csibiblestudy


How to Live Once You Have Been Saved By Grace
November 26, 2012, 7:07 am
Filed under: Searching for our Savior in His book

Galatians 3:1-9

In Galatians 3, God now moves us to the main point of the entire letter. Paul, under the leadership of the Holy Spirit, keeps returning again and again to one central question: Are we saved by what we do or by what Christ has done for us? Paul addresses the doctrinal inconsistency of the Galatians.  He exposes the seriously twisted reasoning of these Galatians who had abandoned Christ and His Gospel. In order to show you this, let me begin with a simple theological question:  How good do you have to be to go to heaven?
If you want to go to heaven, you have to be perfect. 100% perfect is the only standard that works.  Nothing short of 100% perfection works.  Either you’re perfect or you’re short of perfection.   Paul wants to show the Galatians that the only way to be right with God is by accepting through faith the gift of salvation that God provides by His grace.  Anything else is a worthless counterfeit

The Holy Spirit, through Paul, begins with a harse greeting—“You foolish Galatians.” Here, Paul flatly accused his brethren of spiritual and intellectual stupidity. J. B. Phillips begins his translation of verse 1 with the words: “O dear idiots!” One writer suggests the word “numbskulls.” This is strong language and most pastors today would have a lot of negative comments made if they preached like this.  Paul is amazed that they are “so stupid”.  He only sees one reason for their stupidity; they have been placed under a magic spell.   Paul wants to know who “bewitched” them. This is a Greek word that comes from the realm of black magic and refers to a spell or a hex or an “evil eye.” In Paul’s mind, it is so inconceivable that the Galatians would turn back to “law keeping” after having come to Christ by faith that he thinks they have been “bewitched.” They had allowed themselves to become “bewitched,” or fascinated, by those false teachers among them who had preached a new gospel of salvation by Christ plus the works of the law. What made this sudden abandonment of the truth so inexcusable was the fact that Paul had personally and explicitly held up (“publicly portrayed”), through his faithful preaching, the “crucified” and risen Christ as the only way of salvation. In other words, they knew better than to fall into such a theological trap. They were all guilty of being neglectful, and without excuse in light of the straightforwardness with which Paul had taught them.

Paul lists four consequences of this grave error of leaving the freedom of grace for the slavery of the law:

First, by leaving grace to return to the law, the Galatians were ignoring the cross of Christ (verse 1). They had forgotten how clearly Christ’s death and resurrection had been portrayed or placarded or visualized by Paul’s preaching. So powerful was the truth that the Galatians had felt they had been there when he died. To leave grace was to abandon the Christ who died for them.

Second, by leaving grace they were contradicting their own experience of salvation(verses 2-3). Paul reminded them that they had been saved by grace through faith. Would they now conclude that God saves by faith but they must somehow continue it by their good works? Will they go to heaven because “God helps those who help themselves?” The very thought was absurd.

Third, by leaving grace they rendered their suffering meaningless (verse 4). Suffering is understood as either physical persecution or the physical experiences of being saved.  Either way, by going back under law, they were making their salvation experience a worthless thing.

Fourth, by leaving grace they were denying the work of the Spirit in their midst (verse 5). God had worked miracles among them and in them personally. They had seen the power of God both internally and externally. Prayers had been answered, lives had been changed, old habits broken, bad relationships ended, broken lives mended, marriages saved, families restored, the lost saved, sins forgiven. The grace of God was allowing the Spirit of God to work in their midst.  By returning to the slavery of the law, they were giving up fellowship and freedom as well as grieving and quenching the work of the Holy Spirit.  What advantage was there to going back under the Law?  That’s the choice they were making.  Paul’s scolding words are seen in a series of four direct questions designed to expose their guilt and drive them back to established faith regarding the basic content of the true gospel.

  • Question 1 (v. 2)—“Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?” We might put the question this way: “How did your lives as Christians begin? The tension is drawn here between two competing plans of salvation; the only two options available to men. Either one attempts to save himself by means of personal accomplishments, in this case the “works of the Law,” or, one sees salvation purely as a gift of God’s grace that comes “by hearing with faith.” A blend of these two, which seems to have been the nature of the false gospel being taught among the Galatians, is impossible. It is either works or grace. Paul argued in the book of Ephesians that this faith, which links a person to the saving power of Christ, is itself a gift of God’s grace and is not the ground of any boasting whatsoever.
  • Question 2 (v. 3)—“are you now being perfected by the flesh?” If salvation is a work of grace, then the transformed life is a work of grace, not works. Sadly, the “foolish” people of Galatia had essentially changed belief in mid-stream! They had, perhaps, been saved by the marvelous grace of God through faith in the crucified and resurrected Christ. However, their trusting the “flesh,” an outward system of conformity to the Mosaic law or the traditions of man would never produce spiritual maturity. Paul saw this as unbiblical and unreasonable and would only frustrate the grace of God.
  • Question 3 (v. 4)—“Did you suffer so many things in vain?” Scholars are unsure how the word “suffer” should be translated. It is either physical persecutions or spiritual experiences after reception of the gospel. Whatever they had experienced by virtue of believing in Christ for salvation would be empty and meaningless (“vain”) if there was another way of being made right before God.
  • Question 4 (v. 5)—“Does He then, who provides you with the Spirit . . . do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?” Paul once again, mentions the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit as an act of grace.  He saw the ongoing ministry of the Holy Spirit in the life of one redeemed as an act of grace on God’s part and not the result of blessing obtained by living up to a standard.  That would minimize the work of the Holy Spirit.  Nothing may be added to the grace of God.

In order to more firmly press his point into their hearts, Paul introduced the patriarch “Abraham” as the classical sinner that God had saved by grace, not through works. Using the Old Testament, Paul made it clear that Abraham had simply “believed God,” and that his faith “was reckoned to him as righteousness” in Genesis 15.  Two chapters later, Abraham was circumcised.  Salvation had nothing to do with works in the life of Abraham.  It was an act of grace alone.  This contradicted the message of the Judaizers who considered Abraham the father of the Jewish people. Paul’s point is that Abraham was saved by faith when he believed God and his faith was counted as righteousness.  The Law was given to Moses 430 years later.  Abraham was saved by faith before he was circumcised  and before the Law was given.

Paul then expands the point in verse 7 by pointing out that anyone who believes the gospel is a true child of Abraham. In Paul’s mind, the true children of Abraham were those who like him, were made right with God by grace alone.  Abraham trusted in God’s promises that were made to him and God counted or considered his faith to be “righteousness” in the eyes of God by grace alone. The Law or traditions played no part in Abraham’s standing before the Father whatsoever.  In verse 7 Paul declared that the real “sons of Abraham” are “those who are of faith.” This establishes that God has always had only one plan of salvation through the ages. He saves those who, like Abraham of old, “are trusting God to do what they could not do for themselves.  No works make us right before God.  Paul diffused the Judaizers argument that they were the true children of Abraham and destroyed their basic assertions. Paul, being led by the Spirit, used the phrase “those who are of faith” in direct contrast with “the party of the circumcision” (2:12).

Paul’s argument appealed to “the Scripture”—the Old Testament—which announced the truth that “God would justify the Gentiles by faith.”  Paul claimed that Abraham had actually heard the “gospel” as he received and believed the ancient promises made to Him by Yahweh (Gen. 12:3). This establishes the fact that Abraham was saved in exactly the same way as we are—by grace through faith. While Abraham looked forward through the eyes of faith to the work of Christ on his behalf, we have looked backward to the work and ministry of the same Savior and Lord. As Abraham was justified before God—accounted as righteous in his sight—so are all who believe in Jesus Christ for salvation. In this way, “those who are of faith” share in the very same blessings given long ago to Abraham, “the believer” (v. 9).

We can draw several important truths from this. First, the plan of salvation in every age is always by grace through faith apart from human effort. God has only one plan of salvation—not two or three or four. Don’t let anyone tell you that in the Old Testament people were saved differently than in the New Testament. It’s always by grace, always through faith, and always apart from human efforts to attain righteousness.

Second, God’s plan to include the nations means all are included in the church of Jesus Christ. There is no room for excluding people on the basis of race, ethnic origin, language, appearance, skin color, or any other issue. He wants his bride include all . God’s church is as big as God’s heart.  Christ has built the perfect church for imperfect people.

Third, this is the foundation for world missions. God always intended to save people from every nation. That’s the basis of missions around the world.

 

 

 

Advertisements


Remember to Whom We Are Praying
November 26, 2012, 5:46 am
Filed under: Searching for our Savior in His book

Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.  Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread.  And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.

Beginning with praise to our Father- Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

  1. Putting our Father in charge of our priorities- Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
  2. Relying on our Father for provision- Give us this day our daily bread.
  3. Trusting our Father with our relationships- And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors
  4. Seeking protection from our Father- And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
  5. Reminding ourselves about our Father- For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.

As I worked on this lesson, I was captured by the thought that as I sat typing, reading, praying and trying to put together a lesson, Christ was with me, helping me and wanting to help if I let Him.  I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I but Christ lives within me!  It is important that we end our praying by reminding ourselves to whom we are praying.  Imagine our lives if we lived with a sense of the presence of God continual with us.  The name “Immanuel” means “God with us”.  In what ways would your life be different?  As you study the Disciples’ Prayer, do you have an awareness that in this room is the Lord Jesus Christ?  Remember His promise, where two or three are gathered, He would be there too.  What would be different about you if you realized that sitting with you was the Lord Jesus Christ?  All of us would have to admit that at times we act as if we are the center of the universe.  With Christ in our midst, that would bring us back to reality.  At night, when you sit down to relax, what would be different with the realization that Christ is with you?  How different would you be at work, at school, with friends, writing on Facebook, and in doing Christmas shopping if you saw Christ by your side?  What would be different about your worship if you saw Christ sitting in the midst of the congregation?  Remember He is there when we wake up and when we fall asleep.  Are we drawing near to Him in our actions and attitudes, or would we seek a break from His presence?  As we draw near to Him, He promises to draw nearer to us.  When you pray, do you see yourself, in His presence, entering into the throne room of the Father?

Notice the parallels with which we start and end the Disciples’ Prayer.  We focus at the beginning on “Hallowed be thy name” and remind ourselves that His is “the glory”.  We pray that His “kingdom come” and then remind ourselves the only true and lasting kingdom is His.  We pray that He accomplish His divine will and then remind ourselves that He can through His unlimited power.  Finally we recognize His control over heaven and earth and then remind ourselves that His control is forever.

I see four major truths for us to focus upon when we end our prayers.  They are included in what we call the doxology.  Jesus knew that if we were to pray without a reminder of the greatness and majesty of God, we would focus on the problems we had just lifted up to God and our hopelessness in providing a solution.  We start by honoring the name of God and end by praising God for His sovereignty and glory.  Prayer is “talking to my Father in a close intimate way to let Him know of my specific needs, admitting to Him my total helplessness apart from Him, and declaring my total dependence on Him”.   Christ knows that I need to be reminded that I can be totally dependent upon Him because of who He is.  These four truths are the ones most helpful to remember that although we live and pray, in a fallen world He is MORE!

The first truth Jesus reminded us was that God is sovereign with the words “thine is the kingdom”.  In John 18:36-37 Pilate listens to Jesus talk about His kingdom and then asks Him is He is a king.  Jesus replies that He became a human through His birth to set up His kingdom.   Later in the Bible we read that Jesus is the King of Kings, , Ruler of the kings of the earth, and King of the ages.

In the book of Daniel we read of a king named Nebuchadnezzar who became so proud and arrogant that he lifted himself about all authorities, including the True and Living God.  His pride led God to humble him by taking away his mind.  For seven years, this proud and arrogant king lived like an animal.  In Acts 12, we read of a similar story involving Herod, who in his pride and arrogance tried to lift himself up before God.  He died and like all, was eaten by worms.  Napoleon Bonaparte, during his last days in exile wrote the following words:

I die before my time and my body shall be given back to the earth and devoured by worms.  What an abysmal gulf between my deep miseries and the eternal kingdom of Christ.  I marvel that whereas the ambitious dreams of myself and Alexander and of Caesar should have vanished into thin air, a Judean peasant, Jesus, should be able to stretch his hands across the centuries, and control the destinies of men and nations.

Jesus is the unparallel King of kings and Lord of lords.  While the earth seems out of control today, just remember that He has allowed Satan, for a short time, to control the earth, within the limits He allows.  Satan has made a mess of things, but soon Jesus will rule over His kingdom and peace and order will be evident.  Satan and his cohorts will be removed, never to bother us again, for they will be cast into eternal fire.  All this happens at the appointed time.  Never forget, that when you pray, He is still in control and when we pray according to His will, He steps up and does things that we never thought were possible.  He far exceeds our expectations with His answers.  Never forget that no matter how depressive the times, our God is in control and He will never let us down.  Everything about which we pray is in His control.

The second truth is tied to the first.  God is powerful.  We often describes His power this way, He is omnipotent or all powerful.  Each day, God is activity energizing this world and keeping everything in order and working.  He never is surprised and He never is left without a plan.  He is so powerful that He will never find anything as difficult.  In Romans 4, Abraham is described as having a body that needed to be “quickened” or made alive.  He erased the inability of both Sarah and Abraham to have a child because of their advanced age and gave them a promised child, Isaac.  Out of an impossible situation came the fulfillment of a promise by an unlimited God who is All-powerful and able to do whatever He determines best, whenever He determines it.  Things that man considers as impossible, God easily accomplishes.  When praying for the impossible, just focus on our God who is so powerful that nothing is impossible.  One of my favorite verses is Jeremiah 32:27, “Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there anything too hard for me?”  There is no situation so bad, no loved one so lost, no need so big that God can’t take care of it.  He is powerful and there is nothing that is consistent with His nature that He can’t do.  God is powerful beyond our imaginations and we are promised that He is able to do abundantly beyond all that we ask or need Him to do.

The third truth is seen in the word “glory”.  Glory is the splendor, honor, and beauty, and brilliance that is majestic and “heavy”.  “Heavy” is seen in the Old Testament several times when His glory is spoken of as falling out of Heaven and filling the earth as it becomes evident.  Glory is more than the reputation of God.  It is the presence of God.  Jesus was introduced to us in John 1:14 with a statement that said we beheld the glory of the only begotten son of the Father, full of grace and truth.  We clothe ourselves each day with the things we wear, but God is so majestic that He clothes Himself with light in the same way that we put on clothes.  He is brilliant light, without any darkness whatsoever.  We are praying to the One whose brilliance fills the earth.  If He removed Himself, all that would be left would be darkness.  In heaven, there is no need for the sun because His glory lights all.

The final truth is God is eternal.  Turn with me to Isaiah 57:15, “For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.”  God inhabits eternity like we inhabit our house.  When we think about eternity, we see the “bigness” of God.  Trying to understand eternity is difficult but if you have ever taken a small child to the beach and tried to explain how big the ocean is, you get the picture.  You go to the shoreline to the ocean and start explaining how big it is by telling them about the continent that is miles away on the other side.  But the small child doesn’t understand because he or she can’t imagine it.  As long as you’re there nearby, the child doesn’t fear the “bigness” of the ocean because they have you as their security.  Remembering that God inhabitants eternity reminds us that He is going to be with us and will never leave us.  With God, every day is the present tense because He is the great “I Am”.  No matter where life leads, He is there and He is in control, powerful enough to let His light shine and take care of us in spite of what we might face.

Let me end with a quiz.

  1.  Can you say “our” if you exclude others because of difference?
  2. Can you pray “Father” if you have not been born again and adopted as His child through the blood of Christ?
  3. Can you say “in heaven” if all your interest and focus are being pursued on the earth through material and temporary things?
  4. Can you say “hallowed by Thy name” if you don’t see Him as holy?
  5. Can you pray they kingdom come if you’re unwilling or resentful about giving up your independence in order to accept His righteous rule?
  6. Have you relinquished your own agenda to pursue His will?
  7. Can you do your part in having Him supply daily needs?
  8. If you hold a grudge against another, can you pray forgive us?
  9. If you choose to remind in situation where you’re tempted, can you pray “lead us not into temptation”?
  10. Can you asked to be delivered from evil, if you’re not armed with your spiritual armor?
  11. If you fear the limitations others impose on you, can you pray “thine is the power”?
  12. If you seek your glory, can you pray “for thine is the glory”?
  13. If you’re worried about the here and now, can you pray “forever”?

The key to learning is to put into action that which you have learned.  If we want to see God build the fires of revival here at Vienna that will spread to our community, city, state, and world, we need to start making prayer our priority. Are you in?  Pray according to the pattern Jesus gave and see God begin to work in ways we never have imagined.

 



Your Works or His FRUIT?
November 15, 2012, 2:50 am
Filed under: Searching for our Savior in His book

Tonight at church, our pastor preached and taught us God’s precious word.  As a part of his sermon, we looked at Galatians 5, specifically comparing the works of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit.  When I read about the works of the flesh, I read of the horrible sins that result and then these words, “and such like”.  While pondering those words, the Holy Spirit ministered to me and reminding me of other scriptures that talked about our attempt to live life by our works.  Flesh represents our natural tendency to live according to what we desire.  I realized that these sins were used in much the same way that “filthy rags” were.  Our attempts at righteousness are worthless and disgusting to God.  I had always understood that the bad results of our sin nature made God sick, but the Holy Spirit put this in context, so are the “good works” we, in our flesh, do to impress God.  Those flesh-motivated attempts at good works are just as vile as these disgusting sins to God.  Only the FRUIT of the SPIRIT are acceptable to God and I don’t produce those, HE does when I get out-of-the-way.  My attempts are just worthless, wasted effort and doesn’t improved my standing before God.  As a result, I frustrate the grace of God and run from the liberty or freedom I have been given in Christ to SERVE others in love.  I had to ask myself, “are you a follower of Christ who loves others as I do myself, or do I make others my spiritual rivals, as I seek for God, my pastor, and my church to approve me above others?”   I read verse 15 in Galatians 5 and asked God to show me if I was attacking others (bite and devour).  Am I trying to build my testimony by destroying others?  Look at the warning at the end of verse 15. If I stab others, spiritually speaking in the back, I need to be careful that I am not treated the same way by others.  The scary thing is, that in me remains an old nature that is capable of living that way.  I am praying that each day, I die to that old, flesh, nature and surrender complete control to the Holy Spirit.  The best thing is that I can know if I am, by what is seen in my life, pathetic, empty, worthless, disgusting works or FRUIT that indicates He controls me!  By the way, control by the Holy Spirit is only true of Christians who have entered a life changing relationship with Christ.  Worthless works show one who is NOT inheriting the kingdom of God.  What about you?



Are we going God’s Way in our church? (Acts 11:1-18)

One of the saddest things I ever heard was a Christian leader say that the power of God was no longer working in lives that he was overseeing.  When asked what the solution could be, he replied, “we’ll just have to work to get it back”.  How sad!  It is amazing that someone involved in the ministry would think that repeating the mistaken assumption of the Pharisees that we could work to become more holy and impress God would now work.  Works by mere men will never alter the ways of God.  When God is at work, we need to get out of His way so He can work unhindered.  We need to jump onboard and go His way.

When God is at work, things change.  If any man be in Christ, He is a new creature, old things pass away, behold, all things become new.  In Acts, God was putting together a new assembly of believers into a body unlike anything before.  This church would not just included one group, but would consist of all people.  This change was God’s plan, but the early Jewish Christians struggled with this change.  What do we need to know about change?

First, some changes are inevitable.  We need to reinvent ourselves to stay in touch with our times.  While our message should never change, our methods and presentation should fit our ever-changing culture. 

Second, any change will require and adjustment period.  We have to be flexible to change when God wants us to change.  Only God established truth is unchangeable.  Man’s traditions and preferences need to be examined.

 Third, EVERY AND ALL changes must be examined in light of the Word of God.  If what the Bible teaches will be compromised by a change, then we must avoid the change.  However, if the only ones changed are us, then we must be willing to change.  Man’s traditions may need changing.  God’s principles and Word never will.  The absolutes are those truths relating to teachings of God and the fundamental foundation for our faith and practice. 

The greatest hindrance to change is when a church has ceased being a corporate BODY and has become an institution.  An institution is a   exists independent of its members.  A corporate body is an ordered assembly of its individual members. These are two completely different concepts of “Church”.  What are some of the characteristics of an institution?

  1. Our collective group becomes more important than individual people.
  2. Individuals begin to function like cogs in a machine, each with the same checklist of duties, instead of members of a body in which each has unique responsibilities.
  3. We stress adherence to a shared pattern instead of individual creativity and individuality
  4. A family atmosphere is replaced by an intimidating atmosphere where no “uncomfortable questions” can be asked of leaders; instead we are told just to trust them.
  5. The structure of worship and membership becomes rigid and inflexible, under the guise of remaining true to outdated methods which have been elevated to Biblical standards.
  6. People invite people to come to their church instead of come to their Savior
  7. There is a communication breakdown due to repression of information by leaders, who sweep things under the rug.
  8. Policies and rules are numerous while fresh new ideas are rare
  9. Uncommitted “consumers” develop special individual interests away from the body, producing a lack of unity within the family.
  10. People lose initiative and get discouraged because they never measure up, so they settle for going through the motions of worship.
  11. As the organization gets bigger, the church divides into cliques and a pecking order develops.

The word “Church” itself is “ekklesia” which means an assembly. And we see that “(Christ) is the head of the body, the church” in Colossians 1:18 and that He suffered “for the sake of his body, which is the church”in Col 1:24.   In addition the body of Christ is supposed to be a living, healthy body and not a sick or dead body. The difference between these is that a sick or dead body has non-functioning members. You could assemble a body together by assembling a bunch of dead non-functioning members together and end up with a dead body. But that is not the kind of assembly the Bible speaks of when referring to the Church.  Unfortunately, this type of “church” is an institution in which the members become “consumers” and come seeking something they want.  If they want to enjoy good singing, as long as the music of the church is entertaining they will come.  If they like the style of preaching by the pastor, they will come.  But if the music changes or the pastor leaves, or they just grow tired of this, they will find the next big thing in churches.  Many times, an institutional church will be one that people have no other commitment than their friends all go.  A church with a membership that is lacking commitment to the mission of the church is not a Biblical church, but a counterfeit from Satan.  The cause of Christ is hindered as broken lives are cast aside by these institutions.  In a true church, lives are edified and people are involved with the Great Commission.

It is time to examine what changes are necessary in our church if these things begin to characterize our church.  Peter is confronted with a group who wants things their way and limits the power of God.  We limit the power of God by holding on to the things which with we are comfortable.  In this account, we see that the Jews were comfortable with the wall dividing Jews from the evil Gentiles.  Jews were not fond of the Gentiles. In some rabbinical writings, the Gentiles were considered to have been created by God to kindle the fires of hell. They were called dogs (see Matt. 15:26) and unclean (10:14).

Those of the circumcision refers to Jewish Christians who believed that Gentiles had to become Jews when they became Christians. The Jewish Christians had been circumcised as a seal of the Mosaic covenant and had kept the Jewish laws. They were not pleased that the Gentiles were considered equal to them in the eyes of God, based on nothing more than their faith in Christ. They wanted the Gentiles to be circumcised and to keep the Law of Moses in order to become Christians. When we read “contended with him” don’t think of this as a polite discussion, but an intense argument due to their preconceived doubts. The Jewish Christians were upset because Peter had broken Jewish law by going into the home of a Gentile and eating with him. The Jewish Christians justified their prejudice by claiming that it was God who had forbidden eating with Gentiles. However, the Levitical laws were not intended to teach isolation.

In verses 4-10 Peter again goes over what had taken place.  Luke reported on this three different times.  Since he was led by the Holy Spirit in what to write, this must be tremendously important information.  Personal prejudice limits Christ building His church because we are rebellious and hinder the work of the Holy Spirit.  Instead of focusing on God in our worship, we focus on whether someone meets our standards to be included in our worship.  Notice that Peter spoke by showing them the orderly sequence of how God was working to change.  He is attempting to build a bridge between what God was doing and their institutionalism.

Peter had wisely taken six brethren with him when he visited Cornelius’s home (10:23). The Holy Spirit had given Him the wisdom to anticipate the argument from “those of the circumcision” (v. 2) and he included witnesses to what God had done and was doing.

The words “began to speak” show us that Peter considered the words he spoke in Caesarea to be just the introduction to the sermon he had intended to preach. The Holy Ghost came upon them and the sermon was stopped.  He ties this event to the Day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came on the Jews with the words “as upon us” and “at the beginning”. 

In verse sixteen Peter reminds them that Jesus Himself spoke of this change in the words, “John indeed baptized with water, but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost.   This is the seventh time in the New Testament we find the statement “baptized with the Holy Spirit”.  This refers to a once-for-all act whereby Christ places believers in the care and safekeeping of the Holy Spirit until the day He returns.

One of the hurdles to change is our obsession to the familiar rules and regulations that we have labeled religious but that are either our preference or the result of our misunderstanding and misuse of the Bible.  We attempt to put ourselves back under the law.  By these we limit grace.  God was doing something new, different and fresh.  The issue was whether the Jewish Christians could put aside their attachment to the old, when God wants us to experience the new.  Remember the Bible tells us that if any man be in Christ, all things are new and the old passes away.  Far too often we are unwilling to release the old and let God change us.

The acceptance of change is healthy within the body of Christ.  Notice this acceptance had two parts.  First, they stopped arguing against the change.  Second, they glorified God.  They were willing to embrace the change of the mission of the church, the gospel worked whether the hearers were Jews or Gentiles.  Jesus Christ was building His church and filling it with Jewish and Gentiles Christians.  The church was now ready to fulfill the commission of Acts 1:8 and Matthew 28:18-20.  This is a Biblical church.

In contrast to Biblical churches are the previously mentioned institutionalized churches.  Biblical churches recognize that each member has a spiritual gift which makes them essential to the ministry of the church.   Non-Biblical churches elevate only the elite few.  Biblical churches stress individual growth and accountability to Christ, while using the Bible as our only authority.  Non-Biblical churches  are churches which see itself as the only legitimate form of Christianity and believes that Biblical instruction is best given by a gifted pastor.  Any question or challenge is taken as a threat and is dealt with in a hostile manner.   One of the sad truths is that in many churches, questioning methods is considered an act of a rebellious person who is out of God’s will.  They will often be forced to leave or to repent of questioning the leadership.  Remember, Christ was murdered by institutional leaders.  Churches have been persecuted by institutional churches.  Christians have been betrayed and cast aside by institutional churches. There is a price to paid to live in God’s will.

Biblical churches are based on the teachings of the Holy Spirit through apostles and their writings.  Do you believe that your pastor has the ability to understand God’s revelation better than you?  Biblical churches have the right instruments (members) prepared to carry out the mission of the church.  (There is nothing worse than sending out an unprepared person to do the work of the church.)  What is your role in fulfilling the mission of Christ’s church?  Finally, a Biblical church loves without prejudice.  Who would you not accept within the church?  Biblical churches are churches built by Christ, in which everyone invests their lives in ministry.  Who built your church and in what way have you invested your life in ministry?

It is time that we return to the church of the Bible and the Savior who built it.  We are to give our lives away as we follow the Lord to heights we come never reach on our own.  Instead of worrying about the limits of our abilities, we need to surrender and allow Him to empower us with His ability.  God wants us to work in our churches if He is the Head and we all surrender our lives to Him so He can invest us into His mission.  There are people and communities He wants to reach through us as He reaches the world.  What choice have you made? While this Biblical church is our standard, following this standard involves time and constant surrender.  I praise God that I attend a church that sees this standard and desires to be this type of church.  As our pastor states, and our Savior commands, let us be the church by given ourselves totally to the Head of the Church, and not just have a form of godliness lacking His power.  Power will come when He is the Head of our church!



Our Greatest Need
November 11, 2012, 2:58 am
Filed under: Searching for our Savior in His book | Tags: , ,

In this study, I have observed that though we call this the “Lord’s Prayer” it is actually the “Disciples’ Prayer”.  Jesus is teaching His disciples to pray.  We are now at the section that states “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors”.  I noticed that after the prayer closed, Jesus makes two additional comments, “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you” and “if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”  Evidently, the topic of forgiveness, especially by His disciples toward others is important to Jesus.  We have prayed that His will be done, so forgiveness becomes a priority for us.  Many of us are conscious of our need for daily bread, but are utterly unconscious of our need for daily forgiveness

In reading this, I noticed that this part starts with the word “and” which connects it to the part before.  Prior to this, we were told to pray, “give us this day our daily bread”.  In examining this, we discovered that we are to pray for God our Father to meet our daily needs.  Evidently, in Jesus’ mind, our greatest need is to be forgiven and to have the ability to forgive others. 

Why would forgiveness be so important to our Savior?  In answering this question, let’s look at Biblical forgiveness by reading a story involving Jesus and His disciples, featuring Peter in a prominent role.  In John 13 Jesus walks into a room where His disciples are arguing who is the most important among them.  Within the group, there was political maneuvering and backstabbing as each attempted by his own efforts and good works to get Jesus’ approval and move into a position of importance.  Jesus had taught about the attitudes necessary to follow Him, but now He moves to demonstrate the attitude.  Jesus, takes off His outer garment, picks up a towel and a basin of water and approaches the first arguing disciple.  Instead of rightfully demanding that the disciple wash His feet, Jesus begins to wash the disciples stinking feet.  The other disciples take notice and as Jesus continues, until He reaches Peter.  At this point Peter, rebukes the Lord, partly because of his love for the Lord and perhaps partly to gain favor.  He objects, telling Jesus He will never wash his feet.  Jesus then tells him that in order to maintain fellowship with him, Peter’s feet need to be washed.  Peter, over-reacts, and asks for a complete bath.  Jesus tells him that he has already had a bath, and now needs only a foot washing if his feet get dirty.  We understand this to mean that we need to be washed completely of our sins once by the blood of Christ in order to enter into a life-changing relationship with Him.  On the cross, Jesus “washed us” clean of sin by His sacrificial death.  We are given the opportunity to enter into a life changing relationship with God and will forever remain in this relationship.  But we choose at times to sin.  Since we daily struggle with committing individual sins, we need daily cleansing in order to maintain intimacy with Him in our relationship.  Our feet need washing.  Our relationship is secure in Him, but our intimacy can be hurt by the barriers we build through sin.  One of the key things to remember in studying this passage is that this is a prayer for disciples to pray.  These followers of Jesus asked Jesus to teach them to pray.  Jesus starts the prayer “Father” indicating that the relationship between God and the disciples had been established through belief in Jesus Christ and the grace of God.  So we aren’t praying for God to forgive our sin nature and the collective sins we have and will commit that separated us from God, but for our individual sins that we commit after salvation.  We can only have this when we are first forgiven by God at salvation and stay in fellowship with Him through cleansing.

The statement- ” and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors” uses a unique Greek word, for debt.  It is used here and in Romans 4 as a noun.  It occurs in its verb form 30 times in the New Testament.  Five times the word indicates a money debt and twenty-five times it is used of a moral debt.  When we sin, we owe God a debt that is the consequence for our sin because we have violated His holiness.  Since we are saved, our debt is taken care of in this life.  We experience the conviction of the Holy Spirit and the chastening or correction of the Lord.  Remember, children are corrected by fathers, so we, as God’s children are corrected when we sin by our Heavenly Father.  We have forgiveness of our sin, but what about our daily sins?  Each day of our lives, we are confronted with the opportunity to choose sin rather than obedience to God.  We are given the indwelling Holy Spirit Who gives the power to choose obedience to God rather than sin.  Far too often we choose sin.  When we, as His saved disciples, sin, we are to seek forgiveness.  We do this because we have prayed for His will to be done and His will for us is to walk in the Spirit.  What is the fruit of a Spirit-controlled life?   The evidence that we are controlled by the Spirit is a life in which love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness, self-control are characteristics of our attitudes and conduct.  One of the greatest tests to a Spirit-controlled life is whether we respond to those who have wronged us and hurt us by their words and actions.  Look at how one listed the fruit of the Spirit by defining each part.  We should show an affection for others, excitement about life, calmness. We develop willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness fills things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely as a result of surrender to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and a yielding of ourselves to the Holy Spirit.  Any attempt on our part to achieve this is completely worthless because our good works, produced by our effort, are viewed by God as filthy rags.  It is only when the Spirit controls us that God produces these good works within us that flows from the inside out.  Notice how many of these are a part of the attitudes necessary for us to have a forgiving spirit.  We bring our debt of sin to the Lord by confessing or agreeing with God that we are guilty before Him and seek to restore our intimacy by repenting or turning from this act of disobedience and rebellion, to once again walk with Him.

From verse 12, we get four principles about forgiveness.  Notice the “us” and “our” in “forgive us our debts”.  We are acknowledging that we all have the same debt.  Forgiveness is available because of the death of Jesus Christ.  Forgiveness is God wiping out the debt we owe Him because of Jesus paying the penalty in our place.  The debt was very costly.  Here are the four principles:

  1.  Sin makes man guilty and brings judgment.
  2.  Forgiveness is offered by God on the ground of Christ’s death.
  3. Confession of sin is necessary to receive that forgiveness from God.
  4. Forgiving one another is essential in receiving the type of forgiveness we receive ourselves.

 

I think that one of the reasons this is such an important need is because we can’t receive true forgiveness from God when we are out of His will.  We also can’t be used.  We become insensitive to His will, fail to be intimate with Him on a daily basis, and grieve the Holy Spirit, quenching His conviction in our lives.  We distance ourselves from God and proceed to live our lives in our energy, frustrating the grace of God.  No longer can we say that the “life which I now live, I live by the faith of the Son of God” because we refuse to yield to the control of the Holy Spirit.    We are His children and need to maintain our fellowship with Him.  The relationship that we have will never go away, but our intimacy with Him is at issue.  Each day we are confronted with temptations to sin.  God enables us to say no, but at times we listen to our new nature and sin.  This idea in verses 14 and 15 is found in the Greek word for trespass.  It means to slip or fall due to our helpless nature.  We “slip” because instead of using the power within us to avoid sin, we use our old nature which is helpless and we fall to sin.  This damages our intimacy with God.  Now we must go to God and confess our sins, seeking to be cleansed.

Look at the petition again.  “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors”.   Notice that our forgiveness of others sets the standard of forgiveness we receive for our daily sins.  Back in the day, preachers taught that God used the least painful method of correction first and continued to correct until we confessed and asked to have our intimacy restored.  The closer we are to Christ, and the more sensitive to violations of His will, the quicker we are back in an intimate relationship.  Remember, God sought Adam in the Garden of Eden after Adam and Eve sinned.  God knew of their sin, but He wanted the intimacy because it was best for Adam and Eve.  Christ sought out Peter after Peter denied Him because He knew intimacy in their relationship was essential to Peter.

So what is a standard for whether we are close to the Lord and are yielded to the Holy Spirit?  The measuring stick is our forgiveness of others.   If we aren’t controlled by the Spirit, we will not have a forgiving spirit toward those who will hurt us.  We will bring agony upon ourselves as we continually rehash the events surrounding our hurt and we will divert our focus from God to our circumstance or toward the one we won’t forgive.  As our pastor reminded us Wednesday, The Lord knows that we will go in the direction in which our attention is focused.  He wants you going in His direction!  Today, is the direction your life focused on the Lord or on the one who wronged you?

Please understand that you will be hurt by others in your life.  With any type of relationship comes the potential that someone will hurt you.  So whether it be a boyfriend-girlfriend, friend to friend, husband-wife, parent-child, employer-employee, or church friend-church friend you can be potentially hurt or betrayed by someone.  It may be a parent, a child, a boss, a husband or wife, a co-worker, friend or perhaps the worst of all, a trusted, intimate Christian who is also one of these things.    Jesus told His disciples that they would be hated and persecuted because they were His disciples.  When you examine His life and experiences, you will see hurt by His half-brothers, who made fun of His miracles, betrayal by one of His close friends whose feet He washed and denial by one who swore nothing would break his allegiance to Christ.  In His toughest hour, all left Him.  If Jesus experienced this type of treatment, realize that we will as well.

So how can we forgive others the way we want to be forgiven?  One way is to examine why we are to forgive?

  1.  We are to forgive one another because such is the character of saints.
  2. We are to forgive one another because it follows the example of Christ
  3. We are to forgive one another because it expresses the highest virtue of man.
  4. We are to forgive one another because it frees the conscience from guilt.
  5. We are to forgive one another because it keeps us from being corrected by God.
  6. We are to forgive one another because if we don’t we don’t get forgiven.

For some, they are now ready to forgive.  Others listened and agree with all these, but still won’t forgive.  Let me give you a second reason by looking at a story told by Jesus in Matthew 18, beginning with verse 21which give perspective to our debt before God in comparison to other’s debts toward us. 

In this parable, God is the gracious king.  We are the servant who owes an insane debt.  A talent was worth about six thousand days’ work, so a man would work thirteen years to pay off one talent.  This servant owed TEN THOUSAND TALENTS!  After 130,000 years the debt would be paid off!  You get the point that we owed a debt that couldn’t be paid.  But notice the king had compassion and FORGAVE the debt.  That’s GRACE!  We owe God a debt that we can’t pay.  God forgave our debt because of the payment Jesus Christ paid.  We’re forgiven.  This forgiveness is God our judge taking away our sin, covering our sin, blotting out our sin, and forgetting our sin.  This is judicial forgiveness.  Our righteous Judge forgives us and declares that on the basis of Christ’s death He forgives all our sins, past, present, and future totally, completely and forever forgiven. That shows us the magnitude of the forgiveness we have experienced by the grace of God.  God deals with us in grace because our sin has a two-fold effect: it condemns men forever to be separated from God in a place of torments and it also robs us of an abundant life while on earth.  God’s will for us is that neither be true of our lives.  He wants us to experience fellowship with Him as well as experiencing an abundant life through being controlled by Him.  Salvation produces the relationship and our daily walk determines our intimacy in the relationship and living the abundant life. We are saved so we avoid Hell and then given the Holy Spirit so we can have an abundant life.  All we have to do to be controlled by the Holy Spirit is to yield or submit to His control while dying to our old nature.  The forgiveness mentioned in verse 12 is what might be called “parental forgiveness”, the forgiveness of a loving Father toward His child.  When we sin as Christians, we don’t lose our relationship but we damage the intimacy of our relationship.  If a child disobeys his or her father, there is a certain forgiveness that is automatic because they are family.  But the intimacy or fellowship of the relationship suffers.  When the child comes and says, “Dad, I’m sorry”, the intimacy is restored.  This is not the prayer of an unbeliever seeking judicial forgiveness.  It is the prayer of a child seeking to restore intimacy.  In Psalm 51, David is not praying for forgiveness that will return salvation to him.  He is praying for forgiveness that will restore the intimacy he has lost due to sin.

But in this same passage, this man who has been forgiven so much now runs into someone who owes him a debt.  He could pay it back within three months.  He asks for mercy and the time to get the money.  The man who was forgiven so much, goes off on the other guy.  Not only does he grab the man, he is choking him.  He takes the man, his wife, and children and throws them into a debtors prison where the man will never have the opportunity to pay him back.  All this legal and justice has been served.  There is no mercy or grace, but there is justice.  When the king hears of this justice, he has the forgiven man brought to him and forgives this act in the same way that justice had been served.  If you have been hurt, you know the struggle with forgiving others.  It isn’t easy.  We want justice and what we consider fair or right.  Surrendering to the Holy Spirit’s control of our life is an ongoing process.  Due to our old nature we struggle with forgiving others. When we consider the tremendous cost that enabled God the Father to forgive us, we can recognize that forgiveness costs.  We are happy for God’s forgiveness because we realize that without this forgiveness we will be condemned to an eternity in the torments of hell, apart from a loving God.  We also would be unable to have joy in this life because of the future we face.  Forgiveness is essential for us to be able to have both a relationship and fellowship with God the Father.  It is costly because it cost the Son of God His life on the cross.  How we deal with others who sin against us gives insight into our current relationship with God.  Look again at verse 12.  The verse could be translated, “Forgive us our debts as we have forgiven.”  If we are controlled by the Spirit, we quickly deal with our sin by seeking forgiveness.  If our old nature sits on the throne of our inner being, then we are less likely to forgive others.  When someone wrongs you and you struggle with forgiving them, re-read Matthew 18:21-35.  We are blown away for how much God has forgiven us, that we are ready to forgive others whose actions in comparison.  Before I can seek forgiveness from God in order to stay in intimate fellowship with Him, I have to forgive others.  When we fail to forgive others, we build a barrier between us and God.

In order to forgive, we have to confess our tendency to have an unforgiving spirit.  If we struggle to forgive, don’t pretend that you don’t have a problem, confess our sin. According to Proverbs 28:13 when we cover our sins, we won’t prosper.  Confession of sin is essential.  According to John Stott, “One of the surest antidotes to the process of moral hardening is the disciplined practice of uncovering our sins of thought and outlook as well as word and deed and the repentant forsaking of the same.” When we say “forgive us our debts” we are making sure that we keep short accounts with God concerning sin in our life.  If we don’t, although we are judicially forgiven and eternally secure, we will become hardened, unrepentant, in­sensitive to sin, and totally joyless because we no longer have intimate fellowship with our God.

Since we are forgiving by God our Judge and Father, what about forgiving others?  Forgiving others involves three practical steps.

  1.  Take your lack of forgiveness to God as a sin.  Confess and repent of your lack of forgiveness.
  2.  Go to the person, ask for their forgiveness.  Not for what they have done to you, but for your unforgiving spirit.
  3.  Begin to pray for God to bless them.

God tells us in Matthew 5:7 that blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy.  Jesus reveals this principle of spiritual life.  Those in God’s kingdom are merciful.  In spite of the cruel treatment or ridicule we receive, we are to respond with compassion.  . If you regard iniquity in your heart, Psalm 66 says “The Lord will not,” what? “Hear you.” James says it, 2:13, “For he shall have judgment without mercy that has shown no mercy.” Don’t put yourself in a chastening position. The Lord will really unload His chastening  for your unforgiving spirit if you’re not merciful to others.

So the reasoning and method for forgiving others has been presented.  So why don’t you forgive?  There are three basic attitudes associated with the extending of forgiveness.

1. I Can’t Forgive
He did not tell the disciples that they could pray, “Lord, forgive me my trespasses and I will try to forgive those who have wronged me.” He told them that when they had forgiven others they could then claim their own forgiveness.   Sometimes we excuse our lack of forgiveness on the grounds that the one who has wronged us does not deserve our forgiveness. But the truth is; No one ever wrong you as you have wronged God. When God’s grace comes into our heart it makes us forgiving. We demonstrate whether we have been forgiven by whether or not we will forgive. The bottom line is, if you refuse to forgive, there can be only one reason that is that I have never received the grace of Christ. I am unforgiven.
2.  I Refuse to Forgive
When John Wesley served as a missionary to the American colonies; he had a difficult time with General James Oglethorpe. The general was known for his pride and harshness. One time Oglethorpe declared, “I never forgive. Wesley replied, “Then, Sir, I hope you never sin.”     Read verse 12 this way “Father forgive my sins only to the extent I am willing to forgive those who have sinned against me.”  Are you willing to live that way?  When we refuse to forgive others because of the hardness of our heart and rebellious nature, this part of the Lord’s prayer becomes a curse. We are asking the Lord to forgive me the way I am forgiving others.
3.  I Am Willing to Forgive
In The Hiding Place, Corrie Ten Boom shares about her experience in extending forgiveness in her book.  She saw a man who had been a cruel S.S. guard during her experiences as a Jew in Germany during the second world war years after at a church service in Munich.  He came up to her at the end of a service in which she shared about her walk with God.  He told her of his salvation and extended his hand to shake hers.  All she could see was the hurt and her angry controlled her response as she kept her hand at her side.   Jesus Christ had died for this man yet she only remembered the pain.  She prayed a silent prayer, admitting her struggle to forgive and forget and asked for His forgiveness.  The Holy Spirit, now in control, filled her with love that overwhelmed her as she shook his hand and embraced her brother in Christ.  Healing from hurt is not based on me being able to forgive, but on His ability to forgive through a yielded and obedient life.  When Christ tells us to forgive and love our enemies, He gives, along with the command, the forgiveness and love.



November 8, 2012, 6:02 pm
Filed under: Searching for our Savior in His book

I want to share this great blog from my pastor,Jeff Clawson. Great thoughts about the intervention of God into our lives

Forgetting Forward

As I was studying and writing preparing to preach a sermon from Matthew 15, a truth jumped out at me from the text. In Matthew 15:29-31, Matthew records that Jesus, as He did many times, had a large crowd around Him full of people who needed help. I could say it this way, they were people who desperately needed their circumstances changed. This leads me to a question, however. What is the purpose of Jesus changing someone’s circumstances? 

The response of the crowd, after Jesus did all this healing and  circumstance changing was pretty awesome. Matthew records that ” the crowd wondered.” I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure if I brought a friend to Jesus, or I was the friend who was carried, I would be in some kind of state of bewilderment when Jesus came through and healed. When Jesus changes circumstances like that, it’s always an…

View original post 268 more words



WHEN ONLY CHRIST MATTERS
November 5, 2012, 9:44 pm
Filed under: Searching for our Savior in His book

Peter’s Changed Life (23- 29)

 We live in a world that is unfair and shows partiality.  As Christians, we serve a God who is fair and impartial.  So we either stick to our prejudice and rebel against God’s standards or we yield our lives to Him so that He can transform us.  Peter allowed God to change him and his prejudices against Gentiles as seen in this passage.

  1.  Peter’s Hospitaliy (23)-  Peter did two things that were completely opposite of his traditions and prior beliefs.  First he took non-Jews into his home and allowed them to stay overnight and then after travelling with these men, he stayed as a guest with a Gentile.  God had transformed him in a remarkable way.
  2. Peter’s Humility (24-26)- When Peter entered into the home of Cornelius, the centurion bowed at his feet to worship him.  Notice Peter’s immediate response.  Instead of accepting the praise and enjoying it, Peter told Cornelius, “stand up, I am just a man like you”.  To us we only see a man refusing to be worship, but read the part “I myself also am a man”.  Peter was confessing that they were the same, both men.  Quite the statement for a man who previously considered Gentiles as “dogs”.  When Jesus comes, things are different.
  3. Peter’s Honesty (27-29)- Peter starts off telling the large group which had gathered to hear him about the change that God had made in his life.  He recalled his past beliefs and what Christ had done to change those beliefs.  He now came to them, accepting them as equals and desiring to see God work in their lives.

Cornelius’ Response-  Cornelius told of his journey to this point and what God had done to set this up.  He saw the hand of God in all this and had filled the room full of hungry, enthusiastic, winnable people who were ready to hear and response to the gospel message.

 Peter’s Preaching Exalted Jesus and the Spirit Came

Biblically preaching is proclaiming a message which exalts Jesus Christ.  As we focus on Jesus Christ, we welcome Him to our worship and at this time the Holy Spirit sees an opportunity to come, glorify God and let His presence and power be evident.  The Holy Spirit looks for these opportunities because He is here to magnify Jesus Christ.  So when we life up the Lord Jesus Christ, we are creating a worship that invites the Holy Spirit to take control.  If we seek God’s power, then Jesus has to be the focus of our life, both in our thoughts and actions.

How Peter Exalted Jesus

Peter, in this sermon, made Jesus Christ the center of every word he spoke.  He put the Lord as the focal point of the service by making sure that the message was full of revealed truth.

The first truth is that Jesus brings True Peace to those of us who are rebellious against God.

Look at the part, “preaching peace by Jesus Christ.  God is seen as the Peacemaker through Jesus Christ.  Compare verse 36 with verse 43.  God is offering terms of peace through Jesus Christ in verse 36 and in verse 43 God offers forgiveness through Jesus.  We have True Peace with God only when His anger over our sins is covered by the blood of Jesus and replaced with the peace of God.  The only way this can happen is the True Peace we desire can only come through a personal relationship with the Peacemaker, Jesus Christ.

The second truth is the Jesus Christ is the Lord of all.  Notice the end of verse 36, “He is Lord of all”.  Peter lifts up Jesus as the Lord of all before Cornelius and his family.  We need to show others that Jesus is Lord of all of our lives by completely and totally turning our entire lives over to Him.  The great thing about this liberating message is the Messenger.  God sent good news of peace by Jesus Christ, the Lord of all.  This shows the importance of this truth.  God didn’t trust this message to anyone but His Son.  Jesus is Lord of all!  Not just Lord of the Jews, or Lord of the Gentiles, but Lord of all.  Lord of humans and spiritual beings.  Jesus is Lord of all the universe and Lord of all that is in it.  Jesus is pictured here as the focal point of everything.  He is seen as being Supreme over every part of His creation.  No wonder that God the Holy Spirit saw this as an opportunity to glorify Christ Jesus.  Our attention had been turned to the fact that Jesus was Lord of ALL!

The third point was that Jesus was a man, anointed with the Holy Spirit and with God’s power. 

Peter lifts up Jesus as a man anointed with the Holy Spirit and with power.It is tremendously important to say the awesome fact that Jesus—the Lord of all—was 100% man. That’s the point of Peter’s identifying him as “Jesus of Nazareth.” He had a hometown. He was known by friends and kinsmen there. He worked in the carpenter’s shop. The Lord of all had become a human like you and me (only without sin).  As a man, Jesus had chosen to limit his powers as God.  He demonstrated what God could do through a life anointed with the Holy Spirit.  One of the promises that Jesus made to us was that He would send a Comforter, the Holy Spirit, to permanently indwell all who become the sons of God through faith.  The same power that enabled Jesus to have an extraordinary ministry is the same power that fills and controls us when we allow Him.  Verse 38 ends “for God was with him”.  While on earth Jesus, as a Man, relied upon God, the Holy Spirit, to provide the necessary power for Him to faithfully obey God.

The fourth point in the sermon was that Jesus, as a Man, empowered by the Holy Spirit was, and is, more powerful than sin and Satan

Peter points out that because of the indwelling work of the Holy Spirit, Jesus was more than a match for Satan.  Jesus walked in harmony with God.  The power of the Holy Spirit was a present intimacy because God was with Him.  When Jesus acted, the Father acted, because they were intimate with each other.  Because of the presence and power of God, Jesus acted in a way that was God.   The Bible teaches that Jesus was tempted outwardly by the devil just like we are, but that He always conquered the outward temptation to sin, through intimate fellowship with God.  The power of sin was broken by the presence of the Holy Spirit in Jesus’ life.  The miracles and good that Jesus did was by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Jesus rescues those who are oppressed and tormented and tempted by Satan.  Peter proclaims this truth because he wanted Cornelius and all that were with him to have this same overcoming power within them.

The fifth point in Peter’s sermon was that Jesus, who was a good man, without sin, was killed in spite of His sinless life. 

Peter tells the story of how Jesus came from heaven to this earth, clothed with a human body, and lived a life in complete obedience to God’s command and was sinless and then died a death in which He paid for the sin of sinners.

Jesus was killed in spite of the fact that he was God’s Peacemaker, in spite of the fact that he was Lord of all, in spite of the fact that he was anointed by the Holy Spirit and power and was stronger than sin and the devil and that God was with him.

Why did this sinless One die?  There can be only one logical explanation.  God allowed Jesus to die as the payment for man’s sin.  God was intervening in the life of sinful man, allowing a perfect and sinless sacrifice to be offered.  God was at work!

The sixth point is the turning point.  While it was essential that Jesus die for our sin, the transforming event was the resurrection. 

Peter proclaims that Jesus is alive from the dead because God raised him from the dead after three days.  God supernaturally stepped in and resurrected Jesus Christ from the dead.  His payment for sin was accepted by God and He now is alive, able to offer to man everlasting life.  Today, there is salvation in no other name, and He is Lord of all.

Peter also states that God also gave evidence of the resurrection.  Over 500 people saw the resurrected Lord on at least 10 different occasions.  They ate and drank with Him, proving that the resurrected body was flesh and bones and a digestive track.  He wasn’t a ghost or a spiritual being, He has a body that has been resurrected and glorified.  Jesus is ALIVE.

Peter’s seventh point is that the resurrected Jesus has been ordained of God to be the final Judge of all, both dead and alive.  Everyone will appear before Jesus to be judged. 

We all will stand before Jesus Christ as our final judge.  Some will be at the Judgment Seat of Christ, and will be judged for the faithful service we have offered as worship to the Lord Jesus Christ.  Others will stand before Jesus Christ and give an explanation for why they rejected Jesus as their personal sacrifice and Savior.  They will have to explain why they forfeited the right to a personal relationship with God, just to continue with their sinful and selfish life in spite of the knowledge that Jesus had died in their place to pay the price for their sin.  Because of their rejection of Jesus as the payment for their sin, they will be cast into everlasting torment, regardless of the good deeds they may have done.

Where you spend eternity is dependent on what you do with Jesus Christ while on this earth.

The final point in Peter’s sermon to this group gathered by Cornelius is that Jesus Christ is the source of God’s complete and final forgiveness of our sins. 

Peter presents Jesus Christ as the only source of God’s forgiveness for our sins.  Today, you can meet Jesus as the forgiver of all your sins.  Peter starts the sermon by showing that Jesus is the Peacemaker and he ends the sermon by introducing Jesus as the Peacemaker.  By God’s grace, we all can receive salvation by faith through Jesus Christ.  Because of our belief,  we were given the authority to become the sons of God.  This trust will result in us being clothed with the righteousness of Christ, and becoming a son of God.  We receive an inheritance and the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit.  He uses us as His instrument, doing good works by the power of the Holy Spirit.  We can overcome Satan, self, and sin through the power given us through the Holy Spirit.  Our sins are forever blotting out, covered by the blood of Jesus and removed from us forever.

The final five verses tell us the results of Peter proclamation.

  1.  The Holy Ghost came upon them.
  2. Jewish Christians were amazed, because Gentiles Christians were being added to the church as equals with them.
  3. The Gentile Christians demonstrated the presence and power of the Holy Spirit in the same way that the Jewish Christians did in Acts 2, magnifying God.
  4. The Gentile Christians were baptized with the same baptism as the Jewish believers.
  5. The Gentile Christians were obedient and asked Paul to stay, so they could be taught and grow.