It is completely unnatural for us to respond to hate with love. In our sin we want to persecute those who persecute us. However, that is not life we have in Christ as a new creation. Loving the lost is a mark of the Christian and manifestation of the Spirit. In our passage today, we see how to respond to spiritual warfare.
Spiritual warfare. The term is used often and often improperly. In this first of two messages from Acts 21:27-36, we look at a real instance of spiritual warfare that is taking place and how to handle it. Paul is undergoing intense persecution and will only survive if equipped with the armor of God. What does that look like?
It is often misunderstood how Christians are to relate to the Old Testament. Contributing to that confusion are situations like we look at today, where James and the elders of the church tell Paul to observe the Law of Moses so that others would see... that he observes the Law! Today we unpack the relationship of the Old Covenant to a New Covenant People.
In the beginning of our passage in Acts 21:15-20a, we are reminded of an integral function of the local church. Missions. This entire passage is packed with some important truths to discern carefully. Principally, we see the response of the church when it comes to participating directly in the Great Commission. Worship. What happens when this form of worship is removed?
Paul is on his way to Jerusalem. While visiting with other churches on the way, they all tried to dissuade him from going where he felt led and convicted to go. With this at the forefront of the passage today, we look at why the congregations and leaders of the churches likely tried to stop Paul and whether Paul was right or wrong for ignoring their exhortations.
Should pastor's be paid? If so, who should pay them? Do they have to receive a salary or can they forgo it and provide for themselves? It is no secret that money is a controversial topic in our day... particularly as it relates to the Church. Today we look at what is commonly one of the largest expenses of the local church and what God has to say about it.
In Acts 20:28-32 we see Paul spend time carefully warning the elders of the Ephesian church to watch out for coming false teachers. He says they will come and warns how and why. Today we take some time learning how to identify false teachers and false teaching and look at some examples of it in our world today.
Paul is in a hurry to get to Jerusalem. He wants to see his friends from the Ephesian church so he sends for the elders to come to him for one last meeting. Paul made two very focused points in his conversation with them, 1) he dedicated his life to deliver to them the whole council of God; and 2) wolves are coming to pervert and divide the church. This week we look at what drives Paul in his mission. Next week we'll be learning more about these wolves he warns of.
The church is gathered. Paul is preaching into the night. Lamps are burning throughout the room. It is then we see a young man named Eutychus fall three stories to his death... until he is given life. It is this tangible miracle that points us to the true work of God in Christ in bringing us from eternal death to eternal life. It is in this newness of life that we rejoice as the church. It is because we are loved by God that we go out into all the world.
Today we take a momentary break in our study through Acts as we reflect on the passion of the Christ. We take some time to reflect on what Holy Week is and why many celebrate it throughout the world. Our focus concludes in Luke 23 as we see the compassion, mercy, and forgiveness of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Open doors. As Christians we're regularly looking for them and frequently talking about them in ministry. In today's passage we look at an opportunity that Paul had and wanted. The Lord opened a door for him... and he left. He didn't take the path that seemed clear and right. We can learn from this story of Paul's and, importantly, how to apply them to real ministry and purpose, rather than just seeing abstract doors in our imagination and only talking about them in theory.
In last weeks passage we saw newer believers hold money in low regard in light of their new lives in Christ. The church was purified and the name of Jesus honored. In today's passage we see the opposite. Money is held in high regard and the gospel is rejected, leading to chaos and foolish behavior and reasoning. This is what it looks like to serve money.
Sometimes it is easy to get distracted by some of the extraordinary miracles we see in the Bible and can miss the point. But we're not the only ones... in today's passage we see God doing powerful works through Paul and observe as others liken the power of God to some wieldable force to be controlled by man.
This week we take some extra time to discuss an important phrase: The Kingdom of God. Luke typically speaks of Paul reasoning with people about Jesus being the Christ, the Messiah. Here, however, he speaks of Paul reasoning with people about the Kingdom of God. What is God's Kingdom? When is it? And how should we be living and speaking in light of it?
Beginning in Acts chapter 19 we see formerly visited topics come back into focus that need careful examination. What is the baptism of the Holy Spirit? How do you receive the Holy Spirit? Is speaking in tongues a gift we see in the church today? Does the Holy Spirit come through the laying on of hands? These are some of the questions we ask as we look to the Scriptures for answers to these important questions.
Priscilla and Aquila explain a more complete narrative of the work of God in the Persons of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Many use examples of passages like these to promote a change in the normative and consistent teaching throughout all of Scripture relating to the distinct roles of men and women. We start off with addressing this prooftext and then move to the plainly taught truth in this passage... Spirit empowered boldness.
"If God wills" (thelo). It is both a trendy Christian saying but also one many faithful Christians use and believe on a daily bases. The simple word carries a great deal of weight when used in reference to God's will. In Acts 18.18-23 we see Paul tell the Jews in Ephesus that he will return to them if God wills. We dig deeper into this verse, and the rest of the passage, and explore what it is to live according to the will of God.
How should we be living? What should we be doing? Whether it be the mundane work in our daily jobs or weekend efforts of helping the needy among us. Does God give us direction on how we should live our lives? Let's look past the WWJD bracelets and well-intentioned compassion ministries and bring it back to the Bible to find the answer.
Paul is discouraged... and frustrated. He knows God is sovereign. He knows it is God's ultimate plan that is being done. But nonetheless he laments over the hardheadedness of the Jewish people as they broadly and continuously reject the gospel of Jesus Christ. In Paul's despair, the Lord gives him a comforting reminder and clear instruction.
In Acts 17:16-34 we journey with Paul to the great city of Athens, Greece. While Paul awaits his partners in ministry, he is greatly troubled by what he sees. What bothered Paul so much in this modern city and how did he respond? This week we get a glimpse at how Paul witnessed to a secular culture.