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Showing posts from August, 2016

Opening The Door To The Gentiles

Miraculous intervention opens the door to Gentiles.
Through Acts 8 the growing church has been primarily a Jewish movement. There have been a few exceptions. Saul is converted to the Apostle Paul in Acts 9. God tells him he will go to Gentiles.

God opens the door through Peter before sending Paul through. Peter is reluctant. Gentiles were unclean. They did not observe Jewish Law.

God overcame Peter's reluctance. God sent an angel to a Gentile with instructions to send for Peter. God gave Peter a vision while the delegation was en route. They arrived as Peter was mulling the meaning.

Peter understood. So he went. He preached to Gentiles.

Peter's Use of the OT Peter's message (Acts 10:34-43) doesn't quote any Scripture. Superficial analysis may lead us to conclude that the Old Testament is more important to Jew than to Gentile.

This would be an error.

Peter's Message They knew of Jesus of Nazareth. Peter built upon this by going a step further: Peter was an eye-witn…

5 Tips for Effective Witness

We may not all share Jesus with an Ethiopian eunuch. We can all learn a few things from Philip's ministry.
We will see Philip again in Acts 21:8. Here are five things we can learn about his effective witness in Acts 8.

1. Preparation. Philip's effective witness in Acts 8 began before. Philip was recognized earlier by the congregation in Jerusalem. He is described as a man of good reputation and full of the Spirit and of wisdom (Acts 6:3-5).

But Philip's preparation began even before Acts 6. Philip devoted himself to the apostolic teaching and to the fellowship when he was converted. His dedication was evident. He was one of the first leaders appointed by the early church. He didn't demonstrate himself as a leader. He demonstrated himself before becoming a leader.

Philip's effective witness began before he opened his mouth to preach. It began with dedicating himself to the apostles' teaching and serving the body. This dedication to preparation made him ready whe…

To The Remotest Part of the Earth

Persecution scattered the believers from Jerusalem into the regions of Judea and Samaria. Philip is led by the Holy Spirit to preach Christ to an individual representing the remotest part of the earth.
Jesus told His disciples they would be witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, even the remotest part of the earth. In Acts 8 we see a partial fulfillment of the entire plan.

When the believers were scattered they preached the word wherever they went. Although these events are recorded in the New Testament this was written after the fact. At the time they scattered not a single New Testament book had been written. They were preaching Christ from an Old Testament foundation.

In Acts 8 we get a closer look at the second non-apostle to preach Christ. Philip is representative of what every Christian was doing at the time. He was preaching Christ wherever he went.

Philip first went and preached Jesus and the kingdom of God in Samaria. Many believed and were baptized. The apostles came to…

The Fruit of Devotion

The stoning of Stephen brought persecution. It also produced great fruit for the kingdom of God.
Much is made of Acts 2:42-47. Some teach it is the ideal church model. The apostles are teaching. People are getting saved. They are dedicating themselves to learning and growing in the faith. Christians are dedicating themselves to each other.

Great generosity is demonstrated. Meals are shared. God is praised. The church is growing.

This activity continues until Stephen's stoning. The whole church in Jerusalem (except the apostles) is scattered by persecution (Acts 8:1). We could lament the loss of this early church purity. This would be to misunderstand God's will for His people.

We see the true fruit of their devotion from Acts 2:42-47 in Acts 8:4. To stop too soon is to drain the life from these early church activities and replace them with empty shells. We don't want empty fruit. We don't want activity for the sake of activity. At least, we shouldn't.

Between Pent…

Stephen, The Preachin' Deacon

Stephen's ministry is marked by many firsts.
Stephen is the first man listed to be chosen as a deacon. Stephen is the first non-apostle recorded performing signs and wonders among the people. Stephen is the first non-apostle recorded to publicly preach the gospel after Pentecost. Stephen is the first martyr of the church age. Stephen was murdered after preaching publicly his first time.

Some may look at the results of Stephen's message and reject his method. His audience became enraged. They stoned him to death for what he preached. It would be a mistake to conclude that Stephen's message and method were faulty.

Stephen is also the first (and only) person recorded in Scripture to be welcomed into heaven by Jesus standing from His throne. The fact that Jesus stood up to receive His servant demonstrated that Jesus was pleased with Stephen. The King is pleased with this method and message. We should be too!

While many firsts marked Stephen's brief ministry he followed the…

Preaching Jesus as The Christ

The apostles continued to face opposition for proclaiming the gospel. They also continued to experience the power of God.
It would have been very difficult for the apostles to preach Jesus as a "life-enhancer." The people saw the controversy. The early preachers were imprisoned. They were publicly shamed and beaten. The gospel message was clearly scandalous.

None of this discouraged the apostles. They saw the power of God through the persecution. It confirmed their testimony. They were instructed by God to continue preaching and teaching the truth. They were never encouraged to soften the message. They were not told to make the message more pleasing to the ear.

In Acts 5 the high priest and his associates are filled with jealousy. They have all of the apostles forcibly arrested. During the night an angel opened the prison gates and led them out. The angel told them:
"Go, stand and speak to the people in the temple the whole message of this Life."
(Acts 5:20 NASB)

A King To Be Opposed

The Old Testament Scriptures encouraged the believers after Peter and John were warned to stop speaking and teaching in the name of Jesus.
Opposition did not discourage the apostles or the early church. It made them bolder. They were not encouraged because they loved punishment. They were encouraged because the Scriptures told them in advance that the Christ would be opposed. It also told them that this opposition would be futile.

Acts 4 records that Peter and John were arrested for preaching Christ. When they were released they were warned by the rulers and elders to stop proclaiming Jesus to the people. Peter and John told them they planned to obey God rather than men. They would not stop. After hearing further threats from the religious leaders Peter and John returned to the believers.

They held a prayer meeting. They prayed Old Testament promises.

Psalm 146 in Context
Acts 4:24 records a citation from Psalm 146:6. There are several other passages throughout the Scriptures which a…

This is the Lord's Doing

Peter and John spent the night in jail after their last message.
They used the opportunity after healing a beggar and gaining a crowd to proclaim Christ and the resurrection from the dead. The captain of the temple guard, the priests, and the Sadducees laid hands on them. They put them in jail for the night. In the morning Peter and John were brought before the authorities.

They were asked in what power or name they were acting. Peter preached Christ to them from Psalm 118:22.

He made it clear they were acting in the name of the Lord. God's power in healing the beggar was authentication that they spoke in God's will, power, and authority.

Psalm 118 in Context
Psalm 118 was commonly interpreted in Peter's day to be speaking of the Davidic Messiah.

The psalm begins with a call to give thanks and praise to the God of Israel for His goodness and lovingkindness. It tells of God's past faithfulness in rescuing His people. God's past faithfulness is a firm foundation for…