Monday, January 25, 2016

The Witness of the Holy Spirit

The new church was just barely born before persecution starts, but continues to grow in spite of it.

Partly due to the witness/testimony of:
#1.  Apostles (eye witnesses) - they had seen His death, burial, resurrection, etc.
#2.  New believers (not eye witnesses) - maybe not even in Jerusalem at the time this took place, but they heard about the events, then believed.
#3.  The Holy Spirit - Acts 5:32  (essential witness and testimony)  Holy Spirit adds His testimony to that of the Apostles, believers through:
           1)  miracles  (Pentecost, healings, shaking as the Holy Spirit is given, Ananias and Sapphira!!) - John 3:2  Nicodemus - Holy Spirit testifying as to Who Jesus is.
           2)  Personal conviction  (conversions)  Acts 2:37 - pricked in the heart - Holy Spirit convincing them that Peter is correct.
           3)  Individual transformation - disciples characterized by:  a)  Boldness (to speak the gospel even in face of persecution, warnings and threats)                                   b)  Ability (to convey message in a way to make a difference in people's lives)
                                                                                                  c) Willingness to share, concern for brother/sister -  sold property, gave to church, unusual - not expected or demanded

TEXT:  Acts 4:29-5:42 - "filled in 5:18 is same word as used when the apostles were "filled" with the Holy Spirit
Post Script:  Acts 28:31

POINT - EMPHASIS = The Importance of Allowing the Holy Spirit to Witness (testify) ....
in two ways:  1)  TO YOU
                     2)  THROUGH YOU

The Importance of Allowing the Holy Spirit to witness (testify) in YOUR life!!

#1.  TO YOU - Illustration:  Pentecost - thousands witnessed this.  - all see, hear the same.   some believed, others mocked

Why?? = mystery
But the answer includes choice!!!
Rom. 1 - "gave them up" implies "God attempted to draw them" - tried to pull them in.
2 Thess. 2:9-10 - "refused" - He let them go, according to their choice!!!!

POINT = the importance/necessity of Allowing the Holy Spirit to witness TO YOU:
   1)  initially (for salvation)
   2)  subsequently (growth, direction, correction) - 1 Cor. 2:9-10

How?  openness to the Spirit - show me,  exposure - through church, Sunday School, Bible Study, etc.  submission     response

#2.  THROUGH YOU    John 15:26-27   Acts 1:8
How?  it's a mystery - why He chose to do it this way
BUT, again, the answer includes choice!!

                Openness - contrast to "refused" - may not want to, but will
                Preparation - 2 Tim. 2:15 - special preparation, intelligent preparation
                Availability - (He decides when/how)
                Request - example:  Isaiah - "send me" - Lord, use me.  Let the Holy Spirit work thru me.
                Submission - 2 Pet. 1:21

Don't turn the Holy Spirit away when you receive His testimony!!!

Monday, January 11, 2016

The Church's Response to Opposition


Has been a great movement of the church at this time.  Large numbers are turning to Christianity.

Acts 4 - Peter & John - heal cripple, draw crowd, preach gospel, upset Leadership (temple officials similar to our Supreme Court)

So.... the church as a group experiences OPPOSITION!!
Which is far more than mere unbelief = active resistance (antagonism), open hostility

Why?  What is there about the Gospel that incites such hostility?

The Gospel (Christianity) - in Biblical, practiced form

#1.  is offensive

#2  is intrusive (invasive) (pushy) - we are called to evangelize, have concern about others, and are to spread this good news.

#3.  is exclusive - if Jesus is right and, therefore, we're right, then everyone else is WRONG!!

#4.  challenges treasured beliefs (traditions, practices, lifestyles) - example:  Indian Hinduism - many gods.  However, can't add Jesus to the pantheon of gods.  It is Jesus alone!!!!

#5.  establishes moral restrictions - this the biggest issue in 21st. century America

#6.  claims an authority higher than the state (king, courts, motherland) - example:  Communist China, Cuba, Korea, ROME!!

#7.  incites anger in the Spiritual Realm - Rev. 12:17    John 15:18, 20 - main enemy is Satan and demons that incite this hostility.

So, Peter and John are arrested, tried, warned - NOW

Acts. 4:18-31 - God approved of the church's response.

#1.  A declaration of obedience (to God, Christ)
Sometimes called to Civil Disobedience - BE VERY CAREFUL HERE,
also called to CIVIL OBEDIENCE!! - Rom. 13:1-2 - example:  Christians during Revolutionary War - some opposed to the war on grounds that were to be obedient to the civil authorities even though in disagreement with them.

#2.  (not in the text) An appeal to civil authority - our highest authority is God, but when live in society with rulers, etc, should pursue effort to change what is in opposition to beliefs as well.

#3.  Prayer for endurance and boldness - to speak the Word
Question:  prayer for deliverance????  Example:  Paul's "thorn" prayer - 2 Cor. 12:7-9
Paul prayed for deliverance until it became clear that the answer was endurance.
(result of prayer?  increased boldness led to more conversions led to more persecutions!!

#4.  Recognition of God's Sovereignty.  The Greek word translated "despot" - supreme authority.
Compare Rev. 6:9-10, 11
Power corrupts people, absolute power corrupts absolutely - BUT, this does not happen with GOD as Supreme Authority.

#5.  Submission to God's Sovereignty.  (because not all who recognize His authority, submit themselves to it!)   Big difference between the two.

Question:  If I had to face this persecution, could I endure?
Answer:  "doctrine of sufficient grace" - God gives grace for the trial at hand.  2 Cor. 12:8-9

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Is the Gospel Message True? - Pt. 1 - Opposition

Last week - Peter & John heal cripple, draw crowd, preach gospel.  
So......  Acts 4:1-31 - questionable as to how many days after the feast, Pentecost, etc?  Still a large crowd around the area.

(Remember, the Chief Priest was #1 man in the Jewish culture, and the Captain of the Temple Guard was #2.)   And, they were not happy that Peter & John were preaching the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.  Acts 4:7 - they didn't object to the healing, but the name (Jesus).

Question:  Is the Gospel Message true??
In other words: 
1)  Jesus is the Christ
2)  Jesus died for our sins (for our forgiveness) - must come through Christ
3)  Jesus rose from the dead - literally, bodily, in glorified state
4)  Jesus rules - King of kings, Lord of lords
5)  Jesus is the Only Way

IF the Message is true........ then:
#1.  The message is vitally important - (necessary, indispensable, of eternal consequence)

#2.  We are obligated to share it (proclaim it) - Rom. 1:14, Great Commission, Acts 1:8 - this has never been thought of as only for preachers, teachers, evangelists, etc. - it is for ALL. 

I have something that makes a difference!!!

AND we can expect -
#1.  Conversions -- because the gospel = powerful = Rom. 1:16-17   If we shared the gospel message
more, would see more people saved!!!! 

#2.  Opposition - because the gospel id offensive - gospel says you are a sinner, bound for hell.
WARNINGS:  Luke 21:12-19
                       Matt. 10:34-39
The question is NOT is the gospel message foolish?  The question IS, is it TRUE??

AND, remember, there is a vast difference between the message being offensive, and the messenger being offensive.  Gospel message is to be presented with compassion, and kindness, and respectfully


#1.  The opposition is not merely human, but is demonic.  Eph. 6:10-12 - people are not the enemies, Satan is behind this opposition (dark forces)

#2.  The first appeal from friends, family, officials will be to "closet Christianity".  - Keep it at home, in the church, but don't take it out in public, to work, school, etc.  Acts 4:17-18

#3.  God uses "unschooled, ordinary men" - (Acts 4:13) to further the gospel.
1 Cor. 1:26-29

NOTE:  learning and training are in order!!!  2 Tim. 2:15, 1 Pet. 3:15 but don't have to be 'degreed' to share the gospel.

Basic essentials -
1)  allegiance to Christ
2)  submission to the Holy Spirit

This all applies to the 21st. century church as well as it did to the 1st. century church!