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Acts: The First 40 Days

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
The Truth Network Radio
July 27, 2020 8:00 am

Acts: The First 40 Days

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

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July 27, 2020 8:00 am

Youre starting a new, global enterprise designed to last at least 2000 years and change the world. Youre the founder, the leader, the head. Your startup plan is to spend six weeks meeting off and on with your leadership teamand then vanish just before you go public...

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You're starting a new global enterprise designed to last at least 2000 years and change the world.

You're the founder the leader, the head your start up plan is to spend six weeks meeting often on with your leadership team and then vanish just before you go public and stay tuned for the Bible study hour is Dr. James Boyce talks about the first 40 days of the book of acts welcome to the Bible study hour and a radio and Internet program with Dr. James Boyce preparing you to think and act quickly as Luke begins writing the book of acts he tells about the 40 days between Jesus resurrection and ascension. Let's listen as Dr. Boyce talks about four important ideas that Luke includes in these opening verses acts as a historic it's actually a second volume of a two-volume history in the first part of which is Luke. Sometimes scholars when they write about these books refer to them as Luke acts, we know they belong together because the introduction to the two letters are writing this link them. Both were written to this man. Theophilus and Lugosi begins his second volume refers to the first so in LA belong together.

I suppose it's merely incidental and perhaps not even a matter of great interest to you, but the early books that were written at this time this early. In church history were undoubtedly written on papyrus scrolls. Later they came to be written and something closer to book form.

Though the sheets were made of skin, but early days they were written on papyrus scrolls and that was practical to have a scroll about 35 feet in length.

When I got any longer than that, it got too bulky to carry around and there's a sense in which this physical limitation determines the length of many of the books of the Bible number of the Gospels, especially John acts Romans, and so forth about this length when there written out sin ancient script. It would seem that Luke, who set out to write history of the times of Jesus Christ in the expansion of the church up to his own age of the things that he knew from his own travels with the apostle Paul decided to do it on to scroll first role being given over to the life of Jesus Christ became our gospel.

The third walk in the New Testament and then this second volume, which picks up the story of the ending of the first and carries on to the arrival of the apostle Paul in Rome for the end of his life in fulfillment of his apostolic missionary calling here.

He begins in this book in Jerusalem in the early days date picking up in these early paragraphs with the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ.

In those days between his resurrection and ascension into heaven, he starts at that point and then he chronicles the spread of this new religion Christianity throughout the Roman world in major cities, beginning largely through the influence of the apostle Peter and then later in the second half of the book through the phenomenal life and ministry of the apostle Paul bookends as I'm sure you know in Rome with Paul their prison and Luke says I am sure by that progression that now the gospel would come to the very center of the Empire and was spreading rapidly throughout the entire world as Luke gives us a history of the early church. He gives us also an insight into God's plan for history people are puzzled by history. They asked what it's all about doesn't have the meaning Bible tells us that there is a plan to history and God is doing something he's unfolding that plan doesn't have to do with the rise in fall of empires doesn't have to do with one race of people being or influential or dominating over another. He doesn't even look at it as having to do primarily with individual attainments as if hearing their people emerge from the last do great things. That's not where the meaning of history is to be filed. Many of history is in God's work, God reaching down into this mass of fallen humanity. Men and women in their sin hell-bent on their own destruction and by his grace, saving Solomon bringing them into a new fellowship which is the fellowship of the church are beginning to work in them in such a way, the glory is brought to Jesus Christ. Then at the end bringing this great electric company and that that's what Luke is writing about as he unfolds these events of early church history. One other thing we need to say about it as we began. And that is that this is not only something in the distant past but is intended to be for the entire church age, which is to say for us as well. What if you've ever thought of the kind of progression we have in this book. At the beginning. Wait, have contact with the risen Christ we live, as it were in a world of miracles. Here is Jesus the ascended Lord of the preeminent miracle of all history and in these early days. Miracles are happening at the world that we have very little contact with something God can't do miracles today. Of course he can, but generally, life is apart from the supernatural. But as the book progresses, we have the feeling that way that it becomes increasingly like the kind of world we know the end we find the apostle Paul bearing witnesses were called to bear witness persecuted as we are often persecuted, at least members of the church are persecuted and nevertheless triumphing as he bears witness and spike the pressure that's brought upon them to silence the faith is a these are things that pertain God's. And as we study this book we find, therefore, not only the principles of church growth.

We see the way in which temptation and trials, how, by the grace of God. The church is to triumph in such things.

Now we turn to date of the first 11 verses. These verses that deal with the 40 days between resurrection of Jesus Christ and his ascension are important dates. I want you to see number of things that Luke emphasizes as he reviews this early moment in church history. First of all, there is a great emphasis upon the historical basis of Christianity see it by the very way he begins, he says, in effect, oh Theophilus I am in the story.

I have investigated the things that I want you to know about investigated them carefully and I begun to write them down. I wrote them down in my first book, and now I'm continuing it in my second what I write about are things that happens because I've investigated them because they happen you can know the certainty that this is what's been done.

They concern in the first instance Jesus Christ and all that he began to do and teach, while he was here during his earthly ministry. They continue as he obviously is going to go on the show in Christ's own work in the church, by the power of his Holy Spirit. This book of acts is really short name for what is actually the acts of the apostles.

People who have looked at that title of said it's not really the best way to report about done here. The acts of the apostles is really the acts of Jesus Christ I wonder was Lord over its church, or if you want to put it this way, and sleep acts of the Holy Spirit in the church through his chosen people. That's what I'm going to write about since Luke now that's an important thing you heard it said many times, I'm sure the Christianity is an historical religion, and it is it's religion that is based not on the band's philosophy which simply because it is a philosophy could exist with or without the man most of the religions of the world are like that in order to have Buddhism you don't have to have an historical booted. All you have to have a Buddhist teachings and someone with many other kinds of religion. This is not true Christianity, you take away the historical basis. If you reduce it as some have tried to go to a religion of mere ethics or ideas.

It evaporates immediately because what we teach in Christianity and what we do in the basis of that teaching is linked indissolubly with what Jesus Christ accomplished in his life. Jesus Christ was here.

He thought about God, but he didn't merely teach demonstrated what God was like in his person, that in order to achieve salvation.

He died upon the cross see himself taking the place of sinners bearing the wrath of God. If you don't have that historical basis is gone from Christianity, then Christianity is gone and it should pass as many other religions have into the forgotten been of ancient history now it's not only you say that Christianity is an historical religion which Luke emphasizes but it's an historical religion based on proven fact is a lot of skepticism about that in our day.

Whatever you talk in fact, or worse yet, when you talk of facts that are proven people question it today because they question in the ultimate sense whether anything can be proven or certain are well able to understand that because we are fallible human beings, but only do we perceive validly we receive things validly and in our own minds. We inevitably distort the things we receive. As pointed out in science where in certain kinds of experiments. The very fact that there's an observer there watching the thing happen changes what happens and so scientists point out that there is an ultimate barrier beyond what you can't know you can't really know what's going on because the very fact that you're trying to know what changes what's happening while it's true science. Yet when we come to these great facts of Christianity. It is not true according to Luke, I'm impressed that when Luke writes of Christ's suffering and resurrection he says in verse three that he showed himself to these men giving many convincing proofs he was alive important phrase didn't merely in some spiritual or mystic way gives his disciples certain ideas. They were then to carry forward as a matter of religion in the world actually appeared to appear, this one risen from the dead.

I know you died there. They knew what happened. Some of them stood at the cross, they heard the blowing of the hammers they saw the nails driven and later when the soldiers came and thrust a spear into the side of Christ as they saw the blood water flow forth. They knew that he was dead was not a question of that convinced worthy of his death that they began to scatter and all because well it was nice to have known him.

It was certainly edifying to have heard his ideas but to follow Christ died is just foolishness and so some of them began to scatter back to the north. They came from back to Galilee. Others were on their way to Emmaus. We have that story in the gospel in the late began to scatter in all other places. Then Jesus rose Jesus rose and appeared to them, and his appearance to them was sufficient to draw them together again. They wouldn't have come together for mythology came together because the Christly of known love and who may have seen crucified was alive. Thomas was the greatest of all the skeptics even after the resurrection and the other disciples had seen Christ and came to him to proclaim his resurrection promise that I won't believe unless I can put my finger into the print of the nails in his hand and thrust my hand and the wound in his side. Jesus appeared to Thomas in the presence of the living resurrected Christ was sufficient to dispel all promises about and he fell before them with the great confession, my Lord, my God, this is what Luke is referring to is saying here. I am going to chart the spread of Christianity I want you to know at the very beginning that this is a religion based upon historical fact, even amazing historical fact.

The fact of the resurrection is the fact that has been demonstrated by many convincing proofs now. The resurrection proves everything else.

Here's the way the argument would go first of all, the resurrection is a fact disciples were there and witnessed Christ after the resurrection they knew he had been raised from the dead. Secondly, the resurrection is the fact it proves the deity of Jesus is because Christ came and claimed to be divine before his crucifixion. He said that he was the son of God. If that was true.

It was a marvelous truth but it was false was blasphemy. Moreover, he said that this God. He was identified with being the very son of God.

This father of his was going to raise him from the dead following his crucifixion was an impossible play. Nobody had ever been raised from the dead before, and yet when he died, and when, after the passage of three days, the tomb was opened and Jesus was seen no longer to be there but rather to be raised very fact of the resurrection proved his claimant showed he was divine.

It's inconceivable since the resurrection had to happen by the power of God that God would raise this one for the dead, that he claim something as obviously false and misleading as deity.

If indeed it wasn't true so the resurrection proves as deity, burglary of the vine Christ must speak truth because God is truth: must speak truth of Jesus as the body must speak clearly and forth. If what Jesus speaks truly really is true we can trust everything else we find in his teachings.

We thought that we could trust the Bible to talk. It was the word of God. He taught that we had forgiveness for our sins. We trusted what God did in him by his death for our salvation. So on down through the spread of Christian doctrine. This is what Luke is saying. Luke refers quite briefly here to the resurrection and the convincing proofs of that but it follows necessarily that everything else can be believed.

Because of that some people have said, well, isn't that a circular argument. The only way you know about Jesus and the resurrection is why the Bible and the only reason you believe the Bible is because of the testimony of Jesus.

One supports the other and vice versa, and because it circular. It's a argument that's invalid is, in the case of course. Today we approach this book as we would any other book of ancient history. We examine it as FF Bruce did see if it's reliable we find as we examine it that it certainly is what we read here is believable speaks of Jesus we ask the question, who is the what is he done as we read this believable book we find us. Luke himself says that there were many convincing proofs of his resurrection he was God. He was who he claimed to be, and therefore we say because he is so we claim to be the can be trusted, that sleep historical rational biblical basis of Christianity as he begins this great history of the church starts at that point I was a secondly I want you to say about these opening verses, and it's the dominant presence of the living Christ. This opening section is noteworthy for referring to each member of the Trinity. Notice in verse three that Jesus spoke about the kingdom of God. There you have a reference to God the father.

You notice in verse five that there's reference to the Holy Spirit for John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit and then there's reference to Jesus is Lord. Verse six they said to him, Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom there you have the entire Trinity. It's the same kind of thing you find in a number of other books of the New Testament that the striking thing about this introduction to acts is not that it refers to each person of the Trinity, but that it refers to the person of Jesus Christ over and over and over again.

You look carefully at these 11 verses you will find that every single verse either records, the Lord Jesus Christ is speaking or refers to it. So here at the very beginning as their foundations are laid for this great growth of the church that the book of acts will chronicle. We find Jesus living Jesus the resurrection, Jesus present. I'm particularly impressed with the way the section ends very end of this passage, you find the Angels talking they reported Jesus. They say this same Jesus who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you've seen them go into heaven, I find that interesting because in New Testament critical studies.

There has been a attempt on the part of some scholars to discover. Apart from the New Testament what they choose to call the historical Jesus began more than 100 years ago with the German scholar's name was Herman Roy Morris. He left manuscript behind it is death, in which he suggested that future New Testament scholarship would have to distinguish between what he called the Christ of faith and the Jesus of history by the Jesus of history he meant the real Jesus is a really live so many centuries ago by the Christ of faith he meant the Christ of the fervent belief of the early Christians. Christ, about whom we are told in the pages of the New Testament. In other words right.

Morris suggested and later German scholarship followed him that the Jesus we find in the Gospels was not the true Jesus so German scholarship and its typically for all way launched itself upon what became 100 years of historical Jesus research during these hundred years the great German thinkers produce volume after volume purporting to tell who the historical Jesus really was toward the end of that. Albert Schweitzer wrote a great book on the quest of the historical Jesus and exposed all as a critical day that you said that each of these scholars as you look at it from the perspective of later history had only managed to create a Jesus in his own image of a was a socialist. He produced social Jesus if he was chiefly ethical philosopher.

He produced a Jesus who was a teacher of ethics of the identified with the common man. He produced a Jesus who was part of the common man to be was in the rabbinic's producer. Jesus was chiefly a rabbi and so on, and Schweitzer pointed out he did so with devastating force that it was just impossible to separate the Christ of faith from the Jesus of history and why. The answer is obvious because the Christ of faith in Christ, we have presented to us in the pages of the New Testament is the Jesus of history and is what Luke says as he begins the same Jesus.

This Lord Jesus Christ as one who is the object of the faith of Christians that I have been down through all these Christian centuries as the Jesus who really live and who was crucified. Rose from the dead. He tells us something else interesting. I referred to. That phrase comes toward the end of the section. But if you go back to the beginning, you find that, in reference to his earlier volume. He says that he wrote about all that Jesus began to do and teach those obvious that's his life teach. That's obvious to but the puzzling thing about that phrase is the word began all the Jesus began to do and teach what is use that word. It also quite obviously because of this book is going to show the things of Jesus continues to do through the person of the Holy Spirit in the lives of the apostles and what is going to teach as well.

I don't know exactly what it was that "this book, but I presume that it was not long after the coming of the apostle Paul wall because he doesn't tell Paul's death I came some years later and if he had written the book later. I presume you would've told about it. So this is relatively early yet already. By that time Paula written as letters in these had already begun to be recognized as scripture in the life of the church bus fulfilling the thing that the Lord himself prophesied, saying that he was going to send the New Testament revelation through his chosen apostles, by which the church was to be guided so here you have a story about continuing work of the Lord Jesus is the third thing we need to say and that's the missionary mandate we find it in verses seven and 8X introduced an interesting way. The disciples who were with Jesus and these days between his resurrection and ascension still have old-fashioned ideas we know as we read the gospel that what they had been thinking I was some kind of earthly political power. Their idea of the Messiah was the character like Judas Maccabeus Judas the hammer was going to be strong drive out any occupying military forces these days. It was the Romans.

So what they were looking for was a Messiah was going to drive out the Romans and the kingdom of David, and earthly political kingdom and expected to reign with him know how they asked the question they said began again. Now, Lord, when you come in your kingdom.

Are we going to rain when you one occasion, the mother of James and John approached Jesus sent out when you come in your kingdom. Please grant that my two sons may sit with you one on the right hand and one on the left. They didn't mean that she wasn't thinking of some kingdom, becoming heaven in some far-off they thought Jesus was good, and establish the kingdom there on earth in power by political means again and again that wasn't the nature of his kingdom.

That is interesting you say even here now after the resurrection, Jesus soon to be taken up and that would have the same warped ideas in their minds may say to in verse six, Lord I we waited a long long time. Lord we waited all the way through these three long years of teaching. I'm sure you must think those three long years were important were not sure they were as important as all that we kind of wish you'd gotten the kingdom going a lot earlier, but we were patient because you're the Lord where only the disciples and then we went through that whole nasty business of the crucifixion when you were crucified, rejected gilding, and then we experience the joy of the resurrection and were sure that you had a purpose and that toe but now let's get down to the thing that really matters.

Lord, they said, are you at this time. Now last after all this waiting on our part going to restore the kingdom Jesus answered by saying you know your business to know when I'm going to set up that kingdom, but your job is this during this church age task that you have to unfold as that'll be my witnesses in the world and that's what you will be you're going to receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and when that happens, you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and all Judea and Samaria. Finally, to the ends of the world that missionary mandate is the mandate of the church today always faced with two great temptations one, which unfortunately has been the fate of the church and Betty centuries of its history is the temptation to idleness. The temptation to say, well Jesus to save me Jesus to save my wife for my husband, my children, I have a nice church and everything is comfortable and that's just wonderful and will just sit here and wait for them to come and when we meet on Sunday mornings will say to ourselves, Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom will be patient will wait. Jesus says the church is inactive and stagnant is that. Listen, you are to be filled with power and when you're filled with the power of the Holy Spirit you to go out and witness to me in all the earth church. It is not doing that is not obeying its war church that is not doing that is suffering in the second temptation in the second temptation is the one the disciples were already caught up in this the temptation to think that we are to do the Lord's work in the world's way were to go out established kingdom, but where do it politically goodbye law and by getting Christiansen high positions of government and by imposing our will, our desires, our vision of society upon the world. LME say there's a proper place for the expression of the Christian worldview.

Christians have a proper view of the world.

We have a proper view of what ethics should be as they impinge upon all the great issues of our time about saying for a minute. Christians don't have an Outlook and shouldn't seek to have it affected you see the way that still happen. According to the teaching of Jesus Christ is not by political power by law or by power tactics, but by witnessing the power of the Holy Spirit takes that gospel to the hearts and minds of men and women. It changes them in the disciples of the Lord. When that happens you so you can have a great diversity of Christians in different nations and Christians of different races and Christians of different denominations many different things will be going on, but it won't be disharmony.

This will be sort of thing.

The Lord Jesus Christ is directing a blessing in this is what he says we must do and finally, as we come to the end we find is 1/4 foundational principle before the book of acts really even gets underway that you have this great reference to the return of the Lord. This is the passage that tells of his ascension into heaven. During these 40 days. She'd been appearing to them on occasion, generally unexpected, teaching them spiritual things. If that had gone on. They might've just Blackwell that's the way it's going to be forever. Every so often Jesus will just be there gives kind of instruction we need that been there mentality and Jesus had to teach them the phase of his dealings with his disciples was ending. That's not the way it was going to be in the church. So to show that there K that moment when we stood on the Mount of olives and bid them goodbye and then ascended visibly up and they haven't disappeared from their sight into the clouds they were doing just what you and I would be doing under those circumstances they were standing there staring up the direction that he brought when suddenly they became aware that there were angels standing by the angel said to them, why do you stand here looking up under the sky. The angel was saying to them, there is work to do, get on with it. The angel gave a great promise and said the same Jesus was been taken from you into heaven, will come back the same way you have seen him go into heaven. We know that the Lord Jesus Christ is returning because elsewhere in the New Testament were told of the final judgment of the fact that Jesus Christ will judge Jesus will return and judgment to render judgment upon this world and yet you know when these disciples were told that this same Jesus that you've seen going to heaven, will come back, I think, in their minds they were thinking about judgment, they were just thinking of Jesus, who may love. They know that one day this gentle, loving, gracious, but sovereign holy and majestic Jesus would come back and he would stand with them and would say is you talk to me would do in the number of his parables.

Well, brothers, how are you done what you done during all these years that I have left you to carry out the great commission you done well are have you been lazy. Have you let your opportunities slide. If you been afraid.

Somehow the world would diss approve of your testimony. I'm sure that as they thought about that day when they'd see them again.

I must've been encouraged to the task that lay a hand. The summer I was in England. As you know, one of the great benefits I had, particularly during the days of the Keswick convention was to meet leaders of the evangelical church of England, Ireland and Scotland. One of the bat I got to know particularly was an Irishman by the name of Derek Bingham has a great work in the city of Belfast every Tuesday night teaches young people. He gets a thousand of them to come out every Tuesday night teaches the Bible. They shared a great deal of his experience with May in the told of how he was called in the ministry said every Irishman you know has a story of the deathbed scene in their dying mother and Derek Bingham was no exception. And he said his mother was lying on her deathbed, she said to endemic my boy, you have the gift of God, but you don't know the word and I could learn the word. Perhaps the Lord could use you. So he felt called to the ministry and within three weeks of her death.

He was in the ministry and he began preaching, and God has used it may was greatly impressed with the Keswick convention was his first time there was also mine were thousands and thousands of people 5000 brats during the first week of meetings said to me one evening as we were walking home late at night.

You know you said I was sitting there on the platform and I was thinking about my mother and I was thinking that if my mother could walk in tonight and see us there on the platform of the Keswick convention. I'd say to her hey mom look at what we're doing, where they are doing what you wanted us to do all the time. I was thinking that that was an inspiration to him that kept them going up that fired him for the task at hand. How much more the thought one day Lord Jesus Christ is going to come is going to say to us, how would you done brothers shall be done. Sisters carried out by task that Jesus will not be Jesus that comes to us to be harsh with a Jesus who comes really hoping that we will fulfill the task we do it spray the strengths do in our time is the use apostles of the Lord so obviously did it in their own, but his prior father Duplessis in our study of this book we study it is history, but not his history remote and distant, only to be studied for its own sake as an article of the relevant past father, grant that as we study it, we might find ourselves walking these pages find principles and challenge of this book to be the principal's challenges of our time, which, if we follow will bring blessing upon ourselves and upon the church Jesus you are listening to the Bible study hour with the Bible teaching of Dr. James Boyce listener supported ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals. The alliance exists to promote a biblical understanding and worldview. Drawing upon the insight and wisdom of reformed theologians from decades and even centuries gone by. We seek to provide Christian teaching that will equip believers to understand and meet the challenges and opportunities of our time and place. Alliance broadcasting includes the Bible study hour with Dr. James Boyce every last word with Bible teacher, Dr. Philip Aiken, God's living word with pastor, the Rev. Richard Phillips and Dr. Barnhouse in the Bible featuring Donald Barnhouse. For more information on the alliance including a free introductory package for first-time callers or to make a contribution. Please call toll-free 1-800-488-1888. Again, that's 1-800-488-1888. You can also write the alliance at Box 2000, Philadelphia PA 19103 or you can visit us for Canadian gifts mail those 2237 Rouge Hills Dr., Scarborough, ON, and 1C, two line 9 ask for your free resource catalog featuring books, audio commentaries, booklets, videos, and a wealth of other materials from outstanding reformed teachers and theologian.

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