Taking the Epistle

A biblical journey through the epistles

Category Archives: Acts

The ACTS Files – Acts 2:14-21 – Peter’s Sermon (Part one)

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The ACTS Files – Acts 2:14-21 – Peter’s Sermon (Part one) – 02/01/2016

Acts 2:14 (ESV) But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. 15 For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. 16 But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel: 17 “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; 18 even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy. 19 And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; 20 the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day. 21 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’

Thank you for clicking on this recent installment of “The Acts Files” and this article is part one in a three part series of verses which are collectively called “Peter’s Sermon”. I personally love these verses because it shows the work done in the life of the Apostle Peter from when he denied Christ at Passover to this dynamic preacher at Pentecost. (Time elapsed was less than two months!) My prayer is that I present these scriptures in a manner that is edifying and worthy of the God I wish to serve. Let’s look at these in a line by line and verse by verse format starting in verse fourteen…

V14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words.

Peter is being dynamic here, he is standing with the eleven and as we know from our studies in Acts ten of these guys got one to one discipleship with the Messiah Jesus Christ and although he stands as representative of the disciples as a whole, we also observe that he is the only one who is speaking. I am encouraged by this as God truly does use the talents that are prevalent in our natures for his glory. Peter was always one to be forward at speaking out and now at the birth of the Christian church he is the one who has courage where courage was not there and this man was truly sticking his neck out in what could be a hostile environment by raising his voice and drawing attention to the message he was about to preach.

We see that now that Peter is speaking the speaking in tongues have ceased, God is not a God of confusion and the Holy Spirit is working through Peter in what he is about to say. Peter is proclaiming this good news like a town crier, he is asking for quiet (give ear to my words) and is about to say something that is going to be culturally challenging for the recipients.

V15 For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day.

You have to understand that Peter is in such a large area that while it is not impossible that he may have heard this being said with his own ears it is more likely that it was revealed to him by the Holy Spirit. The place was loud, it was noisy and Peter’s group was already attracting attention because of the utterance of tongues.

You will remember the last time I spoke on this was the blog that was titled “We know our wine is strong but it’s only 9’oclock” the assumption was that that the disciples were drunk when in fact they were empowered by the Holy Spirit. Peter uses the time of day to show the improbability of them in fact being drunk. In fact most Jews did not begin eating at that time until around the third hour of the day so culturally it would be unusual for them to be drunk at that hour.

V16 But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel: 17 “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; 18 even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy. 19 And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; 20 the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day. 21 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’

Peter backs up what he says with scripture, I find that awesome! Just like any preacher worth note he quotes the word of God as the source for his doctrine. In this case Peter quotes from Joel 2:28-32 and this is a great model for the church today, in the midst of the Holy Spirit working Peter shows great discernment to have a bible study, open the word and let’s keep it biblical. Often times in the modern church we try to be either “too spirit filled” or be too “biblically based” and in my view it should not be one or the other. We should have that good balance.

If I was choosing a perfect church that ticks all my boxes, I would choose one that does line by line teaching, is missional, invests, disciples, mentors and equips its members for the work of the ministry and is rich in spirit and rich in love where the believers live out their faith on a daily basis. I believe this is the example that Peter was setting out here.

Peter quotes a passage which believes that they were in the “last days” and although this was done some 2000 years ago, we still have that confidence today. I will make no rash promises of knowledge on when the messiah is returning, all I know with assured confidence is that we are closer today that we were yesterday.

Peter explains that the prophet Joel speaks of the Holy Spirit being poured out on the flesh and that was the beginning of that fulfillment, we will see the full fulfillment when Christ returns. Peer uses this to bring people to the truth of Jesus Christ (v21) to a group of people that could have called him a liar of it was not true, we are only talking less than 2 months after the crucifixion. We can be assured that the truth is the same today, we have to call on the name of the LORD and we will be saved. That is the beginning of a relationship with your messiah Jesus Christ.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.
TTE
TGBTG
SDG

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In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions – Jude 1:17-19

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In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions – Jude 1:17-19 – 01/22/2016

Thank you for reading this Bible study on the book of Jude. This bible study is part of a series on the book of Jude, in order to see the full series please check out our “epistle” page or alternatively please check out our page dedicated to the book of Jude for other studies in this book.

Jude 1:17 (ESV) But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. 18 They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” 19 It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit.

Jude continues this short but dynamic epistle by stating a remembrance of the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. The apostles were literally speaking words that were inspired by God and they had good prophetic significance. Jude alludes to this and shows that word of God is always true, always timeless and can always be trusted. Let’s look at the words of the apostle Paul in his 2nd epistle to Timothy…

2nd Timothy 4:1 (ESV) 1 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. 5 As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

We learn the following dynamic points that Paul was exhorting Timothy…

• Preach the Word
• Be ready in and out of season
• Reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching

These are musts for moving the needle for Jesus in your neighborhood, whether you are called to teach the word in your living room, a small group, in a church or simply to your family we are called to be consistent when it is convenient and when it is not. We are called to be ambassadors for Jesus Christ and we have to make sure that doctrinally the “ducks are in a row” but we have to lastly do it in love because there is a time coming (and some argue that it is here already) where we will see the following…

• People will not endure sound teaching
• Accumulate teachers to suit their own passions (or ones that will allow them to justify questionable things in their lives)
• Will have itching ears
• Will turn away from truth and start listening to myths

Jude concurs with this teaching in verses 17-18 and I see it today that conservative bible believing churches are being replaced with a more “experience driven” model and that to me is worrying. (Further scriptures you may want to look at are in Acts 20:28-30; 1st Timothy 4:1-2; 2nd Timothy 3:1-5; 2nd Peter 2:1-13; 2nd John 1:7-11.) I am not divisive and will not tear down movements because they do things different to the way I choose to and different people will have different deal breakers when it comes to churches they wish to attend. For me I believe the teaching of God’s word has to be front and center that to me is the major deal breaker and I want to be challenged, encouraged and exhorted by those who wish to mentor or pastor me, for me worship styles, communion methods or other silly arguments we get involved in are just that, silly! Jude talks of such divisiveness in verse 19…

V19 It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit.

We are told it is these who cause divisions, so these people who are open in their sinful lifestyles are in the church and are unrepentant in their ways. If someone was freshly saved or did not know better than that is one thing and a different circumstance to what we refer to here, that comes down to good shepherding and decent pastoral counselling. Jude is speaking of those who are playing both sides of the fence, being a saint on a Sunday and a sinner the rest of the week.

I know all about this as I have done this before I committed my life to Jesus and these people are not all-in believers if believers at all. Obviously I cannot speak for their heart but the lack of spiritual fruit is cause for concern. Because of their lack of spiritual discernment they clash with those who are attempting to do God’s will, they are trying to guide God’s will by the standards of the world and being devoid of the Spirit they are causing tensions because their ideas may sound good to some but they cause dissention and a split in the church.

These are the people who are mockers, following in their own carnal paths and passions. They tend to ask the question first “How does this benefit me? Or “What can I get out of this? Before having an attitude of service and these might be the very people who are being served the most but you will find that because they are not on the same mission as the ones who are following Gods will then this will cause unnecessary hurt and division.

You would have thought the Christian would have learned the lesson of the Pharisee and how the very Messiah that they claim to serve would often times call these people out, calling them such terms as “whitewashed tombs”, “dead inside” and stating that they looked good when they wanted to look religious however they and their hearts were far from God. They are missing one vital component to be truly effective for Jesus Christ, they have no Holy Spirit and I am sure you will agree that we need men and women who are Spirit filled.

Jude will discuss in the next article (Lord willing of course) how to deal with these divisive people in the next article in Jude when we look at verses twenty through twenty three.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.
TTE
TGBTG
SDG

The ACTS Files – I know our wine is strong but it’s only 9 o’clock! – Acts 2: 5-13

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The ACTS Files – I know our wine is strong but it’s only 9 o’clock! – Acts 2: 5-13 – 01/18/2016

Acts 2:5 (ESV) Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. 6 And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. 7 And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? 9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, 11 both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” 12 And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13 But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.”

Thank you for clicking on this recent installment of “The Acts Files” and this series of verses are probably the ones most quoted in a charismatic/speaking in tongues type assemblies and I have seen some great teachings on these verses and some not so great. My prayer is that I present these scriptures in a manner that is edifying and worthy of the God I wish to serve. Let’s look at these in a line by line and verse by verse format starting in verse five…

V5 Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven.

Pentecost attracted men from all parts of the earth who just had to be in Jerusalem at that appointed time. We see that they were not originally from there as they were “dwelling” and being there on a temporary basis, I would imagine they would have arrived for Passover and would leave after Pentecost, however they were there for a much more divine appointment to just celebrate a Jewish festival and this happened at the end of their time in Jerusalem. God ordained this to happen to the biggest audience possible that would disperse to their own lands with this new gospel. Look at how they were going to be touched by God…

V6 And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language.

Let’s get this correct…THEY HEARD THEM SPEAK IN HIS OWN LANGUAGE! This was the Tower of Babel reversed, God opened the ears of the people there supernaturally and they heard it spoken in words that they understood. I have no idea how they were seen by a multitude, perhaps they were on elevated ground, perhaps they were on a balcony, the text is not clear what is clear is the following…

• There was a sound that made the multitude come together
• It caused bewilderment that they spoke in their native tongue

Luke goes on to explain why…

V7 And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language?

They recognized these men as Galileans, possibly by their accent, possibly their dialect. Being a Scotsman in America, I speak the same language as the people who are from here but the way that I speak identifies me as Scottish.

This does not cause bewilderment, amazement or astonishment; they realize that as a business language I also speak English, this was a supernatural occurrence that God did for his glory. Luke goes to great lengths to explain the vast nature of the amount of possible tongues that would have been heard that day in verse nine…

V9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, 11 both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.”

What glory to God that so many different tongues were spoken and so many folks understood the message that was being given to them about the praises of God’s glory, God willing we will look at Peters Sermon which begins in Acts 2:14 and see what was being said to these people. God was outreaching both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians also. Everyone that was in attendance was able to hear about this Messiah!

Isn’t it amazing that God used men who were seen as uncultured, brash and uneducated? As a Scottish guy who barely passed high school with no college level education I am buoyed by this news that if you are willing, if you are where God wants you to be then he can use even the rawest of materials and turn them into something beautiful. In my case he used a man who was brash, uncouth, a drunkard who looked after number one (I could have been Galilean) and turned him into a man who lives to study and teach the word of God, a man who loves his wife and loves his daughter, what a testimony and what a Savior!

Based on what they had witnessed here, this was not your usual Pentecost! The people began to ask questions about what was going on around them, let’s look at verse twelve…

V12 And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13 But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.”

And here is where we get our title from, I actually blagged it from a musical hero of mine called Sammy Horner and a band he played in called “The Electrics” and they had a song called “Visions and Dreams” which many of their fans (well at least 5 of us) thought this was their Sargent Pepper or Bohemian Rhapsody. Anyways, waaaaay to long an introduction as usual!

The question they asked was a legitimate question, it was obvious that something supernatural was happening so a question of “what does this mean?” is not to unreasonable a question. This was not answered at this time but should we get to Peters sermon then you will see that Peter answers the question. They were accused of being drunk but as we read it was only the third hour of the day (9am) and it is not uncommon when God moves that he is mocked. I hope and pray that we get to the next article to hear Peters sermon.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.
TTE
TGBTG
SDG

Circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law – Romans 2:25-29

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Circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law – Romans 2:25-29 – 01/10/2016

Romans 2:25 (ESV) For circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law, but if you break the law, your circumcision becomes uncircumcision. 26 So, if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? 27 Then he who is physically uncircumcised but keeps the law will condemn you who have the written code  and circumcision but break the law. 28 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.

This is a series in the book of Romans, for the home page in our study and to see other studies then please click here or our main epistle page is here. My aim is to go through the Book of Romans as the LORD wills. Let’s start in verse 25…

V25 For circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law, but if you break the law, your circumcision becomes uncircumcision.

Paul draws a close to the second chapter of the book of Romans by stating that if you break one little aspect of the law, the rest of it becomes irrelevant. He gives both sides of the conversation in the above verse; the argument from the Jew will be that he is justified by the Law. That his salvation is based on the very fact that he is a child of Abraham and a follower of the precepts and creeds of his forefathers.

Then we see the counter argument, if this is the case then you have to keep ALL of the commandments, this is also backed up by the words of Christ when he states in the gospel of Matthew…

Matthew 5:17 (ESV) “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

And again in the Epistle of James…

James 2:8 (ESV) If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. 9 But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. 11 For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. 12 So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. 13 For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

Convinced yet? We are not saved by our works because like it or not we are fallen creatures, we may have the best intentions in the world but we have weak fleshes and despite a spirit that may be willing we will not always follow through in what we know is right and correct. I know for sure I could not keep 613 rules and regulations. (I struggle to keep New year’s resolutions more than 5 minutes) so what we are looking at is a matter of the heart, what is your core? Where is your heart? Are you righteous in your outward appearance or are you cleansed within? This all seems rather complicated but please read on.

V26 So, if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? 27 Then he who is physically uncircumcised but keeps the law will condemn you who have the written code and circumcision but break the law. 28 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.

And Paul writes here and plays on their prejudices by stating if that is the level playing field we are on then would the Gentile not be judged by the same rules as the Jew? If there was a Gentile proselyte so devoted to the things of God that his righteousness far exceeded those who were “of the law” would he not be as justified?

A ceremony will not save you, having a Godly father, grandfather or relation who is praying for you will not save you, you have to make that choice for yourself. My greatest desire in life is to see my daughter and my brother walk in the life giving faith that I have found in Christ Jesus but they have to make their own choice. I pray that they pour into the Word of God and have a desire to grow in a day to day relationship with their Messiah Jesus Christ and have them know that if they were the only ones on the earth, Jesus would have died for just them.

I have grouped the last four verses together because they are simply one thought and as stated a ceremony will not save you, simply by having what is in the country I have adopted as my own a standard medical procedure. We read here that the heart is the most important part of the day to day relationship with Jesus Christ and you can all be a Jew inwardly because of that circumcision of the heart. And believers in Jesus Christ have the Holy Spirit as a helper, we were promised by Jesus that we would have a helper and he keeps his promises.

We have to be careful that we heed the warning at the end of this passage that we are not doing the work of the Lord for the praises of men. We must be careful that we are not doing it with a boastful heart or a wish or desire to appear holy. We must be searching for the praises of God and not the praises of men. We see the evidence in what type of fruit is in our hearts, Jesus warns of these types of people in the gospel of Matthew chapter six …

Matthew 6:1 (ESV) “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. 2 “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

Basically, run away, flee from any type of “look at me” thoughts that may come across your mind when you are doing ministry. It is always the people who you least expect it, but it may very well be you if that is something you struggle with. If you get peeved because you did not get kudos for a job well done then it may well be you.

These verses that talk about the circumcision of the heart and the simplicity of the gospel make me feel all evangelical and make me want to go spread the word with an increased fervency in my neighborhood. I want to see my neighbors get saved, I want to see the street I live on get saved and I want them all to be mentored by God honoring, God fearing men and women and go out and reach others in their sphere of influence. I want to move the needle in my city for Jesus Christ and pack the churches in my town with people on fore for Jesus Christ.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to
TTE
TGBTG
SDG

The ACTS Files – The Coming of the Holy Spirit and tongues of fire – Acts 2:1-4

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The ACTS Files – The Coming of the Holy Spirit and tongues of fire – Acts 2:1-4 – 01/04/2016
Acts 2:1 (ESV) When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.
This is a series in the Book of Acts which looks to visit the text from the Book of Acts on a line by line and verse by verse teaching and Lord willing we will get through the full book of Acts, this is part of a New Testament bible study series that you can read all other studies in this section on this link.
Luke continues in the book of Acts picking up the events of the day of Pentecost. We read in chapter one all that happened between Christ returning to heaven, the choosing of Matthias and why Judas had to be replaced and lastly where they had to be in order to receive the Holy Spirit, the main lesson we have learned is the disciples changed status as men of God and the obedience that they have, let us look on a verse by verse basis the first four verses of chapter two.
V1) When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place.
Pentecost is a festival some fifty days after Passover; this is valuable information as it gives an accurate timeline between when Christ was crucified, rose from the death and the events which are unfolding between the next few chapters in the book of Acts. We have to realize that there is only a period of a month n a half in our Western calendar. As we are looking fromJanuary 4th 2016, would you say with confidence you have a recollection of something that happened on the 15th of November last year? I am fairly sure I could, especially if it was something as monumental as the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
Pentecost is called “the day of firstfruits” and we read about this in Numbers 28…
Numbers 28:26 (ESV) “On the day of the firstfruits, when you offer a grain offering of new grain to the LORD at your Feast of Weeks, you shall have a holy convocation. You shall not do any ordinary work, 27 but offer a burnt offering, with a pleasing aroma to the LORD: two bulls from the herd, one ram, seven male lambs a year old; 28 also their grain offering of fine flour mixed with oil, three tenths of an ephah for each bull, two tenths for one ram, 29 a tenth for each of the seven lambs; 30 with one male goat, to make atonement for you. 31 Besides the regular burnt offering and its grain offering, you shall offer them and their drink offering. See that they are without blemish.
It was very much a high Jewish festival and an important day in the calendar. It is no coincidence that God used the timing he used in that he used a timing when the whole area was dominated by an Empire that its northern border was in Northern England, It’s southern border was in North Africa and Christians would be able to spread this new faith as far as Germany in the east, Spain in the west without leaving “Roman lands”. God also used a high festival where they would encounter many devout Jewish people who were in Jerusalem for this holy day.
We read also that they were “all in one place” (some versions have “all in one accord and in one place”) the important part was that they were aligned in one mission and that mission was to wait for the Holy Spirit and leave the results up to God. They shared in so much, common bond, common faith, common salvation and common geography. We could learn so much from this as modern day believers, which is why it is vital for us to align ourselves with believers who are the same mission that we are, we have to behave as if Pentecost is today and the very spread of the gospel of Jesus Christ relied on what we did today. (That may be the situation for those people that you know with hardly any Christian friends or family, you may be the difference in someone’s eternal destination!)
I say align ourselves with believers who are on the same mission as that is what churches and bible studies are supposed to be about, hey are supposed to be open, transparent, a place to be energized, challenged, exhorted, ministered too, a place to lick your wounds and allow you to go back on mission. It is a place to worship together, learn together pray together and grow together. It is a vital support system to what you do in the world but it cannot be your WHOLE mission.
V2) And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.
Do you remember what we said at the beginning of this article, they were in obedience waiting for the Holy Spirit in Jerusalem? If so, you will know what is happening here! They heard a sound coming from heaven and pouring on the disciples. This was no wee spring or sprinkle of the Holy Spirit, God poured it on them from above and this fulfilled what was prophesied by John the Baptist in the gospel of Matthew:
Matthew 3:11 (ESV) “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. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”
He will baptize with the Holy Spirit and what? Ahhhh what it says in verse three…
V3) And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.
So they had tongues of fire which appeared to them and rested on each one of them, talk about God literally gifting them with the tools that they would need for the job in hand. Fire in the bible can mean many things…
•       Purification – Such as a refiner would do so to purify a precious metal, likewise we must go through purification in our lives.
•       Removal – Fire was used to remove what was not required and show what was permanent, as stated in Matthew 3, burning the chaff with unquenchable fire.
•       Sacrificial – All throughout the levitical law you see sacrifices being offered and some were offered and burned to the LORD.
•       Judgmental – We see the ultimate judgment is a lake of fire for those who refuse to accept Gods reconciliation in the book of Revelation.
We read that the tongues of fire rested on them individually, no longer as a nation such as the children of Israel where each man under the New Covenant was to receive individually the Holy Spirit.
One thing that it is important to talk about is that the tongues of fire and the gift of tongues were not the gift itself but were evidence of the gift of the Holy Spirit. They were filled due to their obedience, they were filled due to them all being in one accord, they were filled due to their being beneficiaries of a promise that God fulfilled through them. Today in our churches there is a whole tongues issue where I have seen in the past the abuse of the gift of tongues and Lord willing we will go deeper into this in the next article but here are some thoughts I would like to leave you with.
Some facts about the tongues that were spoken…
•       Most of the men were not learned men and did not learn the languages
•       Their tongues were enabled by the Holy Spirit
Here is the first evidence of the Holy Spirit, the tongues being spoken in languages that they did not know. This was done to further the gospel of Jesus Christ and unlike some places of modern worship where tongues are spoken with regularity and that they teach that you are not a complete Christian unless you have that gift, this was done in order to further the gospel of Jesus Christ.
I have been in churches where friends of mine have “faked it” in order to fit in at an assembly, please do not think for one second I am discounting this wonderful spiritual gift but I always have one question when I hear of such things and that is “How is this furthering the gospel of Jesus Christ?” and “Would God want us to lie about gifts that we do not have?” It is a contentious issue and one I tread carefully as I know folks who have had the gift of tongues bestowed upon them and had it translated as prophecy and that is beautiful to be used by God in that way and I truly believe that the gift of tongues is a valid gift.
In the next article we will see in verses five through eight where the glory of God was in these acts of supernatural empowerment.
God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to
TTE
TGBTG
SDG

The ACTS Files – Eleven become Twelve – Matthias replaces Judas Iscariot – Acts 1:21-26

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The ACTS Files – Eleven become Twelve – Matthias replaces Judas Iscariot – Acts 1:21-26 – 12/21/2015

This is a series in the Book of Acts which looks to visit the text from the Book of Acts on a line by line and verse by verse teaching and Lord willing we will get through the full book of Acts, this is part of a New Testament bible study series that you can read all other studies in this section on this link.

Acts 1:21 (ESV) So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection.” 23 And they put forward two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also called Justus, and Matthias. 24 And they prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen 25 to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” 26 And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

This is the last in our article that looks at the disciples in the “pre-Pentecost” stage of their lives where we have seen that they have been growing in that since Jesus ascended to heaven they have been the following…

•       Obedient in that they went straight to Jerusalem and went to where they were supposed to be
•       They prepared their hearts and covered everything in prayer (devoted themselves to prayer)
•       Had faith that God would supply what they would need
•       Peter quoted scripture that Judas would have to be replaced

And here is where we begin this article, I have always maintained the belief that the reason such great things were done at Pentecost was because man and God were in such union and the disciples were willing tools to be used by God. Can we say the same in our day to day lives? We start midway through what Peter had said and in order to get it all in context let us look at the full text of what was said.

Acts 1:15 (ESV) In those days Peter stood up among the brothers (the company of persons was in all about 120) and said, 16 “Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus. 17 For he was numbered among us and was allotted his share in this ministry.” 18 (Now this man acquired a field with the reward of his wickedness, and falling headlong  he burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out. 19 And it became known to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the field was called in their own language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.) 20 “For it is written in the Book of Psalms, “‘May his camp become desolate, and let there be no one to dwell in it’; and “‘Let another take his office.’ 21 So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection.” 23 And they put forward two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also called Justus, and Matthias. 24 And they prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen 25 to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” 26 And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

I had my own reasons for splitting it into two articles as there is a lot to look at and I wanted to keep it in an article that was a decent length as well as easier to read if you had never read the passage before. In this article we will focus on the last six verses and if you wish to read back on the first portion then please click “here” and you will see this article. If you have read my articles before you will know that I like to look at the text on a verse by verse basis and this article is no different.

V21 So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, V22 beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection.”

So as we stated earlier they had direction from God’s word, the Holy Spirit was to come in chapter 2 and that is a great example to us because we would either do one of two things:

•       Procrastinate and not do Gods will because we are not confident that we are doing the right thing
•       Carry on and do what we believe but we have to make sure we have confirmation from the Word of God otherwise we would end up in error and not doing what God wants us to do.

Peter states that the candidates had to meet a certain criteria “one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection.” And this tells me that he wanted from a disciple one who had seen it with his own eyes. I believe that even although there were no Holy Spirit revelation because they were in communion with God in prayer and reading scriptures they understood the type of man that God wanted in the twelve and the qualifications that would be required for what would be a tremendously difficult task ahead.

They were about to declare to the world at the biggest Jewish festival of the year that Jesus Christ had not only been crucified but had risen from the dead and was the Son of God. They wanted that testimony to be true, accurate and from primary witnesses to the events that have happened.

V23 And they put forward two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also called Justus, and Matthias. V24 And they prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen V25 to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” V26 And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

They chose Matthias in the following way.

1 – In prayer
Verse 24 tells us that they first prayed, they exhorted the Lord and sought the correct foundation for this really important decision by covering it in prayer. They followed Jesus example in choosing a disciple, let’s look at that example in the Gospel of Luke:

Luke 6:12 (ESV) In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God. 13 And when day came, he called his disciples and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles: 14 Simon, whom he named Peter, and Andrew his brother, and James and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, 15 and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot, 16 and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.

It is fundamentally simple and easy and when we look at this we agree that that is how we should begin, however in practice how many of us start that way? This is an application question as opposed to a condemnation question. I am looking to help you correct deficiencies rather than make you feel bad.

2 – They cast lots!
So they threw dice to determine the winner! Is that an acceptable way to choose the disciple number 12? I would say that it was and here is why. First of all there is a biblical precedent for doing so in the book of Proverbs:

Proverbs 16:33 (ESV) The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the LORD.

And here is why, the disciples were relying on the LORD to show them who of the two candidates the one to be chosen was. They did not rely on many of the methods that we use today such as emotional attachment, likability, being a team player, syncing up with the current leadership, popularity or any of the flawed methods that we use today.

3 – The lot fell on Matthias
God wanted the vacancy filled and although Paul was later named as an apostle, God was keen that when the truth was told about Jesus and the church was to begin that there was a full complement of apostles. Jesus picked 12, some say the number of completion but one came up short and betrayed him and another had to take his office.

We could be contentious all day about the use of lots or whether the disciples should have waited for the Apostle Paul or whether the criteria they used was acceptable. What I do know is that these apostles were in prayer, they had devoted themselves to the scriptures and were genuinely seeking the will of God and had prepared their hearts for Gods outpouring, they did what Jesus did in a similar situation and were in obedience to the father in a way that they never were prior to the crucifixion. Because of this God was planning something amazing and he would use them as the tools to make that happen, if the LORD wills then please join us as we look at the first four verses of Acts 2 in the next article we look at the book of the Acts of the Apostles.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to
TTE
TGBTG
SDG

The ACTS Files – Fulfilling the scripture regarding Judas – Acts 1:15-20

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The ACTS Files – Fulfilling the scripture regarding Judas – Acts 1:15-20 – 12/07/2015

This is a series in the Book of Acts which looks to visit the text from the Book of Acts on a line by line and verse by verse teaching and Lord willing we will get through the full book of Acts, this is part of a New Testament bible study series that you can read all other studies in this section on this link.

Acts 1:15 (ESV) In those days Peter stood up among the brothers (the company of persons was in all about 120) and said, 16 “Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus. 17 For he was numbered among us and was allotted his share in this ministry.” 18 (Now this man acquired a field with the reward of his wickedness, and falling headlong he burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out. 19 And it became known to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the field was called in their own language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.) 20 “For it is written in the Book of Psalms, “‘May his camp become desolate, and let there be no one to dwell in it’; and “‘Let another take his office.’

We see in the articles that are written regarding the Acts of the Apostles that they were very dynamic in what they did for the Lord and I believe that this is because they followed Christ’s instruction and went to where they were meant to be, they were told to go to Jerusalem and await the Spirit helper. It seems like such a simple instruction but when we ponder the bible we realize that man’s separation from God in the first place was the failure to follow a simple instruction in the Garden of Eden.

The disciples and brothers, all 120 of them had gathered and this was truly the beginning of people showing great spiritual growth and maturity and we read of the first one which was Peter. Peter that a few months earlier couldn’t even admit that he knew Jesus took a leadership role. Those of you who judge Peter harshly may scoff that this is hardly surprising as Peter spoke up often to Jesus and usually in a boastful or prideful manner, but this was different.

Peter was a transformed man, he knew that Jesus was the real deal; he had held the nail pierced hands, had seen the wounds on his body and was an eyewitness that Jesus had indeed risen from the dead. He had matured more in that short period of time than he did in three years of intensive discipleship with Jesus. What he said showed the maturity that I speak of…

V16 “Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus. 17 For he was numbered among us and was allotted his share in this ministry.”

Peter states that Judas did not get in the way of God’s plan for Jesus life, he helped fulfil it! That to me is mind blowing and this is before the disciples speak out at Pentecost so the religious leaders will be assuming that this whole “Jesus thing” is going to die down and that they can get back to being perceived as the holy ones, yes there is a damaging rumor going round that he rose again but that will die down in time, let’s get ready to celebrate Pentecost…

We will cover Pentecost if the Lord wills if I get as far as Acts 2, which was a public declaration of what I am typing about today Peter is standing up in from of fellow believers today but when the time is correct he will put himself in harm’s way and complete the transformation that was the dynamic apostle who was so pivotal in evangelizing the Jewish believing world.

Luke tells us in narrative what happened to Judas…

V18 (Now this man acquired a field with the reward of his wickedness, and falling headlong he burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out. 19 And it became known to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the field was called in their own language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.)

Now we know from the Gospel of Matthew chapter 27 the following scripture regarding Judas and what happened after Jesus was delivered to Pilate and Judas knew at that point he had condemned an innocent man to death…

Matthew 27:3 (ESV) Then when Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he changed his mind and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, 4 saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” They said, “What is that to us? See to it yourself.” 5 And throwing down the pieces of silver into the temple, he departed, and he went and hanged himself. 6 But the chief priests, taking the pieces of silver, said, “It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, since it is blood money.” 7 So they took counsel and bought with them the potter’s field as a burial place for strangers. 8 Therefore that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day. 9 Then was fulfilled what had been spoken by the prophet Jeremiah, saying, “And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him on whom a price had been set by some of the sons of Israel, 10 and they gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord directed me.”

And Luke finishes this narrative in Acts that Judas did hang himself but his cause of death was when he fell headlong that his inside burst out and that is why the field was known as the field of blood. And Judas was condemned to be buried among the strangers, which was a big deal to the Jewish people of that day that they had in advance burial places.

Lastly Peter shows great maturity by quoting scripture to show why they had to replace Judas.

V20 “For it is written in the Book of Psalms, “‘May his camp become desolate, and let there be no one to dwell in it’; and “‘Let another take his office.’

Peter was not saying that they could not have done the mission with only 11, but that the scripture stated that he must have another take his office. This tells me that Peter was seeking what the Lord wanted as opposed to a personal preference and he did scripture to show that he was on the right track. When we align our will with God’s will according to correctly applied scripture then we will know that we are doing the will of God in our lives. Peter was certainly on the right track and if the Lord wills we will see who replaces Judas Iscariot in the next article in the book of Acts. In case you are interested he quoted Psalm 69:25 and 109:8.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to
TTE
TGBTG
SDG

The ACTS Files – The beginning of the mission – The disciples look to replace Judas Iscariot

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The ACTS Files – The beginning of the mission – The disciples look to replace Judas Iscariot – Monday 11/23/2015

This is a series in the Book of Acts which looks to visit the text from the Book of Acts on a line by line and verse by verse teaching and Lord willing we will get through the full book of Acts, this is part of a New Testament bible study series that you can read all other studies in this section on this link.

Acts 1:12 (ESV) Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey away. 13 And when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James. 14 All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.

When we last looked in on the disciples Jesus had just ascended into heaven and Luke spares no details to advise that the historical account picks up exactly when that finishes. We see this in the location that they returned from the mount and they travelled back to Jerusalem which was a short distance away as it is described as a “Sabbath day’s journey away” being still in the Jewish culture they would not be permitted to take certain elongated journeys that would involve a work like endurance.

You also have to remember that these guys are not rich guys and often times walked everywhere so that again would reduce the distance as they would not be on any mode of transportation and there is no boat mentioned so you would have to assume that they went by land and walked.

Obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ

We could learn something from the disciples obedience here because by doing so they followed Jesus words when he said in the last article…

Acts 1:8 (ESV) But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

And they went where the lord had told them to go (Jerusalem) as soon as he ascended to heaven. We also could learn something about their desire to get on mission right away, how often have you dear Christian procrastinated even although you knew the Lord was pointing you clearly to go in a certain direction. I know I have and I have lamented over my actions when I have thought about it. These disciples knew that Jesus was who he said he was, no longer were these men quiet followers but they were maturing into the trailblazers they were going to be.

They also knew that they had to be in Jerusalem because that is where the Holy Spirit was going to come upon them, and sometimes our obedience to God would be as simple as being ready, willing and available to be in the right place at the right time in order to be used by God.

They went together

Christianity is not meant to be a solo sport and often times God gives you people who are on the same mission as you to co-labor with and this is no different. The thing that strikes me about this passage is that they were all in this together. The common faith or common bond that they shared knowing that Jesus was in fact the Messiah united them and gave them a unity that pastors for years have tried to replicate.

The fact that they were in one accord and on the same mission allowed them to be mobilized in great numbers (we read in verse 15 in the next article we do in this series that the number was 120) and the God we serve is a big God, he can work in a small number or large, but we as humans do sometimes require validation that we are on the right path and as it states in Proverbs 27 that iron sharpens iron and I know the blessing and the benefit of having people who are on the same mission as me being able to mentor me and conversely I have had the benefit of being used in others’ lives to help them maintain a closeness in their relationship with Jesus.

For me this was like the “perfect church” a family of families that were on mission together and moved together as one to move the needle and show the love of Jesus to a world that thought they had crucified Jesus. Today we could learn so much from this in our churches today, I am not going to blast todays church but even myself as the most ardent defender of the church system we have today, we could do so much better to utilize people and have everyone involved using the gifts that God has given them.

They were ready for the Holy Spirit

These were not the disciples of when Jesus was alive, Peter had a hugely humbling experience of running his mouth saying he would die with the Lord and then being humbled a few hours later by denying him three times. There was no arguing or bickering over who was number one in the group and who should sit where in paradise.

What was different? Was Matthew any less the Roman collaborator? Was Simon any less of a Zealot? Was Peter any less a sufferer of “foot in mouth” disease? No, however they had seen the risen Lord, they had confirmation in their eyes and hearts as a personal living witness that Jesus had done what he said he was going to do and risen from the dead!

Again we could learn so much here about our assemblies today, I am sure there are people who meet with me on a Sunday that are more conservative theologically than I am, some could be replacement theologist, some could be Calvinist, some could be more Pentecostal than me but these are not what bind us as brothers and sisters, it is our common faith that Jesus is our Messiah.

They prepared in prayer

Like I said previously, they were in one accord and devoted themselves to prayer, they knew the climate outside, the Romans were still in charge, the Jewish leaders were not going to like their message and they tried to crucify Jesus for that message so what would they do to them?

They strengthened themselves in the same way that Christ did the night he was betrayed in Gethsemane, we read the following in the Gospel of Matthew chapter 26…

Matthew 26:36 (ESV) Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.” 37 And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” 39 And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” 40 And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour? 41 Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 42 Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” 43 And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. 44 So, leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words again. 45 Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Sleep and take your rest later on. See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.”

What an example given directly from Jesus through his disciples to us and it is as relevant today as it was then. We will go through things that we will not be able to handle and challenges that we will have to tap into the fount of eternal wisdom, James chapter 1 tells us where we get wisdom from…

James 1:5 (ESV) If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

If we require something to do the will of God he will supply it for us, we do however have to have faith. The disciples prayed in faith in the upper room that night and we read on in the next article of our Book of Acts series what happens next. I prefer to do it to the best of my ability and leave the results up to God.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to
TTE
TGBTG
SDG

BIAY – Bible in a year – November 23rd 2015

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This article is part of a series called Bible in a year, for the full year please check out our BIAY home page, or for November check out our November page.

Thank you for checking out “bible in a year” post for November twenty third.

Today’s scripture is as follows:

Acts 27-28.

Please share, comment or like below as the LORD leads
TGBTG
TTE

BIAY – Bible in a year – November 22nd 2015

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This article is part of a series called Bible in a year, for the full year please check out our BIAY home page, or for November check out our November page.

Thank you for checking out “bible in a year” post for November twenty second.

Today’s scripture is as follows:

Acts 24-26.

Please share, comment or like below as the LORD leads
TGBTG
TTE