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August 11, 2020 8:00 am
If you're a believer you face trials like alienation, slander, humiliation and sorrow things, but none of us looks forward to, but they're part of a life of any believer, one who is actively living for God in an increasingly hostile society.
Why does that happen. Well, because when we are faithful to God's ways we make unrepentant sinners uncomfortable welcome to the Bible study our radio and Internet program with Dr. James Boyce preparing you to think and act biblically our message today is all about suffering disgrace for Jesus will learn how to live under the pressures and trials that believers face when they are identified with Christ will examine the early church and how those believers suffered as the gospel spread throughout the land.
Let's listen out together to Dr. Boyce were well into the fifth chapter of acts in our study of this important New Testament book and have advanced far enough in our study now that I think we can begin to see something of the pattern of Luke's molding of the material in these early chapters is a very simple form that he is following, but it's interesting to note because it has some significance Outlook is doing in these early chapters is alternating between a portrait of the church in and of itself, that is, the believers alone in their fellowship in which he talks about their life, their witness their joy in the way they function. He alternates between that type of portrait and portrait of the church in relation to the world show you how that operates in the very first chapter, we have the church along here. They are gathered after the ascension of Christ conducting their own business selecting an apostle to replace Judas who had betrayed the Lord then had killed himself.
We see the church together believers together in their fellowship second chapter when the Holy Spirit comes at Pentecost. We find the church in relationship to Laurel here this great event has taken place and Peter stands up is the spokesman on this occasion, many preachers, the first great Christian sermon sermon based on the Old Testament and very much applied to the life and experience of the people of Jerusalem and then thirdly, at the very end of that chapter with verse 42, Luke goes back to this portrait of the Fellowship of the believers we see that classic section where the we talked about at some length where he describes how the Christians were altogether devoting themselves to the apostles teaching and the fellowship in the breaking of bread and prayer.
Then in the third chapter and running on into the fourth chapter out verse 22.
You have the church before the world again relationship to the world as a change. At this point the first time Lucas shown the church in relationship to the world situation of witness. Only Pentecost is taken place and Peter was preaching and many respond as a glorious day the second time when he begins to show church in relationship to the world. He brings in this matter, persecution, opposition that we began to fly. We saw as we studied that leaders ended by commanding Peter and John and the others not to preach anymore in this name didn't even want to say Jesus, but that's what they were talking about no more. In this day so you have opposition developing then Luke goes on to show us the church alone again getting with 420 3C describes a Peter and John went back to the people and reported to them. We saw how they had a worship service there how they praise God, we saw something of their prayer at the end of the chapter, we had verses that were almost repetition of those verses a, the end of chapter 2. Give a description of their unity of heart and mind and their sharing their testimony to the resurrection. But on the fifth chapter. There's something else here. You have five portrait of the church along first versus but now you say it's not quite that glorious picture that we had at the end of chapter 2 and the end of chapter 4. Now we have division in the church, hypocrisy, dissension for the first time in judgment upon the household of God's only out of that that we have the portrait of blessing once again that we find at the beginning of our section, so goes back and forth church alone church in the world church alone church in the world we come in this this chapter to another portrait of the church in relationship to the world but here now the third time Lucas done this, the opposition that we saw earlier grows in the outright persecution and for the first time in this history.
First time in all these five chapters we been studying.
We find that the apostles are actually abuse actually beaten physically beaten because of their witness to Jesus Christ. I say that's significant because it represents two different things that go on in the church and I would suppose that by this arrangement.
Luke is really saying that both things are necessary, sometimes you have a church that goes so much over on the side of its own fellowship in its own joy and wonder of gathering together that it loses sight of the fact that it's to be in the world as a witness to Jesus Christ and so external matters tend to be forgotten or overlooked or abandoned. The church just loves its fellowship why they just get together.
They just have a wonderful time with her. Thinking of anybody else, and on the other hand, sometimes the church goes the other way the church says liberal church tends to be more like this church says well we're here to do good works, and so they're out there in the world all the time doing the good works without the base that comes from the unity and fellowship and worship and prayers of the Christian community. Lucas saying by this arrangement is that both things are necessary. If you have one you have the outward service without the inner strength. Well, pretty soon the service becomes a superficial thing, it becomes essentially no different than the kind of things. The world does all its good deeds and that type of thing but without the spiritual vitality actually produces change, lasting change. The other hand, you can so focus on your fellowship that you forget the task that's there and then you become self centered in the compassion for others slip is supposed to flow in us as a result of having the Holy Spirit within about operates the to necessarily go together.
Kind of an introduction let's look at this chapter, beginning with verse 12 has a number of sections.
First is this portrait of the church again. They had just gone through this very difficult time with Ananias and Sapphire Godhead judge.
These two are there hypocrisy are lying to God. Interestingly God strikes people dead as we find it in the Scripture does not unbelievers that he strikes dead. It slows soon, so far as we can tell, were genuine Christian people, but who were sending the mean of course, about isn't going to pronounce judgment upon others as well is a final judgment and those who reject Jesus Christ will be judged at that judgment, but in this life God apparently passes by much of the evil of this world, but he does take sin among his people. Seriously, here at this crucial juncture in the church, God pronounced terrible judgment upon these two who were sowing dissension through hypocrisy and lies in the midst of the Christian community. What we come to in verse 12 is the renewed and reunified church that came out as a result of that judgment told a number things about this church, it would seem at this.
The God did even more signs and wonders among them through the apostles and had been done previously had been miracles earlier that was that miracle of the healing of the lame man led to that great sermon of Peter's Solomon's colonnade of the temple area, but it seems to have been scattered now in this paragraph, we find a description of a number of things that are being done without something else were told that more and more men and women believed in the Lord were added to their number. So not only were miracles being done. But the gospel was being preached in such force that people were actually believing it in large numbers of our responding. The church was beginning to grow and the third thing that were told here and this is a new item for 16 crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick post tormented Bible spirits and they were healed. This is the first time you see in Luke that we are told now that the gospel is beginning to expand beyond Jerusalem and the towns of Judea, Luke is really telling us in the book as a whole follows the outline is that what Jesus had said in the great commission that he gives us in the first chapter was being fulfilled back to 18 Jesus said said you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in Judea and Samaria and under the uttermost parts of the world. That's exactly what was happening. Disciples are born their witness in Jerusalem, and now that gospel was being spread into Judea, all the little towns roundabout in the tribal territory of Judah, and then as were going to say spreads in the next chapters to Samaria and then eventually and largely through the apostolic ministry of the apostle Paul throughout all the Greek cities and eventually to Rome, which is the point where the book and its so we have a time of blessing. The second section of this chapter.
This portion of the chapter were considering Joe's of the title blessing was also accompanied by a time of persecution. As I said this is the first time that actual physical persecution.
Abuse of the cause of Christ came to the disciples begins with a picture of the frustration of the Jewish leaders we've already seen that here is a movement that is beginning to spread and spread powerfully among the people, not just a passing thing, it would seem, but hundreds and thousands of responding to it. These men were in charge of the religious life and also the political life of the nation are very frustrated by what's going on and quite obviously so there frustrated.
First of all, because what is happening is happening in the name of Jesus of Nazareth, the very way they speak of that name again and again these chapters shows very very disturbed.
They were by that Jesus, after all, was this upstart rabbi there judgment this man who would, who knows where. What kind of ancestry and certainly without any real training, not the kind of training they had in their schools and he took upon himself to be a rabbi.
That is to teach what the Old Testament really meant, which was their job and not only that he didn't powerfully charismatic great when assembly in such a way that he got his large following at least one period of his ministry. And yet, as they looked at it this this Jesus of Nazareth was a false prophet. He was a blasphemer he made out that he was God. All he was clever he was careful not to do to openly and do it in a way that would cause witnesses to, make an accusation so they could get rid of them.
But that's what he meant.
They knew it, and eventually was on the charge that they had them condemned in their own court and then by manipulation had them condemned by the Romans, and so crucified I detectives I read these chapters the kind of things they say the way they react to the name that although undoubtedly in their minds they would've said we were right to do what we did deep in their hearts they were guilty for having done away with what was quite obviously a very righteous man they were going to acknowledge that he was God. He was certainly a great teacher and he taught well. When Sibley and he had a loving character and they had done a man so a lot of their frustration usually came from that they thought at least that finally they got rid of it and out here all his apostles is disciples preaching about name and then secondly they were frustrated by the fact that this preaching of the name of Jesus involve the resurrection. This is a point where Luke begins to make clear the difficulty for the high priest and his associates because he points out that their party was the party of the Sadducees in the Sadducees. Of course, didn't believe in the resurrection say it would be bad enough to be a Pharisee and have condemned Jesus and then have that preached in Jerusalem that God raised him from the dead. I would be bad enough because you are responsible for his execution.
But at least you believe in the resurrection, and yet here the high priest and his associates those who were actually the very top of this religious and political pyramid. They were Sadducees who didn't believe in the resurrection, and so this false Christ that come forth was also in there judgment now coupled link inseparably to this false doctrine of the resurrection, and it was being preached in such a way that the resurrection was the proof of his Messiah ship almost an intolerable frustrating situation and then gets one other thing here. He says they were jealous.
Interesting isn't it. See if you can oppose Jesus on the basis of his being a false prophet you at least do that with a certain amount of nobility. IV. Truth is truth also is false and we are defenders of the truth.
Sad as it may be he must be a post you can take the high road and that kind of an argument and as far as the resurrection goes, you can take the biblical road you can examine the text that you can say we are convinced we are described. We are the Lord and once we are convinced that there's no such thing taught in the Bible is the resurrection he is wrong he can do that. See what Luke tells us here is that that kind of argument seldom is really on that level usually do something else. Beneath that, something festering away underneath the staircase was jealousy. Jealousy, of whom I wonder with a jealous Jesus. How could they be Jesus was dead with a jealous of the apostles.
Please man who had no education. Yes, probably.
And why because they were preaching powerfully they were doing miracles. People were following them and you see that's what the religious leaders wanted.
I'm afraid a lot of what happens in the world happens as a result of jealousy is not given that name will often often, especially when attacks are made on those who are being used of the Lord. It's jealousy that lies behind it. People that just resent the fact that someone else is getting the attention. At any rate, that's what was happening here.
So now they began to move again. First time they call the men they had made threats. I said now in our authority. We tell you don't do this anymore as they were doing it again. So now they arrest them again to bring them in that kind of procedure eventually leads to an attempt to kill the people you don't like see if it's a matter of truth contending with falsehood. That's an open and free encounter is what was going on here. This is hatred of these men for who they are. The success they're getting, and so because they can't contend with them on the level of the truth. Truth versus falsehood, they resort to the authority that they considered to be invested in themselves.
We say on our authority. Don't do it. If you do it. Were going to arrest you and if you still persist in doing it. Were going to have you executed and of course that's what happens as we see in the next chapter they arrest Stephen Stephen gives his great speech in chapter 7 that at the end of that chapter. Stephen becomes the first martyr they killing you say and even in this chapter we read later on their furious of the apostles and one up with them to death. You're angry about something special in the area of religion. It's generally a sign that you're on the wrong track. There is a certain kind of righteous anger.
The Lord had that kind of anger against those who were keeping people from the truth were setting up barriers for making merchandise of spiritual things are is a certain kind of righteous anger. That's why I say generally, anger shows a bird on the wrong track is not always the case, but generally it is you find yourself in your heart is fuming about something angry that so-and-so was doing something. Generally, that's a sign that something is wrong and it certainly was. In this case. Well I brought the men they had to do it carefully because they were so popular they were afraid. It's interesting says in verse 26 that brought the apostles. They did not use force because they fear that people would stone them say they wanted to do away with the apostles.
They were afraid people would try to do away with them shows the level in which they were operating with a brought man, I put them in jail.
I thought they could bind them. They bound them they could bind the words I could keep the message from getting out and you know it is a great lesson there binding the messengers never binds the message say it says that in Scripture that the word of God is not about nothing physical, combine the message of the gospel, but they try. The interesting thing is that in this situation. I didn't even succeed in binding the messengers because they put them in jail overnight. Next day when they were ready to proceed with their trial. He sent the captain of the guard down to bring about the jail when they went there all apostles were gone.
We are told by Luke what happened. God sent his angel and the night he brought them out. Unlike the later experience when Peter was delivered the locks didn't even fall off of the doors fly open somehow we brought the bow and allow all doors to still be locked in the game in the morning and locked it.
No apostles. They had to go back. I suppose even greater frustration them. Certainly, with a large measure of chagrin and report that just worked there.
Funny thing, I guess.
With regard to this, but at least it seems so to me standing around there there Council chamber having simply apostles and having it reported that they were there and they're saying to themselves, where in the world are we are we gonna find another got a wife and someone comes in the middle of their debates is not hard to find them there back out there. The temple area again preaching same place they were the last time you tried to arrest and so they went out, got the began and they brought the man and then they began to make their accusations and their accusation is gone now a step further. Very interesting accusing. First of all, verse 28 of disobeying orders. That's an appeal to simple authority does make any difference whether they're right or wrong, they simply said we told you not to do it and you're doing it without resorting to mere force abstracts authority apart from the matter of right or wrong. That's the first thing that goes further than that, this time because now they say you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man's blood is very interesting because at the time of the trial of Jesus Christ. Those are the very words they used pilot said will you crucify your king, they replied let this man's blood be on our hands. You see, now it was and there a gas at the consequences. You know what they're expressing here is what is true of every single human soul. The blood of God himself is upon our hands because we like these Jewish rulers subset our face against the Lord and against his anointed, what sin is a way of saying we will not have this man to rule over us.
Let's break their fans let's pass their betters from let's drive this son of God out of our lives and drive them out for good. What they did is just what people do today.
Jesus is in here, of course, to be physically mistreated, but what we do exactly the same thing and then we don't like it we say you're trying to make us guilty of this man's blood. Well I were guilty and that to be made guilty and were guilty and they knew it they know it in the very way they were talking about this name.
This name was gospel, but usually they didn't like it at all.
While Peter has a chance to give his next's brief sermon.
The next phase of this, you see the church, unified in peace and the persecution about Peter's response to this accusation of the leaders of the Sanhedrin is a great sermon really contains within it. What is called an New Testament theological studies. The curriculum number of years ago man in England.
His name is CH.published a book on the apostolic preaching, in which he pointed out that every time you have it in acts or little synopses of it in the letters later. It always follows the same kind of format and use the word charisma to describe it.
Prima means proclamation and amend certain proclamation the basic facts that's what they're doing. The facts include the crucifixion all does the same thing in first Corinthians 15 the resurrection includes the exultation of Jesus in the heavens being seated at the right hand of God and then finally the fact that we are witnesses of these things on the basis of what God is done in eyewitness people are called to repent and receive forgiveness and his name was the basic Christian preaching raises an interesting question the resident because what you say when you look at a summation of the gospel like this is where in this teaching is any reference to the great ethical teaching of Jesus Christ say that is particularly noteworthy when you look at the Gospels because if you study the gospel for what Jesus Christ taught mostly what the Lord Jesus taught was ethical teaching.
We did it in the form of parables that, in the form of discourses did little exchanges with people but mostly it had to do with how to live on course.
He said he was going to die on the cross and all that to but mostly that's his teaching and I you come to this early Christian preaching you find out talk about all they're not quoting from the sermon on the Mount what their preaching is the crucifixion, the resurrection, the ascension and forgiveness of sins by faith in his name. What's going on here. Haven't they understood what Jesus Christ was teaching we answer courses that they could finally really understood it. What you find as you go on to come to the epistles is that the ethical teaching comes back in that point begin to find it applied to the churches in the Christian community. But what you have here in between your say is the basic of Angela and it's a way of saying graphically, you must first come to Jesus Christ as Savior before you can have him as Lord over anything else you can live the life of Jesus Christ, you cannot live out Christ ethics unless you first of all, been forgiven of your sin. Matter fact, unless you confess your sin and find forgiveness.
You only go on into increasing sin, which is exactly what the leaders did see unconfessed sin destroys life and that's the pattern of human life. That's what people are like they don't confess our sin. They don't come to God for forgiveness for their sin and cleansing so they go on the pattern of self justification of the evil multiplies and they get harder. More and more angry, more and more stubborn and persistent, and so on. It's the path of senates. What will described in Romans is always downhill. The only way of finding salvation from that is to find forgiveness through Jesus Christ is the Savior knowing that he died for you that he bore the punishment of your sin that you have forgiveness for what you've done enough work can come and confess it freely as I got. I have done wrong. That was awful. It was terrible. I should never have done that is a disgrace is an offense to you, it hurts other people and find forgiveness. And that's the way life is changed.
Usually that in come before the Sanhedrin and preach the sermon on the mount they didn't say that these Jewish leaders. These Sadducees doing to others as you would have others do unto you were capable of doing that. They said was confess your sin, your guilty of the crucifixion of the son of God.
Confess your sin and come to him for forgiveness and cleansing and of course that's the gospel we preach today is what you have to do this point. The disciples found an unexpected ally in this man, Emilio Gamaliel is the one that the apostle Paul had studied under in his earlier days. He was obviously a very great man. He was great as a rabbi and he was great as we would say as a human being seriously had what is really very good worldly advice.
He said look before you set out on a campaign to kill these man because that's what they wanted to do when Peter reminded them that they had been responsible for the death of Jesus of Nazareth, and was unjustly needed to repent of it.
They didn't want to repent of the Gotthard in their hearts and angry. They were ready to kill them is what it says they want to put them to death. Emilio said I look before you launch out of that kind of course. Just consider what you're doing. Consider this Gamaliel was saying, in effect, I live a long time and seen a lot of things and I have observed movements like this come in past years was this man who this. He raised a little company about 400 of them put himself forward as the Messiah, but he wasn't the Messiah and it does end up being nothing.
He was defeated and that was the end of it. Then there was another man, Judas same thing I remember that story. He succeeded a little bit more than food us, but eventually that came to nothing to do with these matter simply advancing a human doctrine of this is just something of their own devising. It's going to come to nothing to but if it is true. If it's of God, and it will prosper and if you want your self and opposition against them, you're going to find that your fighting against God.
As I say is really very wise advice. He was just saying let the thing run its course like time proof what the truth is yet although I say that although I praise him as a wise, gracious, very understanding man. It did not go far enough because you see there was this matter of guilt was this matter of complicity in the death of Jesus Christ and what Gamaliel should've said is everything he did say, but he should have added this. In the meantime, we are so closely tied to this inserter supposed to be the spiritual leaders of the nation lets us investigate and see whether it's true or not ourselves. And if it's nothing. I will let it go its course, but it is true. Jesus really did rise from the dead and our doctrines wrong doctrine.
We Sadducees, there is a resurrection doctrine is wrong. And furthermore, our views of Jesus are wrong because that would be God's way of proving that he was the son of God, but his death on the cross really was a substitutionary sacrifice for sin and he is the Savior, and he is the Messiah and he is the fulfillment of the Old Testament. Let's investigate these things and see if there true, but he didn't do that. What happened course you say is a target run its course and this little religion is little religion Christianity wasn't even called by that name in those days wasn't the later in the Gentile setting that the Christians were called Christians, but this little religion did not fade away and spread throughout the whole world grew in power and force, and it's come even thus, today America land wasn't even known at that time and it's come in power and great glory. See if you are on the side of the Sanhedrin during the side of the world. Your sign well all kind of interesting. This religious business, but I certainly am not going to submit my life to Jesus of Nazareth and let me say there is a stronger case today for the truth of Christianity than ever.
There was the time of Gamaliel. The other Jewish leaders what to do with Jesus. You can ignore him gospel spreading all the world everywhere you go. Are Christians that are bearing witness to his name, got ignore them going to fight him in your fight him when his gospel so powerful will you not find yourself to be doing exactly what Gamaliel warned the Sanhedrin against doing find yourself fighting against God. How can you fight against God and win got ignore them and you can fight him.
What else could you do the only thing you can do is bow before him and confess your sin and seek forgiveness through his death find them to be as so many millions have found them to be gracious and loving. Anxious to forgive and restore glass usual in a way which brings honor to God in his own name, Alessandra didn't do this, says verse 40.
His speech persuaded them. That sounds like, well, alright, let's let them go and have persuaded them, persuaded them not to kill them, but they beat him up anyway and they sense about them instead of being depressed by the maltreatment. The apostles were told in verse 41 rejoiced because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the name that I say earlier that there is nothing of the ethical teaching of Jesus Christ in these chapters. Well, not in the preaching was there in the life because this is the sermon on the Mount is what Jesus had said early in the fifth chapter of Matthew's gospel. As we have it, he said, rejoice when your persecuted because that's the way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. What he could equally well of said that is the way they're going to persecute me say they stood for their master. They received the treatment he received in summer eventually to die as he died, but they rejoiced because it meant that their lives were joined with his life and they were on the winning side in this great battle between good and evil, which is the story of human history. The spray all our father may not be that any of us are found among that great number that you like themselves in opposition to God and his anointed, rather ready we find ourselves among that company of the oppressed and persecuted, but faithful ones who counted joy to be thus identified with the one who gave himself for them. A you are listening to the Bible study hours 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.
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