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  • Apr 27 / 2014
  • Comments Off on Encouraged by the Holy Spirit (Acts 9:26-42)
Acts: The Church Grows, Pastor Brian, Sermons

Encouraged by the Holy Spirit (Acts 9:26-42)


04.27.2014 Pastor Brian

Sermon Notes

<Download Notes in a .RTF file>

26 When he came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus. 28 So Saul stayed with them and moved about freely in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord. 29 He talked and debated with the Grecian Jews, but they tried to kill him. 30 When the brothers learned of this, they took him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus. 31 Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace. It was strengthened; and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it grew in numbers, living in the fear of the Lord.

Aeneas and Dorcas
32 As Peter traveled about the country, he went to visit the saints in Lydda. 33 There he found a man named Aeneas, a paralytic who had been bedridden for eight years. 34 “Aeneas,” Peter said to him, “Jesus Christ heals you. Get up and take care of your mat.” Immediately Aeneas got up. 35All those who lived in Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord. 36 In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (which, when translated, is Dorcas ), who was always doing good and helping the poor. 37 About that time she became sick and died, and her body was washed and placed in an upstairs room. 38 Lydda was near Joppa; so when the disciples heard that Peter was in Lydda, they sent two men to him and urged him, “Please come at once!” 39 Peter went with them, and when he arrived he was taken upstairs to the room. All the widows stood around him, crying and showing him the robes and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was still with them. 40 Peter sent them all out of the room; then he got down on his knees and prayed. Turning toward the dead woman, he said, “Tabitha, get up.” She opened her eyes, and seeing Peter she sat up. 41 He took her by the hand and helped her to her feet. Then he called the believers and the widows and presented her to them alive. 42 This became known all over Joppa, and many people believed in the Lord.

Acts 9 = The tremendous event of Saul’s conversion – while on the way to Damascus to take Christians prisoners. He was authorized to take any Christians there captive and bring them back to Jerusalem for punishment.

On the way, Jesus met him in a blinding light – and he realized what he’d been doing. He was told to go into Damascus and wait. Ananias was then told to go and pray for Saul – but he was hesitant due to the words he’d heard of Saul. But God told him that Saul was chosen by God to take the word of the Lord before the Gentiles – even kings and rulers.

Ananias prayed for Saul, he was healed, and Saul immediately went out to preach the good news of Jesus in the places he used to persecute Christians. The Christian leaders didn’t recognize him at first – because of what he’d previously done.

Saul preached of the murder of God – but also the resurrection (as we saw last week at Easter) – and it is due to the resurrection and as evidenced by the pouring out of the Holy Spirit upon the believers – that Jesus is the son of God, Messiah, Savior of the world.

Saul had previously been ignorant of all these things because he was only book-learned, and it took an encounter with Jesus (the living, risen Jesus himself) to change his mind and be able to finally understand and piece together the Scriptures that spoke OF Jesus. Then he was able to preach effectively in the synagogues and many were converted.

There are two images of Jesus in the Bible:

  1. The Suffering Servant
  2. The Glorious King

The Jews were focused on the second and many missed the first. We are now living between the former time and the latter.

“A time is coming when people will worship in spirit and in truth” when we receive Jesus as Savior. Saul finally realized this and preached it in the synagogues – in Damascus first. Then he went to Silicea and preached for 3 years. Then he came back – and there was a plot by the Jews and the governors of that area to kill Saul – so his followers let him down in a basket from the wall.

This updates us to today.

The disciples in Jerusalem had probably heard of Saul’s conversion (it’s been over 3 years). But they were still wary of him because of his long, hard reputation.

At this time, Barnabas (the Son of Encouragement) lived up to his namesake (nick-namesake) and blessed Saul before them.

Barnabas has been mentioned before in Acts 4 – his generosity noted – and he helped many people who were in need at that time. He “had a heart of gold.” Later, when the Antioch Gentiles received the gospel, Barnabas is sent down as one of the delegates to meet them and check out this move of the Spirit. He found that it was a genuine move of the Spirit and he encouraged them there.

Acts 13, Barnabas is chosen with Paul (Saul) to go on their first missionary journey.

Acts 15, Barnabas went with Paul to Jerusalem to help settle the controversy of Gentiles entering the church (did they need to keep all the Jewish Law? circumsicion? diet?) It was decided they didn’t need to keep all the rites and rituals that were part of the Old Covenant.

Later, Barnabas shows this same kind of “take a chance generosity” with Mark. Mark had let them down previously, and though Paul refused to accept him back into their missionary journey, Barnabas wanted to. This eventually split the two of them, but later Paul praised Mark and wanted him back – in a letter he wrote.

We all fail in different ways – but God is able to help and restore and strengthen us.

Barnabas brought Paul to the apostles (probably before Peter and James (Jesus’ brother)). Probably the others were busy elsewhere.

Paul doesn’t meet with the disciples around the churches in Judea, and some of the believers were probably not too eager to meet with him – suspecting him of being a secret spy. There was an air of suspicion about him, until Barnabas vouched for him.

v. 28-29

Paul speaks boldly in the name of the Lord – he’s debating with the Helenistic/Grecian Jews who’d been hostile to Stephen and stoned him to death. Quite a turn of events – because he’d held their coats while they had stoned Stephen. And eventually, these same guys tried to kill Paul. But they sent him away, back to his home in Tarsus.

The disciples were concerned with Paul’s safety and the safety of the church members with good reason (Acts 22). Paul (in Acts 22) mentions this time – he was in the temple in Jerusalem praying and the Lord appeared to him and said, “Quick! Leave Jerusalem immediately! The people here won’t accept your testimony!” Paul tried to argue saying his testimony is so amazing that people will have to believe. But God is firm and says, No, I will send you to the Gentiles. So, Paul agrees to go and the disciples send him off to Tarsus.

So this departure is really based on God’s will.

This whole portion of Scripture (Acts) reads as if it’s one event after the other, but there may have been much time that passes between events. For example, Paul may have stayed in Tarsus for up to 10 years.

Paul was a Roman citizen (received from his father – probably who did some service for Rome, got the citizenship and passed it on to Paul). So, Paul was learned in the popular culture as well – and was able to quote from poetry and other sources that the non-Christians would be familiar with. Paul eventually becomes the central focus of Acts.

Acts 9:31

There was a time of peace, encouraged by the Holy Spirit, the church grew (and possibly spread to Galilee).

People are being healed, saved, meeting the reality of the good news.

Acts 6:7

“So the Word of God spread.” Many in Jerusalem, including priests, believed.

This is a fulfillment of the Word of Jesus before his ascension – that the gospel would spread throughout Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

Acts 9:32-35

Peter evangelizes the countryside in Judea.

Philip has passed through, preaching the gospel there after his encounter with the Ethiopian. Peter is backing up that missionary tour – going the same route, preaching and confirming the disciples as he goes.

He comes to Lydda to visit the saints (believers). Lydda = 25 miles NW of Jerusalem – at the crossroads of two major highways. Here, he meets Aeneas – bedridden for 8 years. He heals him and word of it spreads. Luke writes “all those who lived in Lydda saw him and turned to the Lord.” (Probably not ALL, but this is emphasis to show that this was a pretty major event.)

Peter next goes to Joppa – modern Jaffa (Tel-Abib?) Here there is a much-loved disciple “Tabitha” Aramaic = “Dorcas” Greek = Gazelle in English. She was doing well and loved by all the people and she suddenly dies. The whole church is mourning her, hear that Peter is nearby, so send for him.

What could he do? She’s dead. She’s lying in preparation for burial. And Peter goes upstairs, sends everyone out, kneels and prays, then tells her to “get up.” He takes up by the hand, helps her up, and presents her alive to the others. WOW. Lots of joy there.

There are many similarities between this story and Jesus’ story of raising Talitha? daughter of Jarius.

  1. The sending of messengers
  2. The mourners around the room
  3. The kicking everyone out of the room
  4. The calling for her to wake up
  5. The taking of her hand

Here, Peter is recreating the miracle that Jesus’ did earlier.

  • Jesus said, “Talitha, get up.”
  • Peter said, “Tabitha, get up.”
  • There is only one letter difference there.

Jesus had said, “What I have done, you will do.” Here is evidence of that. Peter obviously has an open line with God, and so he can speak with authority.

Luke 5 – the healing of the paralytic (through the roof) and Jesus had encouraged the man “your sins are forgiven.” When people get sick, we often self-examine. (What have I done? What have I not done with my life?) And Jesus spoke to that heart and said, “You’re forgiven.” But to prove he has authority to say that, he also healed his body.

Elijah (and Jesus?) also raised a widow’s son to life.

Throughout the Scriptures, there are similar accounts of raising people.

  • Elijah raised a widow’s son.
  • Elisha also raised someone.

Jesus is willing to use these servants – even you and me – if we recognizes him for who he is and what he’s done. He has promised to not bring the same diseases upon his people (in the Old Testament) as those who didn’t believe in him in other lands. He’s able to heal today as well.

Physical, Spiritual healing – related to forgiveness. When we ask for forgiveness, God expects us to forgive others. Many people find that healing takes place only AFTER they forgive other people. Many times we harm ourselves and prevent God’s healing power to come through us because of our own unforgiveness. If we hold a grudge, unforgiveness against people – even close relatives – we are not free, we are not healed. Release them from the grudge, forgive them, and find healing for your own spirits.

We’ve all been touched and healed by the Lord. Let’s be prepared to share this with others.

Healing from death, physical, emotional, spiritual healing is available in Christ.

Acts 9 finishes with Peter at the house of Simon the tanner. The rabbis thought that tanning was unclean (because the animals might be unclean). But they also wrote the Scriptures on the hides of animals that were clean. Peter doesn’t seem to mind so much.

Later we see in Acts 10 that Peter learns to eat even unclean animals.

Interesting that Luke records strange details that don’t really help his story. BUT it does prove that Luke was an accurate historian – this is not myth, it’s history, it happened, it’s real. These little details demonstrate that.

In the final short section, Luke shows that the gospel has been preached in the whole province by now. And the Christian mission in the Jewish nation has now widened. The reader of Acts is now prepared for the next leap that the gospel message must take. That’s where Acts 10 begins the spread of the gospel to the Gentiles – to Cornelius and his household.

The good news is still good. Jesus heals, saves, He is Lord. Is he YOUR healer, Savior, Lord? If not, perhaps today is the day for you to be healed. We’ve been studying the resurrection, perhaps today is your day to be restored to life in your spirit.

Let’s pray.

  • Apr 06 / 2014
  • Comments Off on Paul’s Conversion and Commission (Acts 9:1-25)
Acts: The Church Grows, Pastor Brian, Sermons

Paul’s Conversion and Commission (Acts 9:1-25)


04.06.2014 Pastor Brian

Sermon Notes

<Download Notes in a .RTF file>

Saul’s Conversion
9:1-19pp — Ac 22:3-16; 26:9-18

1 Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. 3 As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” 5 “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked. “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. 6 “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” 7 The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. 8 Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. 9 For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything. 10 In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, “Ananias!” “Yes, Lord,” he answered. 11 The Lord told him, “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. 12 In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.” 13 “Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your saints in Jerusalem. 14 And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.” 15 But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel. 16 I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.” 17 Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord–Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here–has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized,

Saul in Damascus and Jerusalem

19 and after taking some food, he regained his strength. Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus. 20 At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God. 21 All those who heard him were astonished and asked, “Isn’t he the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on this name? And hasn’t he come here to take them as prisoners to the chief priests?” 22 Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Christ. 23 After many days had gone by, the Jews conspired to kill him, 24 but Saul learned of their plan. Day and night they kept close watch on the city gates in order to kill him. 25 But his followers took him by night and lowered him in a basket through an opening in the wall.

In the last study, we saw the Ethiopian eunuch conversion with Philip (led to join the chariot – and give explanation to the Scripture – Isaiah – that the eunuch had been reading). The eunuch asked for baptism after declaring his faith and went to Ethiopia rejoicing.

Progress of the gospel

  1. To the Jews in Judea
  2. To Samaria
  3. To the “ends of the earth” (Ethiopia and so on)

Jesus prophecy in Acts 1:8 is coming to pass gradually. The enemy is not pleased with this – persecution arose with the martyrdom of Stephen. The Pharisee Saul – zealous for Judaism – witnessed and consented to this death – possibly he heard Stephen’s speech (about how unfaithful Jerusalem had been before God). The chief priests couldn’t stand the speech so they dragged him out and stoned him.

Now in Acts 9, Luke’s writing switches to Paul – the “central character” of Acts (really, the Holy Spirit is the central character). Saul doesn’t know what will happen – he’s gotten permission from the high priests to hunt Christians and imprison or kill them. How did he get permission? The authority was “loose” – the Romans didn’t really want to get involved in the Jewish affairs at times. Stephen’s martyrdom is part of this laid back governance – as were the murders of Christians that Saul led.

“Christians” is a term only used a few times up to now – usually “Followers of the Way.”

Saul has an idea that these Christians are heretics. His purpose is the stamp out these apostates (people who have strayed from sound doctrine).

There are many examples through history in which violence was used against heretics in history. (Elijah and the prophets of Baal – the leader of the Maccabees as well).

(Later Paul would confess as well to Agrippa that he had hunted Christians to other cities – even Damascus – 150 miles away. But there was a law the Romans had enacted earlier that said that Jews who’d committed crimes could be extradited from as far away as Egypt.)

Saul was interested in getting the Christians who’d fled from Jerusalem and bringing them back for “trial.”

3 accounts of Saul’s conversion:

  1. Here
  2. Acts 22 before an angry crowd
  3. Before Festus and Agrippa

Some things are left out, some things are added. They don’t contradict each other, rather they complement each other and help us get a fuller understanding of the truth.

Damascus was a prosperous city – many Arabs and Jews lived there. Josephus records 12,500 Jews were killed there in a War.

Saul is nearing Damascus – suddenly a light flashes. The shock drops him to the ground. The men with him (temple police) are speechless – they hear the sound but no voice (don’t understand) and see no person. This light shone at midday – brighter than the sun. The voice addresses Saul in Aramaic – the language Jesus had likely spoken.

“Saul, Saul” = double use of his name = for emphasis. (Think of the call/interruption to Abraham before killing Isaac. Jacob also is called twice in the night. Moses is called twice by the burning bush.) This was all part of their calling. Called twice.

Is God calling us? Maybe we need to answer “Here I am.”

Saul is confused – he doesn’t think he a persecutor. He thinks he’s doing God a service. He doesn’t know that this is Jesus – that simple “I am Jesus” statement shocks him. He says that he’s not only persecuting human beings, but also the Almighty. “Whoever accepts you, accepts me, whoever rejects you, rejects me, and rejects the one who sent me.” (Jesus had spoken this in the gospels earlier). Acts 4:12 “There is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”

Yes, God can speak through nature to us (today, it is springing forth in resurrection spring – likewise Jesus sprung forth in resurrection for our life). God also speaks clearly through the gospel.

The Messiah, Jesus, has now appeared to Saul himself. Paul will later emphasize this importance – it was as important to him as the resurrection appearances of Jesus were to the other apostles. (1 Corinthians 15 – “last he appeared to me as one abnormally born…but by God’s grace, I am what I am…” – can we also say that? “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9)

The Lord said, “Continue on into Damascus and you will be told what to do there.”

He made it to a house of Judas – on a street called “Straight” – which is still there today. Paul is there, blinded, fasting, and waiting.

Meanwhile, God has talked to Ananias about Saul – told him to go lay hands on him. Ananias doesn’t want to do it – he knows why Saul is there… (This is the first use of “the saints” in Acts – the Christians are holy and being made holy – everyone who is a believer is a “saint.”)

Jesus says, “GO. Just go.” He tells Ananias about Paul’s commission to go into the synagogues and PROVE (by placing Scriptures side-by-side and apply them to Jesus’ life) that Jesus is the Messiah. Usually after a while, he gets rejected, so then he concentrates on preaching to the Gentiles – his MAIN ministry.

So, Ananias goes and lays hands on him and “scales” fell from his eyes. He was then delivered from blindness and from murderous spirits who influenced him. Later he will declare “all things must be done in love – though I speak in more tongues than all of you – if I do so without love, it’s meaningless.”

Now he realizes that his sins are forgiven and he IMMEDIATELY goes out and starts preaching about the “Son of God.” (Paul may be the only one who uses this term throughout Acts. In his letters, he refers to Christ as “Son of God” about 15 times. Also “the Righteous One.”)

He’s preaching and getting more powerful in his preaching and baffling onlookers. “Golly, what a flip-flopper.” He’s preaching the exact opposite of what he’d earlier persecuted for. The Jews then conspire to kill him – he learns of it and his followers helped him escape through an opening in the city wall.

In Galatians, he gives the exact time – about 3 years after his conversion. In Acts, it seems like just a few days later. But it seems that Paul went into Arabia for a while, then returned to Damascus. Galatians 1:15-18 “But when God, who set me apart from birth…was pleased to reveal his Son in me…nor did I go up to Jerusalm…but I went immediately into Arabia and later returned to Damascus…after 3 years…”
2 Corinthians show some of the extra details of the conspiracy against him (the governor had the city guarded in order to arrest him).

Traditionally, scholars thought that Paul went off for 3 years to study, contemplate his change of life and then come back. Others say, “probably not” – he probably went off to preach the good news to the Arabian Gentiles. This probably caused conflict and strife with the king Eratus and that carried over to his representative in Damascus – the governor. So it’s not just the Jews who are after Paul – also the pagan Arabs allied themselves with the Jews to get rid of him. But his followers (sounds like he’s had some time to build a following) let him down in a basket. Then, he’ll be off to Jerusalem.

Wow! What a life change! The greatest persecutor of the church is now its greatest advocate. How does that work?

Francis … “Paul was on the way to ‘de-mask us’” – take off the mask, stop pretending. God takes off the masks, reveals who we are in him and who he is to us.

Sanctification like this takes time. “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love. Take my heart, Lord, take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above.”

Let’s thank God for his mercy. This murderer of Christians is shown mercy. David, and Moses, and King Manasse – who sacrificed his own children to fire – humbled himself greatly before God and God restored him as king.

Let’s get ready for communion by remembering his mercy and grace to us – also murderers (of his Son) and sinners.

  • Mar 23 / 2014
  • Comments Off on The Good News About Jesus (Acts 8:26-40)
Acts: The Church Grows, Pastor Brian, Sermons

The Good News About Jesus (Acts 8:26-40)


03.22.2014 Pastor Brian

Sermon Notes

<Download Notes in a .RTF file>

Philip and the Ethiopian

26 Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Go south to the road–the desert road–that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” 27 So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians. This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, 28 and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the book of Isaiah the prophet. 29 The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.” 30 Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked. 31 “How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. 32 The eunuch was reading this passage of Scripture: “He was led like a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before the shearer is silent, so he did not open his mouth. 33 In his humiliation he was deprived of justice. Who can speak of his descendants? For his life was taken from the earth.” 34 The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?” 35 Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus. 36 As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water. Why shouldn’t I be baptized?” 38 And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him. 39 When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing. 40 Philip, however, appeared at Azotus and traveled about, preaching the gospel in all the towns until he reached Caesarea.

Verse 37? Where are you?

Some late manuscripts: Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” The eunuch answered, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”

A lot of commentators believe this was an addition (interpolation) – the scribe copying it felt it should be in there. It was not explicit, rather implicit, so the scribe may have added it explicitly. (Thus, it’s a footnote.)

So, in Acts 8, after the persecution in Jerusalem, the believers were scattered through Judea, some to Samaria. We saw some of the history of the conflict between Jerusalem and Samaria – and that this spread of the gospel is the first of the world-wide spread of the gospel.

Samaria was a hybrid branch of Judaism – not totally pagan, not totally Jewish. So the Jews didn’t want to deal with them and the Samaritans liked it that way. But it was their time to receive the good news. So, thanks to the persecution of the believers in Jerusalem, the gospel came to Samaria.

Philip came to Samaria and the people saw the signs and wonders, and heard the gospel. It was like Jesus walking around again doing the same works – it was Philip empowered by the Spirit walking around continuing Jesus’ work.

There was Stephen and Philip also – wherever there is true belief in Christ, unclean spirits will be cast out, healings will happen, etc. What was, will be. What happened, will happen. There surely will be some signs of the gospel – Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Some (Cessationists) believe that these kinds of miracles have since ceased to exist.

There was in Jerusalem at that time a magician – Simon the sorcerer – who had tapped into the occult (like the magicians in Exodus with Moses). But GOD is all powerful and all knowing – and where his power is/was, people were healed, spirits cast out, there was great joy in the city. Why? Well, why wouldn’t there be?

If someone is troubled by unclean spirits and suddenly set free… If Grandma hears the gospel and believes and is spiritually restored…

Even Simon was impressed and believed.

This was even without the baptism and the fullness of the Holy Spirit. We know that the Jerusalem church had heard of the receipt of the gospel – so they sent people down (like Philip) to lay hands on the people and pray for receipt of the Holy Spirit.

At Pentecost, there were great signs and wonders and speaking in tongues. And when Peter preached to the Gentiles at Cornelius’ house, it was the same. And here in Samaria, we can safely assume it would have been the same.

Simon wanted to buy this power from the disciples, but Philip said, “God save you from your bitterness.” Hopefully he repented of his sin but we aren’t sure.

Here Samaria is in a bit of a revival! Philip may have been tempted to stay, but it wasn’t to be. There were many believers and even house churches begun there, so a Spirit of the Lord came and told Philip to go down another road. The road led to the final settlement before the barren desert of Egypt.

Now, Philip is brought out of this publicity and heads out alone toward Gaza.

There was an Ethiopian eunuch driving down in a “chariot” – but it was probably more like a cart and ox. Philip ran to catch up to him.

Eunuch – he’s no longer a “man” – physical deformity prevents him from having kids. But, some commentators thought it was just a term for an “official.” However, he’s called a eunuch official – so it would be redundant to repeat that. These eunuchs would be prevented from going into the temple.

He was a servant of Candace (Kan-dake – a title like Pharaoh) – The queen served in place of the Son. The Son was so “holy” that he didn’t dirty his hands with issues of state. So the queen was the actual ruler.

So, this eunuch – was a Gentile (strike 1), a eunuch (strike 2) – he would have been prevented from even entering the court of the Gentiles. Yet, here he is reading from Isaiah – he probably bought a scroll (very expensive – a scroll of Isaiah would take about a YEAR to reproduce). If he’d bought one it would have not been cheap.

Isaiah 53 – he’s reading. Philip hears from the Spirit “go to him.” Philip says, “Do you understand?” Eunuch, “How can I? No one taught me.” He’s reading the portion of Isaiah about the Suffering Servant (Jesus). He’s asks Philip, “Who is this? Himself? Someone else?” Wow, great opportunity to share the gospel right there. And Philip doesn’t waste the opportunity. In fact, Jesus had quoted this same Scripture before his death and said, “This must be fulfilled.”

He was like a Lamb, a sheep before the slaughter. He didn’t open his mouth. Jesus was (is) a King – the King of Kings.

Philip takes this great opportunity to detail the historical reality of Jesus’ suffering, trial before Pilate (who tried three times to clear his name), the egging on of the religious leaders (”If you don’t you’re no friend of Caesar!” – Pilate was worried about his politics – so he did it), his death and resurrection.

We know that Jesus’ death would be our own salvation – it was ordained (predestined, appointed) for him to die. Just because this was ordained, doesn’t mean he didn’t have a choice – he DID have a choice (remember his stress in Gethsemane). The Spirit of God can be resisted. But he chose to go and die.

Jesus also had preached to two disciples on the road to Emmaus and opened their eyes about him – using all the Scriptures to show them him.

Jesus says, “You search the Scriptures, thinking that in them you have life. But you don’t realize that they are all about me and you refuse to come to me so that you may have life.” (Seriously, Jesus is in EVERY book of the Bible.)

Now, Philip had probably spoken about baptism to the eunuch. He’d talked about Pentecost and Peter’s preaching of the meaning of the signs and wonders (prophecy from Joel). Peter had shown that Jesus was their Messiah.

Now, all these people were not liars, murderers, cheaters, they were “religious people.” But Peter showed them that they’d actually murdered God. They’d murdered their Messiah. This burdened them heavily and they said, “What should we do?” Peter said, “Repent – primarily of that murder and also your sins – and be baptized and receive the Holy Spirit.”

Clearly, Philip had been preaching this to the eunuch.

Also, remember that Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist. And when he came up from the water, the Spirit of God had come upon him.

And so, along the way, they came upon some water and the eunuch said, “Hey hey, here’s some water! Let’s do it!” And Philip said, “OK.”

There’s no need for a gap to exist between belief in Christ and baptism. Here, it happens immediately. Also, in jail with Peter, the jailer was baptized immediately.

These are the steps of obedience:

  1. Repentance
  2. Belief
  3. Baptism
  4. Receipt of the Holy Spirit

All of these things go together.

Clearly this was a baptism by immersion for the eunuch – the eunuch went down under water (died to his old self – buried under water), and came back up (rose to new life in Christ). Then Philip was taken away – the eunuch was probably shocked initially, but then went on rejoicing and probably became a good missionary where he went.

Philip later got married and had 4 daughters who prophesied. He settled in Caesarea.

This is the account of the further progression of the gospel – not a full-on “mission” to the Gentiles – but clearly an indication of God’s full desire to preach the gospel to all the world. The eunuch went on with the joy of the Lord and was able to proclaim the good news to the people back home.

It’s interesting that Philip could be brought away from this HUGE revival and on to ONE guy. God may also want you to speak to ONE person – who they themselves might go on to preach to millions.

Nicky Gumble “Everybody knows Billy Graham. But nobody knows the name of the one who preached to Billy Graham. Just think about how important THAT guy is.”

Richard Wurmbrand: a Jewish convert who spent many years in Romanian prisons and was a great witness. Previously another man had prayed sincerely to reach one man who would reach others for God. This was Richard – who had previously been a playboy.

Starfish Story.

There was a young boy walking along the shore throwing starfish back one by one. (A freak of nature had washed millions onto the beach).

A man said, “This is impossible – what difference does this make?” The boy threw another back “It made a difference to THAT one.”

What difference can me make?

Who is ONE that you can reach?

Pastor – “I was a slave to drugs, lust, sin. I had been brought up a Christian. ‘Do this, do that. Sin, confess, repent, sin, confess, repent.’ But someone had reached me.”

Michael Brown: Some friends had invited “anti-Christ” to church once – he was open to Christ, received him, and as a Jew started conversing with rabbis. He tried to persuade them and convince them. Even today, in some Jewish areas Isaiah is not even read because it is so obviously about Jesus. Even Christianity has not been good to the Jews. Even Martin Luther said terrible things about them – he had hoped that they would be converted in his lifetime but they weren’t. We know that in these days, finally, many Jews are recognizing Jesus as the Messiah. These days, Michael Brown has become one of the foremost experts on Messianic Christianity – one of the leading preachers and teachers to the Jews about Christ.

“When we don’t consider the END of something (like a hole in my coat – whenever I pass people, they think I’m crazy) – there is a consequence for DOING or NOT doing things.”


Hyper grace = Grace that is too far, it’s not grace but license (People don’t want to repent of sin – gay Christianity is a prime example. This is not to put them down but to show that if people continually live IN sin and don’t repent, there is no change, there is no grace. Jesus came to save us FROM our sins – not IN our sins as we continue IN them.) There will ALWAYS be a struggle of spirit vs. flesh because we aren’t perfect yet.

We can’t say, “Eh, God loves me. I can do what I want.” No. It doesn’t work like that. We struggle against sin, even if we lose – we don’t embrace it.

There is a story of a pastor – depressed, got drunk, had a homosexual one-night stand, went home, his wife got AIDS, his baby got AIDS, they all died.

Where there is life, there is hope, where there is hope there is life. This is not a message of condemnation – Timothy “Take heed to your faith, and your doctrine, because by it you will save yourselves and save others.”

Thank you God for grace. Forgive us when we fall.

  • Mar 09 / 2014
  • Comments Off on Salvation in Samaria (Acts 8:1-25)
Acts: The Church Grows, Pastor Brian, Sermons

Salvation in Samaria (Acts 8:1-25)


03.09.2014 Pastor Brian

Sermon Notes

<Download notes in a .RTF file>

The Church Persecuted and Scattered

1 And Saul was there, giving approval to his death. On that day a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. 2 Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him. 3 But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off men and women and put them in prison.

Philip in Samaria

4 Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went. 5 Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Christ there. 6 When the crowds heard Philip and saw the miraculous signs he did, they all paid close attention to what he said. 7 With shrieks, evil spirits came out of many, and many paralytics and cripples were healed. 8 So there was great joy in that city.

Simon the Sorcerer

9 Now for some time a man named Simon had practiced sorcery in the city and amazed all the people of Samaria. He boasted that he was someone great, 10 and all the people, both high and low, gave him their attention and exclaimed, “This man is the divine power known as the Great Power.” 11 They followed him because he had amazed them for a long time with his magic. 12 But when they believed Philip as he preached the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 13 Simon himself believed and was baptized. And he followed Philip everywhere, astonished by the great signs and miracles he saw.14 When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. 15 When they arrived, they prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16 because the Holy Spirit had not yet come upon any of them; they had simply been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then Peter and John placed their hands on them,and they received the Holy Spirit. 18 When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money 19 and said, “Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” 20 Peter answered: “May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! 21 You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. 22 Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord. Perhaps he will forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. 23 For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.” 24 Then Simon answered, “Pray to the Lord for me so that nothing you have said may happen to me.” 25 When they had testified and proclaimed the word of the Lord, Peter and John returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel in many Samaritan villages.

In Acts 7, Stephen was martyred (the proto-martyr) – the first killed for his faith in the NT. He was brought before the Jewish Council, accused and had false witnesses brought against him – they said he blasphemed the Law of Moses and the temple. So he was questioned.

He then recounted the history of Israel. In his reply, he showed that the people of Israel themselves had been unfaithful in not keeping the Law and not respecting the temple. Contrary to the devotion given of the land of Judea, many leaders of Jerusalem had been called from OUTSIDE of Judea. And yes, even though God said, “Well, alright, go ahead and build the temple” he doesn’t live in there.

Actually, David didn’t build the temple because – though he was a “man after God’s own heart” – he was also a man of blood. So it was David’s son Solomon who built the temple.

He main point was: God looks at the heart, not the external. We are the temple of the living God – we must worship in spirit and truth.

That didn’t sit well with the Council – they were PROUD of the land, the temple, and their own “holiness.” Jesus had previously said, “A day is coming when not one stone will be left on top of the other.” – that happened in 70 A.D.

The Council couldn’t handle it – so they yelled “lalalala!” covered their ears, dragged him outside, and stoned him to death. Stephen had seen Jesus in heaven waiting for him and said so. And all the men had laid their cloaks at Saul’s feet.

Saul was perhaps between 20-40 – a “young” man. He was called Saul of Tarsus. He later becomes converted, a vessel of God to take the gospel to the Gentiles.


  • born in Tarsus – E. Asia minor
  • son of a Jew – a “Hebrew of Hebrews”
  • circumcised on the 8th day
  • of the tribe of Benjamin
  • a Pharisee
  • probably grew up in Judea speaking Aramaic like a native
  • trained in Jerusalem under Gamaliel (he advised the Council to let the apostles go because “if this is from God, you won’t be able to stop it”)
  • he was a brilliant, dedicated servant of Judaism (Gal 1:14 – “I was advancing beyond my age – extremely zealous for tradition”)
  • Technically, he’s a Helenistic/Grecian Jew
  • born outside Jerusalem
  • knows Greek culture, and speaks Greek like a native
  • like many Grecian Jews, was more fanatical than the Jerusalem Jews
  • may have been a member, or apprentice of the Sanhedrin – probably saw Stephen in the Council – you can imagine his anger rising – particularly when Stephen says, “You’re just like your ancestors you stiff-necked people!”
  • He heartily approved the murder of Stephen
  • He then becomes a driving force to persecute the church in Jerusalem and other places
  • He went house to house, dragging out men and women

The same word used to describe his work = used to describe wild beast assaults and army attacks

  • Later he describes that he was guilty of the deaths of some believers.
  • Later he regrets this greatly (Acts 22). “When the blood of your martyr Stephen was shed, I stood there giving my approval and guarding the clothes of those who did it.”
  • 1 Timothy “Even though I was once a violent man, I was shown mercy because I did it in unbelief.”

Glad for God’s mercy? So was Paul/Saul.

Here is the first use of the word “persecution” by Luke. The rank and file of ordinary believers now starts to be affected. Originally, it was just the leaders – now it’s EVERYBODY. (Probably the Grecian speakers mostly – those who believed after Stephen). So, they had to spread.

The persecution was quite rapid and heated. Luke says, “ALL…” but means “many/most…” had to disperse.

Later, the church in Jerusalem flourishes under the leadership of James (but he is then martyred by the high priest in A.D. 62).

“With the martyring of Stephen, the church learned to abandon Israel to Jerusalem…”

Up to now, the preaching was all in Jerusalem. They had preached and taught in the temple mostly – and it was only later (Peter) that they realized “Hey, this good news is for the Gentiles too!”

They don’t have the same reluctance to go to Samaria (actually surprisingly – because of the long history of division and strife between the two areas). Samaria (in 8th century) had been conquered by the Assyrians and many immigrants had come and many other had been forcibly relocated. So it was a “mixed” nation.

In Ezra and Nehemiah, they had opposed the rebuilding of the temple. They built their own temple instead. The Jews in the 2nd century destroyed that temple. In 63 BC, the Romans conquered them both and the Samaritans were liberated from the Jews. In 25 BC, king Herod offered to rebuild the temple – but they said, “Noooo~” because they found out he was ALSO rebuilding the Jewish temple.

So, here, Philip and the others entering here to bring the gospel to them was pretty BOLD.

Philip went to a city in Samaria and preached. The Samaritans were actually considered heretics. They believed in MOST of the same stuff:

Moses, the Law, circumcision, a coming Messiah/Prophet (remember John 4 when Jesus met the woman at the well – “I would give you Living Water” – “We know that when [Taheb] comes, he will reveal all things” – amazing that she is here speaking with the ONE whom they’ve all – we’ve all – been waiting for. She is forgiven, realizes who he is, tells everyone about him. The people say, “Now we believe because of what’s happened in our own heart.”).

The Samaritans probably also realized that there was a persecution against the Jews in Jerusalem – so there is probably a common bond now between the two groups (Philip and the Christians are also outcasts just like the Samaritans). The people hear, and see, and are amazed. The Holy Spirit is present, ministering with signs. Demons are crying out and coming out. Paralytics are being healed. There was great joy in that city.

Imagine those miracles. And that joy.

When the Samaritans saw the miracles, they paid close attention (8:6). Just as at Pentecost, it is the Power of God that grabs people’s attention. Like Jesus, Philip performed miracles, he is doing the same ministry that Jesus did.

At this point, the story (by Luke) is intertwined with the story of Simon the Magician. He is noted in the writing of 2nd century Christians as “the first heretic.” He is the originator of a number of heresies. He was revered as “the First God.” At one point, he went to Rome before Claudius where his magic brought him great fame and fortune.

Simon is amazed to see the signs and wonders performed by the power of the Holy Spirit. v. 9-16

This is similar to the signs of Moses in Egypt. The sorcerers could do many magical things – same with the priests of Baal before Elijah – but they couldn’t do them all. This was a sign that this was the ONE true God, the power of the ONE true God.

Acts 1:8 “You will receive power…”

The apostles had to wait and pray and receive the Holy Spirit and his power to go out and preach and show greater things than those of the occult.

These things reached the ears of the apostles in Jerusalem. So, Peter and John were chosen to go down. This was a mission of good will – they also want to see the real conversions and confirm the validity of the ministry of the Grecian Jews.

When the Samaritans are baptized in Jesus’ name, there is no visible evidence of the receipt of the Holy Spirit. It’s only after the apostles come down that they can see evidence of the receipt of the Holy Spirit. Luke implies this is because the Samaritans should be brought into the church as a whole, not just as this one small group.

In other places, there is no laying on of hands. Later, when Ananias lays hands on Saul, he is transformed.

Here there is a delay in the receipt of the Holy Spirit – perhaps this is to SHOW the Jewish Christians that the Lord loves them as well.

How do we know they receive the Holy Spirit? Simon the sorcerer says he sees it – and wants it. Something obviously happened that shows that something miraculous has happened. He wants to buy that power with money (obviously to add it to his belt of “magic tricks”).

Philip says, “I can see you’re bitter. No. Pray to God that he gives you the spirit of repentance.”

Simon, “Oh, please pray for me.”

Later on with Paul and Elimas there is another sorcerer in Cyprus – defeated by the power of God.

There is great joy in the city – the gospel is shown to be the great power of God for salvation for those who would believe. And Peter and John start walking back toward Jerusalem, preaching in all the towns.

Earlier in Acts, Jesus had said, “The gospel will be preached in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria [now], and to the ends of the earth.”

Eventually, (especially in Antioch), the gospel became a big mission of the Gentiles.


There are warnings here against dabbling in the occult. God DETESTS these things:

  • Occult
  • hidden/secret spiritual things
  • New Age

Actually it’s not “New Age” – it was happening here. The best thing to do is to RENOUNCE them. “I did it for fun – no big deal” is not good enough. People were killed/stoned for that in the New Testament.

We’ve been changed out of the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of his Son. God is pleased when we renounce those things and turn to him for truth and knowledge.

Let’s pray.

  • Feb 23 / 2014
  • Comments Off on The Martyrdom of Stephen (Acts 7:1-60)
Acts: The Church Grows, Pastor Brian, Sermons

The Martyrdom of Stephen (Acts 7:1-60)


02.23.2014 Pastor Brian

Sermon Notes

<Download Notes in a .RTF file>

Acts 7:1-60

At this point in Acts, Stephen has been brought before the Sanhedrin. The apostles (Stephen included) had been put in charge of overseeing the distribution of food to the widows (particularly Greek widows). The apostles had appointed 7 disciples to do this – including Stephen and Philip.

God had more in store for Stephen and Philip. They were geared toward speaking to the Greek Jews. They were doing wonders, performing miracles before the Greek Jews (like the apostles).

Stephen was preaching before the Freedmen, and they began arguing with him. The Freedmen then accused him of blaspheming against Moses and the Law. So they brought him to the Sanhedrin where they asked him, “Is this so?”

He doesn’t answer directly, but retraces the steps of Israel (who’d not been completely faithful to Moses or the Law anyway). He was basically saying, “If you REALLY knew God in a real way, you’d know Jesus as your Savior.”

Recounting the history = 5 segments

  1. Abraham’s calling (v. 2-8)
  2. Patriarchs in Egypt (v. 9-16)
  3. The life of Moses (v. 17-36)
  4. Moses and Israel in the wilderness (v. 37-43)
  5. Tabernacle and the temple (v. 44-50)

#1: Abraham (v. 2-8)

Called by God in Mesopotamia. Stephen is emphasizing that even Abraham wasn’t a Jew at first. God called from OUTSIDE the Jews.

Stephen’s Speech to the Sanhedrin

1 Then the high priest asked him, “Are these charges true?” 2 To this he replied: “Brothers and fathers, listen to me! The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham while he was still in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran. 3 ‘Leave your country and your people,’ God said, ‘and go to the land I will show you.’ 4 “So he left the land of the Chaldeans and settled in Haran. After the death of his father, God sent him to this land where you are now living. 5 He gave him no inheritance here, not even a foot of ground. But God promised him that he and his descendants after him would possess the land, even though at that time Abraham had no child. 6 God spoke to him in this way: ‘Your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated four hundred years. 7 But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves,’ God said, ‘and afterward they will come out of that country and worship me in this place.’ 8 Then he gave Abraham the covenant of circumcision. And Abraham became the father of Isaac and circumcised him eight days after his birth. Later Isaac became the father of Jacob, and Jacob became the father of the twelve patriarchs.

The Jews thought that God’s glory was in the temple. Stephen emphasizes that God called Abraham OUT of the Jews, OUT of the temple.

Stephen emphasizes God’s actions, not Abraham’s heroics:

  • He appears,
  • He speaks,
  • He moves,
  • He gives promises,
  • He judges,
  • He gives a covenant

God is the central character.

Stephen is very respectful and calls these men the Fathers (Abraham = “our father”). However, by the end of the speech he says, “your father” after he rebukes them.

He emphasizes that God can speak and act anywhere in the world – not just Jerusalem. This is very transformational. Before this, all the religion was geared toward Jews: mainly Jews preached to mainly Jews in mainly Jewish places. After this speech, Stephen is kind of the connecting link between hard-core Judaism and the Christianity Paul (in this chapter Saul) preached.

The main focus of Judaism was:

  1. The Land (Promised Land)
  2. The Law
  3. The Temple

#2 The Patriarchs in Egypt (v. 9-16)

9 “Because the patriarchs were jealous of Joseph,they sold him as a slave into Egypt. But God was with him 10 and rescued him from all his troubles. He gave Joseph wisdom and enabled him to gain the goodwill of Pharaoh king of Egypt; so he made him ruler over Egypt and all his palace. 11 “Then a famine struck all Egypt and Canaan, bringing great suffering, and our fathers could not find food. 12 When Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt, he sent our fathers on their first visit. 13 On their second visit, Joseph told his brothers who he was, and Pharaoh learned about Joseph’s family. 14 After this, Joseph sent for his father Jacob and his whole family, seventy-five in all. 15 Then Jacob went down to Egypt, where he and our fathers died. 16 Their bodies were brought back to Shechem and placed in the tomb that Abraham had bought from the sons of Hamor at Shechem for a certain sum of money.

Here, Stephen focuses on Joseph – the favored son of Jacob. The coat (colorful, yes) was a symbol of who was to receive the inheritance. This caused his other brothers to hate him. Also, the dreams he had (and proudly told them about), made them upset because they indicated that the whole family (even the parents) would bow down to him.

He was put in a pit, sold into slavery, sent to prison (falsely accused), interpreted dreams, got out of prison, became SECOND in command of one of the most powerful nations on earth at that time.

Joseph noted that all things work together for the good of those who love the Lord (Romans 8:28). Then the sons of Jacob came to Egypt to meet with him – they didn’t recognize him at first. But the second time they came back, he revealed himself. They were afraid because they thought he would take his revenge, but he comforted them, blessed them, protected them, and provided new homes for them.

Jesus and Joseph

  • Jesus and Joseph, rejected by their brothers
  • Jesus, rejected by Jews, received by Gentiles (John 1 “he came to his own and his own did not receive him – but to those who did receive him, he gave the right to become children of God”).
  • Joseph, rejected by brothers, received by Egyptians.
  • Jesus, died (lowly place) and rose to the highest place.
  • Joseph, in prison (lowly place) rose to the highest place (under Pharaoh).

So Joseph is a shadow, foreshadowing of Jesus. Stephen is trying to make this crystal clear.

#3 The Life of Moses (v. 17-36)

17 “As the time drew near for God to fulfill his promise to Abraham, the number of our people in Egypt greatly increased. 18 Then another king, who knew nothing about Joseph, became ruler of Egypt. 19 He dealt treacherously with our people and oppressed our forefathers by forcing them to throw out their newborn babies so that they would die. 20 “At that time Moses was born, and he was no ordinary child. For three months he was cared for in his father’s house. 21 When he was placed outside, Pharaoh’s daughter took him and brought him up as her own son. 22 Moses was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was powerful in speech and action. 23 “When Moses was forty years old, he decided to visit his fellow Israelites. 24 He saw one of them being mistreated by an Egyptian, so he went to his defense and avenged him by killing the Egyptian. 25 Moses thought that his own people would realize that God was using him to rescue them, but they did not. 26 The next day Moses came upon two Israelites who were fighting. He tried to reconcile them by saying, ‘Men, you are brothers; why do you want to hurt each other?’ 27 “But the man who was mistreating the other pushed Moses aside and said, ‘Who made you ruler and judge over us? 28 Do you want to kill me as you killed the Egyptian yesterday?’ 29When Moses heard this, he fled to Midian, where he settled as a foreigner and had two sons. 30“After forty years had passed, an angel appeared to Moses in the flames of a burning bush in the desert near Mount Sinai. 31 When he saw this, he was amazed at the sight. As he went over to look more closely, he heard the Lord’s voice: 32 ‘I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.’ Moses trembled with fear and did not dare to look. 33 “Then the Lord said to him, ‘Take off your sandals; the place where you are standing is holy ground. 34 I have indeed seen the oppression of my people in Egypt. I have heard their groaning and have come down to set them free. Now come, I will send you back to Egypt.’ 35 “This is the same Moses whom they had rejected with the words, ‘Who made you ruler and judge?’ He was sent to be their ruler and deliverer by God himself, through the angel who appeared to him in the bush. 36 He led them out of Egypt and did wonders and miraculous signs in Egypt, at the Red Sea and for forty years in the desert.

Through their own history, they proved that they also did not follow Moses.

Jesus and Moses:

  • Moses narrowly escaped death as an infant from Pharaoh.
  • Jesus narrowly escaped death as an infant from Herod.
  • Moses was mighty in word and deed.
  • Jesus was mighty in word and deed (Luke 9:50?)

Moses tried to reconcile the fighting Israelites and he was rejected – he had to flee to Midian. Moses was commissioned OUT of Judea – “the place where you are standing is holy ground.”

The Jews had started to “cage God” in the temple. He was trying to show them that God doesn’t LIVE in the temple, and he CAN work outside the temple.

Yes, he appeared there, but there was a time when the glory disappeared from there – when hearts strayed from true worship. Stephen’s emphasis is that God’s dwelling is not the temple building. (Paul in Eph. 2 “you are the temple of the Holy Spirit – your bodies – honor God with your bodies”)

Moses had declared that God would one day raise up a prophet like him (the Messiah = Jesus) – had all the marks/requirements that Moses had declared that God would raise up. But the Israelites had refused to pay attention to them.

Even when Peter said these similar things, he’d softened it “Yes, you did wrong in the past because you didn’t know, but NOW God has commanded otherwise.”

Here, Stephen is being much more forceful. Will he go too far?

#4 Moses and the Israelites in the wilderness (v. 37-43)

37 “This is that Moses who told the Israelites, ‘God will send you a prophet like me from your own people.’ 38 He was in the assembly in the desert, with the angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and with our fathers; and he received living words to pass on to us. 39 “But our fathers refused to obey him. Instead, they rejected him and in their hearts turned back to Egypt. 40 They told Aaron, ‘Make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who led us out of Egypt–we don’t know what has happened to him!’ 41 That was the time they made an idol in the form of a calf. They brought sacrifices to it and held a celebration in honor of what their hands had made. 42 But God turned away and gave them over to the worship of the heavenly bodies.This agrees with what is written in the book of the prophets: ” ‘Did you bring me sacrifices and offerings forty years in the desert, O house of Israel? 43 You have lifted up the shrine of Molech and the star of your god Rephan, the idols you made to worship. Therefore I will send you into exile’ beyond Babylon.

#5 The Tabernacle and the Temple (v. 44-53)

44 “Our forefathers had the tabernacle of the Testimony with them in the desert. It had been made as God directed Moses, according to the pattern he had seen. 45Having received the tabernacle, our fathers under Joshua brought it with them when they took the land from the nations God drove out before them. It remained in the land until the time of David,46 who enjoyed God’s favor and asked that he might provide a dwelling place for the God of Jacob. 47 But it was Solomon who built the house for him. 48 “However, the Most High does not live in houses made by men. As the prophet says: 49 ” ‘Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house will you build for me? says the Lord. Or where will my resting place be? 50 Has not my hand made all these things?’ 51 “You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit! 52 Was there ever a prophet your fathers did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him– 53 you who have received the law that was put into effect through angels but have not obeyed it.”

The tabernacle was a moveable building where God appeared at first.

David said, “Let’s give God a house.” Nathan the prophet agreed, but said, “You are a man of blood, you can’t.” So his son Solomon did it.

The problem is that God moves, and God dwells, BUT sometimes, we put too much emphasis on the BUILDING where God HAS been, and where he DID move.

Now, Stephen is emphasizing that the TEMPLE building is “the big deal.” Even Jesus had said this “Woe to you, for you built tombs for the prophets, BUT your ancestors killed them. So, you approved of what your ancestors did, but you build their tombs.”

The Stoning of Stephen

54 When they heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. 55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” 57 At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, 58 dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep. (And Saul was there giving approval to his death.)

At this, (so much hard speech toward them), they absolutely lost control and grabbed him, dragged him out of town, and stoned him violently.

At this part of Scripture, Jesus is standing (not sitting) at the right hand of God. It’s as if he’s standing, waiting to receive and welcome Stephen, the first Christian martyr.

It’s interesting too that when Jesus was before that same assembly, he’d said, “I am, and you will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds in glory.” That caused them to murder him.

And now, Stephen is seeing the Son of Man in glory, and they murder him.

Jesus and Stephen:

  • Jesus: “The Son of Man will be glorified.”
  • Stephen: “The Son of Man is glorified.”
  • Jesus on the cross: “Into your hands I commit my spirit.”
  • Stephen: To Jesus’ hands, commits his spirit.
  • Jesus: “Forgive them (my murderers) their sins.”
  • Stephen: “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” (v. 60)

Then he fell asleep (yes, death is only temporary). When we wake again (the Great Awakening) at Jesus’ Second Coming (just like Joseph showed himself to his brothers the second time), how will we wake up?

There was a first chance to receive Christ – when he came first and until the Second Coming. Have you received Jesus as your Savior?

Let’s pray.

  • Feb 09 / 2014
  • Comments Off on Culture Clashes (Acts 6:1-15)
Acts: The Church Grows, Pastor Brian, Sermons

Culture Clashes (Acts 6:1-15)


02.09.2014 Pastor Brian

Sermon Notes

<Download Notes in a .RTF file>

The Choosing of the Seven

1 In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Grecian Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. 2 So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. 3 Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them 4 and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.” 5 This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism. 6 They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them. 7 So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.

Stephen Seized

8 Now Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, did great wonders and miraculous signs among the people. 9 Opposition arose, however, from members of the Synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called)–Jews of Cyrene and Alexandria as well as the provinces of Cilicia and Asia. These men began to argue with Stephen, 10 but they could not stand up against his wisdom or the Spirit by whom he spoke. 11 Then they secretly persuaded some men to say, “We have heard Stephen speak words of blasphemy against Moses and against God.” 12 So they stirred up the people and the elders and the teachers of the law. They seized Stephen and brought him before the Sanhedrin. 13 They produced false witnesses, who testified, “This fellow never stops speaking against this holy place and against the law. 14 For we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs Moses handed down to us.” 15 All who were sitting in the Sanhedrin looked intently at Stephen, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel.

v. 1 “In those days…”

When the disciples numbers were increasing, the Grecian Jews complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked.

Previously, the apostles had been brought before the Sanhedrin who wanted to kill them. Gamaliel had persuaded them to just let them go – if the movement was of men, it would fade off, if from God, it wouldn’t fail.

So, the men were flogged and let go. They were full of joy to be able to suffer for Jesus, and they ignored the command of the Council – they must obey God rather than men. They continued to preach, and the disciples’ number increased. Increased numbers also lead to increased problems, which they experienced here.

The Grecian widows didn’t receive the same bread rations that the Hebraic widows received.

Now Luke turns his story to this tale.

Grecian and Hebraic Jews are separated linguistically and geographically.

The diaspora = the dispersion of the Jews (from Jerusalem to Babylon and at other times). This was part of the warning of God in Deuteronomy. “If you don’t obey my commands, you’ll be scattered throughout the whole earth.” The people weren’t faithful to God (read anything in the OT) and they worshiped idols, and were scattered.

When they worshiped idols and sinned, things went poorly. When they repented, things started looking up (improving).

When they did repent, they wanted to come back to Jerusalem (especially for the major feasts). Many also wanted to return home for retirement.

Many commentators say the Grecian Jews were probably more faithful?

They were Greeks, didn’t know the language, didn’t know the culture, etc, etc. They had suffered many things outside of the land so that they could come back.

Today, Sabbra Jews = immigrants who have come to live and work in Jerusalem.

The Grecian Jews went to a Greek speaking synagogue. The Hebraic Jews went to an Aramaic speaking synagogue. They were (quite) different in culture, and language. This was especially disadvantageous for the widows who couldn’t really speak up and express themselves.

Even today, when countries receive immigrants, the natives are suspicious of the newcomers thinking, “They’ll take our jobs! Our wives!” etc.

Even in this Christian context, there were probably prejudices against the immigrants.

Some say the Grecian Jews were all Greek speaking. But take Paul, he was not born in the land, he was part of the diaspora of Jews, spoke Aramaic and Greek fluently, but he declared himself a Hebrew, and in his letters (Corinthians) he defended his apostleship. “Are they Hebrews? Me too. Are they disciples? Me too. Are they children of Abraham? Me too.”

Even according to the Talmud (commentary on the Law) – the Pharisees looked down on the Grecian Jews and treated them poorly.

Now, here there’s a mixture of these two cultures and some problems with the relationships. The Greeks feel neglected (they were – possibly unintentionally – but felt very clearly).

So, looking at the attitude of God toward the widows and the orphans, the Law spoke much of God’s attitude toward these marginalized. Deut 10:18 “He defends the cause of the widow and the orphan and the foreigner among you and gives them food and clothing.”

Even in the Law, God makes his character known, and he specifies a curse against those who don’t. Deut 27:19 “Cursed be anyone who withholds justice from the fatherless, the widow, or the foreigner and withholds care.”

Derick Prince (in a small booklet on the subject) – didn’t really feel that he fully understood how to minister to these kinds of people. David Wilkerson “The secret of continual revival is: looking after the widows, the orphans, the oppressed.” Looking at the history of Wilkerson’s ministry, he was obviously right.

  • Isaiah 1:17 “Learn to do right, seek to do justice, take up the case of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.”
  • James 1:21? “This is true religion: Looking after the widow and the orphan in their distress.”

The apostles received money at their feet from the sale and distribution of land. So, they also distributed the food and donations to the needy. They were going to continue doing so, but they needed to choose SEVEN men who would oversee it faithfully. (This was a kind of soup kitchen.) So the apostles turned the authority of the choice over to the church.

  1. Stephen
  2. Philip
  3. Procorus
  4. Nicanor
  5. Timon
  6. Parmenas
  7. Nicolas

These were all proselytes (converts that did everything required in the Law including circumcision). Other converts were not circumcised so they are not fully “proselytes.”

  • Nicolas is from Antioch (important later).
  • Stephen is also important – his acts in the next chapter connect the Jerusalem church to the rest of the world’s church.

Acts 7:19? “Those who were scattered in connection with Stephen traveled as far as Cyprus and Antioch.”

At Antioch, the gospel was first preached to Gentiles as well as Jews. This became an important center for the spread of the gospel to Gentile nations.

Also, Paul later confesses about Stephen’s death – his witness, and approval of it.

  • Philip preaches to an Ethopian, who also goes back to Ethopia to continue preaching. Paul later visited him.
  • Nicolas was a convert to Judaism from paganism.

After they chose these SEVEN men, the apostles brought them forward, laid hands on them, and prayed for them.

The laying on of hands and praying is done for several reasons in the Bible including:

  1. Baptism
  2. Healings
  3. Commission to Ministry

Numbers 8:10 “Bring the Levites before the Lord and the Israelites should lay their hands on them and pray for them.”

Deaconaos = the title for deacon.

These men became deacons, technically, though weren’t called it specifically. Philip was called “Philip the evangelist” in other places.

These men were preaches and teachers also, doing signs and wonders. The Greek Jews were probably more geared to preaching to the Greek Jews than the apostles – with the same power as the apostles.

Summary: Acts 6:7 “So, the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.”

There were 8,000 priests in the temple, and 10,000 Levites at that time. Many believed and turned to the Lord. This shows the power and authority with which the apostles preached.



There is a subtle change of audience here. They brought the gospel to a Greek speaking synagogue. The apostles were more used to speaking in the Aramaic speaking synagogues, but here Stephen is speaking to the Freedmen – former slaves or kids of slaves – Greeks – and Stephen is preaching to them. They hearts are hard and they argue with Stephen here. They could not stand the wisdom and Spirit by which you speak.

Matthew (last week)

“The time will come when you’ll be brought before leaders – don’t worry about what to say – God will give you the words to say.” Here is an example of that – speaking in the Spirit – and they can’t counter what he says.

Filled with the Spirit, Stephen does great wonders and signs – he’s filled with God’s grace and power – but the people resist his teaching. Some of them persuade others to say, “This guy is blaspheming Moses and the Law!” (Stephen is probably challenging their obsession with the Law. JESUS is the center of faith, NOT Law.) So they brought him before the elders and said, “He’s saying this Jesus will destroy this place and our customs!” (They are twisting his words – though there is some truth to them. Jesus didn’t destroy the temple, but he did prophesy it – the Romans eventually destroyed it.)

The temple was ordained with beautiful stones and gifts dedicated to God. Jesus had said, “Just wait. There will come a day when not a single stone remains on another.” From a distance, this was a beautiful sight.

The reason why the stones were not left is because when the temple was burned by the Romans, the gold melted between the cracks. So in order to get to the gold, they eventually tore apart the whole temple, stone by stone.

Jesus’ prophecy came to pass – the people missed the true temple – himself.

Jesus also had said, “Believe me, a time is coming when you will not worship God in the temple.” (John 4 – to the woman at the well). “True worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth – for they are the kind of worshipers God is seeking.”

God is not to be found in:

  • A place
  • A type of worship

But, he is in all believers in the Holy Spirit.

v. 15

“His face was like the face of an angel.”

Must be like when Moses was in the presence of God and came down from the mountain and veiled his face so the people wouldn’t see the glory.

Angel = messenger of God. Stephen was a messenger and was about to go see God.

The important thing for believers is that we:

  1. must be born of the Spirit,
  2. filled with the Spirit,
  3. have the Spirit witness to our spirits,
  4. acknowledge that we are sinners by birth,
  5. when convicted of sin, receive the Spirit of God,
  6. repent.
  • Flesh and blood will not inherit the kingdom of God.
  • If anyone is in Christ he is a new creation (1 Cor?)

It’s a self-authenticating thing that we can know we can know we can know. As we know, we learn. As we become new creations, we grow in knowledge and faith.

Have we begun?

We can begin by faith, be filled with the Spirit, live in the Spirit, rejoice in the Spirit. As we are filled, we will be more filled, and more filled. As we grow, we grow more. “From faith to faith we grow.”

Let’s pray.

  • Jan 26 / 2014
  • Comments Off on Retaliation and Rejoicing (Acts 5:34-42)
Acts: The Church Grows, Pastor Brian, Sermons

Retaliation and Rejoicing (Acts 5:34-42)


01.26.2014 Bulletin

Sermon Notes

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34 But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, who was honored by all the people, stood up in the Sanhedrin and ordered that the men be put outside for a little while.

35 Then he addressed them: “Men of Israel, consider carefully what you intend to do to these men. 36 Some time ago Theudas appeared, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men rallied to him. He was killed, all his followers were dispersed, and it all came to nothing. 37 After him, Judas the Galilean appeared in the days of the census and led a band of people in revolt. He too was killed, and all his followers were scattered. 38 Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. 39 But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.”

40 His speech persuaded them. They called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. 41 The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. 42 Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ.

Peter had spoken to these guys earlier and been quite clear that THEY had condemned Jesus to death on the cross.

But he was equally clear that God was granting repentance through this – to the Jews first, then the Gentiles.

But it was clear that these guys weren’t ready to hear this at that time. They were furious – they wanted to kill them all. But then Gamaliel stood up and spoke and changed their minds.

He was a very respected man – grandson of Hillel (who had founded a school for Pharisees). Later, in Acts, Luke tells that Gamaliel had been Paul’s teacher. He was so respected that he was given the title “Rabban” – this is higher than “Rab” (teacher) or “Rabbi” (my teacher) – “Rabban” = (our teacher).

In other texts, it’s said that when he died, the glory of the Torah came to an end. These in the Sanhedrin can’t really take action without the help of Gamaliel. Even though Gamaliel is in the minority, he is more popular and respected among the people – so they would need his agreement to harm the apostles.

Gamaliel speaks and says, “If this is a human thing, it’ll fail. If it’s from God, it’ll never fail.”

He reminded them of the attempted Nazarene revolution and how the Romans would kill the leader and the revolution would fail.

Why would Gamaliel advocate leniency toward the apostles?

Previously, in the gospels, when the man was lowered through the roof for healing, Jesus forgave his sins first, then healed him physically to prove his authority to forgive sins.

Another instance (Luke 7:29-30) “All the people, when they heard Jesus’ words acknowledged that God’s way was right because they had been baptized by John. But the Pharisees…didn’t accept it because they hadn’t been baptized by John.” John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. Renouncing sins, turning away and being prepared for the further ministry of Jesus.

So, on that occasion, the Pharisees didn’t agree with this.

Luke 11:37-41 – Jesus was invited to eat with a Pharisee. So he went in and reclined at the table. But the Pharisee was surprised when he saw that Jesus didn’t wash before the meal. (The Pharisees did a ritual cleansing – not because they were dirty – before meals) – Jesus said, “You guys clean the outside, but inside you are dirty and full of wickedness. Did not he who made the outside also make the inside? So be kind to the poor and all will go well with you.”

Gamaliel must have also been on the counsel when they condemned Jesus and handed him over for crucifixion. So, he hadn’t helped Jesus out at that time, but now he’s trying to help these guys? What’s up with that?

Well maybe not all the Pharisees hated Jesus. Remember Nicodemus? John 3? “How can I be born again?” Jesus said, “Unless you’re born of the Spirit, you cannot enter into the kingdom of God, or even see it.”

New biography of C.S.Lewis – how he first came to believe in Christ. He believed in God – he was a theist – but he didn’t know where Jesus fit in. Lewis, “I was on my way to the zoo – BAM – on the way home, I knew it.” (Revelation of God after God had been working on his heart for a while). For some people, this is gentler, for some it’s very dramatic, but ALL people must believe and accept this truth to become NEW – old has gone, new has come. We are new creations.

Later on, after the outpouring of the HS, many Pharisees became Christians (Acts 15:5) – they still had trouble breaking away from their legalism, but many were added to their number.

Gamaliel, as a Pharisee, would be more sympathetic to those who preached about the Resurrection (remember Sadduccees didn’t believe in angels or demons or the resurrection).

After the martyrdom of Steven, Gamaliel probably gave approval to persecute the church. So, was Gamaliel’s help here tinged with personal interests?

He probably didn’t want to get involved in a situation that would end up having bad political influences on the Jews. (Plus, those other two guys’ revolutions came to nothing).

Anyway, he persuaded them, and they flogged the apostles (39 lashes – 40 should kill a man, so they were nice and let them live by a thread).

Paul later says in a letter, “5 times I received from the Jews 40 lashes minus 1.”

The apostles rejoiced in being counted worthy to be persecuted for Jesus’ name. Jesus also said this, Matthew 11 “Blessed are you when men despise you and curse you…”

We should realize that we can forgive, we can overcome addition, through Jesus help.

Recap the chapter:

  1. An angel of the Lord releases the apostles from prison and they go back to the temple and begin to teach the people the full message of salvation and the New Life in Christ.
  2. Some men were supposed to go to the prison to get them and bring them before the Sanhedrin for trial. But they guys weren’t there. So, they had to go back to arrest them again.
  3. The apostles don’t resist arrest.
  4. The High Priest says, “We ordered you: Don’t do that!”
  5. Peter says, “We must obey God, not you dudes.”
  6. The priest want to kill them.
  7. Gamaliel says, “Yo! Let it be~”

Ananias and Sapphaira (supplement)

There is a danger in neglecting (not continuing) our salvation.

Some believers can quote the Scripture, “If you know the truth, the truth will set you free” but they aren’t free, why not?

They should really remember the previous verse, “IF you CONTINUE in my Word…”

It’s in the continuing and progressive truth that we will be set more and more free.

There is a danger of demonic control of the saints – losing control. It’s important to know that your openness to attack or wounding is present. Luke – there was a woman who’d been sick for 18 years be a spirit. She was bent over double – it was caused by a demon. She was a “daughter of Abraham” – a believer – but she had a problem. As soon as Jesus dismissed the spirit from her, she was able to be physically healed.

Peter is an example of a believer who lost control to Satan for a short time. Jesus says, “Peter, Satan will sift you.” (Separate the wheat chaff (rejects) from the grain (to make flour)). Jesus is warning Peter that Satan has demanded permission to sift him. Apparently he’d given Satan a foothold when they were arguing amongst themselves about who is the greatest (pride). This may have opened a door to allow Satan to come in to influence him.

Even though Peter says, “I’ll stand with you to death.” Jesus says, “You’ll deny me three times.” But Jesus had already prayed for Peter’s successful restoration – which he achieved after meeting the resurrected Jesus.

Eph 6:10-17 (The Full Armor of God)

To stand against the schemes, the whiles, the strategies of Satan. Why? To protect the body from the arrows of the enemy.

1. The Belt of Truth (believing the doctrine of the gospel – also inner truth – to bring our lives into conformity with the truth – don’t allow deception to grab you). A&S were part of the church, taking part in the church – but they believed and told a lie and brought God’s judgment upon them and fear upon the church.

  • “In your anger, do not sin.” We can do something about our anger – someone cuts you off on the road, what should you do?
  • “Don’t let the sun go down on your anger.”
  • “Don’t give the devil a foothold.”

We allow the devil an opportunity to tempt and influence us if we don’t repent, confess, and shut that door.

It’s like someone who comes to your door selling something, and they stick their foot in your door and eventually, this “foothold” becomes a stronghold when they get IN your house.

Don’t allow him in – not EVEN a foothold. Shut that door!

1 Peter 5:6-9

“Your adversary the devil prowls about like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour.” (1 Cor 15:54) “Death is swallowed up in victory.” (same word).

Devoured = something is controlled by something else. For example, a python that eats a gazelle. The animal is being swallowed up.

Peter “Resist. Steadfast in the faith.”

This is about believers.

Unbelievers are already in the grasp of Satan.

Perhaps Peter is remembering his own failures. So he says, “Humble yourselves and he will lift you up in due time.”

A&S conceived their lie in their hearts and Satan fueled and filled their hearts to make a massive deception. Actually, the church is filled with deception. The global church in fact…

The days are evil.

We don’t have to get bogged down in fear, but rejoice in Christ’s truth – because that truth will set us free.

Like the disciples, we can rejoice in our sufferings because it is Christ alone who breaks our bonds and sets us free.

Let’s pray.

  • Dec 15 / 2013
  • Comments Off on The Futile Fight Against God (Acts 5:27-42)
Acts: The Church Grows, Pastor Brian, Sermons

The Futile Fight Against God (Acts 5:27-42)


12.15.2013 Bulletin

Sermon Notes

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27 Having brought the apostles, they made them appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest. 28 “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name,” he said. “Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood.”29 Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than men! 30 The God of our fathers raised Jesus from the dead–whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree. 31 God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel. 32 We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.” 33 When they heard this, they were furious and wanted to put them to death. 34 But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, who was honored by all the people, stood up in the Sanhedrin and ordered that the men be put outside for a little while.35 Then he addressed them: “Men of Israel, consider carefully what you intend to do to these men. 36 Some time ago Theudas appeared, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men rallied to him. He was killed, all his followers were dispersed, and it all came to nothing. 37After him, Judas the Galilean appeared in the days of the census and led a band of people in revolt. He too was killed, and all his followers were scattered. 38 Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. 39 But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.” 40 His speech persuaded them. They called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. 41The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. 42 Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ.

At the beginning of Acts 5, there was a lot of consternation because of the sudden death of Ananias and Sapphaira – deceivers of the HS and other disciples. They didn’t have the fear of the Lord they should have. And they paid the ultimate price because of it. That brought a great fear on the church.

Also, there was great grace during that time. They prayed in the evenings for those who were troubled and afflicted by spirits or diseases.

So, in this great grace and great fear, many more joined the apostles, and many also stayed farther and farther away.

Many people benefited from the outpouring of the Spirit. The apostles were preaching and teaching and the church was growing, and the Pharisees and Sadducees started to become jealous and had them arrested. They wanted to punish them so they put them in jail – but at night an angel came and freed them and sent them back to preach some more. So, they did. At daybreak, the members of the Council sent for the disciples – who weren’t there. They went back to report, and at the same time someone else reported “Hey! Those dudes are back!” So, they sent someone to arrest them AGAIN. Then they appeared before the Council.

The Pharisees said, “Didn’t we tell you not to preach in THAT name?” (Couldn’t even say the name “Jesus”).

All the apostles agreed that it was their duty to obey God rather than men and to continue preaching and teaching in the name of Jesus.

Now the Council members get quite angry, because Peter had pretty much showed that they were responsible for Jesus’ death – but he wasn’t out to BLAME them for it. They said, “You put the guilt of this on us!” He said, “Jesus was raised by God as a man, from the dead, in his ascension.” (3 steps). Because he was glorified, he was therefore also called out on the Pentecost (the HS – his Spirit). He was also sent to be the Savior of the world.

Jesus was raised as the Savior of the world (the WHOLE world) – first to the Jew, then the Gentile.

Even though Peter presents his case in this manner, the Pharisees were angry. Peter says, “You hung him on a tree.” In Greek (zulon) = something made of wood.

In Deuteronomy, anyone who was guilty of a capital was hung up on a tree or a pole during the day, but the body had to be taken down at nightfall because it was believed to be condemned by God.

  • Peter is basically saying, “You thought of him as a curse (probably still do). YET, this was God’s plan from the Beginning anyway. This was to be God’s plan for restoration.”
  • Paul: “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having been cursed for us – because it is written ‘cursed is anyone who hangs on a tree.’”

Remember the Old Covenant under Abraham. If the people obeyed God, they would be blessed in every way. But if the disobeyed God, they would receive the curses of God – disease, hurt, trouble.

Even though they said, “We will obey” they didn’t understand their own inability to do so. So, God made a way for them to be cleansed regardless – the spotless lamb that was sacrificed. Paul says that this was just a “warm-up.” The true sacrifice, the eternal sacrifice is Jesus. Paul points everything to Jesus. Even the Centurion who guarded Jesus’ body at his death said, “Surely, this man was the Son of God.”

Romans “There’s not one righteous, no not one. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

Derick Prince (theologian) “Everything is provided in the cross.” – He suffered our hell for us, he took our punishment, he was wounded for us – so that we would be made whole, we would be healed, we could have eternal life.

What we all need = spiritual healing. Physical, mental, emotional healing is all appropriate as well and Christ (ultimately) has provided all these.

Prince was very sick (after WWII) and read and meditated on the Scriptures and became well. His wife as well – after meditating on the Scriptures.

We can do so as well – but must also get rid of any barriers that might prevent healing – such as unforgiveness or hidden sins.

The scapegoat (in the Old Testament) was given all the sins of the people, then led off into the wilderness and was destroyed. Jesus was OUR scapegoat – he bore the penalty for our sins. He exchanged his righteousness for our sins, and we have received his righteousness in place of our sins. What a cost.

He was punished, wounded for us. He was made SIN for us. He died. We all die. Why do we die? Sin brings death. (Genesis 2 “You may eat of any tree in the Garden except that one. If you eat of it you will surely die.” Genesis 3 Snake “You won’t die…” – but that sin brings death – not instantly, but inevitably).

If we receive Christ, his spirit is an eternal Spirit, so that we might have life. Jesus says, “I’ve come that they might have life and have it abundantly.” (Gospel of John).

Jesus also became poor for us. If the OT Law was broken, then poverty, a loss of all things was the consequence. Jesus didn’t even have a grave – a different guy – a rich guy – donated one for him. Even the presence of his Father in Heaven was taken away “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” He died in poverty, but rose again in splendor and glory.

When people receive Jesus, they are blessed – inevitably.

Example: Alcohol, sexual addictions, drugs – when you receive Christ and know that he is enough (and you don’t need your old crutches) – you become blessed. You get cleaned up, help others get cleaned up. Jesus takes away the barriers to your blessing.

Jesus bore our shame. When we sin or even are sinned against – violence, abuse, sexual abuse – even if it’s not your fault – sometimes you experience guilt and shame. But Jesus KNOWS that same shame – he bore it – he TOOK it. He was naked and abused, hanging and dying on that cross. Shame is eliminated in the cross.

  • He bore our shame that we might share in his glory (not his intrinsic God glory) – but his heavenly, resurrected glory. He is the first of our family in heaven.
  • He also took our rejection as he bore the consequence of our sin. He = our rejection. We = now accepted by God.
  • He bore the curse of the broken law.

(Gap for spent battery)

Let’s pray…

  • Dec 01 / 2013
  • Comments Off on All About This New Life (Acts 5:12-29)
Acts: The Church Grows, Pastor Brian, Sermons

All About This New Life (Acts 5:12-29)


12.01.2013 Bulletin

Sermon Notes

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The Apostles Heal Many

12 The apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers used to meet together in Solomon’s Colonnade. 13 No one else dared join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people. 14 Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number. 15 As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by. 16 Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by evil spirits, and all of them were healed.

The Apostles Persecuted

17 Then the high priest and all his associates, who were members of the party of the Sadducees,were filled with jealousy. 18 They arrested the apostles and put them in the public jail. 19 But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and brought them out. 20 “Go, stand in the temple courts,” he said, “and tell the people the full message of this new life.” 21 At daybreak they entered the temple courts, as they had been told, and began to teach the people. When the high priest and his associates arrived, they called together the Sanhedrin–the full assembly of the elders of Israel–and sent to the jail for the apostles. 22 But on arriving at the jail, the officers did not find them there. So they went back and reported, 23 “We found the jail securely locked, with the guards standing at the doors; but when we opened them, we found no one inside.” 24 On hearing this report, the captain of the temple guard and the chief priests were puzzled, wondering what would come of this. 25 Then someone came and said, “Look! The men you put in jail are standing in the temple courts teaching the people.” 26 At that, the captain went with his officers and brought the apostles. They did not use force, because they feared that the people would stone them. 27 Having brought the apostles, they made them appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest. 28 “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name,” he said. “Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood.” 29 Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than men! 30 The God of our fathers raised Jesus from the dead–whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree. 31 God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel. 32 We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”

Previously, Ananias and Sapphira died after lying to the community of believers by falsifying the amount of money they’d received and given after the sale of their property.

Before that, Peter and John had been released from prison by God, and they’d prayed for signs and wonders from God for healing. There were some.

The church agreed to sell and give their money at times to give to the poor among them so that no one would be in need. Barnabas was a good example of this. He sold a field and gave all the money to the apostles.

Ananias and Sapphira also sold a field and tried to give the impression that they were giving ALL the money, BUT, that was a lie. Peter said, “Why has Satan filled your heart with these things?” Ananias fell down dead and three hours later, his wife arrived and lied as well – she also fell down dead.

Great fear came upon the church.

Later in Acts, we read that “great grace was upon them all.”

We’ve all been guilty of hypocrisy, but it was likely the intensity of the power and Spirit of God there that their attitude was taken and dealt with more harshly. It had to be cut out. (I believe they were “promoted to heaven” early before they could do anything else.)

We can’t just emphasize the LOVE of God without also emphasizing his HOLINESS. He has a HOLY love. The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever, the beginning of wisdom.

Jesus delighted in that – in Isaiah we read that he was filled with and walked in the fear of the Lord. Is this enslaving fear? No, perfect love casts out all fear. There is, however, a reverence for God. A fear of grieving Him, of walking outside of His will, it keeps us from evil.

Ananias and Sapphira ignored that fear and paid the price ultimately.

The atmosphere of the early church was charged with grace and now also with this kind of fear.

In v 12, the apostles performed many signs and wonders.

A&S didn’t repent, Peter gave them a chance, so they were killed. There was a holy fear, holy awe both in and OUT of the church after this.

Luke, the writer of Acts uses “ecclesia” for the first time in the book – this is the Greek word for “church.” He uses it to describe both the local and the universal church. This is a different word from “synagogue.” It actually means, a citizen’s assembly. These are the citizen’s of heaven – so it is appropriate here.

Church sometimes has bad meanings that ecclesia doesn’t.

  1. Do we “go” to church? We are the church. We GO.
  2. Is the church the building? We are the church.

Luke writes that the apostles performed many signs and wonders among the people. Earlier they’d prayed that God would do this. A&S’s deaths were also examples of supernatural powers (this was a negative example among many positive examples). In fact, the supernatural powers of God were so great that if people merely lay under Peter’s shadow, there were ALL healed. Imagine that. People lining the sides of the street…

It was in this atmosphere that people were healed.

Jesus had also said that the apostles would do greater works than he had. In fact, even just the amount of the converts on Pentecost was greater than Jesus’ work previously. But, it was Jesus’ spirit in them that enabled that.

When a woman came asking Jesus for help for her daughter, Jesus tested her faith. “It’s not fit to give the children’s bread to the dogs.” She responded well, “But it’s OK for the dogs to eat the crumbs that fall from the master’s table.” She wasn’t a Jew, she wanted the crumbs from the Master’s table – Jesus was pleased with her faith and said, “Go, the demon is out of your daughter.” This was an instance of a distance healing.

In Acts 19:11, through Paul, God did extraordinary miracles through Paul – just by touching a handkerchief he touched, people were healed.

The church now regularly meets in Solomon’s Colonnade – a part of the temple. And they are held in such awe and reverence that “no one dared join them.” (v. 13). No one was willing to pretend to believe unless they actually did. They’d seen what had happened to others.

Yet, more and more DID believe and were added to their numbers. There were some whose minds and hearts were opened and who joined the community.

William Barclay: “Of the others, no one dared to meddle with them – interfere without invitation.”

v. 16 – Gospel is spreading to the towns around Jerusalem and is advancing into all of Judea. But the effectiveness of the words and deeds of the apostles causes the religious leaders to become jealous and take action.

The High Priests and the “Sad You Sees” arrested the apostles – ALL of them and put them in the public jail. Essentially, they are being punished for the (Counsel’s) order to not preach in Jesus’ name. Yet, another miracle happens – the doors are opened by angels – and they tell them to go BACK to the temple and continue preaching about this “New Life”.

The new life has a present and a future tense.

  • Future: resurrection – some to eternal life (great for those who believe) some to eternal condemnation (not so hot).
  • Present: those who believe begin a literal NEW life RIGHT NOW. They grow in faith, the fruit of the Spirit, try to go away from sin and toward God.

1 Corinthians 15: “Now brothers I want to remind you of the gospel which I preached and on which you’ve believed…if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you, and haven’t believed in vain.”

The new life also means the “after-conversion” life. They are buried with Jesus in his death (in baptism) but are also raised with Christ in his resurrection (Romans 6:4). “We too may live a new life.”

Do we have that new life? How do we get it?

By believing that Jesus was the Son of God, came to earth to die for our sins, to be a substitutionary attonement for our sins, to grant us forgiveness for our sins, reconciliation with God, and eternal life forever after. And to continue believing that.

We begin the life of faith by believing, we live the life of faith by belief, and we end the life of faith by belief.

In the Counsel, someone rushes in and says “Hey guys! Those guys! Preaching to other guys!”

An angel set them free and they are back making more trouble in the temple. So, the religious guys go from the temple, to the jail, back to the temple, back to jail – they aren’t there, back to the temple, arrest them AGAIN (they don’t resist) and the religious leaders are concerned that they are being singled-out for the death of Jesus “The apostles are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood.” Apostles, “No, no, no, it’s all about repentance man!” They say, “we should obey God rather than men.”

Communion next. Let’s prepare our hearts. Examine your hearts so that we can partake worthily of the elements that represent the body and blood of Christ.

  • Nov 17 / 2013
  • Comments Off on Generosity and Judgment (Acts 4:32-5:11)
Acts: The Church Grows, Pastor Brian, Sermons

Generosity and Judgment (Acts 4:32-5:11)


11.17.2013 Bulletin

Sermon Notes

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The Believers Share Their Possessions

32 All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. 33 With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all. 34 There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales 35 and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need. 36 Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means Son of Encouragement), 37 sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet.

Ananias and Sapphira

1 Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. 2 With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet. 3 Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? 4 Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied to men but to God.” 5 When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened. 6 Then the young men came forward, wrapped up his body, and carried him out and buried him. 7 About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8 Peter asked her, “Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?” “Yes,” she said, “that is the price.” 9 Peter said to her, “How could you agree to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also.” 10 At that moment she fell down at his feet and died. Then the young men came in and, finding her dead, carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11 Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events.

Happy Chusu Kamsa Jeol! (Thanksgiving Day)

Taking a break from typing today to give my wife a break!~

  • Nov 03 / 2013
  • Comments Off on Signs, Wonders, & Sharing (Acts 4:23-37)
Acts: The Church Grows, Pastor Brian, Sermons

Signs, Wonders, & Sharing (Acts 4:23-37)


11.03.2013 Bulletin

Sermon Notes

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Previously, Peter and John went to the gate, found a crippled man who begged for alms, but they healed him. People were amazed and a crowd gathered, but Peter pushed any credit away from himself and onto Christ – the Healer.

They then began proclaiming the gospel, that Christ was the Messiah, had died and risen from the dead, and that his good works would be multiplied in his apostles and disciples.

The early church was baptized by the HS on Pentecost to carry out Jesus’ work. Likewise, Jesus had been baptized in the Jordan by JohnB.

After Jesus baptism, he went out into the wilderness and was tempted (as Adam was tempted the first time – though Adam failed, Jesus overcame temptation).

After his temptation, Jesus went and began his ministry through the power of the HS, and he began to dismantle Satan’s kingdom.

Jesus had said that the disciples would also receive power when the HS came upon them (Pentecost) and they would be able to heal and do miracles through the power of the HS, in Jesus name.

This previous healing was one of the most significant up to that time.

Now when the temple guards and priests heard about this (those in the higher class – Sadduccees) they didn’t like it, came and arrested Peter and John. They put them in prison and brought them before the Sanhedrin. This was difficult, because the healed man was also with them.

A notable miracle had obviously been performed, the man was obviously healed, people obviously had heard, so they decided to just tell them to quit preaching – and they let them go. Peter said, “Whether to obey you or God…”

This brings us up to where we are now.

They went back and told the church people about what had just happened, and they began to pray in earnest. The Sanhedrin had POWER – aligned with the Romans, upper-class, etc. The church realized they needed divine help.

They used Psalm 2:1-2 as a basis for their prayer.

This was a common practice in the OT. “Peshuh?” It meant to take an old text and bring it into the modern day and interpret it as applicable to their time. They believed the prophets didn’t know fully what they had written because they couldn’t see into the future.

When they predicted the sufferings of the Messiah and the glory that would be revealed, they knew it was from God. “Even angels long to look into these things…” Peter – the real, inspired writings could only be interpreted IN the actual times and events with which they transpired.

People still try to do this. “The end of the world is coming!!!!” “This guy is the Anti-Christ!!!! He has all the marks of the AC!!!”

(These are usually all wrong – even Jesus said “no man knows the day nor the hour…” – not even Jesus knew.)

In Acts, the church is saying that Jesus’ death and persecution of God’s people were foretold in the Scriptures. God knew these things were coming and told his prophets.

4:28 “They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen.”

Here is an interesting parallel stream of (1) what God knows and (2) man’s free-will.

Where Man makes his own free choices and yet fulfills what God foreknew. – a bit of a mystery.

Matthew Henry – “Justice must be satisfied… As to the people’s act, it was an awful act of sin and folly.”

Genesis 45 – Joseph revealed himself to his brothers. (He was Jacob’s obvious favorite baby vs. 11 other brothers. They became murderously envious, and wanted to kill him – instead they sold him into slavery in Egypt. Joseph was taken into the house of Potiphar. He was accused of trying to rape his wife – he was put into prison. Many, many bad things happened to him, but in prison he interpreted dreams of the Pharaoh’s servants. One died, one went back to work. Pharaoh then had a dream and the butler said, ‘Oh, that dude Joseph can tell you about your dream.’ Joseph came and said, ‘Wow. 7 years of plenty and after 7 years of famine.’ Pharaoh, ‘Wow. You’re the man to do it. 2nd in command, son ;)’ Then, in Canaan, the famine was affecting the family of Jacob – they went down to Egypt for food. And though they hadn’t recognized him the first time, they recognized him the second time when he revealed himself. So there is lots of fear, guilt and shame for all the time they’ve harbored this sin.)

In Genesis 45 Joseph said, “Don’t be too hard on yourselves. God sent me ahead of you to save you.” He saw God’s sovereign hand at work from the painful past into the promised future.

Joseph is a type of Christ. Transpose those same words to Jesus, “Don’t be too hard on yourselves (for your sin). God sent me ahead of you to save you.”

We’re all guilty of “selling” Jesus – crucifying him on the cross. We all sin, we all fail. Jesus alone provides the righteousness that we lack. Through his death on the cross, we are saved.

1 John 1:9 “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

There is a dual working together of God in his sovereignty ( “nobody can be snatched out of my hand” Jesus ) and the fact that we also must guard ourselves. (Martin Luther “all of Christian life is one of repentance.”)

The whole tenant of the gospel is that God has taken the initiative, and we must accept his free gift through faith.

We will take the Lord’s supper, but as Paul says, “examine yourselves”. So if we sin – or sin during the week – remember those words “don’t be too hard on yourself” and confess your sins.

Jesus has taken our guilt and suffering and shame. Hebrews “Jesus bore the cross, despising its shame…”

Derick Prince – received a testimony of a young woman who’d been gang-raped in her younger years, and had married a Christian man – but had never been able to truly consummate their union because of the past. You know, when Jesus was crucified, he was naked on the cross – he’d borne HER shame, he was naked, he was a man, he was her Savior. If she loved him, she loved the one he represented. That healed her – she finally understood how Jesus had borne her shame. It healed her personal life and marriage.

Jesus took our rejection.

His own people rejected him. He had gone around doing good, healing, and because of the jealousy of the priests, he was lied against and brought before Pilate – and they freed a criminal in place of him. How did he feel as a man? Rejected.

Then, whipped, scourged, crucified.

Then, on the cross, he’d been conscious of his Father God all through his life – but finally, even God couldn’t look at him “my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Now, no one could say that we are totally rejected.

Because Jesus was totally rejected, shamed, and bore all our guilt FOR us – now we are accepted.

In Paul’s letters (even Corinthians – the wild early Christians), we are called “Saints” – not by anything we’ve done – but because of what HE’S done.

Remembering all these things, the only thing that can hold us back – is if we don’t forgive others.

“If you don’t forgive others their sins, then your sins also won’t be forgiven.”

That’s the secret of the Christian life – forgiving others AND forgiving ourselves (if you don’t forgive yourself, aren’t you putting yourself in the place of GOD in your life? He’s already forgiven you. Are you greater than God? So that you won’t forgive yourself?)

Psalm 2:1-2 “The nations rage in vain.”

After crucifying Jesus, Herod and Pilate (former enemies) became friends (or frienemies) because they are united against Jesus.

The apostles’ prayer is also humble – they don’t want relief, but boldness and healing SO THAT they gospel will be heard and God’s name glorified.

In Acts, all things that are done effectively are done in the name of Jesus.

  • Acts 9: Barnabas told of how Saul had been saved by Jesus and how he’d preached fearlessly in Damascus in the name of Jesus.
  • Acts 8:16 Peter and John arrived in Samaria prayed for the people that they might receive the HS, they’d simply been baptized into the name of Jesus – but they still needed the empowering of the HS.
  • Acts 10:43 Sins are forgiven – Peter goes to Cornelius’ household and says, “All the Prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness from sins.”
  • Acts 15:17-18: Demons are cast out. A girl following Paul shouts out “These guys are God’s servants that are telling you how to be saved!” Paul got frustrated after many days, and he addressed the spirit and said, “COME OUT!” And he came out – but the owners of the slave girl had lost their fortune-telling spirit. The spirit was of Satan.

Just because it was right didn’t make it TRUE. Even prophets who prophecy something “right” doesn’t make it TRUE. If it takes worship AWAY from the Lord, it’s trouble. Especially the occult – even a Ouija board – needs to be repented of.

Since we are coming around the table of the Lord soon, it’s important to examine ourselves. Even somethings that look innocent or insignificant, ANY sin is an abomination to the Lord.

Keep yourselves clean and clear from anything that involves the occult. These things are loathsome and an abomination.

All of these things are done in Jesus’ name.

The NAME of Jesus Christ reveals the PRESENCE of Jesus Christ.

Flawed humans can bring about salvation by proclaiming the name of Jesus Christ.

In his name we can overcome, we can be forgiven, and we can forgive others.

Let’s take some time to examine our hearts – to confess – we just “say the same things as” the Lord. We just say “Yes, Lord, you don’t like that, I confess that” and then we turn away from those things (repentance = doing a 180 away from sin, not MERELY saying “oops, sorry.”) and then we accept his salvation and his sacrifice for us.

On the day he was crucified, Jesus took the bread and the wine and said, “Do this in [loving] remembrance of me.”

  • Oct 20 / 2013
  • Comments Off on Prayer With Power (Acts 4:1-37)
Acts: The Church Grows, Pastor Brian, Sermons

Prayer With Power (Acts 4:1-37)


10.20.2013 Bulletin

Sermon Notes

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Peter and John before the Sanhedrin

1 The priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to Peter and John while they were speaking to the people. 2 They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. 3 They seized Peter and John, and because it was evening, they put them in jail until the next day. 4 But many who heard the message believed, and the number of men grew to about five thousand. 5 The next day the rulers, elders, and teachers of the law met in Jerusalem. 6 Annas the high priest was there, and so were Caiaphas, John, Alexander, and the other men of the high priest’s family. 7 They had Peter and John brought before them and began to question them: “By what power or what name did you do this?” 8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! 9 If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are asked how he was healed, 10 then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. 11 He is “’the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone.’ 12 Salvation is found in no one else for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” 13 When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. 14 But since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say. 15 So they ordered them to withdraw from the Sanhedrin and then conferred together. 16 “What are we going to do with these men?” they asked. “Everybody living in Jerusalem knows they have done an outstanding miracle, and we cannot deny it. 17 But to stop this thing from spreading any further among the people, we must warn these men to speak no longer to anyone in this name.” 18 Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John replied, “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God. 20 For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” 21 After further threats they let them go. They could not decide how to punish them, because all the people were praising God for what had happened. 22 For the man who was miraculously healed was over forty years old.

The Believers’ Prayer

23 On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them. 24 When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. “Sovereign Lord,” they said, “you made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. 25 You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David: “’Why do the nations rage and the people plot in vain? 26 The kings of the earth take their stand and their rulers gather together against the Lord and against his Anointed One.’ 27 Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. 28 They did what you power and will had decided beforehand should happen. 29 Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. 30 Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” 31 After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.

The Believers Share their Possessions

32 All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. 33 With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus and much grace was upon them all. 34 There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales 35 and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need. 36 Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means Son of Encouragement), 37 sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet.

In Acts 3, we saw the healing of the lame man during the hour of prayer. Peter had raised him up after he asked for money (in the name of Jesus). – Miracle of Jesus.

This gave opportunity for them to share their testimony in Solomon’s Colonnade (like an arcade around the temple). Peter was teaching/preaching, etc.

Luke, here, is developing an important theme – the reason for and extent of the Jewish leader’s opposition to the apostle’s message. They first encounter resistance here in Jerusalem, and then throughout the rest of the area. John is referenced here, but doesn’t really do much – Peter is the focus.

The temple guards/Levites come. The captain of the guard was a VIP, second only to the high priest. The Levites (temple police) kept order in the temple. They made sure the Gentiles didn’t enter into the Jewish only areas.

The Sadduccees (chp 3, 4) – most high priestly families are these. Every high priest from Herod to AD 33-66 – this was their lineage. The high priest held this position by permission of the Romans. They worked with the Romans (collaborators) and didn’t want anything to upset the status quo. They didn’t want anything to change. So, they saw Jesus as a threat – a revolutionary.

In John 11:37-48? Jesus was winning favor with all the people EXCEPT the Sadduccees and priests – now they begin plotting against him because they fear the Romans would take away their nation and temple on account of Jesus.

Sadduccees were descendants from the M…. (Jewish priest kings) 140-66BC ? This was the beginning of the Messianic Age. They were the guardians of old proper teachings – they didn’t believe in angels, demons, or the resurrection (at the end of the age) – so they thought they’d catch Jesus out in this (gospel? Luke? chp 19) – “If a man has 7 brothers, and he marries a woman, he dies, so his brother marries her, etc, etc. Who’s the woman’s husband in the resurrection?” Jesus says, “Eh, you totally misunderstood that part….”

God is not the God of the dead, but the God of the Living.

Jesus frustrated their attempts to catch him out.

Annas, the high priest for 9 years – then son-in-law Caiaphas (reigned for 18 years). Now, Caiaphas = the ruler, kind of, but the previous one = Annas – the real power (probably like the President of the council).

Since they didn’t believe in the resurrection, they opposed Jesus (also he seemed to be making a fundamental change in the way the temple worked – i.e. Luke 19? – drove out the sellers) – and they opposed the apostles who carried on his teaching on the resurrection.

These guys had gotten the crowd to cry out “Crucify him!” – they’d thought he was gone and dead, but now his followers are back – no wonder they’re frustrated.

So they arrested the two – threw them in prison – yet the number of MEN grew to 5,000 (probably the congregation = 20,000).

The miracles, preaching, healing, got through to many people and they believed.

The next day, the council got together to decide what to do.

  1. Rulers = high priests
  2. Elders = men of high standing
  3. Teachers = teachers

The question they ask of the apostles = “By what power/name did you do this?”
(They are people of power themselves, so they want to know who they are up against)

The same question was asked of Jesus (Luke 20:1-2) – as Jesus was teaching, the teachers of the Law came to him, “Tell us, by what authority are you doing these things?”
Jesus, “OK, you tell me – JB’s baptism – was it from heaven or from man?”

They thought, “Hmmm – if ‘from God’ then ‘why didn’t you believe in him?’ if ‘from Man’ then they people who believed in him will stone us.”

Jesus “Then I won’t tell you either.”

Now, here they are again, with the Jesus question again. And they have a big problem – the man was over forty, the healing was genuine, all the people knew… Now what should they do?…

They could have insinuated that it was the devil’s power that healed the man. Jesus was also accused of this when he healed the man with a demon who couldn’t speak, “By demonic power he drives out demons.” Jesus said, “Duh, why would Satan fight against himself? Besides, then how do YOU drive them out?”

Now Peter declares the risen glory of Christ. Luke 21:12-15 – Jesus had promised wisdom that would outsmart their opponents.

Peter accuses the leaders of being responsible for Jesus’s death and quotes an OT proof text (Ps 118:22) “the capstone” to prove it. Jesus even used it himself (Mark 12:22?)

When the Psalm was written, it was about Israel – despised and rejected by other nations. Jesus applies it to himself (more accurately) and Peter also applies it to him.

Capstone = the IMPORTANT stone in an arch that keeps everything else together.

It’s only in Jesus name (Acts 4:12) that we can be saved. He’s the key point. He’s kind of a big deal.

Remember that David had wanted to build the temple, but he’d been a man of blood – so he passed it on to Solomon to build. Yet, David prepared it all – made contracts – the blocks of stone would have no tools used on them – they had to be made in a totally different place and brought WHOLE to the temple.

The legend goes that they had a lopsided stone, they pushed it aside, threw it away and when they finally needed to finish the temple, they found out it was actually that stone that they’d rejected previously.

This is Jesus – he is the key, the capstone, the only one who fits, the one who holds everything together.

Now the Sadduccees are confused – these are unschooled men and yet, they KNEW the Scriptures as well (perhaps better) than they. It put them to silence.

Jesus was a carpenter’s son and they had earlier marveled at his learning without having gone to their prestigious Harvard-esque Temple schools.

Jesus had healed a man born blind as well. The apostles did. Jesus knew the Scriptures, they did as well.

These things are all being repeated here. What Jesus did, they did, what Jesus knew, they knew, Jesus did good, they are doing good.

  • Problem: what to do with these men?
  • Solution: Can’t really do anything except “Ya! Don’t talk about that! Ya!”

Peter: “Hey man, we’re just saying it like we saw it. Let the people rejoice.”

Do miracles like this healing still happen today? They aren’t as frequent or spectacular perhaps (but remember that all these events in the Bible aren’t happening wham bam one after the other – there is much time between them).

One man said, “I believe Jesus can turn liquor into furniture.” Because he’d been an alcoholic and had lost all his furniture, but then Jesus saved him and he started to become responsible, and he stopped drinking and was able to get furniture back.

And besides, check out Peter’s transformation. He had been a weeping sissy “I don’t know that dude!” and now he’s filled with the Spirit – powerful and bold saying “I don’t care what you do to me – I KNOW this guy!”

Let’s leave it there.

Now, a testimony.

So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Listen