“Saved” as a Term of Art

August 1, 2018 at 2:21 pm | Posted in Salvation | 3 Comments
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“Saved” has, for the last several decades, been the common Baptist and evangelical term for someone who has believed the Gospel and trusted Christ to forgive his/her sins, and called upon Him to give him/her eternal life. Because it has the “ed” on the end, it sounds better grammatically as a past-tense word: “Have you BEEN saved?” But it is has become so common that we see it frequently used to describe a present-tense condition: “ARE you saved?” It can be synonymous with the terms: “born again;” “redeemed;” “converted;” “Christian;” “regenerated;” and “believer.” And, while one of its faults may lie in the fact that Christians who use it commonly can forget that non-Christians don’t really know what we mean when we use it, it IS a Bible term:

And they were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, Who then can be saved?

Mark 10:26

Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them,

Luke 13:23

For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

John 3:17

And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Acts 2:21

Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

Acts 2:47

Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

Acts 4:12

And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.

Acts 16:31

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

Romans 10:9

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Romans 10:13

For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it unto us which is the power of God.

I Corinthians 1:18

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

Ephesians 2:8

Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;

Titus 3:5

…. and many, many other verses. It is not very likely that someone these days will come up to you out of the blue and ask if you are saved, but, if someone does, AND IF YOU IN FACT ARE, then you should treasure that opportunity to affirm the great undeserved gift that Christ has given you in rescuing you from paying the price for your sins for all eternity.

God’s Decretive Will

May 20, 2015 at 1:41 pm | Posted in Where There's a Way There's a Will | 13 Comments
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There are two main ways to think about the will of God. One is to think about His will in general. What is He doing? What is He accomplishing with His existence? The other, more common way, is to think, “What is His will for my life?” I would like to offer some ways in which we can think about God’s will systematically.

The first of these falls under the heading: God’s Decretive Will (His will of decree), meaning what He has decreed or commanded to come to pass. Or, to put it another way, what He has ordered, or spoken into existence. This is sometimes called His absolute sovereign will. This is how we think about God’s will in the sense that it can not be resisted. For example:

And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

Genesis 1:3

God’s decretive will can not be resisted, much less overcome. Other examples of this kind of exercise of God’s will would be: the speaking into existence of all of creation; the manna falling from Heaven; and the unredeemed and Satan being cast into the lake of fire at the final judgment; just to name a few.

God’s decretive will often acts through the means of human agency, and sometimes completely overrules human choices. In Acts Chapter 4 Peter and John healed a lame man, and ended up being brought before the council. The authorities could not deny the divine healing, nor even the truth of their message, but they threatened them to stop preaching, to which they responded that they could not. They had to obey God even if the government said it was illegal. Then they went back and reported to the other disciples what God had done, and here is what they said:

And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is:

Acts 4:24

God did the acts ascribed to Him in Verse 24 by His decretive will.

Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things?

Acts 4:25

The people who instigated and demanded Jesus’s execution were furious at Him for claiming to be God.

The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ.

Acts 4:26

The people in charge summoned all their authority and effort. The Jewish leaders and Roman authorities worked together for one evil, united purpose.

For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.

Acts 4:27-28

But, despite their total assumption of the control they wielded, they ended up doing exactly what God wanted done.

Communion in Church

May 28, 2013 at 10:29 am | Posted in C.H.U.R.C.H. | 6 Comments
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C.hrist
H.oliness
U.nction
R.esponsibility
C.
H.

The second “C” in C.H.U.R.C.H. is for “C.ommunion.”

These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.

Acts 1:14 (emphasis added)

In church we pray together. We should be in one accord, in common unity.

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)

There are times when we eat together – in common unity.

And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is:

Acts 4:24 (emphasis added)

In church we worship God out loud together – in common unity.

And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; (and they were all with one accord in Solomon’s porch.

Acts 5:12 (emphasis added)

In church, we discuss the wondrous things God is doing in our lives and the lives of people we know – together – in common unity.

And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did.

Acts 8:6 (emphasis added)

In church we listen to preaching together – in common unity.

One thing that is important about church is getting together, and having the same mind about spiritual things.

A Confident Marriage

May 9, 2013 at 5:29 pm | Posted in Biblical Marriage | 2 Comments
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Confidence is not arrogance. One of the Bible words for confidence is “boldness.”

Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.

Acts 4:13 (emphasis added)

And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word,

Acts 4:29 (emphasis added)

It’s not that the Apostles asked God to make them unafraid. It’s that they asked Him to make them irascible – able to face the fearful situation. What is the sine qua non for courage? It’s fear. God has not given us a “spirit of fear,” but that does not mean that God will keep us out of fearful circumstances. He has given us the ability to be confident in knowing that in Him we can overcome fear.

Are you courageous, constant, and confident enough to minister while being married? To stand at the gate that Satan is battering and to protect your marriage while still showing the love of Christ to a voraciously evil world?

I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid?

Job 31:1

In a world filled with illicit sexual imagery, it doesn’t take courage to look. It takes courage to look away.

Moreover the LORD saith, Because the daughters of Zion are haughty, and walk with stretched forth necks and wanton eyes, walking and mincing as they go, and making a tinkling with their feet: Therefore the Lord will smite with a scab the crown of the head of the daughters of Zion, and the LORD will discover their secret parts.

Isaiah 3:16-17

The immodesty we see in society is not only Satan’s assault on godliness – it may also be part of God’s judgment for our pride. It takes courage not only to keep from looking, but to keep from imitating.

And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.

Matthew 5:29-30

That is the zenith of irascibility! Jesus is not promoting self-mutilation. He’s teaching about just how dangerous adultery is, for He turns immediately to the topic of marriage and divorce (Matthew 5:31).

Being married – and especially being a married Christian – in 21st Century America requires irascibility in the form of courage, endurance, and confidence in order to combat the pervasiveness of overt sexuality. Earlier I compared this irascibility to a more masculine attitude toward combat, but this “masculinity” is not based on a “tough-guy” caricature of manhood. It comes from a fear of God.

And it came to pass after these things, that his master’s wife cast her eyes upon Joseph; and she said, Lie with me. But he refused, and said unto his master’s wife, Behold, my master wotteth not what is with me in the house, and he hath committed all that he hath to my hand; There is none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back any thing from me but thee, because thou art his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?

Genesis 39:7-9 (emphasis added)

Joseph didn’t want to betray his earthly master, but, more than that, he was downright determined not to sin against his God! Fear and courage are not mutually exclusive. The first must be present for the latter to exist. The fear of the Lord provokes the greatest courage of all. If Satan knocks that wall down, I could lose my wife, my home, my kids, my job, my reputation. That frightens me. But what frightens me more is sinning against the God Who loved me and redeemed me and made me His Own.

Don’t Grieve the Holy Spirit

April 25, 2013 at 11:08 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments
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And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.

Ephesians 4:30

Redemption occurs when a person is brought from spiritual death to spiritual life. It may also refer to the physical redemption of the body from the slavery of death which will one day happen to all born-again believers on the Lord Jesus Christ. Redemption is a work of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is a Person. He is God. God is three Persons in one – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is important to remember that the Holy Spirit is a Person, because He is sometimes incorrectly thought of as a force or a mystical power. If you have been redeemed by Jesus Christ, then you have been indwelled with the Holy Spirit. You don’t have to travel to Florida or Texas or Canada to some “outpouring” event to find Him or to chase Him down.

The guaranteed indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit for true New Testament Christians is different from the way the Spirit was sometimes given to people in the Old Testament.

And the Lord came down in a cloud, and spake unto him, and took of the spirit that was upon him, and gave it unto the seventy elders: and it came to pass, that, when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied, and did not cease.

Numbers 11:25 (emphasis added)

And Moses said unto him, Enviest thou for my sake? would God that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit upon them!

Numbers 11:29 (emphasis added)

The Holy Spirit has many functions. He teaches us the Word. The Bible doesn’t make sense to a person who is not truly a Christian in the same way it does to a true Christian. All sorts of signals and programs are being broadcast through the room you are in right now, but you are not perceiving any of them unless you have the right kind of antenna or receiver. This is an illustration of the way the Holy Spirit illumines Scripture for believers.

The Holy Spirit also convicts us of sin. This is for the purpose of bringing the non-Christian to the point where he realizes he needs a Savior, and for the purpose of aiding Christians in their sanctification.

The Holy Spirit also produces spiritual fruit in the lives of believers.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

Galatians 5:22-23

The Holy Ghost is the Comforter, and He brings inward peace to believers. He does not cause Christians to thrash around and throw a fit, the way you will sometimes see people doing on religious television or in certain Pentecostal or Charismatic churches.

Another function of the Holy Spirit is to enable us to live for God, and to do the work of God.

Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

Acts 2:38-42 (emphasis added)

And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.

Acts 4:31 (emphasis added)

Ephesians 4:30 tells us not to grieve the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will never leave a person who has trusted Christ unto salvation, but disobedience, fornication, hurting others who we are supposed to be loving and helping, entertaining sinful thoughts and desires – all these and more can and do grieve the Spirit. We would be far better off surrendering to Him and allowing Him to have His way as He leads us to follow Christ and to obey the Bible.

What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost, which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?

I Corinthians 6:19

Turning

May 27, 2010 at 1:09 pm | Posted in The Leadership P.A.T.C.H. | 3 Comments
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P.erceived
A.dvancing
T.urning
C.
H.

The T in P.A.T.C.H. is for Turning.

And it fell on a day, that Elisha passed to Shunem, where was a great woman; and she constrained him to eat bread. And so it was, that as oft as he passed by, he turned in thither to eat bread.

II Kings 4:8, emphasis added

As a Christian leader, turn in thither where you are needed. Be willing to stop and serve when needed, and when opportunity arises. See problems not as obstacles to be avoided, but as opportunities to be activated.

And laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.

Acts 4:35, emphasis added

Next time, the “C” in P.A.T.C.H.

The Bad News and the Good News

September 23, 2009 at 11:40 am | Posted in Salvation | 14 Comments
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Take a moment to consider the way you live your life. Do you find yourself trapped in the same sins day after day? Do you feel like you simply can not change? Are you truly miserable because of this condition? If so, there is some bad news and some good news. The bad news is that, even though you may be able to walk, talk, breathe, and think, you are in fact spiritually dead in your trespasses and sins. (Ephesians 2:1) You are under the power of the devil and you have no choice but to obey his spirit, and to disobey God. (Ephesians 2:2)

But here is the good news! You do not have to stay in this condition! God is rich in mercy and love, and He sent Someone to take your place, to pay the price for your sins, to set you free, and to give you eternal life.

But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)

Ephesians 2:4-5

If you are tired of being defeated and miserable in your sins, admit the truth about yourself to God and call upon Jesus Christ right now to save you, believing the truth about Who He is and what He has done.

Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

Acts 4:12

The Blessing and the Cost of an Honest Report

June 15, 2009 at 4:06 pm | Posted in Acts | 16 Comments
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Previously, we saw the powerful prayer of the Apostles. When they had prayed, God shook the whole building.

And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.

Acts 4:31

We are tempted to wonder what would happen if such an occurrence took place today. However, the early church leaders did not determine to stage this prayer meeting over and over again, hoping for more signs and wonders. Instead they went to work. Instead of selling admission, they started giving.

Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, And laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.

Acts 4:34-35

This was not an example of what we know today as Communism – this was giving motivated by love, not by force or for political ideology.

Satan had tried to attack the Church from without. Now he would try to attack it from the inside.

But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession, And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.

Acts 5:1-2

This is the beginning of the account of Ananias and Sapphira. They were Satan’s counterfeit givers. Contrast their giving with that of Barnabas.

And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus, Having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.

Acts 4:36-37

Barnabas had not been motivated by fame. However, I’m sure his noble act had brought some coincidental fame to him. This fame made Ananias and Sapphira jealous. That’s when Satan pounced. We see the motivation of Satan in the pride and hypocrisy involved in Ananias and Sapphira’s sin.

Hypocrisy and pride are two sins that are especially abominable to the Lord. But before we look down our nose too much at Ananias and Sapphira… Their sin was a way of trying to look more spiritual in church than they really were, for their own glory. It was sin that involved lying to the Holy Spirit, and it was against the Church. If they could have gained a good standing in the Church, Satan would have had a couple of effective “inside agents.”

If a fighter is losing a fair fight, and he is a dirty fighter, he may try to get an unfair advantage by picking up something handy and throwing it at his opponent. My younger brother’s favorite projectile was a steel-spiked track shoe. I have a friend whose younger brother once threw a cat at him!

Satan, the dirtiest of all the dirty fighters, will often pick up a person, the way we would pick up a rock or a vase (it may be a person very close to you – maybe even a fellow church member), and throw this person at you.

Satan picked up Ananias and Sapphira, and threw them at the other Christians. For their sin, God killed Ananias and Sapphira. Their punishment was severe because their sin occurred at the outset of a new period in the history of salvation.

There are other instances like this, where God, at the beginning of what some people call a “dispensational period” of salvific history, will deal very harshly with sin that challenges or threatens the onset of a new revelation by Him, or a new era in Christian history.

Here are a couple of examples: Just after the tabernacle was erected, God killed Nadab and Abihu (Leviticus 10). This was the incident of strange fire in the censer. Just after Joshua entered the promised land, God had Achan killed (Joshua 7). Achan “took the accursed thing” in the sacking of Jericho.

At the end of Acts Chapter 5, the Apostles are arrested, and they go before the Sanhedrin and the Sadducees. They are beaten, and Gamaliel attempts to get rid of them by trivializing their Lord.

The next recorded problem to arise in the Church had to do with the Greek-speaking widows, who believed that the Hebrew- (or Aramaic-) speaking widows were getting preferred treatment.

Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables. Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.

Acts 6:2-3

The Apostles were spending too much time “waiting tables,” and it was taking away from their time studying the Word, preaching, and praying. So, inspired by the Holy Ghost, they commanded that seven men be found. The Apostles were not “too good” to wait tables, but they were doing what others could be doing just as well. And Acts 6:3 sets forth the qualifications for what type of men they were looking:

Honest report:
Someone who can be trusted. All Christians ought to establish a reputation for trustworthiness. If you want to obtain an honest report, you will need to show up, even when you’re not feeling well. You will need to consistently raise your hand, and say, “I’ll help clean up;” “I’ll volunteer to do that; “Somebody’s missing – I’ll fill in.” And when these opportunities arise, you will strive to do a good job.

Then, people will say, “You know, we trusted him to do that last time, and he did a good job; we can trust him to do that again.” Pretty soon you’ll have an “honest report.”

Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right.

Proverbs 20:11

If even a child is known for his “report,” how much more a man?

Too often we want to be known by our sayings, when we should want to be known by our doings.

Full of the Holy Ghost: The Apostles weren’t looking for men who had filled up on the Holy Ghost once a week, after 45 minutes of music. They were looking for men who were “being filled” continually with the Holy Ghost. If I’m going to be continually filled with the Holy Ghost, I’m going to have to do more than sing and exuberantly worship. I’m going to have to get rid of the sin in my life. This does not mean I won’t ever sin, but I’ve got to hate that sin – confess it, and forsake it right away. Is the Holy Ghost comfortable in your heart, or are you grieving the Holy Ghost?

Full of wisdom: Too often, people are claiming to be full of the Holy Ghost, but are acting like muttering drunks. A characteristic of being filled with the Holy Ghost is wisdom.

Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;

Ephesians 5:17-18

What a shame if the Spirit truly wants to lead us, and the best thing we can do in response is to act big, talk loud, sit around, and do nothing. That’s what drunks do. They talk big, but they’re too uncoordinated to do anything. God has called us to do much more than just show up once in a while – even more than just to show up regularly. He wants us to be actively involved in ministry. We have an example of this in Acts 6 – an example of a man who met these qualifications: Stephen.

I’m not a Greek scholar by any means, but my understanding is that there are two different Greek words for “crown:” diadem and stephanos. (Stephanos is probably where we get the name “Stephen.”) A diadem can be inherited; a stephanos must earned – or won in an athletic contest.

Stephen was full of faith and full of the Holy Ghost. We know he was full of faith because, as he began to preach, and as the crowd he was preaching to got angrier and angrier, and as they began to stone him, he kept right on going. We know he was full of the Holy Ghost, because he preached with power. The Bible even says he was full of power.

And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people.

Acts 6:8 (emphasis added)

He was so filled with the Holy Ghost that he even asked the Lord to forgive them as they killed him.

And all that sat in the council, looking stedfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel.

Acts 6:15

We say that someone who is really smart is “bright,” or that someone who comes up with a great idea is “brilliant.” Stephen was visibly brilliant! He told the truth from God’s Word.

His sermon is recorded in Acts Chapter 7. Part of it reads like a lecture on Jewish history. He preaches about Joseph from the Book of Genesis. He preaches that God does not dwell in houses built with human hands. He preaches that the temple of the Jewish faith is of God, but that the temple is not God. He preaches that the Law of the Jewish faith is of God, but that the Law is not God.

This preaching drove the unconverted Jews who heard it mad. Yet, they could not speak honestly against it, or intimidate Stephen. He was full of the Holy Ghost, he knew the Scriptures forward and backward.

In the Old Testament there are a number of “types” of Jesus Christ, which foreshadow the importance of His coming in the Incarnation. Stephen is a sort of New Testament “type” of Christ, in the sense that we can draw some comparisons between them. No one can truly be like Jesus. He was and is perfect. However, Holy Spirit-filled Christians ought to strive to be as much like Him as possible.

The Bible tells us Jesus was full of grace; it tells us the same thing about Stephen. Jesus performed miracles; so did Stephen. Jesus boldly confronted the religious establishment of the day; so did Stephen. Jesus was convicted by lying witnesses; so was Stephen. Jesus was executed despite being innocent of any crime; Stephen was executed for a crime he did not commit. Both Jesus and Stephen were accused of blasphemy. Both died outside the city, and were buried by sympathizers. Both prayed for the salvation of their executioners.

How much are we growing in Christ-likeness each day?

From Power to Proclamation to Prayer

June 3, 2009 at 1:16 pm | Posted in A Little Alliteration, Acts | 16 Comments
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When God used Peter to heal the lame man in Acts Chapter 3, this man had a wonderful reaction.

Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God.

Acts 3:6-8

Note that the Scripture says he was praising God, not the Holy Spirit. God is triune. He is one God in three Persons. However, the ministry of the Holy Spirit is to bring praise to Jesus, not to the Holy Ghost Himself. (See John 16:12-15.) There are probably some local churches today which place too little emphasis on the ministry of the Holy Ghost, but there is no doubt that there are many charismatic and Penteocostal local churches which unbiblically sing praises to the Holy Ghost to the exclusion of God the Father and Christ the Son.

There is a sense in which this leaping, praising man is a picture of all Christian believers. He was lame. All of us came into this world lacking the ability to walk in a way which was pleasing to God. When Adam sinned, we say he “fell.” When Adam fell, we all fell, and, like the lady in the medic alert commercial, we had fallen and “could not get up” under our own power.

This man was begging alms because he was poor. We were all poor in relation to our inability to pay the debt we owed God – the sin debt.

This man was seated near the temple, but he was outside the temple. All of us were born “outside.” We were outside of the righteousness of God. And no matter how close we came to believing the Gospel message, until we did in fact believe, we were still “outside.” Like the lame man, there was a period when some of us were “so near, yet so far.”

But when this lame man was healed, he was healed instantly. Salvation, the fact of being “born again,” happens in a moment. One moment, you are lost, a child of the devil, bound for hell – the next moment you become a child of God, indwelt by His Spirit, with a home in Heaven. Like the lame man, we should all publicly identify ourselves with God when this happens.

Note that Peter did not use this miraculous healing episode to start a “healing and deliverance conference” focused on curing diseases and healing infirmities. Instead, he used the occasion of God’s power exhibited toward this lame man to convict the hearers of their sin.

And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers. But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled.

Acts 3:17-18

These verses show God’s marvelous blending of divine sovereignty and human responsibility. The rulers were accountable for crucifying Jesus, but God had ordained that the Crucifixion must come to pass, and had even foretold it in the Old Testament.

Our finite minds can not comprehend much about God’s divine sovereignty and the concept of human accountability. Both are taught clearly in Scripture. When Charles Spurgeon was asked how he reconciled the two, seemingly contradictory, ideas, he said that he never tried to reconcile good friends.

We get the impression that the first Christian church consisted of a very busy group of individuals. They had a passion for the Word of God, and they were empowered by the Holy Ghost. When these things concur among believers who are in strong unity, many miraculous things happen. It’s just a shame that they all had to share one Honda. (“And they, continuing daily with one “accord…” Acts 2:46) Okay, I know that’s corny, but I couldn’t resist. It’s Joke # 3 in the Official Preacher’s Joke Book. (Joke # 2 is telling everyone in the congregation to turn to “Hezekiah” Chapter 3.)

Acts Chapter 4 contains what might be my favorite Bible verse. It was one of the verses read at my ordination service:

Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

Acts 4:12

The verse not only shows the power and exclusivity of Jesus’s name, but it highlights the absolute insanity of rejecting the only name in the universe that can truly help a lost person.

And beholding the man which was healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it. But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves, Saying, What shall we do to these men? for that indeed a notable miracle hath been done by them is manifest to all them that dwell in Jerusalem; and we cannot deny it. But that it spread no further among the people, let us straitly threaten them, that they speak henceforth to no man in this name.

Acts 4:14-17

There was the proof of the power of Jesus’s name standing right in front of them! But these Jewish leaders still did everything they could to deny it!

Facing persecution, the early Church members turned to prayer. This is the beginning of a prayer that is based on Psalm 2:

And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is:

Acts 4:24

It is a prayer that is remarkable for the way in which it seeks to glorify God, and for its unselfish nature. Notice that the Apostles did not ask God to change their circumstances.

And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word,

Acts 4:29

Instead of asking God to change their circumstances, they asked Him to change their reaction to the circumstances. I love this submission to God’s power and providence. The Greek word translated as “Lord” in Acts 4:24 is despotes – what we would call a “despot” or “tyrant.” When is the last time you humbled yourself before Christ as your LORD, and not just as your mechanic, doctor, therapist, or ATM?

Acts and the Apostles: Activated, Authorized, Audible, and Accountable

May 21, 2009 at 12:47 pm | Posted in A Little Alliteration, Acts | 24 Comments
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Acts 2:38 reads: “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”

Does this mean you have to be baptized to in order to be saved? The answer is “no.” “For,” in this verse, means “on account of” or “on the basis of.” Christians are to be baptized on account of their sins having been remitted, or, on the basis of the remission of their sins.

We have a similar thing in modern English. I might say, “I wore this jacket for the cold weather.” Did my wearing the jacket make it cold? Did wearing the jacket stop it from being cold? If I forget the jacket, does that mean I am really warm? No, my wearing of the jacket for the cold just acknowledges that I realized it was already cold.

For the first Christian believers, baptism was a testimonial proof of what already happened in their hearts. It was more of a “get to” than a “have to.”

In Acts Chapter 2 the early Church was faced with the remarkable predicament of 3000 new believers who needed to be discipled. As we looked for patterns in the text of Acts, we previously saw the role of women in the early days of the Church. Here is another pattern that can be identified: the tendency to do things on a daily basis.

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)

They met more than once a week.

Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

Acts 2:47 (emphasis added)

They went soul-winning daily.

And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration.

Acts 6:1 (emphasis added)

They cared for needs of people daily.

And so were the churches stablished in the faith, and increased in number daily.

Acts 16:5 (emphasis added)

They grew daily.

These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.

Acts 17:11 (emphasis added)

They studied their Bibles daily.

Another central theme in the early chapters of Acts (especially Chapters 3 and 4) is the emphasis on Jesus Christ’s NAME.

Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.

Acts 3:6 (emphasis added)

And his name through faith in his name hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.

Acts 3:16 (emphasis added)

And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, By what power, or by what name, have ye done this?

Acts 4:7 (emphasis added)

Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole.

Acts 4:10 (emphasis added)

Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

Acts 4:12 (emphasis added)

But that it spread no further among the people, let us straitly threaten them, that they speak henceforth to no man in this name.

Acts 4:17 (emphasis added)

And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.

Acts 4:18 (emphasis added)

By stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus.

Acts 4:30 (emphasis added)

There can be no denying that the early Church was zealous that the Name of Jesus Christ be magnified and glorified!

It seems that the more they used His Name, the more the Gospel spread, and the more opposition they faced.

Chapter 2 describes the inauguration of the Church – and this caused somewhat of a public stir. Some people at least must have been impressed. Contrast Chapter 3, which shows the day to day ministering that only God and His workers see.

In Chapter 2, Peter preaches to thousands. In Chapter 3, Peter preaches to one lame man.

In Chapter 2, the ministry brings celebration and blessings. In Chapter 3, the ministry brings persecution and arrest.

No one can accuse these early Church leaders of greed or pandering for popularity. When Peter talked to the lame man, he said “silver and gold have I none.” Today, most so-called faith healers can not say the same: silver and gold have they plenty.

Instead of silver and gold, the Apostles had the name of Jesus Christ, and the authority and the power of that name.

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