Jerusalem to prove his Jewish heritage like paying the expense of the vow for 4 men, spoke in Aramaic (ch 22) and even name dropped that he had been mentored by the great rabbi Gamiel. I want you to picture Paul, possibly standing in the very place Jesus stood before Pilate, being unfairly tried, just as Paul is. Paul continues with his testimony and the crowd was fine UNTIL the word Gentile came up. The Jews in Jerusalem were exclusive and prideful and would not lump themselves in with the dirty Gentiles.
Paul is then on the flogging block (ummm have you seen The Passion), when he plays the card that God had dealt him and that is Roman status! The man about to flog him was actually inferior to Paul himself. The next day Paul stands in front of the very Council he was once a member of. He Admitted it in his testimony, he admitted that he would hold the clothes of the men that were stoning Stephen, (go back to Acts 8) so they wouldn’t get dirty or blood splattered if their rock hit a major artery (it can squirt 30 ft from the body I heard). Think of the transformation truly made in Paul!!
Anyway, the read ends today with a Roman Army rescuing Paul (can you imagine the look on the conspiring Jews face when 200 soldiers, 70 horses, and 200 spearmen came in for Paul) And is taken to Governor Felix (the position Pilate use to have and is in Prison but in the Palace. (God is s Good)
Through him and for his name’s sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience vthat comes from faith. And you also are among those who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.
Through the Jewish nation will come the Gospel to the Gentiles. That is why the opening of this book declares Jesus as the Messiah the Scriptures spoke of: Promised through the Prophets and Scriptures, a descendant of the throne of Davis, and the SOn of God so that the Jews would open their hearts to The Christ. This book is fully intended for both Jews and Gentiles for Obedience FROM Faith.
OK…are you ready, this is AMAZING. Let’s start with 1:18 forward. God’s Wrath Against Mankind”. OK, let me rephrase the statement “Why would God send people to Hell?” If you are ever going to push the Gospel forward this may be the first obstacle you face by a unbeliever. Get your pen out and look at 1:24, 1:26, 1:28…what do you see in common? “gave them over”. God does not put anybody into the path of Wrath, he simply takes his hand off of them and lets them have their own choices. If you read the Old Testament with us one of the most important moments in the Old Testament was when God lifted his hand off his people, the ultimate protection, allowing them to be taken by the hands of the enemy.
God does not send anyone to Hell, He gives them over to themselves. They choose. There is so much to Chapter 1 we could park here for weeks (trust me we could). But let’s move on to Chapter 2 BECAUSE you all stopped at verse 7 and thought, “will Trish write about this” lol right? Well, let’s break this down both in NIV and NLT.
To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. 8But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. 9There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; 10but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 11For God does not show favoritism. (NIV)
He will give eternal life to those who keep on doing good, seeking after the glory and honor and immortality that God offers. 8 But he will pour out his anger and wrath on those who live for themselves, who refuse to obey the truth and instead live lives of wickedness. 9 There will be trouble and calamity for everyone who keeps on doing what is evil—for the Jew first and also for the Gentile. 10 But there will be glory and honor and peace from God for all who do good—for the Jew first and also for the Gentile. 11 For God does not show favoritism. (NLT)
What are we seeking? Glory Honor and immortality. Seeking God. Seeking a life with Christ. How? By Persistence. We seek a relationship like no other, by loyalty, obedience and behavior. Out eternity is not given on the doing “good” but by the seeking of the relationship. When we seek the Lord what does he do? He gives us Grace. That Grace flows through us and what does it look like? It comes out the other end in doing Good. Not By Doing Good. Look at the NLT, you are either living for others or you are living for yourself. The evidence in your seeking relationship with the Lord is acceptance or rejection. And last, the answer to a question we asked weeks ago…do Jews go to Hell? God says in verse 11 He shows no favoritism. The Gospel had been brought to both the Jew and the Gentile and He will not treat them any differently according to Salvation.
OK, this blog is long enough…the rest is soooooooooooooooooooooooooo good though. If anyone has any discussion or comments, I would love to hear them. This is a deep deep book and if when you read it your forehead hurts from concentrating it is ok. Peel off another layer when God reveals more to you. Walk away with the most important part of the read today though:
This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:22-26)
For many of us we will light candles at church this month and it is called Advent. What is it?
Advent, the Latin word meaning Adventus, means “coming”. It is an anticipation, a longing, a waiting of an arrival. Advent actually was started by non-Christian Germans, when they would light the candles on very cold dark days “anticipating” warmer, lighter days to come, the season of Spring. The German Lutherans adopted this event into a remembrance of ”waiting” on the Coming of the Lord (the true light). There was 4000 years of waiting of the Coming Messiah and Advent can be a great time of teaching to our children.
Advent can also be used as an anticipation, and a teaching of the wait we as Christians do for the Second Coming. Just as the Hebrews waited for Jesus to come and Redeem us the first time, we can confidently light a candle with hope and anticipate His second and final Coming.
Baptism and Circumcision seem to be HOT topics then…and HOT topics now. I would say it is the number one topic under my “hate-email” category. Yes, I get hate email from readers. WHen you think about how often it is talked about in the Bible you have to conclude how IMPORTANT it is to the Lord. Why was it done? Who should do it? When? It’s purpose?
Today’s read is very important. Today we read about the danger of false teaching and doctrines on several levels. First, Baptism. It is very clear that it had been taught as a use of Salvation, and Paul quickly clears that up and says “no, it is a sign of Repentance”. The other false teaching here was teaching the Old Testaments way without the fulfilment of the Messiah, this was done from lack of knowledge, another huge problem in our Christian world today.
Third Mission trip:
Apollos. First, the name alone should grab your attention. Remember when we’re talking the other day about how hard it is to preach in Athens with their thick Greek culture. Well, who better than one of their own. The problem was he only had half the story, he knew the Old Testament Law and ritual and the promise of the Messiah through the prophet of John the Baptist, so Aquila and Priscilla took him in and taught him in of the Resurrection and Salvation through Faith. (Maybe we should send him to some churches around here) unfortunately the people actually started following Apollos not God. I heard a speaker once say “you know you are doing your job when after people hear you talk about Jesus, they want less of you and more of Him”.
Let’s talk about Ephesus for a minute. Ephesus was ugly! It is the center of Black Magic and sorcery. Listen to me..anything black magic like ouiji boards, horoscopes, palm reading, fortune-telling, superstition, “luck” is completely detestable to the Lord. Anyway, back to the Bible, when the sorcerers burned the “junk” it was a huge statement in town and the converts or the ones following “the Way”(Did anyone reseach that name….THE WAY? I will tl,k about it in comments to save space) put some business of “idol making” at risk. By the way, I am not trying to beat up the Vatican (again) but know that this same EXACT problem happened in the 1500′s to them during the Protestant Reformation. The use of carved Saint sales was to restore the bankruptcy from St. Peter’s Basilica and when Luther Preached about their “lack of power”, the Vatican ordered him to be killed. Just sayin.
Anyone curious about the Goddess of Fertility Artemis??
Where is Victoria Secret on this one??
Keep scanning down to that big map from Acts 15-16 to get your geographical bearings. So they continued to Thessalonica, a very large wealthy town, where much persecution was going on to the Christians. After a short visit Paul and Silas continued to Berea. After an uproar occurred there Paul continued on to Athens leaving Silas and Timothy behind. As we see Athens was a major false god city full of idols. After all, Athens was the center of Greek Mythology, also home to all the great philosophers, and a city know for pluralism.
Here is a painting by Raphael of Paul in Athens at the Areopagus. The Epicureans (isn’t that like a razor for hair removal?) were actually contrasts of the Stoics. The first, had a “if it feels good…do it, you live life once mentality” while the Stoics were philosophers of the mind. So to read there were a “few” that converted was actually a great success considering all obstacles.
Paul left and went to Corinth and stayed with Aquila and Priscilla (Priscilla Shirer, is named after her) and stayed a year and a half. While there Paul wrote 2 letters to the Christians back in Thessalonica (uhhh want to guess what they are called?)
Circumcision goes all the way back to Genesis 17. After Abraham was given the promise of the Messiah through the Covenant, then God instituted the Covenant of Circumcision. God required His people to be circumcised as an obedience, as a sign of belonging to His covenant, and as a sign of “cutting” off the old life of sin. It was EXTREMELY important to the Jewish people to be circumcised.
So we are about 20 years into the existence of the church and about 10 years since the Gentiles have been considered Christians. So where does Jewish Law fit? Well back in chapter 10 and 11 we confirmed the Gentiles did not have to be circumcised, that Faith was all that was required. So here we are having Paul dispute the debate at the Council in Jerusalem. Do Gentiles have to adhere to the Law of Moses. A unanimous decision was made that the Gentiles did not have to adhere to the Law of Moses .
Paul’s Second Missionary Journey
Take note to the fact that they started in Antioch and when they got to Lystra the direction changed, because Paul and Silas followed the Holy Spirit. From Lystra it is assumed that they were originally headed for Ephesus but God detoured them to spread the Gospel even further! I encourage you to look up some of the history of these towns. (Galatia is the Lystra, Derbe, Iconium area and Macedonia is the top left corner. Philipi is where Paul and Silas were in prison (incredible story) and then through Athens and Corinth (think about that…Athens, all that Greek philosophy and steeped in culture and art, must have been some tough preaching going on!) and then finally to Ephesus. Aren’t you glad God detoured them, they had tons of converts along the way but at least we know about Lydia, the slave girl, and the jailer and his whole family! Amen.
So we have been steeped in Acts this week. Not sure if you fully are realizing what we are reading. We are reading the History of YOUR Church. We have read the first Sermons of the Church. When you hear the word Church do you picture a building? Brick, Mortar, maybe some stained glass (I love Stained glass)…well if you do: Stop. I want you to hear the word Church and think of your image in the mirror. YOU are God’s Church. So when you read today and it says: To the Church in Antioch…it refers to believers in a certain city named Antioch.
So here are the Sermons we have read so far…
- Peter’s explanation of the meaning of Pentecost (chapter 2)
- Peter to the crowds at the temple, a message of repentance, especially for crucifying the Messiah (chapter 3)
- Peter to the Sanhedrin of the Power of Jesus Christ (Chapter 4)
- Stephen to the Sanhedrin, the message of the Jewish History and apostasy (Chapter 7)
- Peter to the Gentiles, a message of Salvation for All (Chapter 10)
- Peter to the church at Jerusalem, a telling of his experience in Joppa (Chapter 11)
Since reading Acts I am sure you have all been moved by the Holy Spirit to push the Gospel forward and talk to someone that does not know the way to Salvation about Jesus. (Ok, maybe maybe not, but I am praying you will) So suppose someone said to you (or you said to yourself). “what is the Bible about? How do you know Jesus is real? And How do the Jews fit in and how do the rest of us fit in to the plan…oh and How do you get to Heaven” DON”T fret! Just grab your Bee Eye Bee Ell EE and read off Chapter 13! It has it all. The history of the Hebrews, Sin, The COVENANT, Jesus, the Resurrection, The fulfillment of prophecy, the rejection from the Jews and opening door for the Gentiles. Yup, so tattoo the name Acts 13 in your brain for that moment when you don’t know what to say in that moment of evangelism that usually scares the bajeebees out of you. Or just memorize 13:39!
Through him everyone who believes is justified from everything you could not be justified from by the law of Moses. Acts 13:39.
OK, you ready? Saul is now Paul. Yeah! A decade of learning for him has passed in our reading so far and he is with the Encourager Barnabas. Barnabas was the Jewish Leader (converted) that first took Saul/Paul in after “seeing the light”. Man I can spend a million years on this topic. Be a BARNABAS to someone new in the Word! Look at the difference it makes…uhhhh PAUL! Sorry…I sooo digress! Let’s look at the journey this is sooo stinkin cool.
In the Old Testament, God allowed the Hebrews to be captured and put into exile for 70 years (I think it was 70) Anyway, then the Persian leader Cyrus released them back to Jerusalem they scattered instead (called The Dispersion or Diaspora) The temple being far from the scattered regions the Jews created synagogues to teach their children in. It was not a replaced temple, just a place to learn and study. People would come from far on the Sabbath and they would always ask the strangers visiting to speak…opening the door to Paul’s Ministry. Are you seeing God’s Plan as this HUGE perfect Puzzle without a gap!
Look at this. This map is just the FIRST MISSION TRIP!
They are in the south area of Galatia…see it? Ummmm I am going to guess we might be reading GALATIANS soon!
Anyway, an incredible read. I was completely convicted on what I may have done. Do you realize that the men were thought to be Zeus the god himself! The world is at their fingertips at that very moment. WHat would you have done? They could have said “Yes I am a god” Instead they continue on and get stoned to the point that they were assumed dead! Man it must have been pretty bad. And they stand up and say “NEXT!” Man I give up on the lost wayyyyy too fast. Ugggggg I want to throw up.
Cliff note about the Zeus/Hermes part:In Greek mythology, it was common for the “gods” to come to earth in human form, though they did not always do so for the good of man. The people in Lystra had a legend that once Zeus and Hermes had visited their land disguised as mortals, and no one gave them any hospitality except for one older couple. In their anger at the people, Zeus and Hermes wiped out the whole population, except for the old couple. No wonder the people of Lystra were so quick to honor Paul and Barnabas! Hermes was known as the messenger of the gods, so it made sense to the Lystrans that Paul (the more talkative one) would be Hermes. “The crowd’s use of Lycaonian explains why Paul and Barnabas did not grasp what was afoot until the preparations to pay them divine homage were well advanced.” Paul appeals to the crowd to recognize the true God instead of worshipping Paul and Barnabas