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  • Jul 01 / 2018
  • Comments Off on Church must be kept Pure and Holy (Acts 5:1-16)
Acts: The Book of Mission, Pastor Heo, Sermons

Church must be kept Pure and Holy (Acts 5:1-16)

Download Notes in a .MD file

Church must be kept pure and holy

Acts 5:1-16 (Pastor Heo)

5:1 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. 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.


Satan is our enemy – and we must understand that he is alive. He had failed completely in his attempt to silence the witness of the church in chp 3-4, but he never gives up, he just changes his tactics.

As we know, according to chp 3, his first approach was to attack the church from outside – hoping that the threats would frighten the leaders and apostles. But when that failed, Satan attacked from the inside – using people who belonged to the fellowship of the church. Yes, we must know that Satan is very clever. He is a murderer and a liar. When he doesn’t succeed as a liar, he attacks as a deceiving serpent or an angel of light.

  • “Be self controlled and alert because your enemy the Devil is like a roaring lion, prowling around looking for someone to devour.” (Peter)
  • “Our enemy masquerades as an angel of light…”
  • John “You belong to your father the devil, he is a murderer from the beginning. When he lies, he speaks his native language.”

We also have our own native languages – what is yours? But remember, when you speak a lie, you are speaking Satan’s native language.

Today’s story is a very heavy one to accept.

Ananias & Sapphira

Ananias + Sapphira – sold a piece of their own property, and kept some of the money for themselves, but LIED and said, “This is the FULL amount of money we received for this property” when they presented the money to the church (Peter).

Ananias lied to Peter about offering the FULL money, and he fell down and died.

Sapphira came three hours later, lied about the FULL amount of the money they offered, and she also fell down and died.

v. 1-11

“5:1 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. 12 The apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers used to meet together in Solomon’s Colonnade.”

Yes, this is terrible and terrifying, but we must accept it. We can learn 3 lessons from this story.

Background

v. 1

“Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, **also** sold a piece of property.”

“Also” is connected with some happening in the church at that time. We can look to the last verse of the previous chapter about Barnabas to see what this was about.

4:36-37

“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.”

This act apparently filled Ananias and Sapphira with envy and they wanted to get praise and glory before the church by doing a similar thing.

#1 God hates hypocrisy

  • Hypocrisy = “wearing a mask and playing an actor”
  • Hypocrisy = deliberate deception – trying to make others think we are more spiritual, more generous than we really are

This sin, hypocrisy was the sin of this couple.

Ananias means “God is gracious” – good name – but he learned “God is holy”

Sapphira means “Beautiful” but her heart was “ugly” with sin

Yes, no doubt, some people are shocked because they read that some people lied about a business transaction and their church giving.

But, when we read further into this, we can see that God was justified and right in judging them. All throughout the Bible, especially at the beginning of a NEW period of salvation, God judges sin severely.

  • Ex: In Exodus, after the temple was built, God killed the sons of the priest because they tried to give God false fire.
  • Ex: In the land of Canaan, after a battle, God killed Achan because of his disobedience regarding money.

These examples were warnings to God’s people – and also to us.

“These things happened as examples for us… so, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you do not fall.”

Even today, Satan never gives up in his attacking and attempt to push us – his main purpose in coming is to lie, steal, and kill (destroy).

This is the first lesson we can get from this terrible story.

To begin with the sin of Ananias and Sapphira was energized by Satan (v. 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?”

If Satan cannot defeat the church from attacks outside, then he will attempt to go INSIDE and use the members of the church – even generous Christians. So, remember that we are always very close to the attack of Satan – always enduring spiritual warfare.

Eph “Be strong in the Lord’s mighty power and put on the full armor of God – because our struggling is not against physical powers, but against the powers of the spiritual realm. Therefore, put on the full armor of God so that in the day of evil you may be able to stand your ground, and when you have done everything, to stand.”

This warning is given to Christians, not non-Christians – so we must remember that we are who Satan wants to use to attack the church from the inside. Satan knows how to lie well – and he spoke a lie to Ananias and Sapphira and that lie led to death. So, when God judged Ananias and Sapphira, he was judging Satan.

#2 Their actions were motivated by the sin of Pride

God hates Pride and judges it.

Pr 8:13 “To fear the Lord is to hate evil… God gives grace to the humble, but opposes the proud.”

Yes, already Christ made it very clear that we must be very careful about how we give lest the glory to be given to God is given to us.

“Be careful not to do your giving before man… Do not announce it with trumpets as the hypocrites do. They have received their reward in full. When you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.” How is this possible? We must be filled with the HS. “Then you Father, who sees what is done in heaven will reward you.”

The Pharisees were adept at giving in public so that they might receive the praises of man. But, that is ALL they received.

Remember, we are merely STEWARDS of what God has given us, so we must use what he has given us for his glory. How can we remember God if we seek praise from man? If we seek praise from man, it is very difficult to believe in God. But we should not apply glory and praise to ourselves. We only praise our Father God, and not expect praise from men.

This is the second lesson from this story. Yes, pride is also always very near us. Are you riding pride?

Pride is the sin that opens the door to all other sins – it is the original, the gateway sin. So, if we are only interested in our own character, then their is no limit to what we might do to look good in the eyes of others.

#3 God loves the church and the sin was directed against the church

We cannot know how much God loves the church. The church was purchased by the blood of God’s only Son.

Imagine, if you bought something with the blood of your son, how much could you love that thing?

So, God loves the church so much. But at the same time, Satan wants to destroy the church all the time. So, he seeks to use those who are INSIDE the church to destroy it.

Imagine, if Peter had not been discerning, then Ananias and Sapphira would have become influential people in the early church and Satan would have been using them to do his own work from within.

  • Church is God’s temple in which God dwells, but Satan also wants to move in and dwell there with us.
  • Church is also God’s army, and Satan seeks to get as many spies and traitors into its ranks as possible.

So, church is VERY SAFE when Satan is attacking from OUTSIDE, but it is in danger when Satan can get inside and attack from within.

So, at this moment, we need to examine ourselves. Do we really mean everything we pray about in public? Do we sing hymns and gospel songs faithfully and sincerely, or routinely?

“These people honor me with their lips but their hearts are far from me.” (Jesus)

Imagine, if God still killed religious deceivers today, how many church members would be left?

In this story, Ananias was dead and buried, but his wife did not know what had happened. This also shows that:

  • Satan keeps his servants always in the dark, but
  • Jesus guides his servants in the light.

Their sin was NOT in holding some money back, but rather it was in lying to the church, to the HS. They were not required to give all the money, but their evil desire and lust to receive praise from men led to their downfall.

James 1:15 “After desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and the sin, when it is fully grown, gives birth to death.”

What is the result of this event? GREAT FEAR (x2) – this means “godly fear” or the “fear of God”. Actually, the “fear of God” is the secret to be free from ALL other fears in this world.

Yes, in the previous chapter, we saw there was great power and great grace. Now, there is great fear. All of these should be present in the church:

  1. Godly power
  2. Godly grace
  3. Godly fear

“God is a consuming fire.”

Remember 3 lessons:

  1. No hypocrisy
  2. No pride
  3. Not against the church

Opposites (we must do these things):

  1. Honesty, integrity, sincerity
  2. Humility
  3. For the church

We must do our best to keep the church pure and holy.

#Conclusion

v. 12-16

“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.”

We can be encouraged by the last words: “all of them were healed.”

  • Yes, our enemy Satan always wants to divide the church, disgrace, decrease, destroy the church.
  • But the church filled with the HS is unified, magnified, multiplied.
  1. Yes, the early church began with only 120 in the upper room, and
  2. in the second stage to 3,000,
  3. in the third stage to 5,000 (excluding women and children).
  4. “Nevertheless, more and more people believed and were added to their number.”

Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. This means that miracles are still possible. If you believe, miracles are possible. The problem is whether or not you believe.

This is especially possible for the miracle of healing – not only physical, but emotional, mental, spiritual, psychological. Remember, only eternal, everlasting healing can be found in Jesus Christ our Lord – because only by believing in him, we are to live in heaven completely freed from all kinds of diseases and sickness.

The greatest miracle of all is the transformation (complete change) of a lost sinner into a child of God based on the power of the resurrection of Christ. That is the greatest miracle, the greatest need of all humans, lasts the longest, and cost the greatest price (the blood of Christ). This is one (the greatest) miracle that we can all participate in as members of the church.

We can share this miracle when we share the message of the gospel.

God bless us all.

Let’s pray.

  • May 27 / 2018
  • Comments Off on The Power of the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 3:1-16)
Acts: The Book of Mission, Pastor Heo, Sermons

The Power of the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 3:1-16)

Download Notes in a .MD file

The power of the name of Jesus Christ

Acts 3:1-16 (Pastor Heo)

3:1 One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer–at three in the afternoon. 2 Now a man crippled from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. 3 When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. 4 Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” 5 So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them. 6 Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” 7 Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. 8 He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. 9 When all the people saw him walking and praising God, 10 they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him. 11 While the beggar held on to Peter and John, all the people were astonished and came running to them in the place called Solomon’s Colonnade. 12 When Peter saw this, he said to them: “Men of Israel, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? 13 The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus. You handed him over to be killed, and you disowned him before Pilate, though he had decided to let him go. 14 You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. 15 You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this. 16 By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has given this complete healing to him, as you can all see.


The Jews had 3 times to pray (set times).

Daniel prayed 3 times per day – even in Babylon, opening his windows toward Jerusalem.

Do you also have your own fixed time(s) to pray during the day?

Our lives should be one long and running conversation with Christ through prayer. Eph 6:8-10 “Pray in the HS in all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. Be alert and pray for all the saints.”

1 Thess “Pray unceasingly.”

The secret to success for endless prayer = to set times during the day to practice it.

Today’s story is a miracle: the healing of a lame man (crippled man).

There was a crippled man lying down by the temple gate and he asked Peter and John for some money. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” He looked straight at him with John. Usually when we help a beggar, we just give a coin and he doesn’t look at us.

Peter said, “Look at us!” – so maybe he expected big money. But Peter said, “Sorry, no money.” He was probably disappointed / angry. “BUT what I have, I’ll give you.” Peter said, “Rise up and walk” and immediately, his feet and ankles became strong. He stood – walking, jumping, leaping, praising God and he entered the temple with Peter and John and worshiped God. He praised God.

What is important is that he didn’t praise Peter, but he praised God. He knew that the source of the healing power was from God. Even in this exciting and emotional moment, he praised God who’d given him a new lease on life.

Yes, we should also thank our neighbors. “Thank you very much.” But we must praise and worship only God – because he is behind every “good and perfect gift” (James 1:17).

Yes, this miracle is our story today as well. Don’t you know that we have already experienced such a miracle as this? Stand up please. Wow! You can stand! You can walk! You can jump!

Please know that if you can stand, walk, jump, then you have reason enough to praise God.

Yes, today, our standing, walking, jumping is a miracle. We should praise God MORE than this guy – because he began all these things at age 40. But we began all these things at the age of 1 or 2.

If I say, “Stand up please” and you are the only one who is able – you will feel this is a miracle – a special grace from God. But you don’t think this because all of us can do it.

Please remember, miracles are ABSOLUTE experiences, not RELATIVE experiences.

If my salvation is a miracle, it is a miracle regardless of other people’s salvation. If you can stand and walk and jump, it is a miracle regardless of other people’s ability to do so.

  • The wrong question: Why is this a miracle?
  • No, we must know what a miracle is.

Yes, a doctor or surgeon today can do the things that were understood as miracles long ago. It means that God has revealed new truths about medicine. One doctor has said, “I bandaged the wound, but God healed it.” Even today, miracles are available in the hands of many people – because God is alive and unchangeable in his power and attributes – and he is the one who performs miracles through our hands.

The question is “What can we give to this world?” We can give only what we have, not what we do not have. We cannot give what we pretend to have. We can only give what we HAVE.

This man’s crippled condition is a picture of the powerless, hopeless condition of the sinner. Romans “While we were still sinners, Christ died for the ungodly.”

What God can do for this man is an illustration of what God can do in our lives today.

Are you saved?

Yes, salvation is very basic. The first step in the Christian life. So my first prayer request for all AICF members is that all members have Assurance of Salvation. This is the miracle of miracles. If we have this, we have all we need.

Let me share 8 points (similarities) between this man’s story of healing and our own salvation.

8 similarities between the Beggar and Ourselves

#1 Born Lame

  • This man was born like this.
  • We also were born unable – even unable to walk – but unable to please God.

Adam passed on his lameness (inability to please God) to all his descendants (including us).

#2 Beggar

  • This man was a beggar.
  • We also were beggars before God – unable to pay the tremendous debt we owed God.

#3 Separated from God

  • He was also outside the temple gate (he was put there every day).

At that time, there were 9 gates that led from the Court of Gentiles to the temple itself.

This gate, Gate Beautiful, was probably the western gate.

  • Like this, all sinners are separated (outside) from God – no matter how good they look, nor how near to the gate they may be.

#4 Wholly Healed by the Grace of God through the Power of the Name of Christ

Next time, we also will study MORE about how powerful the name of Christ is. Is this name in you? Are you using it practically in your daily lives?

He was saved by the grace of God through the name of Christ.

We also are saved like this.

Eph “You are saved by grace, not by works, so that no one can boast.”

#5 Instant Healing

v. 7

“Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong.”

How long do YOU need to be saved? One month, year, day?

No, our salvation is also IMMEDIATE.

This is instant healing because HE did nothing to be healed. It is only by the grace of God that he was healed.

Also, we can do nothing to be saved. If we try, we need almost an infinite number of years to do so. But, our salvation happened immediately – because Christ did all things necessary for our salvation, justification, glorification. How amazing!

#6 Evidence

Are you saved? Let me see the evidence.

This man showed the evidence of what God had done for him – by standing, jumping, walking, praising God. He showed the evidence of what God had done in public, in the sight of many eyes.

If we are really saved, we can show the evidence of what Jesus has done by saying, “Jesus is my Lord” and witnessing before others in public. This is our witness (evidence) before others. Are you showing this evidence every day in public? That is why there is always persecution found in the Christian life – because our witness should be done in public.

In the book of Acts (Mission), all witnessing and preaching is done in public.

#7 People could see the change

The change in this man’s life was amazing and gave people wonder and amazement. Actually, it is natural that the Christian life is wonderful – full of wonder.

Even today, Jesus is the same – he has changed our lives totally. He can, has, is, changing us physically, mentally, relationally, spiritually. Remember – the internal changes are just as miraculous as external healings.

Important question: The people who knew you before you became Christian must be able to see amazing changes in your life. They must be able to recognize the difference between your “how I was” and “how I am.” They must also see that we are continually growing and changing.

Tim “Let the see / know your progress.”

In what ways has God changed your life? Can others see changes in your life? Can outsiders see changes in my life? “yes”

We can worship God, praise God for all he has done in our lives.

#8 He didn’t get what he asked for, but what he needed

  • He asked for money, but God gave him something MUCH better – the use of his legs.
  • In our own lives, we often ask God to solve our small problems – but God wants to give us a NEW life and help ALL the problems.

Yes, you may ask God for what you WANT.

But do not be surprised when God gives you what you really NEED.

We do not know what we really need – we do not know what to pray – we do not know what is best for our future. Our wisdom and knowledge is not perfect, but God’s is. That’s why the HS helps us in our weakness. We do not know what to pray – but the HS intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.

  • Eph “Our God is able to do immeasurably more than we think or imagine.”
  • Romans 8:28 “In all these things, God works all things together for good, for those who love him.”

The outside world is looking and waiting earnestly for a solution to their problems. Our task is to give – only what you HAVE – not what you pretend to have.

Let’s pray.

  • Sep 13 / 2015
  • Comments Off on Exodus: The Book of Redemption and Mission (1:1-22, 6:6, 19:5-6)
It's All About Jesus, Pastor Heo, Sermons

Exodus: The Book of Redemption and Mission (1:1-22, 6:6, 19:5-6)

09.13.2015-PHeo

Download Notes in a .RTF file (Korean notes below 한국어 밑에)

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  • 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

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.

Saul:

  • 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.

Warning

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.

  • Oct 06 / 2013
  • Comments Off on The Power of Jesus’ Name (Acts 3:1-26)
Acts: The Church Grows, Pastor Brian, Sermons

The Power of Jesus’ Name (Acts 3:1-26)

10.06

10.06.2013 Bulletin

Sermon Notes

<Download Notes in a .RTF file>

Acts 3 describes the healing of a crippled beggar. We’re not sure how long after Pentecost this happened.

This chapter also describes the preaching of the gospel in the temple in Jerusalem by Peter and John. It shows how they preached.

John is mentioned, but not “active” in the story. Why? Perhaps because of a legal purpose (they were witnesses of Jesus’ resurrection – in Deut. it says that one witness is not enough for any conviction. For example, one person might be angry and accuse someone – it’s less likely with two. They needed at least two people to witness an event).

Acts is a story of two apostles – Peter and Paul – the emphasis is on these two.

It was the hour of prayer. There were three times for prayer in the temple: 9:00, 12:00, 3:00. The morning and evening prayer coincided with the sacrifices they offered. These were very important to the Jews.

Josephus – Jewish/Roman War – though starving, they continued the practice of the morning and evening sacrifices.

This event shows that the Jewish disciples continued to follow the Jewish forms of worship and customs. They stayed at the heart of Jewish national life where they could reach people with the gospel message.

Many miraculous signs and wonders were performed by the disciples – they had the same HS that had descended on Jesus. That same power was in and on the apostles. Demons were cast out, people were healed.

Not only the apostles, even the deacons – anyone filled with the spirit – did them. Jesus had proclaimed that truth ( “and even greater things than these” ) but Peter didn’t get the glory, Jesus did (does).

The healing of the beggar = one of these signs.

The beggar (crippled from birth) asked daily for alms (gifts of money). The Jews believed that they were given merit (credit in heaven) for giving money to the poor.

Nobody knows which gate is called “Beautiful.” It’s not mentioned in the Talmud (commentary on the Bible), nor by Josephus. But, regardless, it was a “beautiful” gate for the beggar.

Peter and John approached and the beggar asked for money. Peter said, “Look at us” and wanted his full attention. He said, “I’ll give what I have. In the name of Jesus, walk.” Instantly, his feet and ankles became strong.

  • He’d asked for alms, but got feet.
  • He’d asked for a handout, but got a hand up.
  • He’d asked for charity, but got clarity regarding Jesus’ name and the power.

Luke (the doc) piles on details. ( “His feet and ankles became strong, he walked, he leaped!” ) He walked and leaped into the temple and praised God. All the people recognized him as the beggar. They were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened. (AWEsome, really).

This was a similar miracle to one Jesus had performed earlier in Capernaum – lowering their friend through the roof of the house – through a trap door in the roof.

Can you imagine this happening? The roof coming off and a guy coming down. Jesus said, “Cheer up! Your sins are forgiven!” He was probably in a pretty serious situation – ill, concerned about his sins. Jesus took away his sins. The Pharisees had come to listen and when they heard this…SCANDAL! “Who can forgive sins but God alone?” (Actually, in the OT, a Levitical priest could SAY “Your sins are forgiven, by God” if they sacrificed and made penitence for his sins.)

But here, the Pharisees knew he wasn’t a Levite, so he said, “Why do you think evil? Which is easier to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven’ or ‘Rise up and walk.’”

Talk is cheap. You can SAY “your sins are forgiven” and there’s no real PROOF of such. SO, Jesus told him to rise and walk – and he did. This demonstrated his power and his ability to (truthfully) say “your sins are forgiven.”

Jesus dealt FIRST with the primary matter, the heart. Before healing the body, he healed his soul. The man would later die anyway, but Jesus forgave his sins first.

All men eventually die – even Lazarus – raised by Jesus from death.

The primary thing: your heart, your sins.

If we get the bonus of physical healing as well, wonderful! (But we shouldn’t expect that first.)

A prophecy said “the lame will rise up and walk” and here this was fulfilled.

Also healings could be given and received by ordinary humans who had faith in Jesus’ name.

So, many people immediately came rushing to Solomon’s Colonnade (it ran around the outer court – the court of the Gentiles). It was here that the teachers relaxed and talked, the merchants sold things and exchanged money.

Jesus had also been here when he was a boy. He was left behind by his parents at age 12 and when they found him later, he was in this Colonnade.

It was also in that place that he drove out the money changers. There was obviously a lot of dirty dealing going on down there – cheating, etc. He drove them out saying, “My Father’s house is to be a house of prayer, but you’ve made it a den of thieves.”

Now, Peter gets a chance to preach the gospel here (it’s similar to what he said at Pentecost). He focuses on Jesus, particularly as the “suffering servant” (Isaiah). He also says that Jesus is the prophet that was raised up like Moses (if the people didn’t give heed to him, they would be cut off). This sermon gives further teaching about the person of Jesus. He is God’s son, the Author of Life, and the prophet like Moses.

Peter also stressed the rejection of Jesus by the Jews and God’s vindication (removable of criminal charges) of him. Thus, God’s vindication of Jesus proves he is the Messiah and sits at God’s right hand.

Peter again calls for repentance. Change of heart/mind. A new Age had dawned with the giving of the HS.

He also deals with the surprise of the onlookers. It was important that they understood where the healing power came from. “Men of Israel, why do you stare at us, as if by our own power we made him walk?” People were staring with their eyes wide and jaws dropped. Then, he gives his solution, Jesus is the one God has glorified – the God of our Fathers – Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

This is also how God revealed himself to Moses “the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”

By the time of the NT, this phrase connected the glory of ancient Israel to the idea of the nation of Israel as God’s remnant chosen people.

When Jesus was discussing this with the Saduccees, he mentioned this phrase. He emphasizes the present tense in this case ( “I AM the God…” ).

God has glorified his servant Jesus. Peter emphasizes the “suffering servant” that is prophesied about in Isaiah. Acts 3:26 “When God raised up his servant, he sent him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways.” Also in Acts 4 – he is referred to as God’s servant.

Though the word servant is only found in a few texts, the whole concept of the suffering servant is throughout the NT. Matthew ?:6-17 “When evening came, people brought their sick to him and he healed them – this was to fulfill that in Isaiah, ‘for he took up our iniquities…’”

Also in Matthew 12:18-21, “Here is my servant, whom I have chosen…I will put my spirit on him and he will proclaim justice to the nations. He will not cry out and no one will hear his voice in the streets.”

Perhaps this refers to how LOUD the attention-seeking Pharisees were when they were in the streets.

Jesus usually said, “Shh, don’t tell anyone I healed you, just go to the temple.” But they usually told anyway…

  • “…a bruised reed he will not break…” Jesus won’t break those who are concerned or depressed with their own lives/sins. Also, reeds were made into flutes and if damaged, would be thrown away. But Jesus wouldn’t thrown them away, he’d heal them
  • “…a smoldering wick…” This is a bad aroma – sometimes the things we do give a bad aroma to God – but Jesus wants to bring those things back to life, to wonderful smells.
  • “…the Gentiles will put their hope in him…”

Where is your hope?

John Lennox – often debates atheists and carries a Gideon’s Bible. He was reading it and a scientist across from him on the train said, “what do you do?” (He’s a scientist at Oxford, teaching math.) The man said, “You can’t explain the Bible, why do you read it?” Lennox said, “Explain consciousness.” (We can’t. We know it’s there, but can’t explain it.) Lennox said, “What hope do you have?” The man had none, but Lennox (and all Christians) have great hope.

Now remember that when Jesus was crucified, the Jews had asked for Barabas to be released (he was a rebel/murderer). And they’d cried out to “Crucify Jesus!” So the criminal went free, and the innocent man was crucified.

Jesus took the place for Barabas first.

He said he was the “son of God” and that made people pretty upset.

We’ve all sinned like Barabas (maybe not the same sins) so we are part of Barabas’ identity. Jesus took his place (our place) on the executioner’s block.

Peter said that the Jews had disowned and killed the Author of Life. But in Jesus IS Life. Jesus said, “I give to them eternal life and they shall never perish. No one can snatch them out of my hand.”

He is the leader/pioneer – the firstborn of the dead. Romans “For those that God preknew, he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son.”

Greek arcaegos = pioneer.

On a ship, if the ship was sinking, this man would swim with a lifeline to shore and attach it to something. He would then return to the ship and help others across. Jesus does this for us.

In his sermon, Peter proclaimed that they were witnesses to Jesus. He was the Author of Life, the Holy One, the Beautiful One.

Can you imagine the beggar’s experience? One day, suddenly (over 40), he was transformed. On this particular day, he was performed. It was by faith that he was healed – in who? He probably didn’t even think about healing until it happened. Probably it was Peter’s faith that caused it.

We all are like this. Crippled in our sin. But one day, the gospel hits home, God grants us faith and repentance, and our whole lives are transformed overnight.

Jesus was beaten and marred and disfigured beyond any man, beyond description.

It’s like a man who was walking along a street and saw a picture of Jesus in a window. A boy came as well and said, “Jesus was crucified for our sins.” The man continued along and found a tugging on his coattails. “Oh, I forgot to tell you sir. He rose again!” That makes all the difference.

Like the hymn says, “Crown him, crown him…”

Let’s celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus as we take Communion today.

  • Jan 17 / 2012
  • 1
Bible-365, Grow

Exodus 1-3 (Bible-365.17): Does God Forget His Promises?

The first three chapters of Exodus are absolutely packed with stuff, just as the first three chapters of Genesis are. In these chapters, Joseph and all his immediate family have died, a new Pharaoh begins oppressing the Israelites, Moses is born, grown, kills a man, flees the country, gets married, and meets God in a burning bush. That’s possibly close to 50 years of story packed into a mere three chapters. Let’s dive in.

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  • Jan 17 / 2012
  • Comments Off on Exodus – Book Overview
Bible-365, Grow

Exodus – Book Overview

Author: Moses
Date: 1450-1410 B.C.

“Exodus” comes from a Greek translation of this book. “Exodus” literally means “way out” and is a principal theme of the book as the Hebrews leave Egypt. Evidence within the book lead to the conclusion that the author was a highly educated man who had been a long-time resident of Egypt and was an eyewitness of the Exodus – i.e. Moses. He was familiar with the crop sequence in Lower Egypt (Ex. 9:31-32); his descriptions accurately conform to known conditions (2:3, 12); and he includes details suitable only to an eyewitness account (15:27).

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