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In the Steps and Power of the Lord

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
The Truth Network Radio
August 20, 2020 8:00 am

In the Steps and Power of the Lord

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

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August 20, 2020 8:00 am

Peter loved and followed Jesus, and even though he denied Christ, Peter was forgiven. He followed his Lord for the rest of his life. Indeed, we have seen how he preached in Jerusalem, and how he withstood the authorities who tried to silence him.

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Peter loved and follow Jesus. And even though he denied Christ, Peter was forgiven. He followed his lord for the rest of his life. Indeed, we've seen how he preached in Jerusalem and how he withstood the authorities who tried to silence him.

Welcome to the Bible study, our radio and Internet program with Dr. James Boyce preparing you to think and act biblically. Peter was an ordinary fisherman until he met Jesus. He followed his lord.

He disappointed his lord. And he loved Jesus Christ, his lord. Today, we'll see a great test of Peter's faith as he's called to raise a good woman from the dead. Imagine the kind of faith that took. Let's listen now, as Dr. Boyce teaches from Acts. Chapter nine.

We're studying the Book of Acts, and our study has brought us to the end of Chapter nine. So a short section, beginning with verse 32, going through verse 43, that concerns see apostle Peter. And we might be a bit surprised to find a story about Peter at this point. We're going to see more of him. He comes in. Again in a big way in Chapter 10. And he's there in eleven, twelve. And when we get to Chapter 13, we begin again with Paul, whose story whose conversion story we've already seen in the first portion of this Chapter nine. An interesting thing. What's going on here in this portion of the book, if you analyze acts at all, you know that the first 15 chapters are concerned mostly with Peter. This book is called The Acts of the Apostles. But if you would divide it up as first section could, I suppose very well be called the acts of Peter. And then beginning with Chapter 13, Peter recedes from view. Paul emerges. And if you're were going to name that in line with the title we do use, you could call that the acts of the Apostle Paul. Well, we have here in the middle is blending as one recedes and the other ascends. We have an overlapping and not just an overlapping as Luke puts us together. It's really very clever thing that he does just as a writer showing in these chapters which make the transition the fact, the very important fact that Peter, a great apostle for the Jews and Paul, the great apostle to the Gentiles, were not teaching or doing two different things.

What we're two apostles of the one lord and were united in his work.

Now, that's important.

It's important if for no other reason, because it has been roundly denied and liberal scholarship, you know, the history of liberal scholarship in the last century, you'll know, I'm sure, that the theologians in Germany particularly made a distinction between what they called the primitive teaching of the Jewish community centered in Peter and the later development or changed the teaching of the Gentile community centered in Paul. They handle this in a very interesting way in the history of it is interesting. Back before this idea ever found its way into biblical interpretation, it was found in terms of an historical view of history by the great historian Hagel Hegel's the man who developed the dialectic, the idea that in one period of history there is a thesis and that is followed by an antithesis. And then those two struggled together to produce a resolution which Hegel called the synthesis. And then that becomes a new thesis and there is another antithesis and more struggle and so on. Now, Hegel developed that as a philosophy of history. He said that's the way history progresses. There's a certain thoroughness about the German mind, according to which you can't say anything that is taken as being good, that it is not immediately applied to absolutely everything else. And this is what happened with Hagel's view of history.

We know one form of that in Marxism because Karl Marx and other German got hold of it and said, well, this is the view of history. This is the philosophy that's needed to explain economics. This is what's happening in the economic world. And the basis of everything is economic. So he develop a dialectic that had a economic base in which you have the proletariat struggling against the capitalist. You have a resolution in which the masses take over the means of production and you establish a classless society, which is the communist state.

Now, what happened there with Hagel and his atheistic economic philosophy also happened in religion in Germany in that period was a German churchman and professor by the name of Ferdinand Christian Bower.

And he got hold of this and said, well, this is the way to understand the history of the early church. First of all, you have this primitive Jewish theology centered in Peter. This produces an antithesis which is seen in the Gentile theology of St. Paul. And then there's a struggle. And he went to that period in the story of the early church where Peter and Paul actually did have a disagreement. Well, there was basic agreement. And he said as a result of that struggle, you have a resolution, which is the early Catholic Church. And so what broadest in church and a resolution and so on. Well, I go into that only to say that this is not what Luke is teaching. What Luke is showing here is that these two great apostles are of one mind doing the same mark.

And the same one who is Pieter's lord is palls, Lord as well, and the same one who calls Paul and sends him to be the apostle to the Gentiles now also calls Peter and does what sends him to open the door to the Gentiles.

So you have to take chapters nine and 10 together, what you have here are two parallel accounts to great breakthroughs.

Two great openings of doors for this next great movement of the expansion of the church. Search has expanded from Jerusalem into the neighboring area and it's gone to Samarra. And Philip has been instrumental as he's carried out not only there, but up and down the coast. But, you know, basically still Jewish areas. Now, for the first time, there's going to be a breakthrough to the Jewish community and so God calls Paul when he's on his way to Damascus to persecute the Christians there who nevertheless are in Jewish synagogues but a gentile city and says, I'm going to send you to be the apostle to the Gentiles. And in Chapter 10, he calls Peter and sends them to Cornelius, a Roman soldier, a gentile of the gentiles, if you will.

And so opens the door there as well.

There are other parallels, it's an interesting thing to study these just in terms of the form and structure of the chapters, each other involves two sets of individuals in Chapter nine. Paul and an on ice and an ice is hesitant about going. Talk to Paul in Chapter ten. You have Peter and Kornelius, and Peter is hesitant about going to talk to Cornelius and so on.

It just makes a very interesting study. Now, the very end of Chapter nine.

We have an incident that tells about Peter's ministry. Just before God sends them to Cornelius and his preparatory for it. Peter was doing what Peter should have been doing, and these days it would seem that many of the apostles remained in Jerusalem. I think wrongly, it's hard to say that.

But I think wrongly, they were sent like everybody else and all the world with the gospel. But they attended to stay in Jerusalem. But at least in this section of the story, this was not Peter's story. Peter was going around. He was the apostle to the Jews, and so he was going around visiting these various communities, swear the gospel, it spread. He had already been up. Anani Orkan had been examining that situation. He'd been in some area. And now he was making his way down toward the coast. This is where Philip had been. Philip had been sent down to Ethiopia. And after he had spoken to the Ethiopian about the Lord, he made his way up the coast to Cicero. Through all this area. And there were churches there, because when we read this account at the end of Chapter nine, we find it's not just an individual here or an individual. There is actually a body of believers. Those who worked together, knew one another, prayed for one another, and we're concerned about one another.

And so Peter, in his capacity as the apostle to the Jews, is checking up on these communities.

Now, there's a very interesting and sound to start AQL details, your liberal scholars would say all this is just a fabrication ASRS historical fiction in order to make the kind of points Luke wants to make. But there are very interesting historical details. Some of them concerned the death of this woman, Dorkus and Joppa. Joppa, incidentally, was a very Jewish community. It's why Peter had gone there. And when this woman died, you notice from the details of the story that they did not bury her right away.

That's significant. In previous chapters and an ayson, Sapphira died in Jerusalem. They buried them that very day. And that's significant. They had to. That was the law. Jerusalem, her body was not allowed to remain around for a second day.

It had to be buried at once, but not outside of Jerusalem. There you had three days. And so during the three days, these people who knew and loved this woman, Dorkus, sent for Peter, undoubtedly expecting a miracle. They weren't just sending for Peter saying, Peter, this woman is somebody rather special down here. And so we'd like the bishop to come and do the funeral service wasn't a question of that at all. Peter was doing miracles at the time. That's the way the story goes. The reputation of what was being accomplished through Peter was spreading. And they undoubtedly called him thinking that he might do that. But there you have an interesting detail of the story. It's another one in verse 39 when Peter went up to that room and they were all there weeping and crying. It says that the women showed him the robes and the other clothing the Dorkus had made while she was still alive.

That's a nice touch, isn't it? The women appreciating the thing that this woman had done for those about very appreciative of what we would call her, good works or good deeds. So that detail is there in the story. There's some parallels in the story to two of the healings and resurrections that the Lord Jesus Christ did during the days of his ministry. The obvious one is to John eleven to the raising of Lazarus because it involved John 11, the fact that Jesus wasn't there when Lazarus, his friend, died. So they had to send for him and he came. And the resurrection took place after a passage of time. There's a similarity here. And perhaps, perhaps, as Peter was making his way up from lidded Joppa, where this was going to be, Don, and obviously thinking about what God might accomplish through him on this occasion, perhaps Peter was thinking of this and the parallel to the ministry of his lord and whose steps he was following.

When we got there, there was another parallel in the fifth chapter of Mark beginning about verse 35. You have the story of Christ raising the daughter of this man, Jarius. And when he came into the upper room, the same thing was happening with all this wailing.

All the mourners were there. The family was there. Great uproar. Jesus put them all out or they might be quiet. And then he called. So that girl, a young woman, bought her maiden and she arose in response to his voice.

I, Peter, must have had that in mind.

Peter must of comment that Roman not only have been distressed because he was an empathetic individual, but realizing that this just was not the atmosphere in much anything like that could take place. And thinking about that time when he had been with Jesus on the occasion of the other resurrection and then emulating his master said, look, everybody has to leave. You just have to get out of here.

It has to be quiet. And after they were out, we're told that he knelt and prayed. I don't know what he prayed, but I must think of that earlier story was going through his mind. Oh, he was an apostle and God had been doing miracles through em, but I think what faith that must have required for Peter to get up from his knees and turn to that dead woman and call her by name Tabitha, and say, get up.

Oh, God. It worked in him and God was going to do this, and undoubtedly God gave him the faith to do it. But it certainly took a large measure of faith. Nevertheless, when he spoke that way, as Jesus had spoken on that occasion before him, the same Lord raised up this woman.

And so, as we're told, the story spread all over. What an unlikely person.

Humanly speaking, it was to be used in such a great way by Jesus Christ in these early days of the history of the church. It was Peter after all. Peter was just the fisherman.

He was out fishing when Jesus first called him, he saw him there with his nets, mending them on the seashore in the daytime, as the fishermen did. And Jesus said to him, just follow me. And I suppose it was in response to a rather quizzical look on Peter's face that Jesus explained, saying, follow me and I will make you fishers of men.

Now, you're a fisher of fish, but if you follow me, I'm going to give you a greater task to do. I'm to teach you how to fish for man.

In Luke's gospel, the fifth chapter, there's a fuller account of that calling both Matthew and Mark, we're told how he called Peter merely saying follow me. But then, Luke, there's an account that tells how Jesus did a miracle and causing Peter to catch a great number of fish. Peter realizing that it was not the time of day and it was an unusual number and the power and the glory of this one, it was calling him, was somehow revealed. She responded by saying, Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man. Why are you calling me? You're the holy one. You're a special one. You're a prophet. Don't call me. I'm. I'm just a fisherman and a sinful one at that. And he spoke truly.

Of course, that's what God uses.

I mean, if God didn't use sinful man and sinful women, he couldn't use anybody because all of us are. That's not why we are. Where we come from is what he makes us that counts and what he'll do, throw us.

And that's what he chose to do through Peter.

Later, when Paul came to write about God's procedure, he says God doesn't choose the wise or the mighty or the noble, but God chooses the things that are of no account in order to bring to nothing the things that are.

And Peter was a prime example. Just a fisherman, Jesus called him and began to teach him about himself.

We were to run through the great events of Peter's life. The next event we'd come to is that moment when before all of the other disciples, he gave his great profession of faith in Christ, that great insight into who Jesus Christ was. Jesus was teaching them by the Socratic method. At that time, he was asking them questions. And the question he asked them was what the people were saying about him. Because after all, they'd be saying that often the side quietly and the disciples would be picking this up. And he said to them, Now, what are the people saying about me? Who do they say I am? And they said, well, you know, some say you're one of the prophets. Some say you're Alija come back. Some say you're the prophet. That was mentioned back in Deuteronomy to Moses as one who should come in the last days. But like that. And then he turned to them and said, but who do you say that I am? Jesus, that a marvelous way. I've never letting people off the hook, just as he deals with us, doesn't let us off the hook. And so he made it personal.

He said, Who do you say that I am? Doesn't say that there was a moment of quiet. But I'll bet there was.

And then Peter Peter, who is always the first to speak and usually when he spoke, spoke foolishly on this occasion, really had it.

He said, well, you are the Christ, the son of the living God. You're the anointed one, the Messiah, the very son of God.

Jesus had to stop and point out to the disciples that this was a really unusual thing on Peter's part, because I guess they had learned that at least 70 percent of what Peter said you could disregard because he'd either contradicted later or would be self evidently false. So Jesus, knowing the way they would tend to take anything Peter said, pointed out on this occasion. Peter, you haven't said that from yourself, but what you have said concerning who I am has been given you by the Holy Spirit.

Holy Spirit revealed this to you. And so when you point out that I'm a messiah, the son of the living God. That's what I am. And Peter, we just had this marvelous insight.

Instead of being humbled by it, said, wow, that's right. Look at that, guys. Holy Spirit spoke to me. I. I know who he is. And Jesus went on the next breath to say yes to the son. A man must suffer and die. And Peter, feeling very high on himself, said, Oh. I'll let that ever happen to you. Why we don't want you to suffer and die.

And Jesus said to say to him, Depart from me, Satan. Because he recognized that that was not the voice of the Holy Spirit. I was the voice of Satan who was trying to keep him from the cross when a moment that was in Peter's life.

One moment, the vehicle of God's revelation, the next making such a foolish error.

And yes, I was Peter.

And that's us. We live the same way. We're like Alija where up one moment on the mountain, calling down fire from heaven. The next we're down in the valley. We're saying, oh, Lord, let me die.

It's no good for me even to be living. And that's what Peter was. Well. Later in his life, you know.

He denied the Lord the same sort of mistake Peter was feeling very high on himself was the time of the final week and all of the enemies were gathered and the storm clouds were settling over Jerusalem and everybody knew it was dangerous even for Jesus to be there. He seemed oblivious to the danger just going on as if everything was all right. And he was speaking gloomy things. But Peter Peter said, you know, I don't know if these others can be counted on his other disciples. You've said that everybody is going to abandon you. You know, you think you find that somewhere in the Psalms that they're all going to abandon you and you prophesy that. But there's one thing I want you to know. Jesus, I Peter, I'm never going to do that.

I'm going to stick with you even to death. That's what's coming.

He really thought he was when they came to arrest Jesus in the garden, he pulled out his sword. He was ready to fight. They could have killed Peter that moment.

Because he wasn't going to abandon Jesus. They took Jesus.

Peter still trying to do what he thought was right. Still trying to be loyal. Follow the Lord a long way off.

And it was while he was following at a distance, waiting in the courtyard that one by one Servants' began to come and say, Weren't you with him? And Peter said, Oh, no, no, no, not me.

And they said, Well, now you must be one of his disciples because you're a Galili and you're speeches Galilee and the Galilee, that Galilean accent, you're not from Jerusalem.

And he said, no, no. And finally they persevered to the accusation, we're told even sward. I don't know how you swore in those days. I don't find that in the Bible, but I guess you swore the same way you swear today you use the name of God, use it in vain. I don't use the name Jehovah or add an eye or something like that. But you must have used the name of God.

Isn't it ironic, Peter, the name of God, denying that he knows God?

Because that's who Jesus was, and yet, you see, that was Peter. We're told that Peter went out and wept bitterly when Jesus glanced at him and he realized what he had done. Peter had fallen so low that by our Lord's own testimony, he would have fallen away.

They weren't the Jesus that prayed for him because Jesus said Satan has desired to sift through like wheat. He's going to deal with in the way a farmer deals with wheat threshing tie. You put it on the threshing floor, you run over it with something heavy to separate the wheat from the chaff. You throw it up in the air where the wind blows, all the chaff blows away in, the grain settles down. And Jesus said to Peter, that's what Satan wanted to do with you. He wanted to treat you like wheat. Satan came and he said, Why look, this big bag of wind, Peter, is nothing but chaff. You give me a chance to blow on him. Peter's going to be gone.

Jesus says that's exactly what would have happened to you, except that I prayed for you.

And when I pray for you, your faith will be strengthened. You're going to come through this. Your faith is going to be strengthened.

And what is going to come out of it is merely the winnowing is going to get rid of some of the chaff. And what's going to be left there is the grain that I have placed within you. And that's what happened to Peter. Peter was greatly humbled by his denial, greatly weakens in himself.

But greatly strengthened in Jesus.

And you know that at the time of the resurrection, when most of the disciples were not even in Jerusalem, having scattered back over the Mount of Olives to Bethany, where they'd been spending time every day that week.

Peter John were there in the city when the word came from the women on Easter morning that the tomb was empty. It was Peter and John who rushed to the tomb.

Peter actually getting there and looking in and seeing that the body of Jesus was gone. And then there was the moment when Jesus appeared and revealed himself to the mall and later in Galilee, when Peter had returned there, our Lord's own command told to go and wait for him. Jesus came and called Peter and recommissioned him to service. Peter had denied the Lord three times. And so Jesus recommissioned him. Three times he said to him, Peter. Do you love me?

Peter said, yes, Lord, you know that I love you, Peter may have said many foolish things and Peter may have boasted of a strength he didn't have, but the one thing that was really true about Peter is that he'd come to love Jesus. And if he had loved him before, he certainly loved him now after the death and resurrection, when he understood what it was that Jesus had done to save him. Peter, a poor fisherman who didn't even have the strength to stand by his master in the time of need, when Jesus said, Peter, do you love me?

He said, Yes, Lord, I do. Jesus repeated it. Peter, do you love me? I said, Yes, Lord, you know all things you know that I love you. And I repeated it a third time. Peter, do you love me?

You said, yes, I do. And Jesus said. Same thing he had said to Peter at the beginning. Then follow me.

And the point I'm making you see is that that's what Peter was doing here. He was following Jesus.

He was doing the same things that Jesus had been doing. He was serving in the same way. He was preaching the same message.

He was showing the same character and the same God was working in Peter as had worked in Jesus Christ.

Let me give you a few observations on this story.

The first is how fast and wide the gospel is spread in these early days.

Say it hasn't been very long and to the history of what we call the Christian era. All the message of the cross had been concentrated in Jerusalem because that's where the early preachers were. That's where it happened. But here already, it was spreading. We read that as a result of the persecutions, the gospel spread and all the regions roundabout, that is Judea. And we know what it spread up to Samarra. And now here it is down to the coast. We have Fill-Up going south and north and Paul soon to go back to Turkey and undoubtedly preach there, then to Antioch and then often as missionary journeys in a very short time, the gospel is spreading.

Why? Because it's the kind of thing that spreads.

It's like perfume.

You take the stopper out of the bottle and the odor spreads. You can't stop it. And here is an odor of sweet smell, a gospel which is a gospel of the gracious, loving God. A message like that just can't be bottled up.

That message is bottled up and you are bottled up in our church, are bottled up in our times because we don't really understand it.

We really haven't entered into it. And here these people had and it was spreading here in Lisen, Joppa. There were Christians who were already meeting and worshiping and serving Jesus Christ.

And then the second thing I want you to notice is how practical this Christian gospel is. So here's this woman, this widow who is doing all these good deeds known for them, so much so that people are weeping and crying because they've lost her.

She was so valuable as a Christian, showing forth the love of Jesus Christ in practical ways. One thing preachers always hear is that they're up in the clouds or that they have no contact with anything practical. Anybody who's ever been in the ministry has heard that, I suppose doesn't time zappelli. The opposite is the case.

You can escape many practical things in different areas of life, preachers here at all. People come with stories just about anything that happens, a preacher hears.

It's practical, you see, in Christianity is practical, Christianity is practical, and that it serves the world as a gospel. Yes, it calls men and women to turn from sin and to respond to Jesus Christ in saving faith. But it's practical in serving as well. You know, before the coming of Jesus Christ, there were no hospitals in the world.

Oh, somebody got sick in the home, I guess. There were people in the home that would try to take care of them and there were doctors, but there were no hospitals.

Nobody established institutions to take care of those who were ill and certainly not to take care of those who were not members of their own immediate family or who were poor and couldn't pay for it.

Where Christianity went, the light of medicine followed in hospitals or found it everywhere. Everywhere the cross of Christ is gone. There are hospitals.

Before Jesus Christ came, there were no orphanages in the world. People didn't care for children who had no parents sway. The world was too full of people already. People like that didn't even deserve to live. Let them die.

Good grief.

Can good Roman families would expose their children if they thought they had enough.

Baby was born. They bring it to the father. So it was done in a Roman household. He picked it up in his arms. That meant he was going to keep it. He didn't.

And they threw it out. That's the way they treated children.

And if by some means they grew up to get to a reasonable age and young life, nobody would take them in. No homes to take them in. Why they just be turned out onto the street? Generally, they fell into prostitution, both young boys and the young girls, it's just the way it was. The ancient world was full of that many brothels, but no orphanages, no leprosarium is in the world before the coming of Jesus Christ to her.

No. Disaster relief organizations in the world before the coming of Jesus Christ. You never in all of ancient literature read, for example, of the community in Rome getting together and say, let's take up an offering to send to the poor people who were starving in Egypt. But it didn't happen. Nobody did that. People thought about themselves.

And yet it's early stage. You find the apostle Paul going around the Greek communities collecting money to send to the poor in Jerusalem because there'd been a famine and they were starving. And these are where Christians Felda tied one another and two other men and women because of a common humanity.

There weren't even any great schools in the ancient world. There was education, of course. Plato had his academy and Aristotle had his academy, but nothing like common education, nothing where there was a concern for those who didn't have means or weren't from good families.

Nothing like that. Christians have brought that.

Christians who have gone into the cities of the world and hunted out the poor young and have brought them into schools to train them and give them skills and knowledge that would enable them to be something other than.

History with her destiny would seem to have chosen for them.

Oh, I know that over the years, many of those schools that have started out as Christian institutions have fallen away from it. They become secular with a Christian name, as many of the schools in the Philadelphia area are. And then they become secular without even a Christian name.

This secular institutions.

But what are the Christians do the Christians just go and continue to do what they've always been doing and they start new schools and they begin to work because it's the nature of Christians to want others to learn and to grow and to understand, because Jesus Christ was our teacher and our healer and the one who cared for the fatherless and the widow.

It's just you see biblical religion. Here is Peter Peter, the fisherman. Doing exactly that.

There's only one more thing I want to say about this passage, and that is that although Peter had followed this law a long way and the steps hadn't in the power of his lord, his journey wasn't over yet.

Matter of fact, you see, if you read carefully, even in this chapter, that it isn't over yet. Let me put it in the context in the next chapter. Peter is going to be sent to Kornelius, the Roman, a gentile, and God is going to teach him that if God calls the Gentiles clean, he Peter is not to call them unclean. I notice in this chapter. 43. Peter stayed in Joppa for some time with a tanner named Simon. That's important, you say, because Tanner's handled dead animals and so tanners were on clean.

Now, this was a Jewish tanner. You can bet he was Jewish, Tanner, and so I was unclean.

But Peter was stepping forward, you say. Peter was beginning to learn that if he was a brother, he mustn't call him unclean. And so he was amazing. Peter, how far he's come staying in the home with his tanner, with the damn animals, the skins.

He was beginning to learn, you'll see, but he hadn't yet learned that word, brother included gentiles who were unclean as well as Jews.

And yet that was coming because God wasn't finished with Peter yet.

God isn't finished with us yet. God isn't finished with you yet. It doesn't make any difference where you've come from or what you've learned or how far you've come or how far you haven't come if you're alive.

God isn't finished with you yet, so keep on learning, keep on doing, keep on serving. Keep on loving of all.

Keep on keeping on. Until Jesus come. Let's pray.

Father, bless this study to our hearts. Give us encouragement by the example of this great man, Peter.

Great, because he was great in you because he was willing to be nothing for the sake of Jesus Christ as large a man.

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