Tags: Acts 1, Acts 12, Acts 13, Acts 2, Acts 4, Acts 5, Acts 6, Acts 7, Christian unity, church attendance
The very first Christian church reached out to people from all walks of life, ethnicities, nationalities, and genders, and those First Century Christians sure put a priority on meeting together! Here are six separate instances of them getting together in what the Bible calls “one accord.” In Acts 1:14 they prayed together. In Acts 2:1 they waited for the Holy Ghost together. In Acts 2:46 they ate together. In Acts 4:24 they worshiped God out loud together. In Acts 5:12 they discussed the wondrous things God was doing together. In Acts 8:6 they listened to preaching together.
Of course, the great counterfeiter, Satan, tried to gather his troops together also “in one accord.” In Acts 7:57 they attacked together. In Acts 12:20 they schemed together. Of course, Satan wasn’t too successful. The more persecution the early church faced, the stronger it got, and the more it grew.
Read the Book of Acts, and see some of the strange places and people that the first Christian missionaries encountered as they spread the Good News – with their Sword (the Word of God) in one hand, and their tools (prayer, fellow servants, spiritual gifts) in the other hand. They were fighting and building at the same time.
And the next sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God. But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming. Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.
Tags: 1 Corinthians 2, 1 John 5, 1 Samuel 2, atheism, atheism debate, God's holiness, God's promises, Holy Spirit, Isaiah 64, John 16, Romans 11, spiritually blind
Professing Atheist: What about rape, murder, torture, pain, suffering? You are holding God to lower standards than everyone else, even though he is supposed to be good. That is bizarre. Good behavior should need no rationalization – it should be self evident.
Christian: It is always a mistake to believe that anyone holds God to any standard. He never violates the Truth of His own Word. People assume horrible atrocities go unpunished because they do not see what God sees. People will claim they want a God they can figure out (Romans 11:33-36), but that would be beyond bizarre – it would be horrific.
God cannot be held to the standards of sinful men, because He is perfect, and men are sinful. However, He is also holy – and this goes beyond our finite understanding of perfection. (I Samuel 2:2). He cannot be compared with us, because He is not “like us, only better.” He is not “like us, only wiser.” He is not “like us, only more powerful.” He is not like us at all.
We cannot truthfully determine the extent of God’s justice or the extent of His mercy. What we consider our righteousness is like filth to Him. (Isaiah 64:6). Professing atheists pretend that they want a logical little god they can subject to their own tests and standards. But that is because they are spiritually, albeit willfully, blind. (I Corinthians 2:14) That way they can please their pride, and tell themselves that they are not like the murderers and rapists – they are “only” liars or lustful or idolaters or blasphemers or covetous. God does not always deliver tidy explanations, but He does give dependable promises.
Professing Atheist: Spiritually blind? How do you do that? Do you have some special sense I don’t?
Christian: Christians don’t have a special sense that you don’t have. They have a special Person: the Holy Spirit. He acts like an antenna which allows them to discern the Truth, and filter out the false. “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.” John 16:13
Professing Atheist: It is important to realize that I’m not a deconvert – I never had a religion. So I can’t lie about God’s nonexistence – I know he doesn’t exist! Covetors are people who want something others have. You have nothing that I would ever want – your ideas are poison.
Christian: You have a basic understanding of the meaning of “covetous,” but you are confusing “covet” and “convert.” No argument, debate, or scientific test is going to convert you. That should let you relax. The Holy Spirit, however, CAN reprove you – that may be why you can NOT relax.
Professing Atheist: How do you know? If God doesn’t give tidy explanations why do you believe He will give dependable promises? If he has a separate standard, what is to stop Him from throwing Christians in Hell?
Christian: If God doesn’t give tidy explanations, how do I know He won’t throw true Christians in hell? “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may KNOW that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” I John 5:13
Tags: 1 Thessalonians 5, 2 Corinthians 2, Bill Parcells, Christian quarterbacks, Dallas Cowboys, motivation techniques, NFL Draft, Proverbs 17, Stephen McGee, Tony Romo
When the Dallas Cowboys selected Texas A and M quarterback, Stephen McGee, in the 4th round of the NFL draft there was speculation that he would be groomed as a potential long-term backup for star quarterback, Tony Romo. If this is correct, it would be interesting to know if Romo has shared with McGee his insights concerning the “Quarterback Commandments” given to him by Bill Parcells.
We are going through a series of brief comparisons between these Quarterback Commandments and certain spiritual applications. Today, we will look at the quarterback’s/Christian minister’s responsibility in being familiar with his teammates.
Quarterback Commandment No. 5: Know your own players: Who’s fast? Who can catch? Who needs encouragement? Be precise. Know your opponent.
Spiritual Application: “And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves.” (I Thessalonians 5:12-13)
A good quarterback is not going to take the snap from center and immediately heave the ball 60 yards downfield, if the play calls for the fullback to be the primary receiver, and said fullback runs slower than molasses in wintertime. A good quarterback is not going to try to rifle a crisp pass into triple coverage to a receiver who has earned the nickname “Dow Jones” because of the number of “drops” he had last season.
Quarterbacks need to know the different skills and personalities of their teammates. They need to know that some of their teammates will be motivated by a taunting challenge, some by a kick in the pants, and some by a quiet chat on the sidelines.
If a quarterback has to study what his team’s opponents will do during the game, it stands to reason that he should be even more familiar with what his own players are likely to do.
Similarly, Christian ministers are exhorted to be familiar with their brothers and sisters in Christ – especially the ones they minister together with on a regular basis. The Bible says that fellow-Christian laborers are to know each other, to esteem each other (which means to treat each other as very valuable), and to be at peace with each other.
If I am going to be an effective Christian quarterback, I need to know which of my fellow church members or ministry partners work quickly, and which ones need more time. I need to know which ones need kind words of encouragement, and which ones need to be held accountable with “tough love.” I need to know which spiritual gifts have been given to each one. I need to know if some are struggling with particular besetting sins. I need to be doing my part to make sure that we are unified, and all following our Great Leader, Jesus Christ.
Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.
I Thessalonians 5:14
Quarterbacks are to “be precise,” and Christian ministers must be guided in precision by God’s Spirit, knowing what to say, and when to say nothing.
He that hath knowledge spareth his words: and a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit.
We have studied the quarterback’s knowledge of his opponent before, but it bears repeating: Christian ministers must know their fellow-laborers, and must know the strategies of our enemy.
Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.
II Corinthians 2:11
Tags: birthdays, divine appointments, Ecclesiastes 3, eternal, eternal nature of God, eternal salvation, God's will, purpose of life, Romans 1
Have you ever wondered why you were born in the place where you were born? Have you ever thought about what it would have been like to live in a different time in history? These are questions that we will never be able to fully answer on this side of eternity. However, you can rest assured that, according to Scripture, God, before He created you, ordained in His perfect will that you would be born exactly where and when He chose.
The divine appointment which we call our birthday was chosen for our own good, and for God’s Own glory. In the heart of every person, at every place and time, since the beginning of creation, God has placed the idea of eternity, and revelation of Himself.
He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.
For this reason, every single one of us is without excuse if we have failed to acknowledge and worship God. (Romans 1:19-20) We have all failed to do this at one time or another, but the realization that we are part of God’s eternal, unseen plan should cause us to rejoice, and should motivate us to serve Him with joy.
I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life.
Tags: 1 John 1, acronyms, acrostics, Biblical acrostics, Ezekiel 3, Galatians 3, John 15, Matthew 5, Psalm 17
Acrostics, formed by taking the first letter of a series of words to make one word, can be helpful memory tools. For example, the acrostic, S.W.I.M., stands for looking in the Bible to “S.ee W.hat I.t M.eans.” If we don’t learn to S.W.I.M., we might S.I.N.K. (S.tep I.n N.ot K.nowing).
Over the past few weeks we have seen similarities and differences between earthly physicians and the Great Physician, the Lord Jesus Christ. The following acrostic, using the word “D.O.C.T.O.R.,” may serve as a review of those lessons:
Dwell in Christ (John 15:10)
Offer yourself for regular examinations (Psalm 17:3)
Confess your sins (I John 1:9)
Take His instructions seriously (Matthew 5:18)
Operate in submission to the Holy Spirit (Galatians 3:2)
Refer new patients (Ezekiel 3:11)
Tags: absurdity of rejecting Christ, atheism, atheism debate, Biblical swimming, Douglas Wilson, Douglas Wilson quotes, professing atheists, swimming quotes
You say that you cannot believe that Christ’s death on the Cross was salvation for the world because the idea is absurd. I have shown in various ways that absurdity has not been a disqualifier for any number of your current beliefs. You praise reason to the heights, yet will not give reasons for your strident and inflexible moral judgments, or why you have arbitrarily dubbed certain chemical processes “rational argument.” That’s absurd right now, and yet there you are, holding it. So for you to refuse to accept Christ because it is absurd is like a man at one end of the pool refusing to move to the other end because he might get wet. Given your premises, you will have to come up with a different reason for rejecting Christ as you do.
But for you to make this move would reveal the two fundamental tenets of true atheism. One: There is no God. Two: I hate Him.
Tags: All things are possible, Biblical salvation, Christ alone, eternal salvation, Mark 10, Salvation, shocking Bible stories
One day, the disciples of Jesus were shocked at His teaching in a way that they could not measure. They said,
Who then can be saved? And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.
One of the great privileges of being a true Christian is letting people know that no work of man is good enough to earn entrance into Heaven. Only the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ can save someone’s soul.
Tags: Acts 1, Acts 2, Baptism of the Holy Ghost, Day of Pentecost, Holy Spirit, James 3, mariolatry, Pentecostalism, speaking in tongues, worship of Mary
The period of time discussed in the Book of Acts was a time of great changes and transitions in the way the Gospel was to be proclaimed and spread throughout the world.
In Chapter One there is a focus on what, to Jesus’s Disciples and Apostles, had to be an earth-shaking and life-changing event: the Resurrection.
The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen: To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God:
Acts 1:1-3 (Emphasis added.)
Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection.
Acts 1:22 (Emphasis added.)
The Apostles now understood something about the “Kingdom of God” that they did not fully understand before Jesus’s Resurrection: that the Kingdom was not a “political” Kingdom.
When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.
The Kingdom of God is a Kingdom where the King reigns over the hearts of believers.
Another truth which the apostles began to fully grasp in the Book of Acts was the fulfillment of the prophecy of John the Baptist.
John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire:
Luke 3:16 (Note that believers are baptized with the Holy Ghost AND fire – referring to purifying and sanctifying persecution – not with the Holy Ghost IN fire, as has become a common cliche’ in Pentecostalism.)
For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.
Since Luke is the human instrument which the Holy Ghost used to write both Luke and Acts, it seems as if they can be read as part one and part two of a two-volume set.
This new, living, breathing institution called the Church would receive its power from the Holy Ghost, and not from men. The power would be manifested in the act of becoming witnesses. “Witnesses” are people who tell what they have personally seen and heard – not their opinions.
The opinions of men have often become traditions, and have corrupted the transfer of Biblical truth. One example can be found in Acts 1:14: “These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.” Notice that Mary was there participating in the worship – not being worshiped. Roman Catholic tradition is full of the unbiblical worship of Mary.
Acts Chapter 2 begins to highlight the unity among believers that was a key element in the success of the Church.
And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
Acts 2:1 (Emphasis added.)
And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,
Acts 2:46 (Emphasis added.)
The early Church was extremely successful even though it had none of the so-called advantages of churches today: no fancy buildings; no large donations of money; no political influence; and no real social standing.
There is also in Acts Chapter 2 an interesting comparison between the ceremonies of the Old Covenant and the New Covenant.
The Old was primarily Jewish. The New would be mostly rejected by the Jews, and would prosper among Gentiles. The Old had a Passover. The New had the Crucifixion. The Old brought death. The New brought life. The Old had a feast of first fruits. The New had the Resurrection. The Old had the day of Pentecost. The New had the giving of the Holy Spirit.
The giving of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost – TO THE JEWS – was a one-time non-repeatable event. It is part of salvific history – like the Crucifixion and the Resurrection. There will be no more Calvaries, and there will be no more Pentecosts.
There were signs of the Spirit coming upon a group of Jewish people. There was wind which was heard, but not felt. There were flames which were seen, and not felt.
The Bible calls them “tongues of fire.” These believers praised God in various languages. Note the symbolism of what happens in nature: Wind + fire = a mighty blaze.
Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.
Our tongues can be set on fire by Heaven, or they can be set on fire of hell!
And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
The “other tongues” were different languages – not speech that was unknown anywhere – not Heavenly speech. Here we see the reversal of what happened at the Tower of Babel in Genesis Chapter 11. There, people were divided by God because of rebellion against God. Here, people are united in praise of God.
These believers were accused of being drunk, but not because of a lack of self-control. In fact, Peter preached with great logic.
And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.
Holy Spirit-empowered sermons are still logical. Here is his logic: One, the Holy Ghost is here – in the world. Two, the same Spirit (not the same event) prophesied by Joel – the same Spirit that came upon Moses, Samson, David, the prophets – is here. Three, if He is here, God must have given Him. Four, Jesus promised this would happen (Luke 24:49). Five, if Jesus had died and not risen, He would still be dead, and could not have sent His Spirit.
THEREFORE, He is alive. He is risen!
Six, He is alive, but how could He have sent the Spirit from Heaven? Seven, He must have ascended to Heaven.
In Acts 2:23 the logical proof becomes an accusation: “Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:”
The power of the Holy Ghost empowered Peter, who had denied Jesus three times, to be able to accuse others of denying Him. Peter did not preach about how good a deal salvation was: “Jesus was perfect and He died for you – you give your life to Him and He’ll save you.” First, he told them they killed their own Messiah – the greatest crime in history – the most horrible crime in history. He told them that God sent His Son to save them, and they mocked Him, beat Him, spit on Him, and killed Him. THEN He explained WHY God allowed it to happen.
Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.
Tags: 9/11, aerodynamics, atheism, atheism debate, Galatians 6, Genesis 3, gravity, James 2, Matthew 12, natural laws, Romans 14, theodicy
Christian: You can check this out by climbing up on a roof. Shake your fist, and cry out, “I don’t believe you exist, Gravity! You can’t be real! If you were real, you would not hold people down! You would have let them float away in true freedom! Therefore, I defy, O Gravity, that you exist!” Then, leap off the roof. By the way, I recommend that you do not really try this. But if you did, you would see that, if you break God’s law of gravity, then God’s law of gravity will break you – literally.
It’s the same way with God’s Biblical laws. You can break them if you want. But, if you do, they will break you. (Galatians 6:7)
Professing Atheist: Hah! Fool. We defy gravity all the time! We call them planes, and boy are they fun.
Christian: People do not defy gravity “all the time.” They only do it when they consciously take advantage of a machine or device which has been constructed in accordance with other natural laws created by God, and discovered by men, in order to work.
Professing Atheist: Every time a person kneals over and dies it is but for the grace of God. Every murder, every rape, every torture, trial, pain and suffering is but due to Him.
Christian: Whether people keel over, kneel over, or die in their sleep, death is not the end. (Matthew 12:36; Romans 14:12) After physical death, we will all appear before God one of two ways: with our sin, or with His Son.
The “garden variety” (Genesis 3:5) professing atheist will always blame God for atrocities, pain, crimes, and suffering. Not because he or she is too dense to understand the Truth, but because the Truth points out that we ALL (not just the murderers and rapists) are guilty before God. (James 2:10) Thus has been proven the original point of this discussion. People choose to reject Him, not because they don’t really believe He exists, but because they’re angry (like spoiled little children) at His righteousness.
Blaming God for the suffering caused by the sins of men is like blaming the Wright Brothers for 9/11. Talk about a logical fallacy!